WordPress logo

WordPress is an open-source blog application that today is among the most used blogging and content management and publishing platforms on the Internet. WordPress powers millions of blogs and being used by tens of millions of people every day.

Installing WordPress

Setting up a WordPress installation on your own Bergbuilds domain is quick and simple. A series of excellent and helpful instructional videos have been created by our colleagues at CSU Channel Islands - another Domains institution. Below, please find several short videos. Each video addresses the sequence of steps to follow to install WordPress on your Bergbuilds domain. But please also know that there are staff available to assist you, too. Should these videos leave questions, or should something not work out easily, please contact a member of the Digital Learning Team, the ITDL staff, or make appointments with our Digital Learning Assistants.

WordPress is one of the many, and most used, web applications that can be installed within Bergbuilds. This video will walk through getting a WordPress site installed.

Tour the WordPress Dashboard

The WordPress dashboard is the control center where content is created for a WordPress site. The WordPress dashboard is also the place to make adjustments site appearance, and control the settings of how it behaves. Watch the video below for an overview.

Selecting a WordPress Theme

Themes control the look and feel of a WordPress website, sort of like a template. Themes are created by designers to allow users to quickly create content and end up with an aesthetically pleasing, professional-looking site (without knowing a single bit of code). Themes dictate the color of the site, the layout, location of the header, font size, font colors, look and feel of the menu, location and availability of widgets, etc. Something to keep in mind -- some themes allow easy changes to aspects of the design and some do not. The process of finding and applying a theme is quite simple, but selecting a theme can be quite time-consuming since there are thousands to choose. Check out this video for an overview of selecting a theme.

Customize a Theme

Themes are the most unique aspect of WordPress since all of them behave differently, have different features built in, and have different levels of customization. Customizations will vary by theme, but the video below will show where customizations can be made, and some commonalities across the theming world.

Posts vs Pages

Posts and Pages are nearly identical in the way that they are created in WordPress, but their nature is very different. Think of a post as an update to an evolving feed of information. Pages, on the other hand, are for more static content that is written to be explicative and informative but not often changed. Stated another way, Posts (as their name connotes) are similar to correspondence updates, like postcards. Pages are instead more like pages in a published book. They are written, published, and stay more or less the same until the book's next edition.

The video below explains in more detail.

Creating a Post or Page (and Adding Media to a Page)

As mentioned above, the process for creating a post is nearly identical to creating a page. The video below will walk through the process of creating a post or a page, and adding media.

Managing Comment Spam with Akismet

WordPress posts and pages both permit readers to comment. It isn't required (you can turn comments off, only post comments after an approval process, only allow comments from specific readers, and more). Permitting and inviting comments on a blog can cultivate a rewarding and creative environment of sharing and mutual engagement. But, blog comments can also invite SPAM!

SPAM - everyone hates it in their email. Those new to WordPress and blogging platforms might not know that spam exists in the form of comment spam – people (or robots) leave comments promoting their services or schemes, on a WordPress post or page. Boo!

So how might we deal with comment SPAM when it can come in even more often than email SPAM? Deleting every comment as it comes in won't suit anyone. One tested and solid approach is to rely upon a plugin called Akismet. You can read more about Akismet at https://wordpress.org/plugins/akismet/.

A WordPress Plugin is similar in many ways to a browser plugin or extension. It isn't a software application in its own right. Rather, it is code that is 'plugged in' to another application -- in this case WordPress. Once a plugin is installed and properly configured, it extends the functionality of WordPress. Akismet helps WordPress authors fight back comment spam. Installing Akismet isn't difficult, and may save a ton of unnecessary work and frustration. To get started we need to install Akismet into a WordPress blog. To do this, start at the WordPress Dashboard. Akismet how-to WordPress dashboard screen shot Navigate to Plugins > Installed Plugins Akismet how-to WordPress installation screen shot Akismet is at or near the top of the list of plugins that are automatically installed in a new WordPress installation. It is not activated, so part of the process of getting Akismet is activating this plugin. Before it can be activated, however, Akismet requires what is called an API key. API stands for Application Programming Interface, and it’s a way for programs and services to “talk to" and "trust" each other. The Akismet plugin requires an Akismet API Key, which is simply a code supplied to activate the plugin. The key is free for personal WordPress installations (in other words, non-commercial/not for businesses), and it’s available on the Akismet Website. Screen shot of Akismet Website for acquiring an API key Once you arrive on the Akismet for WordPress site, click the Get an Akismet API key button. Screen shot displaying how to sign up for Akismet Those who have an account at WordPress.com can sign in with that login and get an API key. Otherwise, fill in an email address, a username, and a password to receive a new account. This will not move your Bergbuilds WordPress blog to WordPress.com, nor will it commit anyone to paid WordPress services. Rather, WordPress.com manages the process to sign up for the Akismet plugin, and the requesting of an Akismet API.
Click the Sign up button to proceed. Screen shot of selecting the free personal Akismet plan Type in the URL of the Bergbuilds site receiving the Akismet plugin and click on the Sign Up button under the Personal plan (the free version with the most basic SPAM-control features). On the next page, the recommended contribution is $36. This is how the Akismet folks earn their living as creators of open-source software. Down the line, if Akismet proves to be valuable, please consider making a donation. However, for now, adjust the slider down to $0. The smiley face will begin to frown, but no worries. Screen shot of Akismet donation slider with frowning face Fill in the appropriate name and click Continue. Screen shot showing a completed Akismet registration This completes the sign up process for an Akismet account and API key. The key will be displayed on the screen (we’ve covered ours up). Next, follow the steps shown on the Akismet site for using an API key. Enter the API key in the Akismet area under Plugins.

A Final Note About WordPress setup, comment SPAM, and plugins: Akismet is only one of a large number of plugins available for WordPress. Many of these offer some degree of security or WordPress protection. Not all are good. Should a Bergbuilds user find a need for increased security or privacy, it's advised to have a conversation with someone equipped to help. If the WordPress blog is used for coursework, talk to the instructor. If more general assistance is desired, please reach out to a Digital Learning Assistant or to a member of ITDL through the Support Desk. In either case, please be sure to mention WordPress Plugin in your support request.

The information above will likely get Bergbuilds users up and going with WordPress. There are more videos available from the smart folks at CSU Channel Islands' Teaching and Learning Innovations team. Their Fine Tuning WordPress information contains more videos covering subjects like:

Please check out these videos. There are other resources available, too. Muhlenberg provides access to Lynda.com through the Application Portal. Lynda.com contains several WordPress-related courses, each with dozens of short videos addressing subjects like those covered here, and many more. When searching Lynda.com for WordPress-related contents, be mindful to watch WordPress.org videos rather than those covering WordPress.com. The difference is subtle but important. WordPress.com is a service available to folks who need Web hosting for their WordPress blog. Because Bergbuilds is available at Muhlenberg, it's very likely that Web hosting is not a consideration, and that WordPress can instead be installed on a user's personal Bergbuilds domain.

If you have questions about the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress, or if these videos did not provide the information needed to complete a task, please contact ITDL and we will be happy to help! Good luck, and get going with WordPress!