How Do You Educate People New to WordPress?

When a friend of mine asked for suggestions on what he should use to create a new site, I suggested WordPress. It is well supported, has an amazing community, and a ton of free themes and plugins to choose from. After getting WordPress installed on a new webhosting account, I left him be to see what issues he would run into and how he would configure the site.

After noticing the site was loading slowly three weeks later, I obtained admin access to try to determine what the problem was. The first thing I did was check which plugins he installed. One of the plugins added the ability to embed YouTube videos on the site using shortcodes. My friend was unaware that WordPress has oEmbed support which allows users to easily embed videos by pasting the URL into the editor.

He also installed a couple of other plugins that mimicked core functionality. He was unaware that WordPress does most of the things he wants without the need for plugins.

Page Builder Shenanigans

After activating a theme that was compatible with the SportsPress plugin, he installed the MotoPress Content Editor. MotoPress Content Editor is a front-end page builder that enables users to visually construct pages. The front page of the site was a long vertical column filled with information that mimicked blog posts.

Because he didn’t understand how WordPress works, he forgot to configure the site to display the latest posts instead of using a front page. What he ended up doing is recreating the blog post layout on the static front page using the MotoPress Content Editor. He also added a lot of page builder elements such as YouTube videos to the page which was a contributing factor to the site’s poor loading times.

Page builders are a tool that can make building sites and pages more convenient, but in the wrong hands, they can help users ruin their sites. I replaced the video elements with a text widget that displays the latest video from a YouTube channel. Since he was mimicking the blog post layout on a static page, I configured the site to display the latest blog posts first.

Once I fixed these issues, I removed the page builder and explained to my friend why it was unnecessary. He was recreating WordPress functionality and doing unnecessary work without realizing it.

This experience makes me wonder how many other newer WordPress users end up in a similar situation. They don’t know what WordPress is capable of out-of-the-box and they end up installing a myriad of plugins with descriptions that sound similar to the features they want. I spent about a week undoing all of the work my friend did in three. Had I not stepped in, the site would likely not scale and its performance would decrease further.

Getting New Users Started on the Right Track

In early 2015, a community initiative dubbed NUX Working Group was created to brainstorm ideas on how to improve the new user experiences throughout the WordPress admin. While the group initially had a head of steam, it lost a lot of momentum last year. I’d like to see it re-emerge and work in concert with the focus-based approach to developing WordPress this year.

How can WordPress explain to new users what its capable of without drowning them in technical information? Is it feasible to create something that caters to the majority without explaining every feature in detail? Admin Pointers were introduced in WordPress 3.3 and while they’re typically used to introduce new features in a release, they don’t act as a guided tour to what WordPress can do.

Education is likely a key component to improving the new user experience. has a 12-step beginner’s guide that walks people through the process of configuring and customizing their sites. For self-hosted WordPress users, there’s a New to WordPress – Where to Start guide that covers what WordPress is, choosing a host, and considerations to keep in mind. However, much of the information is technical in nature.

If you’re a consultant or coach who works with people new to WordPress, how do you handle the educational part of your projects? What are the most common roadblocks that they encounter? Do you have a custom-made getting started guide or do you forward them to a site with video tutorials like WordPress.TV or WP101?


58 responses to “How Do You Educate People New to WordPress?”

  1. This is auch an important and eye openning experience. Now that I think of it, there’s a lot new users don’t know about WordPress.

    Do you think there’s need for another WP101 kinda tutorials? I for one refer new users to that resource along with WPBeginner.

    But just like the series I wrote at TorqueMag last year –about Product Launch UX, WordPress can also improve on that part.

    Thanks for writing this exp of yours.

  2. For the clients that we build custom sites for, which contain custom plugins or custom post types, we use our Easy Support Videos plugin to embed videos in the dashboard.

    Since most of our clients have a grasp on how to navigate WordPress, we create our own short videos on the custom pieces and host on Vimeo or Wistia. The beauty is, we can track the analytics and make sure they are watching the videos, and also know which pieces of the site they keep referring back to in the videos.

  3. Jeff, here’s your problem: “When a friend of mine asked for suggestions on what he should use to create a new site, I suggested WordPress.”

    How could you recommend something as complicated and powerful as WordPress to a non web professional, especially a friend? Even Matt Mullenweg agrees that WordPress is “too hard” and “too expensive” for most people.

