WordPress FAQ for Beginners

WordPress FAQs 2018 – 14 Frequently Asked Questions Answered for WP Beginners

As I receive often lots of repeated WordPress questions and I answer them directly, I decided to do a WordPress FAQ page with the frequently asked questions or FAQs in one place.

The idea is to help WordPress beginner questions & as well as more advanced users, with this WP FAQ page.

This WP question and answer page, (or q and a WordPress for people who like short things), is a work in progress and will be updated frequently in 2018.

Having this knowledge base for WordPress topics that are asked recurrently, will save time for you and for me too 😉

Read on.

Frequently Asked Questions for WP Beginners Answered - WordPress FAQs

What is WordPress?


WordPress is a free and open source CMS (Content Management System) where you create & manage your website or blog.
So you can set up a blog, a static site or a full commercial site, whatever are your needs.

Know that WordPress powers more than the 31% of the sites of the cyberspace? This is amazing - making WordPress the most popular CMS of the entire Internet if we compare with other CMS.

Under the hood, WordPress is written with PHP and use a MySQL database, but it uses also other additional resources like HTML, CSS, Javascrpit and more.

WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org comparison, which is the best option for you?


Always there are some confusions in beginners in which are the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org.

So, here we go.

WordPress comes in 2 different flavors:

WordPress.com is the commercial hosted version, there you can host with them for free, but with some limitations. Even if you upgrade to paid plans, there are still some things that you can’t do.

WordPress.org is the self-hosted version and is the open source software. You need a web host & you need also to install the WordPress core, theme and plugins, being thousands of them for free.

Think WordPress.com like you rent a house.

All the content inside the house is yours (likewise continuing with the analogy, the content inside your site: posts, pages, images, etc is yours), but the house belongs to THEM. Security, backups, anti-spam and so on, runs from their part. You open an account, select your site name & theme, and done.

Now, think WordPress.org is your own house.

All the content inside and all files, in other words, the house is YOURS. And you do in your house what you want.

Quoting a popular quote from a Spiderman movie “with great power comes great responsibility”: you’ve the full power of WordPress.org BUT is your responsibility the security, backups, spam and more. There is a little bit of learning curve but it’s worth the effort.

So let’s see a detailed table of WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org - side by side - discovering the pros / cons on each case.

Comparison Table

WordPress.com

WordPress.org

Domain

YOURSITE.wordpress.com (is a subdomain). You can get yoursite.com for $18/year

Get a domain like yoursite.com or .net. org ,etc. from $10/year

Installation

Register an account, decide which will be yoursitename, choose a theme & ready

You need to purchase a hosting plan e.g. from $ 3.95/month + a domain. Then install the WordPress core files

Storage

3GB. Upgrading to premium $99/year, you can get 13 GB

It depends of the host & plan chosen, but normally is more than 10GB to unmetered space. There is vast landscape in web hosting environment

Type of Files

Free only can upload images documents, presentations & spreadsheets. Premium $99/year, can also upload audio, video & zip files

Freedom to upload any type of files

Plugins

Can’t upload third-party plugins & you’ve a limited collection of pre-built features available to WP.com users

Freedom to upload any type of plugin of thousands available, free & premium

Themes

Can’t upload external themes & you’ve a collection of themes available to WP.com users (Hundreds). Premium $99/year, get a Custom Design option to change colors, fonts and CSS

Freedom to upload any type of themes, free, premium or custom themes. You can make your site unique. Freedom to edit whatever you want in your theme

Updates

They take care

You take care or someone else

Security

They take care

You take care or someone else

Backups

They take care

You take care or someone else

Ads

Free sites may show THEIR ads
Google AdSense, BuySellAds, and others are NOT allowed. Only VIPs or using a feature called WordAds with bloggers with moderate to high traffic can run ads. Premium has No ads

Freedom to run ads of any type. It’s your site and you can monetize it like you want

Networks

Your site is part of the WP.com network

Your site is alone, not part of any network

Support

Free, support from the WordPress.com community. Premium $99/year, direct email support

Free support from the WordPress.org community and forums. On the premium plugin/theme cases, the type of support depends of the supplier




After I showed this detailed WordPress comparison, you may need still a conclusion: which WordPress platform is ideal for you?

