Beyond WordPress basics

This article goes beyond the introductory steps described in our WordPress Basics article to cover additional topics you should find useful as you set up your blog in WordPress.

Finding WordPress documentation and support

Where do you go when you need help with WordPress? One of the first things you should do is check out the WordPress Codex.

A lot of software applications have sparse (or non-existent) documentation. WordPress is a noteworthy exception, however, with its well-written and comprehensive Codex. The Codex covers hundreds to topics relating to WordPress, and is available in multiple languages.

The following Codex pages are valuable resources for new WordPress users:

  • Getting started with WordPress: This page contains links to many useful pages for people starting out with WordPress.
  • WordPress support forums: If you have a question or problem and can't find the answer, the WordPress forums are an excellent place to search and ask questions. Most likely, someone else has encountered a similar issue or problem and found a resolution.

Choosing a theme

Our WordPress basics article briefly discusses themes and how you use them to customize a site's look-and-feel. There are thousands of themes available for WordPress, but their quality varies widely. Looking beyond just the superficial appearance that a theme provides for a site, how do you know which one to use?

Ideally, you should try to choose a simple, clean theme that is quick and responsive. A theme can have a significant impact on your site's speed and performance, so if you install a theme and notice a slowdown, you should probably try another theme.

Of course, if you just can't find a good theme for your site, for the ultimate in customization you can write your own. For detailed information about how to develop your own theme, please visit

Selecting plugins

Choosing a responsive theme is important, and it is equally important to be very selective about which plugins you use. Plugins are great for quickly adding functionality to WordPress. The wrong plugin, however, can be a disaster, affecting your site's performance, security, and stability. (To view a list of WordPress plugins that A2 Hosting does not recommend, please see this article.)

Which plugins you use depends largely on the functionality you require for your site. All sites, however, can benefit from the A2 Optimized for WordPress plugin. This plugin is written and maintained in-house by A2 Hosting's performance specialists. It provides performance, security, and stability features from one easy-to-use plugin.

If you have a managed hosting account, you may already have the A2 Optimized for WordPress plugin installed on your account. If you haven't already done so, take a few minutes to review its configuration settings to make sure you're getting the most out of your site.

For more information about the A2 Optimized for WordPress plugin, please see this article.

You will probably want to customize the permalink structure for your WordPress site. By default, WordPress uses post ID numbers in the permalink structure to fetch a page or post. For example:

This URL format works perfectly fine, but it is not very readable or easy to remember. Fortunately, WordPress enables you to configure the permalink structure however you want. For example:

In this example, the post URL contains the date of the post (March 2, 2016) as well as the title (”I have big news”). In addition to improving the usefulness and readability of your site's URLs, such a structure can improve search engine readability results.

For detailed instructions about how to customize the permalink structure for your site, please see this article.

Using widgets

Widgets are a quick and easy way to add functionality to the sidebars on your WordPress site. WordPress includes several widgets, such as a calendar, RSS feed parser, and tag cloud generator.

For information about how to add and configure widgets for your WordPress site, please see this article.

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