Why Can’t WordPress Tutorials Be Written in Language for Regular People?

[tweetmeme]I have a WordPress blog.  I’m a regular person.  That is, my technology skills are ordinary (actually, quite ordinary).  That is why I find tutorials about WordPress blogs so confounding.  Why can’t they use regular language for regular people? Today, I tried to add a subpage (or child, in WordPress-ese).  I thought it would be simple, but no, I ended up with my subpage as my parent page on the tool bar of my blog and my other subpages had disappeared.  Are you confused yet?  So was I.

So, I Googled “How do I create a subpage in WordPress?”  I read a few of the search items that came up that were completely unintelligible.  Then I looked at a tutorial from WordPress that must have been written for an earlier version than WP 2.8 because the first place they told me to go was not where they said it was.  Here is what I found and how I thought it could be written so regular people like me could figure it out.


Just as you can have Subcategories within your Categories, you can also have SubPages within your Pages, creating a hierarchy of pages.
To begin the process, go to Administration > Write > Write Page panel, in the upper right corner of the panel and click the “Page Parent” drop-down menu. The drop-down menu contains a list of all the Pages already created for your site. To turn your current Page into a SubPage, or “Child” of the “Parent” Page, select the appropriate Page from the drop-down menu. If you specify a Parent other than “Main Page (no parent)” from the list, the Page you are now editing will be made a Child of that selected Page. When your Pages are listed, the Child Page will be nested under the Parent Page. The Permalinks of your Pages will also reflect this Page hierarchy.

Regular Person Version:
(Note:  my parent page is Business Writing)

To add a subpage:
1.    Under Pages click “Add page”
2.    Write the page and give it a title, i.e., Branding
3.    Look over to the right column under “Attributes”
4.    Where it says “Parent” “Main Page, No Parent’ (in the little box), click on the drop down arrow and click on “Business Writing” which will now appear in the box
5.    Publish page – which will now appear under Business Writing

Now, do you understand how it’s done?

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  1. Most user guides and instructions are written by the people who have developed the application. This is a big mistake. It’s like trying to be your own editor.

    When you live with a project and understand it as deeply as most developers, you tend to omit everthing which seems obvious and use terminolagy which has no meaning fof the intended audiance.

    Personally, I find that the most effective guides and instructions for “normal” people are illustrated and then augmented with text rather then the other way around.

  2. Simple, developers and programmers aren’t always the best at writing for regular people. There is a huge market for simple, easy to understand WordPress instructional content, but the WordPress Codex and most bloggers who write about WordPress don’t target that market (either intentionally or not).

  3. Completely agree, Jeanette; the internet is a wonderful place for information and finding out how to do stuff but can also be completely overwhelming, can’t it? Any more where this came from? You may have a product here!!!

  4. Jeannette, are you available for translation services? I have a ridiculously difficult time trying to follow WordPress instructions. And, like you, find that even when I’ve been as careful as possible, I end up with unexpected – unfortunate – results.
    What is surprising is that most technical documentation used to be written by technical writers – people who are hired for their skills with the English language. Often, however, they got little or no information from the developers and spent much of their time writing blind. This makes no sense.
    Perhaps technical writers are mostly victims of the economy and developers are doing double duty. And yes, Paul, they seem to write for each other.
    Meanwhile, I’ll count on people like Jeannette and Jack to help me limp along.

  5. This was so helpful!!! I’ve been trying to figure this out for almost 24 hours!!! LMAO…

    Thank God people that still speak in ‘lamen’…LOL

  6. To begin…main pages are called “Parent” pages, sub pages are “Children” and below them are “Grandchildren”. I do not know whether WordPress allows great grandchildren; I have never gotten that far or seen any.

    Two things to add to your directions….knowing that WordPress is not known for easily manipulating pages. Laying out a site therefore takes some advanced planning with ‘worst case scenarios’.

    #1. Some themes, like the new twentyten default theme, have a choice of page layouts as well. The pull down under the parent page is titled “Template” and displays “default”. In the case of twentyten, the default is a wide main column with a smaller right sidebar. However there is an option for no sidebar as well. Other themes have other choices.

    #2. The third pull down is labeled “order” and is very important in laying out your site navigation. The default layout across the top or main navigation bar is alphabetical. However, by using order you can designate the layout. I just tutored a site owner where we used ’50’ as the first page, figuring as he added pages he wanted to have the most recent on top….so the next would be 49…then 48…

    Notes: When pages are displayed in the sidebar they are always displayed alphabetically. WordPress’ newest version 3.0.1 also allows “custom menus” which can include pages or categories (another fine mess to comprehend!).

    Although late to comment, I’d like to add my 2 cents….

    Jeannette – we met on LinkedIn. You also know I run a couple of WordPress sites myself. I have lately become a coach (by demand) for people running, or wanting to run, WordPress sites. The simple answer is: The tutorials are mostly written by coders and developers. And the publishing program itself is written in its own jargon, in which they speak.

    Now that I retired, in additional to running my small WEB marketing consulting company, I tried to do ‘volunteer’ work for several NFP organizations as well as helping job seekers with my Web knowledge. I found very few want leaders in a volunteer aspect, they merely want gophers. Or, they do not even bother calling you back. (Talk about looking for a job, I’m looking to volunteer!) It’s even difficult volunteering to do library presentations! (Years ago my wife and I charged for library presentations, and I received stipends as recently as two years ago.)

    While sifting through the WordPress groups on LinkedIn I found nothing to aid job seekers in setting up resume or portfolio sites. So I took the task upon myself. I started a LinkedIn group and spent hours getting up a tutorial site. Although focused on job seekers, it is good for anyone wanting to learn WordPress. My wife could even follow along (in most part).

    I wrote out in step by step instructions with screen shots of the actual dashboards, with comments or highlights included. I also sprinkle in links to helpful video tutorials (mostly not promotional ones!).

    I invite your comments, as well as your readers’ comments, on how I am doing so it can be of a benefit to all. Translating the operations to the written word is often difficult and I do take criticism constructively as you know.

    The site link is http://wordpressresumesite.wordpress.com

    As ever,


    Note: I finally did get a call back from a local NFP vocational service earlier today and talked briefly with the director of career development.

  7. Michael — thanks for the good tips. And congratulations on setting up the new LinkedIn Group. I just went and took a look. I’ll do a news update on my LI profile and tweet it and add an item in Facebook. Wonderful that you’re doing this.