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  1. #1
    SitePoint Addict BlazeMiskulin's Avatar
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    WordPress for Dummies?

    Almost all of the sites I build are for very small businesses (mom & pop stores) which are owned by people with little or no skills with a computer. I use WP for the CMS because it's so simple and still allows the owners to have control of their sites.

    I'm finding that a large portion of my time is spent trying to explain the most basic uses to some of these people. Is there an online tutorial that anyone here could recommend for the absolute beginner with no computer knowledge? I've looked at WordPress.org, but their documentation assumes a degree of computer skills that many of my clients just don't have.

    I'm looking for the very basics: How to write a post. How to write a page. How to upload an image. How to moderate comments.

    Any suggestions & links are appreciated.
    M Blaze Miskulin
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  2. #2
    SitePoint Wizard ryanhellyer's Avatar
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    This isn't answering your question as such. But I find that modifying the admin panel helps a lot. If they don't need to use a particular function, then remove it. Makes things simpler for them.

    In particular, if I'm just using it as a basic CMS with static pages only, then the only options I have in the menu are Pages, Uploads and Profile. And when they go to create a new page, all the sections about trackbacks, commenting and other random stuff that they don't need to use is gone.

    I also plan to add a tutorial section to the dashboard with tips and a simple tutorial on how to use it.

    These static sites are pretty much idiot proof then. Anyone that's too stupid to use them is generally not the person assigned to look after them.

    Ryan,

  3. #3
    SitePoint Addict BlazeMiskulin's Avatar
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    If they don't need to use a particular function, then remove it. Makes things simpler for them.
    Removing functions goes against our company philosophy. We believe very strongly in giving our clients full control over their sites. We'll help out with anything they need, but we continually reinforce that they have full ownership and full control over their sites.

    We are also opposed to "dumbing down" applications. We want to educate our clients and make better users out of them (if possible).

    Anyone that's too stupid to use them is generally not the person assigned to look after them.
    There isn't anyone "assigned" to look after them. The clients I have are almost always single people operating small stores in this small town. Quite often, the entire company is just one person. They want to learn about the web and how to improve their business, but they need somewhere to start.

    And it's not that they're "too stupid", it's that they haven't been taught. Anyone that can run a successful business for 20 years or more certainly isn't stupid.
    M Blaze Miskulin
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  4. #4
    Object Not Found junjun's Avatar
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    I'd be interested in a dummy WP tutorial myself *cough*

    I find that training clients is a great opportunity to strengthen the client relationship. Why not use it as a separate line item in your proposals and give it to everyone?

  5. #5
    SitePoint Wizard jimbo_dk's Avatar
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    If I'm not mistaken Lynda.com has some tutorials like this. I'm not sure i it was for Wordpress or Blogger though.
    Winners Respond. Losers React.
    Singapore Web Designer

  6. #6
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Here's the manual, WordPress for Dummies

    And I found this reference, tagged by our very own SES 5909. It looks like a good source to look up what they need to know and help them learn as t hey go.

    (I did mean manual -- for anyone clicking the link, it's a book)
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown

  7. #7
    SitePoint Addict BlazeMiskulin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by junjun View Post
    I'd be interested in a dummy WP tutorial myself *cough*

    I find that training clients is a great opportunity to strengthen the client relationship. Why not use it as a separate line item in your proposals and give it to everyone?
    I'd like to, but time, distance, and cost are more of problem than I care to deal with. I do little bits of help here and there, but sitting down and trying to teach many of these people would be an all-day affair. It's much easier for everyone if I give them the most basic training (here's how to write a new post), and then show them documentation to help them remember it when they get around to their next post 2 months from now.

    I'm talking with the local Chamber of Commerce about offering some workshops, so that will help. It would just be so much easier for everyone if I cold say "Here's a simple how-to book. If you have any questions, I'm more than happy to help out."
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  8. #8
    SitePoint Addict BlazeMiskulin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shyflower View Post
    And I found this reference, tagged by our very own SES 5909. It looks like a good source to look up what they need to know and help them learn as they go.
    PHPMyAdmin, chmod, and cron jobs? Not exactly WP for Dummies.

    This is the problem I've run into when I've looked for manuals before. A fair number of my clients are at the "What is a blog?" stage. (Yeah... I take all those people that the rest of you can't be bothered with. Hey... somebody has to do it. )

    I'll definitely save that link for my more advanced clients, but it may just end up that I need to write my own "WordPress for Noobs" manual and post it on the company site.

