New to WordPress? We’ve put together a list of WordPress terms you might hear, and explained them for you. Have a look through the glossary and let us know in the comments if there’s anything we’ve missed.
- Admin bar
The admin bar is the toolbar across the top of the screen when you’re logged in. You can change the colour by changing the WordPress colour scheme, but it’s usually very dark grey. People visiting your website can’t see it. It has a link to your website, notifications of updates, notifications of comments, and a shortcut to add new posts and pages (amongst other things).
Also known as the admin area, this is what you see when you log in. It’s where you add new content and change the settings.
Backups are copies of your website. You can backup your WordPress theme and your database. Backing up your website is super important as it means you can restore your website, if your website is hacked, it to how it was before.
You can add categories to posts to group similar posts together. We have categories for ‘Blogging’, ‘Social media’, ‘WordPress’, ‘Web design’ and ‘Branding’. If you go to a category page you can see all the blog posts in that particular category. The default category is ‘Uncategorised’ (not very helpful!) but you can change it in the WordPress Settings.
You can change certain parts of your website from the WordPress customiser. What you can change varies hugely between different WordPress themes, but typically includes menus, widgets and the front page. WordPress developers were encouraged to use it for a while, but it seems to have gone a bit out of fashion.
This is usually the first thing you see when you log in to your WordPress website. It has widgets that can be turned on and off in the Screen Options, and a huge menu on the left.
This is where all your content is stored like, posts, pages, revisions, menus, and widgets. It’s separate from your WordPress theme, so if you switch to a different theme it will be populated with all your content. Pretty nifty.
The WordPress editor is where you type in your content. It has buttons across the top to help you style your text. You can add links to other pages or websites and add images and files.
Embeds make it easy to add things like videos, audio and tweets from other websites. It’s a clever little feature that can save you so much time. Just paste the URL in and you’re good to go. It works with lots of popular websites: Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, Kickstarter, Reddit, SlideShare, Soundcloud, Spotify, Tumblr, Twitter and YouTube for starters.
This is a summary of your blog post. Quite often they’re generated automatically (it displays the first few sentences or so followed by an ellipsis ‘…’) You can also add one manually in the Excerpt box.
- Featured image
Ah yes, the featured image. Not a very helpful description (it’s also known as the post thumbnail, which is equally unhelpful!) It means you can add a special image to your blog post. How it’s displayed is up to whoever created the theme you’re using. It’s typically used above or below the title or description on the blog but may not appear anywhere on the front end… glad we cleared that one up.
This is your website – the bit that your customers and clients see. There’s no need to log in to view this. Usually when people look at the front end of your website, they can’t tell it’s a WordPress website.
This displays a group of images that you can include on your posts and pages. You can add captions to the images. I don’t see galleries used very often.
This is the name of the new WordPress editor that’s being designed. It works using blocks of content and will hopefully allow people to have more control over the layout of their WordPress posts and pages. There seems to be a lot of controversy surrounding this as some people think it should be optional to use (a plugin that people can add if they want to). People are also worried it will cause some popular plugins not to work properly.
Also known as a hyperlink, it links to another webpage. That webpage might be on your website (internal link) or someone else’s (external link). The default style for text links is bright blue and underlined, although this can be easily changed.
- Media library
This is where your images and files live. I’m not quite sure why it’s called a ‘library’ as they are usually in date order (not alphabetised or categorised in a useful way like libraries normally are). You can click on an image or file to find out more. For images, you can change the title, caption, alt text and description.
Again, not a helpful term. A page is a post type (a post is also a post type, but a page is not a post and a post is not a page although a post is a web page). It might be best to ignore that last sentence to avoid further confusion. In all seriousness, you use posts for anything that appears on your blog, and pages for everything else. Posts are listed from newest to oldest on your blog and can be given categories and tags. You use pages for content that will stay relevant for a long time, such as your contact page and about page, and you can have sub pages.
