Writing In WordPress
Most, if not all of us have heard the name WordPress, in fact if you’re here you may notice the words “Blog at WordPress” somewhere near the bottom. It’s been a long-standing tool for bloggers and keen writers to get their work out into the world, and with a bit of careful effort noticed there too. It’s also a fairly functional means of producing a quick and easy website for those of us with only rudimentary programming skills, with a wide selection of modifiable themes and plugins that can be put into play to make your WordPress site stand out from the many millions of other WordPress sites there are out there (about 74.6 million).
I have never built a website in WordPress, I’ve never really tried. I know people, far more skilled people who do that for me, I just help out.
As a tool for writers, the almighty host is a rather handy way of producing articles to a consistent style, and it’s quick and easy to add pictures and videos, links to other content, reader polls and a battery of other tools, many of which I’ve never even used. So let’s take a look at the interface:
Top to bottom then, a space for the title, a look at the link that’s automatically generated and the ability to edit it. Underneath that are a selection of interactive extras, adding pictures, polls and so forth. Beneath that is a fairly standard selection of symbols that anyone who’s used the average word processor will recognise, with a few interesting additions. Note the quotation mark (“) symbol that can turn a paragraph from being a fairly standard part of the article
… and turn it into a distinct element, narrowing margins at either side, putting the whole lot into italics. Not necessarily for use with quotes, but it can make certain important notes stand out from the other paragraphs.
Next to that, a horizontal line inserts… well a horizontal line, practical for breaking up sections which don’t require a title, such as introductions and outroductions (surprisingly not a word). Further along in the line, a symbol resembling a sandwich allows the article to be collapsed when browsing through archives, something you’ll never see while just perusing article by article.
In the next line is one of the most handy sections of the editing process, the drop-down menu that keeps your formatting regular. Dependent on the style of your website, each of these will produce a heading that not only serves to break up an article by categories and sub-sections (like a heading should), the same type of heading will appear in all of your work, even if it’s changed after the fact, all of your former pieces will remain the same.
Along that row, more familiar symbols, underline, justify, font colour and so forth, before launching into the writing space itself.
Down the right hand side then, Publishing options allow for scheduling if you want your article to appear the following morning, or if you’ve managed to get a full week done in an evening and want it regularly spaced. Under the Publisize section you can adjust how the article will appear on social media. Categories and not pictured Tags allow you to further describe the article by what themes you commonly write about, and by important subjects discussed that allow the article to be found more readily on site and through search engines.
A long time ago I asked Tim how I could generate a text box, something to be kept as a side-note, not part of the whole article, but an important part nonetheless, he spent a great deal of time finding out the best way to create this little box for me, and it is invaluable.
Note as well, on the right hand side above the writing area, two tabs, visual and text. If you know your HTML well enough and are just that keen, you can write your articles in the original code format that internet writers used to need to learn. I cannot express how much easier this style makes my life, but there are certain things I simply cannot do outside of the text style of editing, such as the text box just here about text boxes.
But do not think for one moment that all of this makes for a perfect writing experience. Certainly there are some major elements I’d love to incorporate, and I strangely miss my paragraph indentations from when I write in prose, and lacking control over some of your formatting options creates some odd effects that I find a little irritating.
- Numbered lists for example stand out in an article far more than they ought to.
- And yet bullet points appear quite normal by comparison.
My greatest irritation however lies more with my overall writing experience, and it has less to do with WordPress themselves, and a lot more to do with my internet connection. If you’ve opened up a new post and begun to write yourself you may have already noticed some rather dramatic differences in my screenshots to your interface. Truth be told they’re broadly the same, and nothing I have said here fails to apply to what you’ll find when you click Add New. The reason I still use the old style over the new is because my connection has a tendency to disconnect at regular intervals, crashing Google Chrome so badly it can’t even generate the “Page has become unresponsive” message properly. This problem I find to be somewhat mitigated on this set up, rather than the other.
So why write about writing? Seems a little circular.
I’ve been doing this now for two years today! Happy Anniversary to me, and thanks for reading every stupid thought that has sprung into my mind. I really appreciate it, we really appreciate you, and we encourage anyone who wants to join us, either here on GeekOut South-West or just in writing for everyone to see. We’ve made a few friends by coming to WordPress with our humble little geeky website (you know who you are), and you can to. Don’t be shy or humble, come and join us, and geek out all over the place.