Website management part 1: learn the ins and outs of your new WordPress website
By Kirsten Meintjes
Reading time: 7 minutes
So – it has finally happened. You are the proud owner of a shiny new website (hopefully developed by Yellow Door!) After weeks of back and forth, exchanging copy, images, and everything else needed to achieve a pixel-perfect site, the site is now live for the world to see.
Although it might be perfect when launched, things change over time and you’re going to want to update your website accordingly (there is nothing worse than coming across a website for an awesome product when you realise it was last updated in 2012!).
The price of your product might go up next season, and perhaps you’d like to add information about a new member of the team. Thus, it’s important to be equipped with the basic skills to understand the backend of your website in order to make the updates.
No doubt you’ll have come across all sorts of new terms; SEO, mobile-responsiveness, domains and hosting, analytics, spam, footer icons… the list continues (read more on our recent FAQs blog post). This two-part series should shed some light on the (surprisingly undaunting) technical side of your site, ultimately empowering you to prevent it from going stale in the long run.
Part one will address some general website concepts that are critical to understand before dabbling with the back end; and part two will get down into the nitty gritty of how to perform various updates.
1. The backend and dashboard
The “backend” is a part of your website that is only accessible by users that have admin access. If we build the site, we’ll provide you with a link, username and password to log in and access the dashboard.
This is the starting point from which you will be able to make any and all changes to your website. Some of the sections accessible from the dashboard will contain code – don’t let this frighten you! Most of the changes you’ll be making will be either to pages, posts or sliders, all of which will be intuitive and accessible from the WordPress dashboard.
2. The media gallery
Whenever you would like to add any media – be it a photo, pdf or document – to any page on your website, the media gallery will house these elements. You can access and organise all of your media by clicking on the ‘Media’ button in the left-hand panel. You can also do basic edits on this media through the gallery, for example cropping an image, adjusting aspect ratios and dimensions.
Note that when you are busy editing a page itself, and you are adding or updating any media, a pop up representing the media gallery will open where you can make all changes/ additions, i.e. if you would like to add an image to your website, you can add it to the gallery directly from the page that you are editing, you do not need to navigate to the media gallery beforehand to do this.
3. The header and footer
Your website’s header and footer are controlled in areas separate to where you perform other updates. It is important to note that when accessing and updating either of these, the updates will show across all pages of your website.
Web development is efficient like that – there is a fundamental principle in coding called Do Not Repeat that all developers refer to when looking at the efficiency of their code. Simply put: if something can potentially be done once and once only, then this the sure route to take. If you would like to know how to update your header and footer, wait for part two of this series, where I will be showing you the basics of updating your website.
4. “Something was working, but now it is not”
Unfortunately in life, over time, things that were fine can break. This is the same across most fields – be it biology, economics, or in our case, websites. If an element of your website was fine at the time of going live, but a few months later it shows some sort of error, this is likely not a problem with the way that a website was developed, but rather general “wear and tear” that happens with any dynamic entity.
The theory behind this is that a website is made up of many pieces. Some of these pieces we create in-house, however some pieces are created by other developers around the world, and we have skilfully assembled these pieces to create your website.
(It is because of these outsourced pieces that creating your website with Yellow Door does not cost an arm or a leg – a 100% custom system can take many months to develop and generally costs upwards of R200 000, and really isn’t necessary for most businesses.
Usually the pieces play well together, but if there are any drastic changes, then it is possible that they cause conflicts. Usually one or two updates need to be done to keep all pieces compatible, but ideally you should have a developer check it out to ensure all bases are covered.
If you are one of our retainer clients, then you have probably never encountered any visible errors, as we would likely have detected this on our side and fixed it accordingly. If it has slipped through the cracks, you can contact us immediately and it’ll get investigated and sorted out.
Plugins are the magic of WordPress. They are what enables one to quickly add elements that other developers have spent ages working on, and allow for the connections between your website and other services that you might use (for example, Mailchimp for newsletters).
Plugins often have a free version and a premium version. Whilst navigating your dashboard, occasionally there might be a notice at the top of your screen either asking if you would like to upgrade one of your plugins, or to leave a review for the developers of the plugin. These are nothing to worry about – you can dismiss them or leave a review, or chat to us about upgrading the plugin if you think it would benefit your business.
Just the sound of the word is enough to make anyone shudder! Unfortunately these days, if you have as much as an internet connection, you have probably experienced spam in one form or another.
My 90-year-old grandfather called me one evening with concerns that an email from “SARS” requesting a payment was actually spam. He called his auditors, his internet service provider, and even tried Googling it, but when all else failed and he still was not convinced of the legitimacy, he gave his trusty granddaughter a shout. I asked him to forward the email to me, and within three minutes diagnosed it as spam. I noticed that the email address had “@sars.co.tn” –this indicated that the email was from Taiwan – a far cry from the South African Revenue Service that we know and love.
Bringing it back to your website, it will have been developed by us to ensure that spam is prevented at the time of going live. Like human viruses that can mutate and compel you to get an annual flu shot, spam evolves and every day there is a new, unpredictable way in which your website needs to be protected. Preventing spam is something that a developer will have to put in place and manage for you, so give us a call and we will investigate it and find a solution.
In part 1 of this series we have covered some of the theory that will equip you with a high-level understanding whilst managing and navigating the backend of your WordPress website. Look out for part 2 where we will go through steps on how to perform a variety of updates that you might want to make over time.