WordPress.com is right for you, if you’ll have a simple blog, for hobby or personal & you don’t have intention to generate any type of income from your blog. The staff of WordPress.com will take care of your website maintenance.

WordPress.org is perfect for you, if you aspire to monetize your site by selling ads, info products, physical products, and you can go on adding ideas of generating income 😉 In other words you’ll end with a web business, and with total control of your website.

As you guess, my blog is using the WordPress.org platform.

What is a WordPress Plugin?


A WordPress Plugin is a program, a software tool which expands the functionality of your WordPress website.

The plugin contains a group of functions written in the PHP programming language, and it integrates seamlessly with WordPress.

You can install plugins from thousands available at WordPress.org Plugin Directory and free!

As there are tons of them and instead of writing any code, you’ll find probably a plugin for that specific function you’re looking for.

How to Install a Plugin In WordPress


This tutorial is how to install and activate a plugin in your WordPress website.

Install a plugin using the plugin search in your WordPress Admin


Login to your WordPress admin area.

​Go to Plugins -> Add New

At the top of the page press Add New (or beside of Installed Plugins on the left)

WordPress Plugins Install Now


Now you’ll have a screen with several options to choose from:
Featured WordPress plugins
Popular WordPress plugins
Recommended WordPress plugins
Favorites (if you’ve preselected before a plugin as favorites on WordPress.org)

And then Search for plugins at the right, or browse below.

From the featured plugin, or from your search you can install it, pressing “Install Now

Or press “More Details” to open the full description.

WordPress will download and install the plugin you chosen, but it isn’t active yet.

Install Plugin Activate


Click on the activate button to complete the process and done! Your plugin is installed & active.
Possibly, you need going to your plugin settings to finish the configuration. 

Install a plugin uploading it in your WordPress Admin


Now you want to install a free / premium plugin but coming from a WordPress plugin vendor, or a WordPress plugins marketplace.

Indeed it’s a very common case; this company will give you a .zip file, so how can you install a plugin from a file?

Again, go to Plugins -> Add New

WordPress Upload Plugin


Click the Upload Plugin link at the top of the page

WordPress Plugin Choose File


Press the Choose File button

Select the file of your plugin from your computer

Click the Install Now button

You’ll see the file is being uploaded to your site, it can take few seconds.
(First, WordPress uploads the file and second it’ll unpack the plugin file)

 WP Plugin Installed Successfully


When it’s ready you’ll have a success message “Plugin installed successfully
Last step, press the Activate Plugin and you’re ready!

As always, if your plugin has additional settings, go there to end the configuration.

Which is the ideal quantity of WordPress Plugins installed on your website or blog?

Here I need to refer to quality, not quantity.
 
You can have tons of plugins installed and your site can work perfectly.

Or you can have only handful of plugins and your site can have a problem.

The point is the quality of the coding of the plugin and how it interacts with the others, with the WordPress theme and with the WP core version.

So in conclusion: it's a probability-topic; less you’ve less probability of problems of any type.

There isn’t a magical number, just try to be sure that your plugins are of quality to minimize risks.

Use plugins from trusted developers, update to the latest version and check before installing if they've some type of support available. Ahh test them in a staging site….

​Which are the differences between the Free and Premium WordPress Plugins?

With thousands of free plugins at your disposal, why would you consider premium (paid) plugins?

The answer is simple: support and functionality.

Premium support

Tons of free plugins don’t have support at all from the developer; sometimes there are people who can answer in the WordPress forum, but not always.

Premium plugins normally have a full time support team that not only evacuates your doubts. Also they make the plugin compatible with the latest WordPress core versions, and with other plugins & themes.

Some plugins vendors even can enter to your site to solve an issue and to explore the problem in-situ.

Functionality

You’ll see that several free plugins are lite versions (a freemium model) where you can see the plugin in action, but they lack of some important features. The paid version of the same can be 100% operational, plus with a better support.

​How to Deactivate All Your Plugins without Having Access to your WP-Admin Area

We all love WordPress, however when you’ve a 500 Internal Server Error or a White Screen of Death (WSOD, a blank page) or other type of error, you can enter in panic-mode because sometimes, literally you can’t access to your WP-admin area!

Breathe deeply and we’ll see how to recover access to your valued dashboard.

If the error is caused by a plugin, we need to deactivate all the plugins to find the issue.

