A few weeks ago I received a text from a friend. We were college classmates about 30 years ago or so. He is the pastor at a nearby church.
The website for his church was built on WordPress by someone who was previously at the church, and now, they needed some help.
The website had some issues that I noticed pretty quickly, but they were interested in some training to use the website.
I said I would help, and to be honest, I was a little stressed. I don’t train people to use WordPress much anymore. I was unsure what I was getting in to. Besides, the site had some other problems that they needed to straighten out.
I started researching WordPress training.
There are some good resources available, especially if you are looking at learn.wordpress.org.
I also visited with some other WordPress advocates like Courtney Robertson to get some thoughts.
Recently, I showed up to the church’s staff meeting to deliver the training. The training went very well as I will share below.
Today I am going to talk about three things you should pay attention to when preparing to train users of WordPress, whether clients or other users.
Know who you’re teaching to
The same rule for business and for marketing applies to teaching as well. Know your audience. You need to know if you are talking to novice users with no idea what’s going on or users with a basic understanding. In my case, I was teaching users who understood what was going on.
Two of the staff members were young adults and they picked up everything very quickly. Basically, they just needed someone to show them where certain settings were located.
When I went to the training session, there were four staff members sitting around the table. I had envisioned using a projector to go over the dashboard for everyone, but that isn’t what happened.
I ended up working with each person one on one, sitting next to them so they could update the page they were responsible for.
So, before you spend a lot of time in intensive preparation like you are teaching a basic WordPress class, find out where your students are in basic knowledge. Additionally, teach them what they need to know how to do for their day to day tasks. Don’t teach users advanced information if they will never use that.
For example, if the user is never going to install plugins or or update the WordPress core, there is no reason to teach them that. In fact, resist the urge to make everyone an admin.
No one needs to be an admin unless they are doing those advanced, technical tasks.
Create a staging site for them to practice on
Create a staging site for your students to practice. As I was researching how to do my training, I visited with WordPress developer advocate Courtney Robertson who gave me some great advice.
One thing I implemented was the staging site idea. I mean, it seems to be a no-brainer, but I hadn’t thought of it before.
The church uses WP Engine for their host, so it was super easy to set up.
Once we had it setup, we began adding those users who will be using the website.
The users received the information to login before the training day.
When I arrived at training day, they had already logged in.
I began this process before the day of the training so that was one less thing to do when I arrived. Imagine spending 30 minutes showing them how to log in? Not me.
Once I arrived and we got started, I began teaching them how to update their pages. All of this was done on the staging site allowing them to get comfortable with WordPress and their website.
Each member quickly transitioned to working on the live site once they were comfortable. They were updating their pages on the live site before I left.
I explained if they were unsure about something, they could practice on the staging site first.
Because the staging site was an exact replica of their site and on their host, they can keep practicing when they wish.
Create a resource for later use when you aren’t around
The one thing I have always done when teaching or creating websites is leave the project as if I will not be there.
There is nothing worse for a client or organization than for someone to set up the site and then be gone a couple years later when there is an issue.
I always tell people that the great thing about WordPress is that there are many people who can work on them. There are plenty of WordPress consultants who can help.
So, my philosophy for this training is to leave them where they can carry on without me.
To achieve this, I created a document with information they will need going forward.
I have done this in previous sessions, but this document would be custom made for this organization.
I began by creating a Notion page with relevant links.
Some of the things I included were links to their live website, their staging site as well as where to login. I also included links to their host and domain management companies as well as the link to their website for their theme.
The theme that the church uses has excellent documentation, so I created links to the relevant articles.
I also included links to some videos on how to do some basic WordPress tasks including adding a post and using the Block Editor.
I added some basic WordPress articles from WP Engine, their host.
Additionally I added a section with screenshots on how to reset passwords.
Now, I love Notion for these kinds of documents, but not everyone uses Notion.
No problem. You can export the document into a PDF or HTML. I was extremely happy to know that I could export it into a PDF document that they can keep on file.
Any time I need to add information to the page, I can just export the new version and send it.
It is extremely important, in my opinion, to leave them with a resource hub for what your client may need in the future.
Wrapping it up
There are no shortage of resources available that talks about or offers WordPress training. Certainly you can reverse engineer what they do, but in the case of a smaller group, the custom approach might be best.
Now, if you are teaching a group of people, half dozen or more, your approach might take more of a classroom setting.
As I mentioned before, it depends on your goal. Are you teaching individuals to update the pages they are responsible for like in my example or do they need to know much more?
I believe if your group is new the need, at the least, a cursory look around the dashboard. I also believe they need resources they can use in the future.
So, have you ever taught WordPress to clients or others? Let us know in the MainWP Users Facebook Group.