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20 easy ways to help your clients understand WordPress

Morgan Smith's Layout avatar

Sometimes you get clients who are already familiar with WordPress. Maybe you’re doing a redesign for their site or they’ve had a blog before. Other times you’ll have clients who don’t know too much about WordPress. Maybe you even introduced them to it! These clients have more of a learning curve to overcome.

Of course, you could just hand over the site, wish them the best of luck, and press on to your next project. But if you’re willing to go the extra mile to provide some learning tools for those clients, you’ll accomplish several awesome things:

  1. You’ll answer lots of their questions ahead of time, which will result in less “SOS help me!” emails in your inbox.
  2. You’ll get major brownie points for being so helpful. This leads to happy clients, which hopefully leads to some referrals, which then leads to new clients who will help keep your business booming.
  3. All those brownie points will help establish you as an expert. So when your clients do want to learn more, they’ll be willing to opt-in to some of the following ideas.

Ready to go the extra mile? Here are 20 easy ways to help your clients understand WordPress.

Start them off on the right foot

Once you’ve completed a client’s site, schedule time to show it to them (like you normally would) but add in some extra time to walk through the basics of the Dashboard. Some things you should do are:

1. Walk through the Dashboard Screen

Explain what every widget is and what it’s showing the client. If they don’t care about a piece of information, consider using the Screen Options to remove it for them (or be prepared to defend a widget and explain why they might want to keep it.)

2. Explain the difference between posts and pages

For new users to WordPress, these two terms can be easy to mix-up. Explain the difference to your client, but also show them a live example of each on their site. This will help them understand exactly what each option creates and where it appears once they hit publish.

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3. Demonstrate how to create a post

And actually publish the post. Like the step before, then you can show exactly how it appears on the site. Don’t stop there though – this also gives you the opportunity to demonstrate how to delete or unpublish a post. Your clients will definitely appreciate this knowledge the first time they accidentally publish something before it’s ready.

4. Show them how to add media

This step could easily be covered while you’re demonstrating how to create a post, but don’t forget about the Media tab within the Dashboard. You’ll want to show both and explain that they lead to the same place, so your client doesn’t get confused about which one to use.

5. Teach them how to respond to comments

And absolutely be sure to explain Pingbacks. To the new WordPress user, those look incredibly confusing and some may even worry their site has been hacked. Show them an example, and reassure them that it’s totally normal.

6. Explain how to create a page (and if they should)

Most likely, you already created all the pages your client’s site needs. It’s good practice to explain how to create one, but then tell your client that they really don’t need to worry about that until they want to add a new section to their site.

7. Walk through every plugin on their site

Depending on what plugins you’ve installed, you can either skim over their general functions or dive into the individual settings with your client. If they’ll be actively using a plugin, definitely walk through the settings with them. If it’s more of a behind-the-scenes plugin, though, that might be a good candidate to just skim.

8. Likewise, explain any shortcodes you created

Actually demonstrate inserting the shortcode and then view it live, so your client understands how to correctly use that functionality. You may also consider giving them a list of all the shortcodes they can use with a description of what each one does.

9. Explain user roles

And better yet, help your client add any users they need. Explain the different user roles, and help them determine what permissions they should give their teammates.

Need help explaining user roles? Show your clients this infographic. They’ll love it!

10. Last, walk through their settings

Again, you can dive into every setting if you really want to, or you can cover these pretty quickly. Just make sure some of the basic settings are correct for your client, such as the time zone and blog settings.

When sitting down to teach your client about the Dashboard, the most important thing to do is tailor the information to that specific client. If they don’t have a blogging feature to their website, skip over the nitty gritty details and focus on what’s relevant to their site. Just try to have a consistent process for this informational meeting, so you don’t have to make it up for each client. For example, does this information cost extra, or is it rolled into your standard fee? Do you have a time limit for the meeting? What if they want extra help?

If they do want extra help…

Provide some resources

One of the easiest ways to help your clients understand WordPress is to provide resources that they can use long after you’ve built their site. Any content that you can link to or print for your clients will be immensely helpful for them. Plus, instead of constantly answering the same questions, you can just show your customers how to access these resources. This will both help them answer their own questions and free up some time on your end.

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Some things you can provide are:

1. Blog posts

If you enjoy writing, and specifically writing about WordPress or creating how-to articles, blog posts can be a great resource for your clients. Whenever you start working with a new client, encourage them to follow along with your blog for the best WordPress tips and tricks. You can even link to specific “Beginner” articles to get them headed in the right direction.

2. Ebooks

If you really enjoy writing, consider creating ebooks for your clients to download. They don’t have to be super long, but they should be longer than your average blog post. This is a great opportunity to prompt users for their email address before downloading the ebook, but if you are collecting an email address in exchange for content, the content needs to be worth it.

Need some ebook inspiration? Consider writing something like these (or even sharing these with your client!)