    It is surprising (and wrong) that so many WordPress fanboys and girls blindly recommend WordPress to even non web professionals. Do you tell your non-mechanic friends to perform complicated repairs on their cars? I doubt it. So why are you recommending something as complicated as WordPress to friends who are not web professionals?

    • Because I knew if he had problems, he would ask me and I know a few people who could help if I couldn’t. It wasn’t a blind decision but I get where you’re coming from. It took some educating but he’s already grasped the concepts and after explaining a few of the features WordPress has and showing him how they work, he’s pretty stoked that he chose WordPress.

      • Hi Jeff, glad your friend is doing better with WordPress. But he still had to waste a lot of time and energy trying to figure out even the basics of WordPress. Plus, he could only get his WordPress site working properly because he’s lucky enough to get apparently free or low cost help from you, and he’ll of course need a fair amount of ongoing support unless his site is extremely basic. But if his site is extremely basic, WordPress is probably way more than he needs. So my point remains that WordPress websites should be in the hands of web professionals, and certainly not recommended WordPress newbies. I’m also curious if/what CMS or website builder you recommend to friends and family who tell you upfront that they don’t want to deal with something as complicated and powerful as WordPress?

        • Hi Scott,

          Thanks for contributing your thoughts.

          From your recent posts, you seem to have had trouble with WP sometime in the recent past. Perhaps some of the good folks in the community could assist you with whatever troubles you are experiencing.

          The bottom line is that all solutions on the web rely upon some basic underpinning of knowledge and understanding of web technologies. WP is not unique to have this problem.

          Some platforms have made the decision to simplify the experience for brand new users to the web. For some users, this will suffice.

          For many others, it will work for a while until they want something that SS, Wix,, etc. do not provide. That is the exact moment that many WP web developers find these folks. The point and which they’ve discovered that they cannot ‘grow’ with a platform that has limited expand-ability. There is always a balance to be struck within the market you wish to serve.

          You come across with a lot of passion. I like that. Perhaps you could find some time to share your own experiences and troubles so that others could assist you? Even your personal story about other platforms’ benefits over WP would help further the discussion within the context of this Post. That way we could learn more about what would/could help make things easier for new users. Thanks.

        • Hi Toby,

          Does anyone who uses WordPress not have recent problems? :)

          My main “problem”/surprise is, why are WordPress pros obsessed with getting non web pros to build their own websites using something as complicated and powerful as WordPress?

          That’s like Tesla technicians constantly trying to get non Tesla technicians to diagnose and fix their Teslas (and Teslas surely need a whole lot less “maintenance” than WordPress sites).

          What would you think if you asked a mechanic friend about problems you were having with your car, and he or she kept recommending that you diagnose and fix it yourself by watching youtube videos? Or if a lawyer friend kept telling you to do your own legal work by watching youtube videos?

          I think WordPress, WordPress pros, and WordPress end-users, would all be much better off if WordPress pros stopped encouraging WordPress newbies to try to build their own WordPress sites.

          Think about how long it takes a WordPress newbie to build a good site. It could easily take 40+ hours. And it would surely be lacking compared to what a WordPress pro could do. Plus I’m sure a significant percentage of them end up having to give up and hire a WordPress pro anyway, just like Jeff Chandler’s friend had to get Jeff’s help.

          Do you really think someone like a hair salon owner has that kind of time and patience? Even if they did, wouldn’t their time be far better spent working on their business instead of trying to learn something as complicated as WordPress?

    • I think you really underestimate the ability of people to learn WP. There are a few things that will be alien to them, but for the most part they are just writing in a text field like typing an email. They will come to understand more of the WP functionalities in time.

      It’s not expensive to purchase hosting that will auto install WP for you as well. I just always ask to be added as an Admin if they want me to help with the little problems that might arise, but honestly, I barely hear back from people more than twice (in my freelance work).

      • Hi Nina, actually, I think it’s that I understand and respect other people’s limited time and other commitments (my specialty is working with entrepreneurs and small business owners). WordPress sites should be built and managed by web professionals, not WordPress newbies. You don’t disagree that it takes dozens of hours to get even basically proficient at building and managing WordPress sites, do you? The number of decisions and vendors required for self-hosted WordPress sites is mind numbing. And because WordPress is open source and free, there’s zero built-in support. So if they’re not using a web professional, who is a newbie WordPress user supposed to call when they need help, especially after hours or on weekends? As Abraham Maslow famously said, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to treat everything as if it were a nail.” That seems to be why WordPress web designers recommend something as powerful and complicated as WordPress to even non web professionals.