    {sigh} One more (non-paying) project to add to the list.
    M Blaze Miskulin
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlazeMiskulin View Post
    Removing functions goes against our company philosophy. We believe very strongly in giving our clients full control over their sites. We'll help out with anything they need, but we continually reinforce that they have full ownership and full control over their sites.
    I understand the philosophy, but I've found that often a client's time is better spent focusing on other aspects of their business. If I can dumb something down to the point where it "just works" for them, then their company is better off for it. Time spent learning web-apps ends up being used for what *they* do best: following up with their clients, making sales calls, filling orders, etc.

  10. #10
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aaronjj View Post
    I understand the philosophy, but I've found that often a client's time is better spent focusing on other aspects of their business. If I can dumb something down to the point where it "just works" for them, then their company is better off for it. Time spent learning web-apps ends up being used for what *they* do best: following up with their clients, making sales calls, filling orders, etc.
    I completely agree with you. Most clients don't want to develop expertise in any area of web development. If they did, they wouldn't hire us.
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown

  11. #11
    SitePoint Wizard jimbo_dk's Avatar
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    If you Google for Wordpress video tutorials there is a whole lot of useful stuff that comes up.
    Winners Respond. Losers React.
    Singapore Web Designer

  12. #12
    SitePoint Member lenapple's Avatar
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    I completely disagree with the last 2 posts. I have found that if empower my clients by demystifying the internet, their online businesses do far better. By developing an overall strategy for them and giving them tools to take command of their business they do far better. Putting in place a of lead generation, capture and conversion serves them far better than the old "static" site concept. I like my clients to make more money by increasing their business. Brings lots of referrals. . .

    A business owner would never say anything like, "Oh, those quarterly taxes are so complicated." Yet when talking about their website this is the kind of statement I often hear. (I just don't understand the internet.)
    Lennie Appelquist
    FreeMarket Media Group - Profitable Websites for Small Business

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by lenapple View Post
    A business owner would never say anything like, "Oh, those quarterly taxes are so complicated." Yet when talking about their website this is the kind of statement I often hear. (I just don't understand the internet.)
    I think most business owners feel that way about their taxes. That's why they hire accountants (they trust) to do them. They don't need to understand every single tax law or have the accountant teach them how to do it all by themselves. The business owner just wants to get on with his or her life running their business.

  14. #14
    SitePoint Member lenapple's Avatar
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    No they don't understand every law, but they should understand how to keep their receipts. . . and have a basic understanding of tax benefits and/or consequences.

    Always hire people smarter than you. But you must also understand the basics of what they are doing.

    My philosophy is empowerment, not teaching everyone how to code. . .
    Lennie Appelquist
    FreeMarket Media Group - Profitable Websites for Small Business

  15. #15
    SitePoint Member lenapple's Avatar
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    To follow up, it's wise to have at least a basic understanding of all aspects of your business. If someone is paying someone for a site, they better be able to discern whether or not the site is converting. Most business owners are very discerning with their brick and mortar businesses but not with their online businesses. Teaching them the basics allows them to flourish online.
    Lennie Appelquist
    FreeMarket Media Group - Profitable Websites for Small Business

  16. #16
    _ silver trophy ses5909's Avatar
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    What I've considered doing Blaze is creating my own tutorial. If you create it once for one client, you can use it over and over again with the others. Most of my clients using WordPress though have been pretty quick to catch on though so I haven't done it yet.
    Sara

  17. #17
    SitePoint Addict BlazeMiskulin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shyflower View Post
    I completely agree with you. Most clients don't want to develop expertise in any area of web development. If they did, they wouldn't hire us.
    I think we're talking about two different things here. I'm talking about the very basics of updating, editing, and maintaining simple content. Our time (certainly the time of those of you doing web development full time) is best spent working on development of sites and applications. It's a waste of talent and resources for us to dealing with "Can you change the name of the sale to 'Holiday Sale' instead of 'Christmas Sale'?" or "Can you put a picture of my puppy in his Halloween costume on the front page?" or "There's a typo on this page, can you fix it?".

    These are the things that the clients should be able to do on their own. It's just that many of the ones I deal with don't know how.

    • Add a new post to the front page
    • Add a new page
    • Edit posts and pages
    • Upload photos and place them in posts/pages
    • Moderate comments
    • Update the Blacklist
    • Add & manage users
    • Add links to the blogroll
    • Add & manage categories


    This is all about content--which should be under the control of the client.
    M Blaze Miskulin
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  18. #18
    SitePoint Addict BlazeMiskulin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ses5909 View Post
    What I've considered doing Blaze is creating my own tutorial. If you create it once for one client, you can use it over and over again with the others. Most of my clients using WordPress though have been pretty quick to catch on though so I haven't done it yet.
    I've considered this, too. I was just hoping that someone else had already done it and posted it for others to use. Why reinvent the wheel when you can be lazy?