- Page builder
A page builder is a plugin that allows you to control the layout of your webpage without any coding. Drag-and-drop page builders literally allow you to drag different bits of your content to other places to change the layout. There’s a long list of pros and cons. In short, the pros are they allow non-designers and non-developers to control the layout of their page. And you can have a different layout on every page. The cons are, it makes it a lot harder to switch to another theme (you’ve got to keep using that plugin). Every extra module you add to your page slows it down a little bit. And having many different layouts and designs may make the website less cohesive and consistent. Popular page builder plugins include Visual Composer, Beaver Builder and Divi page builder.
A permalink is the URL to your webpage. You can change the structure in your WordPress settings to include dates and categories. The last bit of the permalink is the slug. You can change the slug on individual posts and pages. It will be lowercase, with dashes between the words. You should include keywords in your slugs to optimise that page for search engines.
Plugins are apps that allow you to add new features to your WordPress website. You might add a plugin so you can display a contact form on your website. Or you might use one to help you manage your meta descriptions for search engines. It’s important not to have too many plugins as it may slow your website down, and plugins may conflict with other ones. And you should update your plugins to the latest version so you’re not as vulnerable to security problems.
- Post Status
Your blog posts and pages don’t have to be published straight away. You can save drafts so you can edit them some more at a later date. Or mark them as ‘pending review’ to let your editors and proof-readers they’re ready to be checked. The post statuses include ‘draft’, ‘pending review’, ‘published’, ‘scheduled’ and ‘trash/bin’.
- Post Type
Each type of content has a post type (try to ignore the work ‘post’ – it will make this explanation easier). There are two types by default when you install WordPress: posts and pages. But your theme or plugin may give you more types. We often add case studies, testimonials and team members to our websites. Depending on the nature of your business, you may add more specific types. For example, a school may add types for key stages, subjects, and teachers.
WordPress saves older versions of your blog posts and pages so you can access them later. When you edit a post or page, you can browse through revisions and compare the current version with previous ones.
- Screen options
The screen options menu gives you the ability to change the layout of the back-end of WordPress. You can add and remove the boxes you see, and change the number of items you see on a page.
Shortcodes are little text shortcuts which carry out a bit of code for you. You write the text between square brackets [ ]. Here’s an example of a shortcode to insert a contact form onto your page if you have the Gravity Forms plugin.
- Sticky post
Blog posts are listed in chronological order from newest to oldest. But you can pin your favourite blog post (regardless of when you posted it) to the top of the list. This is called a sticky post.
Tags are like categories. You can use them to group similar blog posts together. With categories you can have sub-categories (like Reviews > Books), but you can’t do this with tags. You would usually put a blog post in one category, but give it many tags.
You can add the tagline for your website or business in the WordPress Settings. This may be displayed on your website somewhere (like in the header) but it might not.
WordPress templates are different layouts for your web pages. You might have a sales page template, which removes the main navigation bar so people are less likely to leave the page. Or a full width template for your information pages.
WordPress separates the website content from the design. The content is stored in a database. The theme is a collection of code which is used to set the design and layout of your website. Because the two are separate, it means you can change the design of the website without losing all the content.
Themes, plugins and WordPress itself are being constantly updated to add new features, and fix problems and security vulnerabilities. These updates are not usually automatic, which means you have to update them yourself. It’s usually quite easy, just a click of a button will do it. But it’s best to back up your website first, in case there’s any problems or conflicts.
- User role
By default, you can set up five different types or users who can log into your WordPress site: administrators, editors, authors, contributors and subscribers. They each have different capabilities. Administrators has the most power, and subscribers have the least. You can use User Roles to limit what your users can do. For example, you wouldn’t want a blogger on your website to be able to change the theme of the website.
Widgets are often used on sidebars, but you can use them in many different places depending on your theme. Common widgets include text boxes, images, a list of blog post categories and a search bar. You can drag and drop them to change the order.