Customizing Your Blog

You will want to learn how to use the “Dashboard” interface of your blog to manage your blog’s appearance, write and edit posts or pages, and manage comments and plugins.

The University of Victoria has an excellent set of WordPress resources, and I suggest that you check them out.

UBC created a nice page of resources for their Teaching with WordPress course.

Also, Jim Groom has created a very detailed site that covers many of the basics of getting started in WordPress. You may want to take some time to work through Jim’s site, paying particular attention to:

Keep in mind that there are a huge number of customizations available to you and it is easy to get sidetracked by making your blog look exactly how you want it. To get started, it is perfectly acceptable to use what comes ‘out of the box’ with very few modifications.

If you need assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Categories and Tags

Your blog can group posts using categories that you can assign as you write them or by editing them. Your blog also allows you to assign tags to your posts that help to describe their content. As part of your work in this course, you will need to set up a category that will allow for the aggregation of select posts to the course blog.

Please follow these instructions to create a category on your blog that can be aggregated here.

  1. Hover your mouse over the ‘Posts’ link in the dashboard and choose ‘Categories’.Self-Coding 1
  2. Enter a name for the category that will be useful for you, like ‘TRU Faculty Development’ in the image below step 3.
  3. Enter the slug as ‘truotl’ with no capitals or spaces. It is the slug that is important for the RSS feed, and it will save me a bunch of work if I know what to look for!Create Category 2
  4. Click ‘Add New Category’ to save the category.

Once you have created the course category, as above, please follow the same procedure to create a ‘Showcase’ category that will allow you to aggregate what you believe to be your best work and display it all together.

Writing and Commenting

Feel free to write on topics that interest you in addition to any posts and pages produced for the course. Course-related posts will be aggregated on the course blog using the categories that you create for the course-related content. Do take the time to visit other student blogs to comment on their individual posts or to respond to the posts of other students.


One of the great strengths of WordPress being an open system is that there is a dedicated community of programmers who have created plugins that extend the abilities of WordPress. You can use plugins to add social tools (BuddyPress), prevent spam (Captcha), add forums (bbPress), or provide a whole suite of tools (Jetpack…one of my favourites). We recommend that you use a plugin like Jetpack to allow you to automatically share your posts via your social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, Google+).

At the time of this writing there are 32,287 free plugins available at and thousands more that you can purchase.

You can access your plugins by clicking the link in the dashboard of your blog.

Jim Groom has some info on installing plugins.


By default, your new WordPress site will have a theme installed. Each year, there is a new default theme, named for the year that it was released.

If you don’t like the default theme, there are, as of this writing, 2621 themes available at, and thousands more on other sites. Many themes are free, others have to be purchased.

You can install and activate new themes as often as you would like, but you should be aware that any customizations that you make to one theme will not carry over to another.