Has someone told you that WordPress is difficult to learn? You’ve come to the right place: I’m here to show you that with the right tools it is not difficult to learn how to use WordPress. These resources for the fearful beginner will make your WordPress learning process a breeze.
Is it difficult to learn how to use WordPress?
WordPress is a fantastic content management system (CMS) that allows anyone to build themselves a website of any size, with no limits.
The potential of a WordPress site is huge, and therefore the learning curve can a little bit steeper than with some web builders. But if you are serious about your business, and about your website, WordPress will be worth your effort every step of the way.
Moreover, these days WordPress comes with amazingly easy, intuitive and stable drag-and-drop page builders. And they are as easy, or easier, than Wix or SquareSpace – but so much better… Anyway, that’s a whole other post.
Well, is it easy then?
Everybody says that WordPress is so easy (the famous 5-minute install). However, many beginners find it difficult to navigate and use.
One of the reasons for that is that with WordPress.org (not to be confused with WordPress.com) you will need to organise your own hosting and domain. And some newly minted entrepreneurs might find the process daunting.
Well, the point is WordPress is an incredibly powerful, almost infinitely expandable CMS. This means that it’s a bit more complex to set up than a lesser product, and it needs a bit more attention than your average plug-and-play platform.
Learning WordPress takes the right amount of preparation, just like sending a rocket up into the sky would.
Unless you already have a basic knowledge of how web hosting works, you might have a hard time trying to do everything by yourself. Choosing a web host, buying a domain name, choosing a theme, choosing the right plugins and so on: these choices are informed by a lot of prior knowledge.
Those who confront WordPress head on, the DIY way, without any preparation often find themselves deflated and disappointed, when they realise that WordPress is more complex than they thought.
This doesn’t mean that WordPress is difficult to learn: on the contrary.
It just means you shouldn’t do it alone.
In the same way you wouldn’t just take a car and drive it without having taken a few lessons, you should invest some time and a little bit of money on the right WordPress learning resources. As if by magic, all will be revealed. Without frustrations!
Yes, it can be easy.
I was like you not that long ago: a fearful WordPress beginner, determined to learn it but tearing my hair out at how impenetrable it seemed to be. Trust me: I was terrified by WordPress.
And look at me now: a certified digital consultant, completely in love with WordPress, giving talks at my local WordPress meetups (and hopefully WordCamps soon!) and living and breathing WordPress all day long.
While you don’t need to take the same path, who knows – you just might. I did, however, invest time and (very little) money on great WordPress learning resources that made it all so much clearer. And it was very much worth the time and the (relative) expense.
When you’ve learnt more, it will be up to you whether you want to go further and learn a bit of coding. You don’t have to, of course. But who knows, WordPress might help you unleash the geek within.
Believe me, I was shocked when it happened to me – I never, ever would have thought that I could possibly ever learn coding, let alone LOVE it.
Where NOT to start.
Another possible obstacle to the learning of WordPress is that there are resources everywhere. It’s overwhelming! Where to start?
Well, first of all I would say: do NOT start from the WordPress Codex. The codex is the official repository of all the information relative to WordPress, and everybody agrees that it’s a nightmare. You will find yourself in an endless loop of frustration, so don’t do it. I have taken part to WordCamp community days where we’ve tackled the mammoth task of sorting out the tangled spaghetti mess of the Codex. So I can tell you that a proper overhaul is not happening anytime soon.
I won’t recommend to go through the thousands of YouTube videos on WordPress, either. I know that it’s free, and I know that some videos are truly of great quality.
However, if you are like me you’ll start watching a Trevor Noah sketch, followed by a cat on a Roomba, followed by David Bowie interviewed by Jeremy Paxman, followed by a random WordPress video that doesn’t quite give you what you were looking for.
It is best to give some structure to your learning. There are other free, or very cheap, resources that will cut your learning time down enormously.