    • I am a volunteer SCORE business counselor and I recommend WP to my clients. Of course, I explain to them that if they have a minimum of 6 to 12 months to build their site to meet their needs that they can do it themselves, however….if they are crunched on time they should definitely hire a professional.

      I do believe that WP is waaaaay better than drag-and-drop solutions for startup businesses. If they have enough time to become familiar with the “non-tech” side of WP, they’ll do just fine.

      • re: “I explain to them that if they have a minimum of 6 to 12 months to build their site to meet their needs that they can do it themselves”

        Carla, it is great that you warn businesses how long it takes to build a WordPress site. But I’m curious, what percentage of your clients still decide to try to build their own WordPress site even after you warn them that it will take at least 6 to 12 months? And what percentage end up hiring someone else after trying to do it themselves?

  4. I am the sole WP trainer and direct support person for my organization and I focus equally on providing information online through my support website (tutorials, screen casts, etc) that my users can look through, but it seems they really just want that direct one-on-one attention. In my opinion, WP training is going to differ depending on the individual’s learning style and if they are the type to seek out solutions on their own as opposed to shooting off an email as soon as they are roadblocked by something.

    When I train users, I offer them three options: large group sessions held about once or twice a month for those who just want to sit through a one-hour workshop style training, small group sessions typically held in a conference room which turns into more of an informal one-hour Q&A type session, or 1-on-1 individualized training that is based off any prior experience the individual may have with WP or the web in general, and their computer skills.

    All participants regardless of how they are trained are given a “Quick Reference” handout of common tasks in WP such as how to login, creating and publishing pages/posts, adding media, building a featured content slider on the front page and then widgets. It’s simple and on a need-to-know basis sort of supplement. My users aren’t typically going to be creating all new content, but rather some sort of administrative support staff picking up work from another coworker before them.

    I would like to also offer my users some videos or other form of WP support to help them as an alternative to calling/emailing me directly. However, I think it’s not only a benefit to them, but to the organization if I can just answer their question quickly so they aren’t spending hours online trying to figure out why their slider image is chopping off the top of people’s heads. :)

  5. For many years, what I did to educate client is to create a sample Post titled something like “Welcome to WordPress” and ask them to take a look at that. Inside are short demo of how to add image, caption, video, heading, etc.

    For Page builder, I used ACF and make sure they’re fool proof and allow little space for error.

  6. Is it right to blame the user? The OP describes a user looking to solve a problem and finding obsolete plugins that offered a solution. Why were WP maintainers not weeding the garden? Why are once-useful plugins that are now no longer needed not flagged? Why does the dashboard not flag such plugins just like it flags updates? Why was it easier to find an obsolete solution than to find a capability that is in core?

    I don’t agree that this is a problem with educating the user. What I think we have here is a failure to communicate.

    • It’s not that the plugins were old or obsolete but rather, the user’s lack of knowledge that the plugin wasn’t necessary to begin with because WordPress core did what they wanted the plugin to do. Plugins that haven’t been updated for 2 years or more are flagged and have a notice that informs users of the fact.

  7. I head up the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City WordPress meetup group. I recently stopped promoting “WordPress” and start promoting “Learn Modern Website Design”. The meeting’s attendance has gone up significantly with this change in branding. Our previous month’s attendance was only 3 people (including me). Basically, it was only our diehard regulars who showed up that night. Since mainly only the professionals know what WordPress is, I changed our branding of the event. Any business owner or someone looking to get into modern web design may not have yet heard of the industry standard that WordPress really is. As a result of me facing this fact, I wrote another blog post comparing the “best drag and drop web page builders” and decided to throw WordPress in with the mix due to the ever increasing drag and drop options available. Needless to say, others may have better marketing, but WordPress hands down still has the better product!

    This rebranding, I’m hoping to grab the newbs before they make the mistake of going with lesser products.

    • Hi Aaron, you make some good points about WordPress marketing. But, I must disagree with your blanket stmt that “Needless to say, others may have better marketing, but WordPress hands down still has the better product!”

