Workshop Notes: Getting Started with WordPress.com

I hosted a workshop on “Getting Started with WordPress.com” on January 12, 2013 at my home in Onex (near Geneva). It was a cozy affair: just two other participants besides me, sitting around my kitchen table with our laptops, sipping coffee, eating pastries, and working on our websites.

The two women that joined me that Saturday morning are both working on exciting projects, and I can’t wait until they are ready to share them publicly (the sites are currently private while under construction).

I thought it would be interesting to share my notes, both for myself and for others who might be organizing similar workshops in the future.

A couple of days in advance, I emailed the participants and asked them to send me links to their existing websites, objectives (specific things they wanted to achieve), and questions. That worked very well, because I could gather the relevant links in advance and think about the best ways to teach concepts. (Next time, I would email people even more in advance since there were a few short-notice cancelations.)

Based on the responses I received, I emailed people back giving some tips (e.g., upload all the images to the Media Library in preparation to the meetup) and put together a one-page handout.

The Handout

Wifi and password details

Goal: make progress on our projects and learn how to use available resources and get support.

WordPress.com or WordPress.org

  • WordPress.com: great place to get started. Free (with paid add-ons), don’t need to update, cannot break it, easier to use.
  • WordPress.org: with great power comes great responsibility. Need to pay for hosting, regular updates/security/backups, easier to break/harder to fix.

Resources

  • Getting started guide: learn.wordpress.com
  • Support docs: support.wordpress.com
  • Forums: forums.wordpress.com

How to get support

  • WordPress.com: support.wordpress.com/contact (will create a private or public request, response time may vary, make sure to tag it “modlook” if it’s a forum request). Before you post, search support docs and forums – the answer might already be there!
  • WordPress.org: wordpress.org/support (forums), codex.wordpress.org (documentation). More technical, coding questions, might not get a response. Or: hire a developer.

Let’s try to cover today (later note: and we did!)

Things that surprised me

  • How many questions were not about WordPress or blogging per se. People had trouble decoupling their questions about domain management, custom email setup, Google calendar visibility, etc from the questions that were about their site content and presentation. It makes sense: users just want for everything to work, and they don’t necessarily categorize tasks or problems in the same way developers or us support people do.
  • There are so many things on WordPress.com that are not crystal clear and therefore can lead to confusion, from “Automattic app” on the logged out home page (“But I don’t want an app!” said one person), to caching quirks (the blog title change took a while to show up in a user’s blog list), to the things being in flux with both the “new” and the “old” style dashboards.
  • People want to pay me for running these workshops 🙂

Things to remember for the next time

  • We all got so excited and busy working on our website projects that we forgot to take pictures! Maybe next time I can have a camera on the desk, to remind me to snap some photos for this blog and for the meetup page.
  • Everyone finds WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org, as well as domains/mapping/hosting confusing — so have your metaphors and diagrams ready when explaining this.
  • Plan some buffer time for both before and after because many questions are a sign of a great workshop, and it’s nicer to address them than to run people out of the door.

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