Well the simple answer would be almost everything, which to some extent is true. But there is one thing WordPress does really well, and the closer you to stick to that the more you will enjoy using WordPress and the better it can serve you. WordPress is wonderful at creating Blogs.
Blog is short for Web-Log – you can think of it as an online diary. A core idea around which blogs operate is Time. The most basic Blog is like a list of diary entries – where the most recent entries are displayed first. In a way its like newspapers and magazines where time is a reference – what you are reading pertains to the time it was written. Some things, like news, are tightly bound to time – yesterdays news is almost not relevant for today. Some things are less bound to time, such as articles in a fashion magazine – they last longer then the news, but they also fade with the passing of seasons.
So a Blog is one specific kind of website where the pages are presented in reverse chronological order – the newest & latest entries are always presented first. WordPress is an exceptional tool for creating Blogs.
Do I Want a Blog?
This is key question and now is a good time to ask it (before we delve into the specifics of WordPress). A few years ago it was fashionable to create web-sites as a kind of “online business card” – and there still are many websites that have a few pages that rarely (if ever) change. Blogs are not like that and not intended for that kind of web-site.
When you create a blog you open yourself up to the force of time. This force can support you and it can weigh you down. A blog is great if you want to create a continuous and fresh presence – it has tools to support you in doing this (we’ll talk about some of those tools a bit later). One thing a blog does not have is a motivation to create – that has to come from you. A blog works when you keep it alive, you write consistently, you write well and you write from your heart. If that sounds like something you want to do then a blog is just the thing for you. So, do you want a blog? If so, read on.
A Post in WordPress is the equivalent of an entry in your diary. In slightly more technical terms, a Post is a web-page with a time-stamp on it. When you publish a post it is given a time-stamp that indicates when it was published. This places in a relationship with all the other posts in your blog. Posts that were published after it will appear before it (remember – the most recent posts are displayed first). Posts that were published before it will appear after it.
Most of your web–pages will be posts. A post can contain almost anything you want: text, images, video, audio, etc. You can publish as many posts as you want. Just remember – posts will always be displayed in reverse chronological order!
A Page is exactly the same as post except for one thing – it is not given a time stamp. Pages are used to display information that is static and doesn’t change often. Here are some example of pages:
- An “About” page that provides general information about you and what your blog is about.
- A “Contact” page that contains a contact-form visitors can use to leave you a message.
- On this site I maintain a “Reading” page where I keep an updated list of the books I am currently reading (and books I’ve read in the past).
Pages are usually made available to visitors at all times. You don’t want them to mix with your posts, because they would quickly disappear from view.
Categories can be used to group posts together – like sections of a newspaper. This is helpful to readers who want to go directly to one topic instead of sifting through everything to find what they’re looking for. With WordPress you can create as many categories as you want (though it may be prudent not to over do it so visitors to your web-site don’t get lost). You can then assign a post to more then one category. This is one of the perks of technology – you can find a relevant article in more then one section of the newspaper.
You don’t need to decide in advance whether or not you want to use categories or what your categories will be. You can create and modify categories as you go. For example, you may, after writing for some time, recognize a recurring theme and you may want to bring that them to the attention of your readers. All you need to do is create a new category, and then add that category to the relevant posts. WordPress will automatically display the new theme to your visitors.
Comments facilitate a dialogue between you and your visitors. WordPress makes it simple for visitors to comment on your posts & pages. Comments are usually displayed at the end of every post or page in what is called a comment thread. Each comment is added to the end of the thread – so a conversation can develop around your posts. You can decide whether or not comments are allowed (you can open some posts to comments, and close others), who is allowed to comment, you can review comments before they are published and you can also partake in the conversation by adding your own comments.
Links are so common on the internet you hardly notice them. A link is something that points to a page on the web – links are usually intertwined with content and given an emphasis (such as a different color or an underline) to get your attention. For example – this is a link to my Reading page.
But there is more to links then meets the eye. Lets have a look at a sample scenario: a visitor who reads your blog comes across an interesting post; this visitor also has a blog of her own and she writes a post on her blog about your post – and she includes in it a link to your post. This link symbolizes a relationship between you and her, it means you have something in common, something she cares about enough to write about and share with other people through her blog.
When this happens, wouldn’t you like to know about it? It’s not unlike a comment, only it’s not created on your blog. WordPress takes care of this too – it’s called Track-backs. In many cases WordPress can automatically identify when someone creates a link back to your blog and make a note of it. It can also display this information inside your comments – so when someone reads your post and then reads through the comments, they may benefit from reading what someone else wrote about it.
Track-backs also work the other way around. When you write a post and link to another person’s web-site you can also send them a track-back to let them know about it. It’s pleasant, polite and you never know who you will find on the other end of the line.
Comments & Track-backs are a doorway to connecting and socializing with visitors to your blog and with other people and their blogs.