      Your stmt suggests that WordPress is the best solution for every business, non-profit, govt agency, hobbyist, senior citizen, millennial, multi-national corporation, etc. But that’s clearly not true. In fact, the version of WordPress that large orgs use is much different than what the rest of use.

      I also think that the name “Learn Modern Website Design” is not your best branding option, at least if you’re trying to attract busy entrepreneurs and small businesses.

      My decades of experience working with small businesses shows that what they most desire and need (especially when it comes to technology), are affordable user-friendly solutions that do not require weeks or months to transition to, and also don’t require a lot of ongoing, time-consuming and specialized support. So if you haven’t already, I encourage you to survey your target market for what they most desire and need when it comes to website options.

      BTW, what website features do you find to be must haves for most small businesses, and can only be provided with WordPress?

      On a more positive note, I like your firm’s name of Big Ten Web Design. Though many of your pages and plugins weren’t working at all or properly when I visited (your footer map plugin, your expect-from-us page, your website-porting page, etc). I was also surprised you don’t have About Us or News pages.

      I also really like your WEBSITE DESIGN PACKAGES page, and may soon be referring some clients to you. :)

  8. There is no best solution. WordPress might, after describing the problem, seem like it was too much and shouldn’t have been recommended. But I have had clients of square space and wix that have found themselves just as confused, scared to make changes, or disappointed in the options.

    So recommending something that seems simpler doesn’t guarantee that the person your recommending it to will find it that way. They could equally waste three weeks attempting to setup a site that on one of those other systems only to find out it wont be able to do what they want it to.

    Just some thoughts. You can only do your best so help someone soliciting general advice.

    • Hi Patrick, I completely agree that most non web pros will also find it difficult to properly build their website even if using a “DIY” website builder such as Squarespace.

      In fact, I think there are stats out there that show that most non web pros actually give up even when trying to build their website using a “DIY” website builder.

      That is why I believe most businesses should only attempt to build their own website if they absolutely cannot afford to hire a web professional.

      But many WordPress pros are so obsessed with trying to grow WordPress, that they even recommend it to non web pros. Which is a recipe for disaster for most business owners who really should be spending their limited time and energy building their businesses, not trying to learn how to build and manage something as complicated as a WordPress website.

  9. This seems like somethign that might be severed well through a plugin that comes bundled with a wordpress install. Somethign that does a walkthrough with new users, takes them to different areas, shows them the basic configurations and how to create sample content, has basic videos and links off to better offsite resources.

    That way it could be easily removed when done or when not needed in the first place.

  10. I’m an IT professional – database development, DBA, BI and web applications but Microsoft based, not WordPress which I use only outside work for small websites and I still need to learn a lot. It’s not just hairdressers who need help but fellow IT people coming from a different background who understand concepts but not the detail of WordPress.
    I came to it about version 3 and learned loads and developed a couple of private plugins for my sites using custom post types but since then I haven’t needed to do any more than routine maintenance so haven’t had to learn the new features.
    Back when version 3 came out lots of articles were on the web about plugin development and custom post types and taxonomies. People such as Justin Tadlock wrote really useful stuff. Recently I tried to re-read some of these links I’d saved and most had gone, lost in website updates.
    I’d like those who wrote about WordPress development five or six or seven years ago to revisit and update and republish some of their work even if it seems very basic to them. We haven’t all been on the train since the start so for those just joining there’s a lot to catch up on.

  11. I think I see where Scott is going and i do agree. I feel like there should be a person between WordPress and the end user.

    It’s hard to manipulate WordPress to fit any need, though very possible and is like an art form in a way. I love WordPress, but I have been working with it on and off for over 10 years.

    I think some of you don’t appreciate your own knowledge and understanding of WordPress.

  12. The basic problem WordPress has it that new users expect it to behave like Microsoft Word. Indeed, when I hear people talk about how “easy” or “difficult” WordPress is, it nearly always turns out that they use the word “easy” to describe something that behaves like Word, while “difficult” simply means that it doesn’t behave like Word.

    Unfortunately, Word is an awful yardstick because the simple truth is that hardly anyone uses it well. Most users, for example, don’t even know about “styles.” As a result, most documents composed in Word are not only badly written but also look terrible.

    So the idea that developers should seek to make other software behave like Word makes me shudder.