    I have a couple other tutorials I'm going to need to write this winter, so I'll probably just add this one to the list.
    M Blaze Miskulin
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  19. #19
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlazeMiskulin View Post
    I think we're talking about two different things here. I'm talking about the very basics of updating, editing, and maintaining simple content. Our time (certainly the time of those of you doing web development full time) is best spent working on development of sites and applications. It's a waste of talent and resources for us to dealing with "Can you change the name of the sale to 'Holiday Sale' instead of 'Christmas Sale'?" or "Can you put a picture of my puppy in his Halloween costume on the front page?" or "There's a typo on this page, can you fix it?".

    These are the things that the clients should be able to do on their own. It's just that many of the ones I deal with don't know how.

    • Add a new post to the front page
    • Add a new page
    • Edit posts and pages
    • Upload photos and place them in posts/pages
    • Moderate comments
    • Update the Blacklist
    • Add & manage users
    • Add links to the blogroll
    • Add & manage categories


    This is all about content--which should be under the control of the client.
    Add a new post? Add a new page? Are your clients writers or designers?

    I really don't think that these should be under client control in most cases. Uploading photos can even be tricky if you don't know how to position them properly and then you have the accessibility issues of using alt tags and the design issues of optimizing them so they don't slow down load time.

    When you have the know how, how long does it take to make such a change? Is it even 5 minutes? If it was me (and I know it's not) I would simply tell the clients that I would spend a maximum of x amount of time (week or month) on their web or blog and bill them accordingly.

    However, that's not the point that I agreed with. Most clients hire us so that we can do all things web. Some because they don't have the expertise and thankfully, they know it and others because they don't have the time. They're too busy running their own brick and mortars.

    IMO, basically asking a client to work on his web is similar to if his accountant asked him to work on his taxes or his attorney asked him to add new clauses to his contract.

    What we see as basic, is often akin to rocket science for our clients.
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown

  20. #20
    SitePoint Addict BlazeMiskulin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shyflower View Post
    Add a new post? Add a new page? Are your clients writers or designers?
    No, they're people who know their businesses much better than I do.

    For example: One client owns a restaurant. Most of the site is her menu. She knows her menu far better I do. It only makes sense for her to add new items, remove old items, list the daily special, etc.

    Another client runs a charity. She has a couple people volunteering for her. They update the site 2-3 times a week with information about the orphans, the schools, the shipments of supplies, upcoming and just finished events, etc. If I were to be doing the updating, I would either be cutting & pasting what they wrote (pointless), or rewriting it (and getting it all wrong because I have no clue what they're doing or how they want to present themselves).

    I really don't think that these should be under client control in most cases.
    I completely disagree. A website is part of the business. The owner of the business should have the ability to control every aspect of it. If they choose to hire a copywriter, that's their choice. If they choose to write the copy themselves, that's their choice. They know their business and their customers far better than any outsider can--especially in very small markets.


    When you have the know how, how long does it take to make such a change? Is it even 5 minutes?
    Honestly? It can sometimes be hours. Because the clients aren't professional writers, and they keep changing their minds, wanting to add a line here and there, wanting to move the photo from left-align to right-align... If I told them I would be doing it all for them and charging them an hourly fee, I'd lose my clients.

    Working with clients on the bottom end of the spectrum has some very unique challenges.

    IMO, basically asking a client to work on his web is similar to if his accountant asked him to work on his taxes or his attorney asked him to add new clauses to his contract.
    I see it (as do the clients who have talked to me about it) as being the same as keeping track of their scheduling, payroll hours, expenditures, etc. They want control over their content. Many of them came to us because they got fed up with having to contact a web company for every little change. They wanted to do a lot more with their sites, but having to go through a middleman for everything really frustrated them. When I tell them I have a system that will let them do all the updates and edits, they get really excited about it.

    They like doing it themselves. And they appreciate that, if they hit something that's beyond them, they can give me a call and I'll do it for them. They get control of the easy stuff and support for the harder stuff.
    M Blaze Miskulin
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  21. #21
    SitePoint Member lenapple's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlazeMiskulin View Post
    For example: One client owns a restaurant. Most of the site is her menu. She knows her menu far better I do. It only makes sense for her to add new items, remove old items, list the daily special, etc.
    You are so right. This also empowers them. It allows them to take control of their web presence.

    Quote Originally Posted by BlazeMiskulin View Post
    I completely disagree. A website is part of the business. The owner of the business should have the ability to control every aspect of it. If they choose to hire a copywriter, that's their choice. If they choose to write the copy themselves, that's their choice. They know their business and their customers far better than any outsider can--especially in very small markets.
    That's why I set up my clients with an autoresponder and a handful off marketing tools as well. Any site I design for my clients should increase their business. Wordpress is a great, simple cms for them to do this.