  • Common Rookie WordPress Mistakes – Want a leg up on the competition? Learn about these common WordPress mistakes, but more importantly, how to avoid them. Your client will be a WordPress pro in no time!
  • 11 Things to Do with Every New WordPress Install – Once you’ve installed WordPress, there are a few things you’ll want to do right away. Learn how to make the most of it, and learn about some great tools along the way.
  • Locking Down WordPress – Ok, this WordPress security guide might be a little advanced for some of your clients. If they’re really interested in learning, though, challenge them to understand advanced aspects of WordPress, even if they don’t really need to worry about it right now.

3. How-to videos

If you’re a video fan, consider creating some how-to videos to share with your clients. Remember when you walked your client through the WordPress Dashboard earlier? Consider creating a screencast as you explain those things. Those one-on-one meetings that are tailored specifically to your client are still important, but you could always follow up with the video as a refresher.

Plus, videos are easy to include in emails, blog posts, or just standing alone on your website. In other words, one video can live in a lot of different places and really improve the quality of those other mediums.

4. Downloadable PDFs

If you’re a graphics person through and through, you may want to whip up some beautifully branded PDFs. These are perfect for emailing to clients or providing download links on your site. This could also include infographics if you’re looking to educate your client and not necessarily teach them how to do something.

5. Printed resources

Sure, these could be the same as your graphics from above. But that main point here is that they’re great for printing. These are resources that either your client can print for their records, or you can print for your client before you physically meet with them. This could include things like a “WordPress Dashboard Cheat Sheet” or “WordPress Vocabulary Guide.” Use your imagination and have fun with it!

6. Online courses

If you have a lot of clients who are interested in learning more about WordPress and you want to take your resources to the next level, consider providing an online course. That could be anything from a series of exclusive resources to a full webinar with some face time value. Teaching a course takes a lot of planning and coordination, however, so only venture down this path if you have the time to make it great.

Consider starting small for your first class. Only invite a few of your clients whom you have great relationships with, and then get their feedback. What was great about the course? What could be better? What things do they want to learn?

Once you’ve got the kinks worked out, classes are a great way to educate multiple clients (or even prospective clients!) at the same time. Then instead of repeatedly blocking out time for those WordPress info sessions from above, you can do it all at once.

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These resources can also add a ton of value to your site, if you choose to publish them publicly. Providing resources can:

  1. Grow your email list. By making people opt-in to your email list for this content, you’re growing your list of potential customers.
  2. Help establish yourself as an expert. By demonstrating your knowledge, customers (and competitors!) will know you’re legit.
  3. Bring in some extra cash. If you have some really high-quality content (such as a book), you can sell it on your site and direct your customers to it if it will help them answer their questions.

But of course, providing resources and teaching classes can take up a lot of time, and maybe that’s just not your style. In that case…

Set them up for future education

If you don’t want to provide that for your clients, at the very least, show them where they can find that information. A few resources you should introduce them to include:

1. The Codex

Alright, for new beginners, the Codex might get a little confusing. But as your clients continue to learn about WordPress, and likely if they ever Google something, they’ll run into the Codex eventually. Go ahead and introduce them to it, and explain that it’s a super valuable resource! One day they’ll be ready for it and they’ll be grateful that you introduced them to it.

2. Your favorite blogs

You probably have some go-to blogs for your WordPress needs, right? Lead your clients there also. Especially if you’re not interested in maintaining your own blog, this will give them a consistent WordPress knowledge-base to read up on. Just be sure to suggest some blogs that have content catered to your client’s skill level; if it’s too advanced, that kind of defeats the purpose of helping them understand WordPress. Send them to blogs that have a simple voice, and cover topics that range from beginner to more advanced.

A few I’d recommend are:

  • WPBeginner – Their name says it all; this blog is great for WordPress users who are just starting out. Plus, they even have a “Beginner’s Guide” category for their posts, so it’s super easy to point your users in the right direction.
  • WP Mayor – Not only does WP Mayor have helpful blog posts, but they also provide a “Beginner’s Handbook” page that shares some great tools for first-time WordPress users.
  • The Layout – Ok sure, I’m a little biased here. But we try to publish content for all WordPress designers, ranging from beginners to more advanced. We’ll help your clients learn more about WordPress every step of their journey.

3. Your friends

You may not be big on resources, but maybe you have designer friends who are. Consider establishing a business partnership; you’ll build the sites, your friend will do the teaching. This helps educate your clients, but then you don’t have to worry about the logistics of teaching and providing resources. Plus, you might just start a pretty awesome partnership with your friends!

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There are a lot of options when it comes to helping your clients understand WordPress. The most important thing is to find what works best for you, and what works best for your clients. What do you do to help your clients understand WordPress?

Comments ( 1 )

  1. Troy

    November 9, 2015

    Great article Morgan. The problem with providing videos is everytime WordPress gets updated the interface changes.

    Gee, I wonder where you could get videos installed in your client's dashboard that were updated with every stable release of WordPress?

    ;)

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