    And yet that is what I see touted as the future of WordPress. So we can “look forward,” apparently, to more front-end live editing. But that’s exactly what makes Word documents so dreadful.

    Long-form writers know that a distraction-free environment helps tremendously. Word, by contrast, encourages a ton of finger-painting distractions. (How should I format this sub-heading? Bold or caps? etc etc) So it not only produces poor-quality documents but also makes writers less efficient and productive.

    By far the most productive writing tools are those that divorce content from form. That’s what makes Markdown and LaTeX so useful.

    I don’t want to be fiddling with my site’s design when I’m writing. I know that (a) it’s a waste of time and (b) I’m not a designer: that’s what the theme is for. So I want a discrete admin space where I can write without ever looking at the front-end of my site.

    Unfortunately, WordPress’s hopeless recent attempt at creating a distraction-free writing space seems to have frightened developers away from looking at this again. Instead, we can expect more live front-end editing, resulting in badly-written posts on sites designed as they went along by writers getting distracted from the writing that they were supposed to be focusing on.

    • Re: “The basic problem WordPress has it that new users expect it to behave like Microsoft Word.”

      Hi Tim, I agree, but I think the bigger problem is that so many WordPress “experts” recommend WordPress to just about everyone, including even WordPress novices.

      I also think that a “distraction-free environment” is more relevant to blogging than websites. This of course is another major problem with WordPress, it’s still a blogging platform that can also be used for websites, but only if you have the time, patience, knowledge, and resources to do so.

      • Scott,

        I’m sorry, but I can’t agree with this: “I also think that a ‘distraction-free environment’ is more relevant to blogging than websites.”

        If someone has a website in order to promote his or her business or profession, then, when they devote their time to writing, it should devoted just to writing. Any temptation to fiddle with design or presentation is time lost and money wasted.

        That is the most important lesson that anyone running a business with a website needs to learn. It doesn’t matter whether the platform is WordPress or something else. Distractions cost money.

        Businesses also need to learn that this applies to routine document production too. They should create a proper template once (and use styles if they insist on using Word) and then just write. Anything else is expensive and counter-productive.

        • Hi Tim, Sorry if I confused you. I whole-heartedly agree that writing is best done in a distraction-free environment. But Jeff Chandler’s post is about how to help non-website designers/developers who want to build and maintain their own websites (and I’m assuming he’s referring to business sites). My opinion is that it is wrong that so many WordPress loyalists blindly suggest WordPress to non-website designers/developers, unless they’re able to afford ongoing help from a WordPress professional. WordPress sites are too time-consuming, complicated and expensive for most non-website designers/developers to properly build and maintain on their own. Speaking of a “distraction-free environment,” few things are more “distracting” for a small business owner who already wears too many “hats,” than trying to keep up with all the issues of even a simple WordPress website, which can and will happen at all hours of the day and night!

        • Scott, I wasn’t confused. While I have some sympathy with your view that WordPress sometimes gets recommended when it isn’t appropriate, I don’t think it’s a major problem — certainly not for any business with plans to scale. It might require a short-term investment of time, but that will more than pay off later. A well-chosen managed WordPress host will take care of many of the issues anyway.

          My point is that a much bigger problem is caused by those fixated on enabling more front-end fiddling, a la Word, on the specious basis that it improves the user experience. It doesn’t. It just wastes more time and encourages the creation of awful-looking websites.

          What businesses need is a site that is well built and designed from the beginning, and then a clean, distraction-free environment in which to add to the content from time-to-time.

  13. Jeff, I am surprised that you sounded surprised by your friend’s experience. This is the norm for every DIY user that I have met.

    I participated in the brief existence of the NUX Community Group you referenced. Most of the participants had little to no understanding of the novice user experience. A few voices from people who regularly provide support and training quickly recognized the gap in trying to develop a construct for a user base they didn’t know.

    The hobbyist, teensy small business owner, and web professional wannabe all flock to WordPress as a website builder because it is well known. Additionally, the software is positioned as a simple solution – install, pick a theme, and publish.

    The experience you described is not a training problem. It’s a marketing problem.

      • Hi Jeff, the obvious first step would be for WordPress fanboys and girls to STOP recommending WordPress to everyone, especially to small business owners who don’t have the time, knowledge or patience to proficiently build and maintain something as critical as a business WordPress website. And definitely STOP misrepresenting WordPress as being “easy” for regular folks to properly learn and use.

