How To Navigate The WordPress Ecosystem As a New User

The WordPress ecosystem is made up of thousands of websites, code repositories, blogs, forums, etc. To a new WordPress user, it can be intimidating or downright frustrating figuring out where to go. My goal with this post is to provide a map for those who are brand new to the world of WordPress to be able to navigate with confidence. I’ve personally experienced being in a city I’ve never been to before and not knowing which direction to travel to reach my destination. It’s a frustrating experience. This guide ought to alleviate those frustrations for WordPress first timers.

Themes

So the default theme isn’t your cup of tea. Before going to Google and searching for “free WordPress themes” head over to the WordPress Theme Repository. It’s the safest place to obtain a new design for your site. Themes that are added to the repository are scanned and go through a thorough checklist before they are accepted. All of the themes hosted on the repository are free of charge. If you want to know the reasons why using Google to find free WordPress themes is bad, watch this video by Leland of Themelab.com.

Plugins

Much like the theme repository, WordPress has its own plugin repository filled to the brim with plugins to add functionality to your WordPress powered website. The WordPress plugin repository is the safest place to get code to add features to your website. Plugins are scanned and reviewed by volunteers before they are accepted into the repository. However, this does not guarantee that the code will function properly or is 100% secure for your website.

Support

The WordPress.org support forums enable the community to help each other. Creating an account is free of charge as is the support. The forums are staffed by volunteer moderators that do their best to help as many people as possibly every day. With so many people seeking help, you should exercise patience when using the forums.

Documentation

If you feel a little adventurous and want to try helping yourself first, you can visit the Codex. This Codex is like a repository for all of the detailed information for how WordPress works, inside and out. The main page of the Codex provides a number of great links to those starting out with WordPress.

Learning WordPress Through Video

While there is no official classroom to learn WordPress material, WordPress.org has the next best thing in WordPress.tv. WordPress.tv is the official website dedicated to WordPress that contains recorded sessions from WordCamps held all over the world. In fact, there is an entire how to section on the website dedicated to tutorial type videos.

Creative Inspiration

If you’re not sure what WordPress is capable of or have run into a creative block, you should browse through the WordPress showcase. The showcase is a collection of websites that have taken WordPress to the next level. There are a lot of great looking designs as well to help provide inspiration.

bbc on the WordPress showcase

WordPress Face to Face

While not officially a part of the WordPress.org project, Meetup.com is used by WordPress users all across the world to put together local meetups that bring like-minded people together. I’ve attended multiple WordPress meetups in my area and I’ve helped a lot of new WordPress users find their way. It’s one of the best forms of learning and getting WordPress help that I can imagine.

Keeping Tabs On WordPress Development

While there are not many posts on the official WordPress blog, it is where official news of releases are published.

Installing WordPress On Your Phone

There is an official WordPress app for most of the smart phone devices currently out on the market such as iOS devices, BlackBerry, and Android. If you’d like to install WordPress on your phone, be sure to check out the mobile section of the WordPress.org website to see if there is one available for your device.

Wrap Up

Now you might be wondering, why didn’t I include this site or that site when putting this guide together. The purpose of the guide is to provide a map that contains the essential information new users need to know. Using this knowledge as your foundation, you should find yourself more comfortable in the WordPress ecosystem. After getting to grips with WordPress, new users will expand beyond these pillars and discover the other resources that are on the web dedicated to WordPress. It doesn’t make sense to point new users into different directions when the above information is all they really need to get started.

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