I am also avoiding recommending those sites that might have decent and free tutorials but that clearly bait you, the unsuspecting neophyte, into buying web hosting with Bluehost or some other equally nefarious EIG-owned hosting company. Read here why you should avoid EIG hosting.
iThemes is the home of one the web’s favourite backup plugins, BackupBuddy. But it’s also home to a massive library of WordPress training videos and webinars, from beginners to advanced.
Joining the community will set you off $197 per year, which might seem like a substantial investment but it’s only about $16.5 a month. There is no doubt that the quality of the educational material is top-notch. Cory Miller, the founder of iThemes, is extremely respected in the WordPress community.
If you are not ready to commit to spending money on your WordPress education, iThemes have got you covered: just download this brilliant and free PDF manual, Getting started with WordPress. Well written, clear and with video references so you don’t get lost. It might be free, but it’s the best manual for beginners that I’ve personally come across.
WPBeginner is a free resource. Started in 2009 by Syed Balkhi, the WPBeginner website has grown throughout the years into a huge repository of WordPress wisdom for the hapless beginner.
Information is available in the form of blog posts and series for those who prefer to read, and of course videos on the WPBeginner YouTube channel. There are thousands of articles and tutorials on the site, kind of nicely organised.
My problem with this kind of site, however, is that the sheer size and wealth of materials can easily overwhelm the newbie. Personally, I prefer a more methodical approach, which might mean buying a course. If, however, you’re on a shoestring, WPBeginner is an excellent place to start.
WP101 is an excellent WordPress learning resource for the timorous beginner. The testimonials page shows off a litany of accolades from WordPress aristocracy, and they are all deserved.
If you, like me, like the methodical approach, this is where you can be taken by the hand and led through your WordPress journey painlessly. Nice design helps the overall good experience.
I particularly like the house building simile. Yes, building a WordPress site is a lot like a building a house (whereas Wix, SquareSpace and the like are just shacks.). WP Building Blocks is much less structured than WP1o1, but it’s still full of useful, free material for WordPress beginner. Definitely worth a bookmark or an Evernote.
The Lynda website is the grandmother of all online learning on the web today. 5,568 courses in Business, Technology and Creative Skills taught by industry experts: an immense library of knowledge.
The resident WordPress expert, Morten Rand-Hendriksen, is WordPress royalty and a brilliant educator. I have him to thank for many Eureka moments during the course of my initiation to WordPress.
You can try Lynda for free for 10 days. And I guarantee you’ll be hooked. A month is $15, and you can cancel whenever you want.
The thing is, you won’t want to cancel. You’ll realise you need to brush up your DSLR skills, or finally learn how to use layers in Photoshop. Be warned. It’s not easy to stop loving Lynda.
Even though the Treehouse platform is geared towards forming complete web developers, it still has brilliant introductory WordPress courses that will suit the uninitiated.
The big unique selling proposition of Treehouse, for me, is the format and layout: I absolutely love the way the courses are laid out and organised. The material is beautifully organised, with lots of incentives to keep you going through the classes. You’ll find yourself wanting to grab those points and badges!
Plus, the forums are a real resource, with peers as well as tutors chipping in to help. This aspect makes Treehouse better than Lynda, in my view.
Again, the free trial will help you decide: you might find it too geared towards the geek.
Rob Cubbon is another WordPress expert and educator who helped me cover a lot of ground in my path towards WordPress enlightenment.
Rob’s unique teaching style combines clear, straight-to-the-point, no-BS practical instructions with a lot of human warmth, professional integrity and WordPress best practices.
Apart from the courses, Rob’s blog is also a source of web and WordPress wisdom, as well as how to build an online empire and live the life of your dreams. What’s not to like!
Over to you.
If you do try out one or more of these resources, it would be great to hear what you think, which one is your favourite and why.
Or perhaps you already a favourite resource that’s not listed here – I have kept the list lean, on purpose.
Either way, let me know what you think. Thanks for reading!