        For example, someone who runs a small river rafting company isn’t typically going to be able to properly build and maintain a WordPress site, at least not without a ton of help from a WordPress pro. They likely wear too many hats already.

        Web pros who market their services to entrepreneurs and small businesses – and truly want the best solutions for their clients – should do a better job keeping up with non-WordPress options. Hope this info is helpful!

  14. This is interesting to me because a growing segment of my business is one-on-one WordPress training. It’s something I fell into almost accidentally, but I have something of a knack for it and I find I really enjoy it.

    There tens of millions of WordPress sites out there run by people who haven’t faintest idea what they’re doing. As Peter Venkman would say, “The franchise rights alone could make us rich beyond our wildest dreams”

  15. I’ve been teaching a one day seminar for 11 years- and the first problem isn’t WordPress- it’s that most people have no idea of how the web or search works. Without a basic understanding of what and how people search – and why wordpress works so well- you’re kinda shooting blindfolded.
    The biggest challenge lately is trying to explain both the customizer and all these builders.
    The customizer is a disaster- a strapped on mess of a tool- that confuses more than it helps.
    The fact that a standard builder tool hasn’t been adopted- makes things even harder.
    Widgets still confuse people- since they’ve been used to hack front pages for years.
    There is no shortage of info on the web on how to solve WordPress problems- I always tell my students- Google is your friend, but- because of all the new hack/non-standard ways to present info in a non-straight blog format- they don’t even know what to search for.
    If they can just learn the importance of the taxonomy – posts, pages, categories and tags for organizing their info- they are ahead of the game- once they understand that pages and posts aren’t the same thing- but are…. (yes- I just said that) the same in the end- they are in much better shape.
    All this being said- an integrated help system should be devised.
    Thanks for talking about this.

  16. Hello All,

    Such a great conversation here. I’ve been working in WordPress for roughly about 8 years now and have my own business going on 7 years. We focus on building great experiences and products and 90% of that is through WordPress.

    We have tried numerous scenarios of training… placing videos in the client’s website to help them get around to building a private page with all the specific videos for their site.

    Building a separate support site for training. We have tried doing on-site training for small businesses and non-profits when they need it. This has had some decent success but we find our trainees are literally trying to write down everything we say. I totally understand that’s how some people learn and retain knowledge but as fast as WordPress updates and changes this cannot be a sustainable solution.

    (small plug)
    Now with 10+ years of design and development experience and the knowledge of working with clients big, small, startups, enterprise to small business, inside and outside of the advertising agency world; we’ve started the concept of building a virtual agency that clients pay us to do everything for them. We are still working on the onboarding and concept a bit but hopefully in mid-2017 we’ll be launching the full solution that allows a completely unsavvy web user to have a website designed and developed (in WordPress) for a flat rate monthly. No need for training or even a login to their website. We are their ‘Virtual Agency of Record’ and they pay us to do what we are good at (design, development, marketing, strategy, etc.) and allow them to focus on what they are good at, their business.

    We are calling it 72Layers and would love comments and suggestions.

  17. Setting up WordPress as blog is straightforward and pretty obvious to even new users in my experience. It’s like you said when you start introducing themes and plugins with custom functionality things can get complex. I have found quick topic/task oriented walk through videos work the best in these situations.

  18. Thanks for mentioning WP101, Jeff! While many WordPress professionals do send their customers to our membership site for training, our WP101 Plugin is far more popular (and arguably more effective) for providing basic video training for beginners.

    The plugin provides the videos directly within the customer’s own WordPress dashboard, without having to visit another site. Plus, you can also add your own custom video tutorials and they’ll appear alongside our tutorial videos.

    GoDaddy uses the plugin to provide our WordPress 101 videos to all their managed WordPress customers. So, if you’re sending your customers to GoDaddy for hosting, our videos are already included!

    I participated in the NUX group you mentioned above, and felt that we made some solid recommendations to improve the new user experience in WordPress itself. I’d love to see that group resurrected. But until then, we’ll continue to make the WP101 videos available to help new WordPress users get up to speed as quickly as possible!

  19. Hi Jeff,

    First, thanks for writing this post and raising this topic.

