Configure WordPress to Act Like a Traditional Website
Welcome back to Part 4 of Lesson 3 of the How to Build a Website Tutorial Series. In this part of the lesson we are going to continue configuring WordPress but before we do that, we are going to talk a little bit about the different types of sites that WordPress was designed to create. Typically, WordPress sites come in three flavors. It can be used to create a blog-style site, a traditional website or a hybrid of both.
The First is the “blog” style website. A blog style site is focused on blog posts. A blog site’s homepage displays blog posts in chronological order, with the latest post at the top. The content of the homepage changes every time the author writes a post.
So for example, let’s look at thefoodwatchdog.com. This is a Thesis based blog and on the homepage, there is a series of blog posts. The home page displays 2 featured posts and bunch of teaser posts. So here at the top is the latest blog post. If you scroll down you can find the break between the latest post and the next post. Scroll down further and you’ll find the teaser posts. Next week when a new post is added it will be displayed at the top. Then the second post will be moved down into the teaser posts and the last teaser post will move to the “previous entries” page. Because of this the home page is described as “dynamic” . It changes every time a new post is added. The underlying assumption is that when someone comes to the blog they want to see the latest post first. So older posts are always being pushed down the list.
This blog site also has static elements which are referred to as “Pages”. Pages rarely if ever change and they never change automatically. A good example of this is the “Contact page”. This page doesn’t change until someone changes it. The same thing is true for this other page – “Who is the Food Watchdog”. The content of this page does not change unless someone physically changes it. For this reason pages are described as “static”.
The second flavor of site is the more traditional website. It generally does not have a blog and emphasizes static pages. A good example of this is the website informing-arts.com. Christine is a high level independent marketing professional and this is her brochure site. Her homepage is a “static” page. And each of the menu items here leads to static pages. These pages only change when she edits them. There are no blog posts and no dynamic pages. The blog in the menu is actually a link to her blog site which is not part of the static WordPress site. We will be creating a blog like this. In the final lesson, we will be adding a blog component to the site but the bulk of this series is focused on creating a static business website.
The third flavor is a hybrid site. One that uses quite a bit of both static and dynamic elements. One good example of that is BYOB website. With over 100 static pages and hundreds of posts it’s a true hybrid. This sort of site is often called a Content Mangement System, or CMS. Another example of a hybrid site is here at jackiejacobson.com. Jackie is a member of byobwebsite and built this site from the videos and help that she got here on byobwebsite. While she has a lot of posts, her homepage is still a static page. It does not display blog posts and does not change unless she actually makes the change physically.
Jackie’s site also has a blog page. Her blog page displays a single featured post and bunch of teaser posts. You can scroll down through her one long post and come down to her list of teaser posts. Jackie’s site has lots of static pages. If we go to her “Tile and Glass Art” page you’ll see that it is in large part a catalog page. Click on one of her products – Tile Art Coasters – and it takes us to a product page where you can buy her art. If you want to learn how to build a store like this be sure to watch our “How to build an E Commerce Website” series. Whether you have a blog style website, a traditional website or a hybrid site, the functionality of WordPress doesn’t change. Christine’s site has the ability to have posts and dynamic pages. She simply chooses not to use it that way.
This initial series is focused on building a small business website rather than building a blog. So the site that we are building will be a static site with a static home page. If we choose to add a blog to the site the post will be displayed on a separate posts page. That brings us back to finishing off the settings. So we go back to the homepage of our demonstration site and currently the home page is in the default configuration. It is setup as a blog. So we’ll change that right now.
We go back up to the admin bar and select dashboard, and then we come down here to Settings and select “Reading”. This is where you set what your home page – or more specifically – your front page, is going to display. Again, right now, by default, the front page displays your latest posts however we are going to say that the front page displays a “static page”. In order to do this we need to be able to select a page to use as the static page and a page to use as the posts page. Those pages don’t yet exist so we’ll need to create them before we can complete these settings.
