Category Archives: WordPress

Understanding WordPress Posts, Pages & Custom Post Types

If you’re new to WordPress, you might be a little confused about the difference between posts and pages. So in this post, I’m going to provide a little clarity.

WordPress Posts

Generally, a post is a type of content listed in reverse chronological order (most recent entries on top). Posts are assigned categories and can be assigned other metadata like tags and featured images. Posts can be displayed in a standard list or in an archive based on category, tag or time frame. Posts are often used for blogs, news listings, etc.

WordPress Pages

A page is actually a special type of post. Unlike regular posts, it isn’t assigned categories or tags. It is not displayed with metadata or in. chronological order. Pages can be hierarchical, which means a page can be subordinate to parent pages. Unlike posts, pages can be displayed using custom templates, depending on the theme in use. Typical pages include a Home page, an About page, a Contact page, etc.

WordPress Custom Post Types

Websites can also use custom post types. If you are an artist or designer, you might want to have a portfolio. So some themes have a portfolio project post type. If you are a real estate agent, you might use a property post type. Custom post types are created in either a theme’s function.php file or with a plugin.

You can find more about posts, pages and custom post types on the WordPress Codex at http://codex.wordpress.org.

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We're also happy to provide assistance directly. Just send an email to dharma@zenpunkwebworks.com.

Migrating WordPress to a New Web Hosting Company

Migrating WordPress websites to a new web hosting company can be confusing and frustrating. Not only do you have to worry about the thousands of files (including themes, plugins and uploaded images), but then you have to deal with the database.

And if you happen to be moving a site from a local or testing server with a different URL, oh what a freaking nightmare! URLs have to be changed in the database and some of those are serialized, making things that much more complicated.

But it doesn’t have to be.

Migrating WordPress the Easy Way

1. Create the Database on the New Server

The first thing to do is get your account with the new web host all set up. The biggest thing is to create a blank database. Most webhosts have a tool on the control panel that walks you through creating a MySQL database. It may be called MySQL Manager or Database Wizard. Be sure to create an empty database and a user with all privileges. You will need to write down the exact database name (including any automatic prefixes), the database username and the password for that username.

2. Install Backup Buddy on the Existing WordPress Site

Let me say, that this is NOT an advertisement for Backup Buddy. I paid for my license same as anyone else. I am posting about it because it has made migrating a site so easy and stress free. Not to mention, it is a great plugin for running regular backups of your entire WordPress site. Use it, because it works and it can save your bacon.

So if you haven’t already done so, purchase a license for Backup Buddy and install it on your WordPress site as a plugin.

3. Run a Complete Backup with Backup Buddy

With Backup Buddy installed, click on the Backup Buddy menu’s Backup page. You have your choice of running just a database backup or a complete backup (database and files). Run a complete backup. Once the backup is complete, download it to a safe location.

4. Create the importbuddy.php File

Go to the Backup Buddy’s Restore/Migrate page and then click on the “Download importbuddy.php” file button. Save it alongside where you saved the backup file. It will ask you to create a password. Just use something simple and easy to remember.

5. Change the DNS Server Information with your Domain Registrar

Go to the site where you registered your domain name. There should be a place in the settings to change the DNS Server information to the addresses that your new hosting company provided. A DNS Server address usually looks like n1.myhostingcompany.com. Put in all of the addresses provided by your new host. One these changes are saved, your domain registrar should point visitors to the new hosting company, although sometimes it takes a bit of time for these changes to filter through the internet.

6. Upload the Two Files to the New Hosting Server

Now you need to transfer both the zipped (compressed) backup file and the importbuddy.php file to the new server. You can use either FTP (using a free app like Filezilla) or SSH (using your command line tool) to transfer them to new web host. Most web hosts provide the FTP (which stands for File Transfer Protocol) details in their welcome email. If you have questions, contact your new web host.

You will most likely upload the files to a folder called public_html or www. If it has both, use either one.

7. Open up the importbuddy.php Page

In the modern browser of your choice (Firefox, Chrome, Safari), navigate to the importbuddy page. (e.g. www.mydomainname.com/importbuddy.php). From there, Import Buddy will walk you through the process of importing the backup file information and setting up the connection details for your new database.

8. Open up your migrated website.

Once the Import Buddy process is complete, open up your migrated website. If you run into any problems, go to http://ithemes.com/codex/page/BackupBuddy for troubleshooting.

There’s an Even Easier Way, too

Backup Buddy also has a Magic Migration Method that allows you to migrate the site right from the WordPress dashboard. For how to do that, visit http://ithemes.com/codex/page/BackupBuddy:_Magic_Migration.

Need More Help?

If you liked this article, be sure to sign up for your FREE subscription to the Nickel's Worth of Free Advice newsletter where we send helpful articles every Tuesday and Friday. You can either fill out the form on the right side of this page or visit the Nickel's Worth of Free Advice signup page.

We're also happy to provide assistance directly. Just send an email to dharma@zenpunkwebworks.com.

Installing WordPress on a Hosted Site

In the previous article, I talked about what a content management system (CMS) is and how it makes keeping a website up to date so much easier.

Here at ZenPunk Web Works, we work mostly with the WordPress CMS. There are others out there, but we like WordPress the best. Mostly because it’s easy to work with and also because it’s free.

Installing WordPress can be a little technical, but it’s not exactly rocket surgery. In this article, we explain how to install WordPress on your hosted site. WordPress can also be installed on your local computer, but it involves some more steps. We’ll tackle that subject in another article.

Downloading the WordPress CMS

Screen-Shot-2014-01-21-at-1.20.55-PM_03Don’t freak out but there are actually two different WordPress systems. One is the CMS and can be downloaded from wordpress.org.