    I’ve built sites using WordPress and other CMS programs, and also built them from scratch, and even coded my own CMS back in the day with Cold Fusion. I am also a tech writer and trainer, and have written an e-book on basic WordPress for people who want to maintain their content.

    The easiest setup I’ve found for the occasional user is to put them on a managed multisite, and built the basic site for them. I then provide them with a one-on-one training session based on my e-book, which is written in tutorial fashion.

    By going with a managed multisite, you avoid one of the largest problems occasional users have – failing to login on a regular basis and do core, plugin, and theme updates. You can also limit plugins and themes to ones you’ve tested and regularly monitor. This keeps the beginner from trying to install the latest, greatest shiny plugin which breaks or gets abandoned a few months later.

    With that part of the site managed, the user can focus on creating and managing content. I teach them WordPress by leveraging a program most of them already know – Microsoft Word, and explain the ways that WordPress differs from Word.

    These sites are designed to be low-maintenance for very busy professionals. They do not have e-commerce, because it introduces a whole other level of security issues and maintenance. This has worked quite well for small, informational sites.

    To some extent, I see some problems with WordPress that I saw back in the day with Microsoft Access. With Access, an amateur could use wizards to start building applications, which could wind up becoming mission-critical. Real mission-critical applications need to be designed by a professional systems analyst who can do a needs analysis and prioritize things and recommend alternatives, and make sure the application is secure and if necessary scalable. The average user does not have the training and experience to know when they need a custom solution vs. a bolt-on, or what the trade-offs may be.

  20. I freelanced for a long time, teach at the college level, and develop my own courses here: The biggest thing I’ve seen I think is that people keep telling their clients or peers WordPress is so easy to use when it’s not.

    I used to make documents and sit down with my clients. With WP in One Month, I assume basic knowledge of WordPress, but as far as teaching goes, I always make sure to do a few things:

    * Make sure I don’t downplay how hard certain tasks can be
    * Don’t use jargon (or explain any I do use)
    * Give my students identifiable tasks to complete (learn by doing).

    When training a client, don’t just show them. Have them do it. Or do it, and then have them do it. Repetition never helps either. Most importantly, put them at ease when they are learning.

    • re: “The biggest thing I’ve seen I think is that people keep telling their clients or peers WordPress is so easy to use when it’s not.” So true. It’s almost like there’s some sort of a conspiracy going on to trick people into getting so frustrated with WordPress, that they will have to pay a WordPress pro thousands of dollars to finish and maintain their sites. Why else say that WordPress is free and easy to use when even WordPress creator Matt Mullenweg agrees that it too expensive and too complicated to use for most people?

  21. @Jeff and others…

    I think this is an opportunity, not a threat. FWIW.

    We need to start talking about “WordPress on-boarding”. It should be a THING.

    On-boarding is a really big deal with SaaS startups and mature companies, because it’s the difference between a purchasing decision and successful long-term adoption/use/faithfulness to a product.

    There’s really been little said/done, to my knowledge, with WordPress in this regard.

    In my imagination, I see a smart service that exposes a plugin that is active on a fresh WP install (instead of Hello Dolly!!), which follows you and progressively introduces the Admin to you, and all the key features. It would know what you’ve done and not done, and what you’re struggling with, to some degree. It would suggest what the “next thing” to learn is, etc.

    I’m no expert, but I think there’s some exciting opportunity here to create something that makes the on-boarding experience really great for new users.

    I should be really naughty, create one, and call it… Hello Dolly!! Ha :)


    • Hi Alister, You make a lot of good points. But, are you talking about “WordPress on-boarding” for NEW WordPress a) PROS, b) END-USERS who DO have a WordPress pro helping them, or, c) END-USERS who do NOT have a WordPress pro helping them? Hopefully you’re talking about “a” and/or “b.” WordPress on-boarding for DIY business websites would continue to undermine WordPress and WordPress pros. A WordPress business site should not be DIY. It should be put into the hands of a WordPress pro. For example, how many business WordPress sites can you name that were built DIY by a non-WordPress pro who didn’t end up getting stuck and frustrated, and having to find and pay a WordPress pro to fix it? I think even Jeff Chandler said it took him a week to fix his friend’s DIY WordPress site, after his friend had been unsuccessfully trying to get it working right for three weeks. I don’t think Jeff said how many hours it took, but if it took 10 hours and he charges $75/hr, that would be $750.00 just to fix his friend’s DIY WordPress efforts. And if it took less than 10hrs, it still took a week overall. A week is lot of time for a business website to be working improperly or not at all.