Now we go over to “Pages” and select “add new”. This brings up the “add new page” screen. Every page needs a title so we’re going to call this page “home”. At this point that’s all we’re going to do with this page so we come over to the right hand side and select “Publish”. We’ve just created our first page. We’ll do that one more time, so we select again “add new” and this one we’ll call “blog” and then hit publish. Now if we come over to the admin menu here and select “all pages” you can see that we now have a blog page, a home page and a sample page. Let’s go back over and visit the site. This theme now displays the new pages we created in the menu bar except you can see that it has 2 “home” pages. The first is the default home page – that is the blog page. The second is the page that we just created. Ok now it’s time to revisit those “reading” settings so that we can tell WordPress which page to use for the home page and which page to use for the posts page.
We’ll go back over to dashboard and hover over settings and select “Reading”. Now we’ll say our front page displays a static page and then we’ll select home as our static front page. Next we’ll select “blog” as our posts page and now we’ll hit save changes. We come back over to the site, and now you can see that we only have one instance of home, which is now the blank page that we created earlier. We also have our blog page which has this blog post on it – which was automatically created when we installed WordPress. And finally we’ve got our sample page – this was also automatically created when we installed WordPress. Now we have our site set up, not as a blog – but as a more traditional small business website.
There are a couple of more settings we want to address so let’s go back to the dashboard. Let’s scroll down to “Settings” and select “Discussion”. Discussion is something that is a traditional part of a blog website and its purpose is to allow and encourage interaction between the blog readers and the blog author. Well, in a traditional business website this sort of discussion does not have much of a place. So we are going to change the settings to reflect the fact that this is a small business website.
So under default Article Settings we will uncheck “Attempt to notify any blogs linked to from the article” and we’ll also uncheck “Allow link notifications from other blogs. However we will allow people to post new comments on new articles. In a later episode, we will adjust this little bit further. We DO want the comment author to fill out name and email. We’ll put a check beside “Enable threaded comments”.
For email settings we want email notification every time somebody posts a new comment and we want email notification when the comment is being held for moderation. And then before the comment actually shows up on the blog, either the comment author has a previously approved comment or the administrator must approve the comment. If a blog is playing little or no role on your site I would check “An administrator must always approve the comment”. If a blog is going to play an important role on your site then I would check “Comment author must have a previously approved comment”. When a comment author has been approved once, their upcoming comments will be automatically allowed. You will still be notified when someone comments, and if you feel like you need to go back and delete their comment, you are certainly able to do so.
There are a couple of additonal tools here to help you with automatic comment moderation. The first is this “link limit”. In this case, if a comment contains more than 2 links then it is going to be placed in the moderation queue.
Next you have 2 lists. The first list allow you to set specific words or IP addresses that will automatically place the comment in the moderation queue. So for example, you can put in here “viagra” and so any comments that contain “viagra” will automatically be placed in the moderation queue. The second list is similar except that rather than going into the moderation queue the comments will automatically be placed in the spam box.
Finally we have Avatars. When you are going to allow discussion I think it’s important for that discussion not to be anonymous. Avatars add a personal element to the discussion. I like to encourage this so I suggest that you do “show avatars”. An avatar rating may sound funny, but it is possible for people to have “racy” avatars and they can indicate the “raciness” level by giving their avatar a rating. There’s not much reason for the typical business website to allow anything more than a G rating for an avatar. We’ll leave this as suitable for all audiences. For users without an avatar of their own, I would simply select blank. You could have this little Mystery Man show up or you can pick any one of these but I simply select blank. And hit save changes.
Now we have one final setting we need to check and that is our Privacy Settings. This is usually automatically set properly but you can double check this to make sure. So here at Site Visibility you have 2 choices . Either you want your site visible to search engines or you don’t. If you check this second button here, Google won’t index your site and folks wont be able to find it via Google search. The only way they would find your site is if they knew the actual address. Obviously most of us want our site to be visible by Google so we select the first one here. Hit save changes.
That wraps up Part 4 of Lesson 3 of the How to Build a Website tutorial series. In the fifth and final part of the lesson, we are going to take a look at the file structure of your WordPress installation on HostGator.