So to save time, using FTP or your host’s File Manager, rename the whole plugins directory to plugins_old or plugins_deactivated, in that way you deactivate all in one step, maintaining the plugin settings.

If a plugin was the issue, you can login to your WP-admin area again!

But remember by now you don’t have any plugin installed, therefore go to /wp-content/ and rename plugins_old or whatever name you chose, back to plugins.

Here is the situation: your site is working and all the plugins are back, but deactivated. One or more plugins could be the problem.

Now, reactivate the plugins once each time, until someone would jump breaking your site or giving an error, hence you’ll need to replace/delete this particular plugin. 

​What is a WordPress Theme?

A WordPress theme is a template with a ready-to-use design, to use on your WordPress website.

Think it, like a dress you “put” on it.

The theme doesn’t affect the content, only the look and the functionality of your site.

You can change the theme for another one without altering your website information/ structure.

This is in “theory”, as not all themes are coded appropriately or because you rely in some specific function for that theme, so when you switch to another theme, you might need to make new adjustments in the new template.

You’ve free themes to premium ones, with a complete spectrum of variants. 

How to Install a Theme In WordPress

This tutorial is how to install and activate themes in your WordPress website, and also if you’re installing the theme from scratch.

If you’re going to replace a theme, is a different story because the look & functionality of your actual site could be modified after switching themes.

Install a theme using the theme search in your WordPress Admin


Login to your WordPress admin area.

From there, go to Appearance -> Themes.

Install Theme Appearance


The page shows your actual theme installed.

At the top of the page press Add New

Install Theme Addnew


Now you’ll have a screen with several options to choose from:

Featured WordPress themes
Popular WordPress themes
Latest WordPress themes
Favorites (if you’ve preselected a theme before)
Feature Filter (filter themes by colors, layout, features, and subject)
And then Search for themes at the right

WordPress Theme Options


Search according to your needs, adding filters: e.g. a theme White, Responsive Layout and Featured Images.
You’ll get a list of themes according to the criteria requested.


Press “Details & Preview” to open a sample on the right, or directly press Install button below.

WordPress Themes Install


WordPress will download and install the theme you chosen, but it isn’t active yet.


Click on the activate button to complete the process and done! Your theme is installed & active.

Install Theme Activate WP


But wait, probably you need to go to your theme-settings to finish the configuration.
Most of themes have additional settings that could need your attention.

Install a theme uploading it in your WordPress Admin


Hey now this is the situation: you’ve a theme that isn’t listed in the WordPress.org directory.

Indeed it’s a very common case; you want to install a free / premium theme but coming from a WordPress theme vendor (MyThemeShop, ElegantThemes, etc.) or a WordPress marketplace like Envato, Mojo, TemplateMonster, etc.

This company will give you a .zip file, so how can you install a theme from a file?

Again, go to Appearance -> Themes

At the top of the page press Add New

Click the Upload link at the top of the page

Install Theme Upload


Press the Choose File button

WordPress Theme Choose File


Select the file of your theme from your computer
Click the Install Now button

WP Theme Install Now


You’ll see the file is being uploaded to your site, it can take few seconds.
(First WordPress uploads the file, and second it’ll extract the theme file)

When it’s ready you’ll have a success message “Theme installed successfully
Last step press the Activate link and you’re done!

Theme Installed Successfully


Once more, if your theme has additional settings is time to go there to complete the process.

​What is a Child Theme?

Child themes are themes that inherit the functionality of another theme, called the parent theme.

And no, they aren’t themes related to children…

A child theme is the correct way to edit or modify a theme. You can change the child theme, without touching the parent theme.

Why is this important?

If you edit directly the theme (the parent theme) and then you update it (someday, you must update your theme), all the changes will be deleted.
The updated version of your theme will replace the older version that included those tweaks.

So, say goodbye to all the time and effort invested in the edition.

But you can maintain those changes with a child theme after the update.

Summing up: use a child theme when you need touch here and there…you know what I mean 😉

What are the differences between a Free Theme and a Premium Theme?

With hundreds and hundreds of WordPress free themes and other great quantity of premium, you wonder, which one is the best for you?

To answer this question, we’ll see the good & the bad in each case.