  22. As someone who is a wp novice (less than 12 months using wp), I hope it’s ok to pitch in from a newbie’s perspective. I started with the 30-day free trial and used a lot of Morten’s videos (several watched many, many times). These were a lifeline although finding the right tutorial at the right time was tricky and I came horribly unstuck with the wamp server tutorial at one point.

    I’ve also used wp forums, theme forums, google searches and youtube. Mostly I’ve found what I need but often it’s been a frustrating and long-winded process. That said, I’ve now set up 3 wp sites, all self-hosted and installed them from scratch. I’ve also learned how to set up a virtual host and migrate the data to/from the web (again, one horrific experience but thankfully I trialled it before any real data was lost).

    Had I been able to afford it I would have gone to one of Mike Little’s courses at MadLab (I live in Manchester). Unfortunately at £300 each it was out of my budget so I’ve been managing with videos.

    Mostly I’m ok with tracking down something if I need it. My biggest frustration is out of date tutorials. I appreciate that this is partly due to the fast-moving environment that is wp but when you’re viewing screenshots and they don’t look like what’s on your screen it can be pretty off-putting! Simply saying which version of the app/software/wp in the title of the video would be helpful in narrowing down a match to your version.

    Of course, the other issue if you’re not following a course (online, in person or otherwise) is that you don’t know what you’re missing if you don’t know it exists (I suspect I have a few duplicated plugins, Jeff!).

    Sorry, a long post but hopefully useful. Before I sign off though, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to all the amazing people who make videos/blogs/tutorials and who give their time to respond on forums, so thank you all!

    • Hi Debbie, Your post was not at all too long. It was actually very insightful. It’s also interesting that even after investing what appears to be a significant amount of time learning and using WordPress for several months, including setting up 3 WordPress sites, you still consider yourself only a WordPress “novice.” I also think WordPress pros need to hear more from us non-WordPress pros. Blogs like WordPress Tavern are great resources, but they tend to be dominated by WordPress pros who don’t seem to appreciate enough how complicated, time-consuming and frustrating WordPress is for most people, including people who are generally pretty good at using computer programs and technology. If possible, can you also say: a) what type of sites you built using WordPress, b) what your favorite theme(s) and plug-ins are, c) about how many hours, weeks or months it took to build your first WordPress site, d) what must-have features does WordPress have that you didn’t find in other website platforms, e) what other website platforms you tried before deciding to use WordPress, f) what your tech background is, etc. Thanks for such a helpful post!

  23. If you guys need a quick solution to get WordPress training for you or your clients I suggest you to use this free resource. This is a site I built to test drive various WordPress products. You just have to solve a simple math to create your own WordPress site inside our network. You can do whatever you want in the site. There are many WordPress tutorials in the web space so try them out :)

    Hope you guys find this helpful.


  24. A few years ago when Matt Mullenweg visited Sydney (Australia) I raised my hand in the audience and told him I’ve spent more nights dreaming about WordPress than about my wife, who I also love just as much ;)

    The reason I’ve spent all this time dreaming about and obsessing over WordPress is that as a business trainer and technically declined WordPress user helping businesses grow online, I have struggled for years with the challenge of how to educate and train new WordPress users.

    So much have I fretted over this, in fact, that I have spent the past 6+ years writing hundreds of detailed tutorials and articles to help other technically declined users like myself and recently posted an article on the challenges of educating and training new WordPress users here:



    • @Martin Aranovitch

      Re: “I have spent the past 6+ years writing hundreds of detailed tutorials and articles to help other technically declined users…”

      In other words, WordPress is not a DIY website platform. So it is wrong for WordPress pros to push WordPress onto individuals and small businesses who cannot afford to hire a WordPress pro to build and maintain their website. WordPress websites are clearly too complicated, too time-consuming, and too frustrating for the majority of individuals and small businesses.

      If WordPress was truly serious about being the go-to website option for individuals and small businesses, then they would have made it much more user-friendly by now. But they have not. So WordPress pros should stop investing so much of their time and energy trying to make up for WordPress’s failings to be more user-friendly. Otherwise, you’re just enabling WordPress’s lack of effort to be more user-friendly.


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