10 Ways to Learn WordPress

WordPress CMS is the tool of choice for many schools making the jump online. As a result, staffs and advisers are wondering where to go to learn how to use the program. There are a plethora of resources out there – some cost and some are free. Here’s a list that the Digital Media Committee and I compiled for you.

Youtube – Just search Youtube for the question you have. “How to place a photo in WordPress” and you will come up with 837 (literally) results.

Search the Web – While searching Youtube can get you a nice video tutorial, you really can find answers to most of your questions by simply Googling the question. I always think this should be the first line of defense for people, but often it’s the last. You’d be surprised what you can find by Googling something and searching through the links.

Lynda.com – You won’t probably find a better paid resource out there. You can subscribe by the month or pay an annual fee and get some great online video tutorials for everything from WordPress and Indesign to Photoshop and Illustrator.

Theme Documentation – If you purchase a premium theme (which I highly recommend) I can’t stress enough the importance of reading the documentation that comes with it. Print it off. Make a binder of it, and use it as a resource. It really answers a lot of questions you have ranging from how to change the header image to get something to show up in the rotator if the theme has one.

Theme Forums – One benefit of purchasing a premium theme is that you have access to their user forums. Odds are, the answer to your question is there. Most premium themes don’t have tutorials on Youtube because the questions are a bit too specific, that’s why you good premium themes have their own help. While paying $70 for a premium theme might seem like a lot, add in the theme documentation and forums and it’s well worth the price. My only warning is to make sure the theme you are purchasing has documentation and a forum. If your premium theme has no support and you are just entering the web world, it might be tough trying to figure everything out. Some recommended premium sites: WooThemes, Solostream, RocketTheme & WPZoom.

Workshops and Classes – There are workshops and classes going on all the time from professional ones like WordCamp to scholastic media specific ones offered in the summer and online throughout the year. We work to post scholastic journalism-specific offerings on this site.

Find a local mentor – Get a professional from your area who builds websites or knows about them to come in and help your staff. With a little digging you should be able to find one and more than likely they’d be more than willing to help. You can also use them as a resource throughout the year. My only advice here is to make sure you use some of these other options like Google to find an answer to something first. You don’t want to waste your mentor’s time on something like placing an image on a post when there are a variety of other options for that. Use your mentor for the big things you can’t find anywhere else.

WordPress.org – This is the main site of the WordPress CMS and there are lots of tips, tutorials and forums here that are very helpful.

Websites – There are a million out there, here are a couple the committee recommends: mashable.com, journaliststoolbox.org & JEADigitalMedia.org.

Books – There are actually lots of great WordPress books out there. WordPress for Dummies is one one adviser recommended. Whenever I’m looking for a book I take a bunch off the shelf and flip through them to see which speaks to me the best. We all learn a little differently.

Did we miss any? What do you use? Add to the discussion in the comments. Happy learning!

Aaron Manfull

Aaron is in his 19th year of advising student media. He is currently the Director of Student Media at Francis Howell North High School in St. Charles, Missouri. He is the Journalism Education Association Digital Media Chair and co-Director of Media Now. He created The Next 26 and is a former Dow Jones News Fund National Journalism Teacher of the Year. He is one of the authors of the textbook "Student Journalism and Media Literacy." You can find him on Twitter and Instragram @manfull and on Snapchat as aaronmanfull. He's a proud father. A transplanted Iowan. And an avid Hawkeye Fan.

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