Free Themes

Pros

Cons

  • Free. Need I say more?
  • There are plenty of them on the market
  • Use with unlimited sites
  • check
    Use with your client sites
  • On average, they are of low quality
  • Can have limited functionally; in general there is a Pro version with all the features
  • Probably, will have at the footer a credit link to the developer site
  • No search engine optimized, affecting your SEO
  • Not properly coded, can increase your loading time
  • Not all are responsive
  • Updates can be infrequent
  • Support can be restricted or null

Premium Themes

Pros

Cons

  • On average, they are of high quality
  • No credit link to the developer site or you can remove it
  • Well coded improving loading time and SEO
  • check
    Polished designs and totally functional
  • check
    All of them are responsive
  • check
    Updates frequent
  • check
    Premium support
  • Cost variables depending on the theme supplier & type of license
  • Use with 1, several or unlimited sites depending on the supplier & type of license
  • Client sites? It depends on the vendor & the license chosen 

Listen carefully: never, ever get a cracked premium theme version for free.

You’re damaging all the hard work of the theme developers, and furthermore you’re damaging yourself, because for sure, you’re getting a malware or virus inside this zip file.

Do you think hackers take all this work for nothing? No, after you install it, your nightmare will start….really.

If you decide for the free ones, get them from the official WordPress Theme Directory or from trusted WordPress theme developers.

The same apply to themes premium; also get them from recognized WP theme developers.

How to Fix WordPress 404 Error Page Not Found

It happened to me, especially after updating a particular plugin. When I went to a page or post - was gone, nothing found, nada!

I refreshed the browser and nothing.

I had still access to my WordPress admin area and everything was there, the posts & the pages, but on the front end, the posts didn’t appear, at all.

It wasn’t a permanent 404 error, because the posts weren’t deleted.

So I wondered, why am I getting a 404 WordPress error?

Finally, the culprit appeared the .htaccess file.

This WordPress 404 error appears principally because the .htaccess file was deleted or something went wrong in the rewriting rules in it.

One way to solve it is to modify the htaccess file, but if you don’t want to touch it, I suggest a simpler manner:

You need to regenerate the .htaccess file by fixing your permalinks settings.

How?

Go to Settings -> Permalinks

Click the “Save Changes” button.

Your permalinks settings are updated and your .htaccess file too.

All the cases I had were solved just clicking and saving changes, but without touching anything, just save.

In the majority of the cases, you’re done.

If it doesn’t work, the last resource would be to update your .htaccess file manually - not for a WordPress FAQ for beginners like this one.

But I’m pretty sure that it’ll work, so go to your post / page and it should appear again, evaporating the WordPress 404 error 🙂

Permalinks Save Changes on WordPress

Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute. - How to Fix this Error in WordPress


You enter to your dashboard and see a notice indicating you’ve an update of a plugin, theme, or your WordPress core files.

Note: to update major WordPress core versions, you need to backup and do a little pre-research to “feel” how is going on with the latest WP version.

A full article with this topic will come later 😉

Alright, you proceed to update and bang…something went wrong.

A plugin didn’t like the upgrade (there is some kind of conflict with other plugins), or the update process may timeout, or was interrupted, or your host is slow like a snail or a memory issue, etc.

Concretely, on the front-end of your website you’ve a beautiful sign:

Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute.”

Your refresh your browser and nothing. No change.

My friend, your site got stuck in the maintenance mode!

Generally, when everything goes smoothly this notice will be available for just a few seconds and disappear when the update ended.

What is the Maintenance mode?

It’s a just page with this notice alerting visitors that something is cooking up like …hold on… I’m doing something and I’ll back soon.

The responsible for this state, is a file called ‘.maintenance‘

The Solution: How to Solve the WordPress Maintenance Mode


Fortunately, it’s easy to fix.

You need just to delete the .maintenance file. That’s all.

Where?

Use your FTP client or File Manager in Cpanel (if you’ve it; this depends on your web hosting)

Locate the .maintenance file (is in the same place with the wp-config.php file)

​Delete it.

If you can’t find the file, it can be hidden. Make sure to enable the “view hidden files” in your FTP client.

Refresh all, clear your browser cache and done 🙂

Your website should be normal again.

Ok, you did it, hi 5!

​How to Fix a 500 Internal Server Error


If you’re reading possible solutions to a 500 Internal Server Error is because…

- You’ve this problem, right now.

- Or you had it before and want to know how to fix this Internal Server Error in the future.