    Quote Originally Posted by BlazeMiskulin View Post
    Honestly? It can sometimes be hours. Because the clients aren't professional writers, and they keep changing their minds, wanting to add a line here and there, wanting to move the photo from left-align to right-align... If I told them I would be doing it all for them and charging them an hourly fee, I'd lose my clients.
    There are sites that I built years ago that never have changed a single word. Simply because they didn't want to pay for any updates. There are also the "5 minute" changes that go back and forth that turn into hours if you include email exchanges and phone calls. Most people aren't willing to pay an hourly rate and the bigger picture is if I am doing all the "nickel and dime" work and can't be out there promoting my business to new clients.

    Quote Originally Posted by BlazeMiskulin View Post
    I see it (as do the clients who have talked to me about it) as being the same as keeping track of their scheduling, payroll hours, expenditures, etc. They want control over their content. Many of them came to us because they got fed up with having to contact a web company for every little change.
    This is exactly what I talked about in my earlier post referring to quarterly taxes. Again, that's why a I also give them a marketing plan and some tools . A lot of the things I used to get requested to do, my clients can now accomplish is less time than it took to tell me what they wanted.

    The website becomes an other aspect of their business not mine.

    Quote Originally Posted by BlazeMiskulin View Post
    They like doing it themselves. And they appreciate that, if they hit something that's beyond them, they can give me a call and I'll do it for them. They get control of the easy stuff and support for the harder stuff.
    Lastly, couldn't agree more. Happy clients keep coming back and are very quick to refer others.
    Lennie Appelquist
    FreeMarket Media Group - Profitable Websites for Small Business

  22. #22
    Object Not Found junjun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlazeMiskulin View Post
    The owner of the business should have the ability to control every aspect of it.
    For the lower end of the spectrum like you call it, I can see why many owners would like this. Been there done that. But I've also met equally many small businesses that relied on me for copy writing/IA/Photo editing

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlazeMiskulin View Post
    • Add a new post to the front page
    • Add a new page
    • Edit posts and pages
    • Upload photos and place them in posts/pages
    • Moderate comments
    • Update the Blacklist
    • Add & manage users
    • Add links to the blogroll
    • Add & manage categories


    This is all about content--which should be under the control of the client.
    Most all of that can be done by setting up an "Editor" account. You can use one of the admin plugins to remove any feature for that account they don't need so they don't get confused by things like pings, post passwords, and slugs. I think this is what Ryan was getting at. You're not being the over-controlling, mysterious, webmaster. You're being the "this guy is great. He sets things up and they just work" webmaster.
    Say to them "Use this account for making changes on the site. It has all the privileges you need for changing and adding content. Here's an Administrator account. With this you can change settings that can break things. Make sure you read and understand the manuals at wordpress.org before making changes with it." Or you offer a service where you teach them the ins and outs of the WordPress Admin.

  24. #24
    SitePoint Wizard ryanhellyer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aaronjj View Post
    I think this is what Ryan was getting at. You're not being the over-controlling, mysterious, webmaster. You're being the "this guy is great. He sets things up and they just work" webmaster.
    Yep, that's definitely what I was getting at.

    I create websites for non-profit organisations usually. There's no way they can justify employing someone to maintain their website, just as some small businesses can't.

    I was going to redesign a website for a small tennis club a while back (didn't happen due to other complications). They were paying quite a lot per year for updates to their existing site as they were needing it updated every second day with results, schedules etc. None of this required copy editing, they literally just needed to punch in numbers, names, attach documents etc. But they had no way to do this without paying the standard fee their web master charged. So I offered to build them a WordPress powered site for half the price they were paying per year which they could easily update themselves. This would have allowed them to update their site a lot more often (which they wanted to do, but couldn't afford to) and saved them a considerably amount of money to boot. In this type of situation I see a definite use in discarding the web designer from the general maintenance of the site. Although for other sites I would say this is an awful approach and go down ShyFlowers route. Depends on the situation at hand IMO.

    Off Topic:

    Quote Originally Posted by aaronjj View Post
    Most all of that can be done by setting up an "Editor" account. You can use one of the admin plugins to remove any feature for that account they don't need so they don't get confused by things like pings, post passwords, and slugs.
    My post above was referring to editing the raw admin panel code, not with plugins.

  25. #25
    SitePoint Guru SG1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlazeMiskulin View Post
    I'd like to, but time, distance, and cost are more of problem than I care to deal with. I do little bits of help here and there, but sitting down and trying to teach many of these people would be an all-day affair. "
    Are you sure it's an all-day affair? Quite a few of my clients are on WP and I include 2 hour training as part of my proposal. I rarely ever need the 2 hours. I've trained them within an average of 45 minutes. And some of them were nervous as heck before I trained them. Afterwards, they were happy with my solution.



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