Do I Have to Know Code to Work in WordPress?
The answer is no! If you do, it’s a big help. But when it comes to WordPress, sometimes even coders don’t need to code.
Here’s the thing, the team at WordPress has gone out of their way to make website development easy. Many of the best WordPress features (customizable themes, text, menus, colors) are immediately available for you to choose with a click.
Using the Visual and Text Editors in WordPress
However, at some point in your website creation journey, you’ll want to add a WordPress feature that requires code. It’s good to know basic html markup. For example, WordPress offers two types of editors for content on your website. One is known as WYSIWYG, or what you see is what you get, which is the “visual” tab you see below.
This allows you to format text in a similar way to Microsoft Word or Google docs. However, there may be some cases where you want to edit the html of your post. Maybe you need to embed a snippet of code, or edit the structure of a link. In that case, you’d click the “text” tab in your editor, and you’ll see something like this.
The text editor is fairly basic when it comes to coding. However, you can use this as an opportunity to learn some basic html formatting skills as you craft your posts. Check out W3 Schools html tutorial to learn the basics. (Hint: for WordPress editing purposes, the most useful tutorials are basic, headings, paragraphs, styles, formatting, images, and links). It’s pretty easy to pick this stuff up, and it puts you closer to understanding the bigger picture of how websites work.
This advice applies to editing posts and pages. But the reality is, when you need to add a feature to your website, WordPress plugins are the way to go. Whether you’re a developer or not, plugins have been created for just about any purpose you can think of. Most are free. And at that price you don’t want to reinvent the wheel even if you can!
Using WordPress Plugins to Add Features Without Code
Plugins are essentially software that seamlessly integrates with your WordPress theme to add features. For example, the popular Yoast SEO plugin adds a box to all of your posts and pages that analyzes the SEO (search engine optimization) and readability of your content. And this requires no code on your part.
Choosing a plugin for a specific purpose can sometimes be overwhelming. If you’re new to WordPress, we suggest that you get used to the platform first and see which features add value for you. Then, a simple google search can go a long way.
Many themes come with plugins installed already. To see which plugins you have installed, click Plugins in the left column of your WordPress dashboard.
How to Choose a Quality Plugin
WordPress is an open-source software, which means that anybody can develop and publish plugins. There are two quick checks you can make to ensure you choose a quality plugin that meets your needs. (Also remember, you can always deactivate and uninstall a plugin if it doesn’t work, or you don’t like it).
1. Plugin Rating
When you search for plugins on WordPress.org, the first thing you’ll see is the rating. Look for higher ratings, and a higher number of ratings to ensure the plugin is being used, and people like it.
2. Plugin Info
Next, check the plugin info in the lower box of the display card. You can research the plugin author (in this case, it’s the company that created WordPress, Automattic, so that’s pretty reliable). Also, note the number of installs. If a plugin doesn’t have many ratings yet, this can be a good gauge of quality. And finally, the latest version of WordPress the plugin has been tested with. Here, the plugin was tested with the most recent, WordPress 4.8.
How to Install a WordPress Plugin
Installing a WordPress plugin is the easy part, and it requires no code whatsoever. The best way to do it is right from your WordPress dashboard. Click Plugins and Add New (the button right next to the heading that says Plugins). Once you’ve done that, you can search for plugins (searchbar to the right), and click install.
Next, wait for the plugin to finish installing, then click Activate. Your plugin will now appear in the Plugins menu of your WordPress dashboard, where you can access and configure settings, if neccesary.
The other way to install a WordPress plugin is to download the zip file. You may find this on WordPress.org, or a third party site. Just be careful with third party sites and err on the side of downloading official plugins. Free plugins that aren’t sourced from WordPress could potentially open up weaknesses in your site’s security. If you go this route, navigate to Plugins > Add New > Upload Plugin as shown in the image above. Then, choose the zip file from your computer, and follow the prompts.
Now that you know how versatile WordPress is, with or without coding knowledge, ready to get started? Read our article about how to build a website from scratch using WordPress.