So I don’t want you to lose time, just keep reading.

It's a very common error but it doesn’t explain who is generating the issue.

500 Internal Server Error Solutions


Let’s start for checking browser possibilities:

- Refresh the page several times. (If it didn’t work, go on)

- Then flush your browser cache, close it and start again accessing to the page. (Once more, if it didn’t work, go on)

- So try another web browser going to the same page e.g. Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc.
After those steps, has the error disappeared? Yes, you did it!

​If the answer is a no, sorry to hear that hence, keep reading.

Let’s see a more technical approach.

A corrupted .htaccess file


Several of the cases it’s this file. You need to edit the .htaccess file

Go to your WordPress root directory via FTP or File Manager and rename the .htaccess file to .htaccess_old or .htaccess-corrupt (it’s up to you the name 😉

(The file is in the same directory with folders: wp-admin, wp-content and wp-includes)

.htaccess File on WordPress


Check your site, and refresh your browser again. Worked? Great, now without this internal error we need to generate a new .htaccess file (but a healthy one with correct rewriting rules inside)

Go to Settings -> Permalinks

Click on the Save Changes button, this will give a new .htaccess file

Plugin issues


You updated a plugin and as a result, you find a 500 internal server error in the front end of your website; I know it sucks.

This can happen for several reasons:

This plugin isn’t playing nicely with the actual WordPress version.
Or with other plugins installed.
Or with the theme that is active.

So to find out the culprit, you need to disable all your plugins at once, to see if your site works again.

If you’ve access to your dashboard via access WP-admin area, deactivate all the plugins at once and reactivate them one by one, until someone would give an error. Is it time consuming? Yep, alas there isn’t other way to find the plugin that produce the error.

If you don’t have access to your WP-admin, then follow the steps described in how to deactivate all plugins without access to the WP-admin area, here inside in my WordPress FAQs.

Have in mind that if some of your plugin affect your front end site, perhaps it not looks exactly like you remember (this plugin is “off”), you only need to see if the site is working normally, without error.

One by one you’ll have to reactivate them, until the problematic plugin will raise its hand.

If you deactivated all the plugins and your site is, still with an internal error, we need to move on with other solution.

Theme issues


If the plugins weren’t the issue, maybe is your theme. Change your actual theme to a default theme like Twenty Seventeen and refresh your browser.

If it’s ok, bingo was your theme.

If your answer is a no, we need more options.

New WP-admin & WP-includes folders


Try to replace from a latest WordPress core version the wp-admin and wp-includes folders.

If you re-upload these folders, you’ll not lose any data and you may solve the issue replacing a corrupted file inside them.

Still with the issue? Well, it’s time to touch things in your server as the last resources. Never give up!

We should go to the PHP memory, because may be you reached the limit of your PHP memory.

So…

Increase your PHP memory Limit


First, you’d know that not all webhosting and/or plans allow you to change the PHP Settings.
Anyway here we go:

Create a blank text file and call it: php.ini

Add this code inside:

memory=64MB

Save it and upload it to the /wp-admin/ folder via FTP or File Manager.

If this step solves the problem, you must talk to your host asking why your site is reaching the PHP limit.

Generally is something not well coded like a plugin or something in your theme.

If your webhost inspects the server logs, can have a more precise answer to the issue.

------------------------------------------------------

To help you to speed up things, here is a sample email/chat/text to forum you can send to your WordPress host asking support:

Hi Support,

My website ------ is having a 500 internal server error.

(Replace the steps of below you’ve done to explain to the support team, what you did, because probably they will ask you to do similar procedures!)

I tried these steps to solve the problem without success:

- Refresh the page several times, changed browsers, empty cache.
Renamed the .htaccess file & generated a new one.
Deactivated all the plugins and activate one by one.
Change to a default WordPress theme.
Re-uploaded fresh wp-admin and wp-includes folders.
Increased the PHP memory limit to 64MB.

Can you assist me to solve this error?

Thank you in advance.

Best regards,

Name

Really, I hope with some of the solutions mentioned before, you fixed the internal server error and you don’t need to contact to your host.

However, if you’re in a hurry and don’t want to be doing a trial & error deduction, after getting the error you can contact immediately the host (and you’ve a sample text for that purpose 😉

Now, it’ll depend of the quality of the host-support the type of reply you’ll have!

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