The other is for blogs hosted at wordpress.com. We don’t want that one since we’re looking to build a site on our hosting server. By the way, a server is just a computer capable of displaying web content. It’s no biggie.

one-touch-installA lot of web hosting companies offer a one-touch WordPress install on their control panel. If this is the case with your web host, great! It will save you having to upload all of the files (and there are a LOT of them).

If your web host doesn’t offer the one-touch install, start by going to wordpress.org and downloading the latest version of WordPress. It will come compressed in a single .zip file.

Uploading WordPress to your Web Host

Once you have the .zip file downloaded onto your computer, you will need to unzip it. If you are on a Mac, you should be able to right click on the file and open it up that way. Some PCs also have an unzip tool automatically installed. If not, you can usually find one on the web, such as WinZip.

Once the files are unzipped, you will need to transfer them up to the hosting server. This is usually done using a process called FTP, which stands for “file transfer protocol”. I have found the best tool for this job is one called FileZilla. It’s free and does a good job of things.

Whichever FTP app you use will require information about your hosting server as well as login information. This can often be found on your web host’s control panel. Look for something called FTP Settings. If possible, use the secure FTP options. If you have trouble creating an FTP connection to your host, contact your host for help. There may be a specific port you need to use.

Once you have established a connection with your FTP program, upload the WordPress files into the root folder of your site. Your root folder will most likely have a name like www or public_html. If it has both, just pick one.

It will take a while to upload the thousands of files, so by all means go fix yourself a cup of your favorite beverage. I’m a hot tea gal, personally.

Creating the Database

If you read the previous article on content management systems, you may recall that they store content information in a database. I know that may sound real technical, but all it is is a way to keep all of your site’s information organized.

To create the database, log into the control panel of your web hosting account. Look for something called MySQL Databases or Database Manager. MySQL is the type of database that WordPress uses to store the data. In the database manager create a new database. Your host may automatically create a prefix for it, such as yourname_mydatabase.

The database name should be all lowercase letters and/or numbers plus the underscore. Be sure to write down the name somewhere because you’re going to need it later. You will also probably have to create a database user and password. Write down that information, too. Finally, you may have to assign that user to have privileges to that database. Be sure to give it all privileges.

I know all of this probably seems real technical. Don’t worry. The worst is probably over. If you get confused or lost, contact your web hosting company.

The Famous 5-Minute Install

If you have the one-touch install, now is the time to click on that magical button. That will trigger a series of steps where WordPress walks you through the install process. Be sure to have your database name and user information.

If you don’t have the one-touch install option, but you’ve uploaded the files and created the database, open up your site in your browser. So if your domain name is mywebsite.com, go there in your browser. WordPress should automatically direct you to the install page.

The first step is to create what is called the wp-config.php file. To create this, WordPress will ask you for your database name, your username, your user password and the hostname (usually “localhost”). It will also ask you for a table prefix. Just leave this as wp_.

install-step3

WordPress will then ask you for a Site Title (this can be changed later), a username (DO NOT USE “admin”), a password, your email address and whether you want to allow search engines like Google to search your website. Be sure to write down your user name and password.

If everything goes okay, you should get to the Success! screen. To visit the front end of your site, just type in your domain name (e.g. mysite.com) in the browser. That should show you the main index page with a sample blog post, etc.

To visit the admin side, type ‘/wp-admin/’ after your domain name. That will take you to the login page where you put in your username and password. You didn’t use the username “admin” did you? Okay, good. Just checking.

On the admin or backend side, you should see a menu on the left side with menu items like Dashboard, Posts, Pages, etc.

Uh Oh! Something Went Wrong!

Installing WordPress can be tricky sometimes. If you went to the front of your site and saw a blank screen (often called the “White Screen of Death”), something went wonky. It is usually one of two places. Either the database information you entered was incorrect or the permissions on the files may not be properly set.

To check the database information, go into the File Manager on your control panel and open up the wp-config.php file. Scroll down to where you see lines like define(‘DB_NAME, ‘mydatabasename’). Make sure your database information is correct. If it is, check the permissions on your files.

Files and folders have permission levels that control who can see, edit and execute the files. Usually these are grouped together in three categories: Owner, Group and World. Within each category you can select read, write and execute.

Often these categories will be assigned values between 0 and 7 depending on which access levels are granted. Clicking Read will increase the value of that category by 4. Clicking Write will increase the value by 2. Clicking Execute will increase the value by 1.

Ideally, you want to have a permission level of 755 for all of your files and folders. That means the Owner can Read, Write and Execute files (4+2+1=7), while Group and World can only Read and Execute (4+1=5).

Many hosting companies won’t let a file display in the browser if it doesn’t have the right permissions. This is to prevent visitors to your site from modifying files without your permission.

If the database information in your wp-config.php file is correct and the permissions on all of your files are set to 755, then you may need to contact your web hosting company for further assistance.

Still Have Questions on WordPress?

Check out the WordPress Codex for answers to your questions. The Codex has tons of information on how to use WordPress, including how to install themes and plugins. It’s a great source of information.

There is also WordPress.tv which has videos of WordPress professionals talking on a number of topics, some beginner-level while others are more advanced.

Also, check out wp.tutsplus.com for a wealth of hands-on tutorials.

Need More Help?

If you liked this article, be sure to sign up for your FREE subscription to the Nickel's Worth of Free Advice newsletter where we send helpful articles every Tuesday and Friday. You can either fill out the form on the right side of this page or visit the Nickel's Worth of Free Advice signup page.

We're also happy to provide assistance directly. Just send an email to dharma@zenpunkwebworks.com.