Tag: Toronto Public Library

Introducing WordPress

What is WordPress?

I don’t know. But according to WordPress.com, it “Powers 37% Of The Internet”. That’s like one-third of a pie chart plus an extra slice for dessert! I suppose we should take a seat at the table too and learn something about this platform. Let’s dig in!

WordPress Course on LinkedIn Learning

As you will know by now, I like to make use of the access to LinkedIn Learning I get for free as a member of the Toronto Public Library. They have not just one course about WordPress but an entire “learning path” of 13 courses! However, in reading over the learning path description I got a little intimidated. It says, “Go beyond simply choosing WordPress themes, and learn how to actually manipulate WordPress to build content and designs that match your unique needs.” If I’m gonna be honest, I really just want to start with simply choosing WordPress themes. (Whatever those are.)

So I did a quick Google search and the second thing that pops up, right after the WordPress site itself, is “WPBeginner – Beginner’s Guide to WordPress“. Interesting… It says that it is “a free WordPress resource site for Beginners”. Beginners! That’s us! And you know I’m a sucker for “free”. Let’s check it out together, shall we?

The WPBeginner Resource Site

Oooo, very nice. Lots of things to look at. Where to start? Right across the top it says “Beginner’s Guide for WordPress / Start your WordPress Blog in minutes” but then I am given some options that I don’t quite understand.

If you are feeling a little lost at this point, not to worry. While you were standing there looking around in awe and wonder, taking in the scenery, I scouted ahead (because that’s what I’m here for) and I think I know what path we should take.

Dot Com? Dot Org?

I don’t know if you know this, but I do know that there are two WordPresses: WordPress.com and WordPress.org. But I still get confused about the difference between the two. When I scouted ahead, I saw that the “free WordPress.com platform is a good choice for hobby bloggers and those starting a blog for their family.” (Source: WordPress.com vs WordPress.org – Which is Better?)

Basically, with WordPress.com, we can start a site that is completely free, just like with Wix, whereas with WordPress.org we’d have to shell out a bit of money for a domain and hosting (I have a vague idea about what these two things are; we’ll study them in more detail down the road). Both budget and blogging prowess are a bit thin at the moment for making a monetary investment, so I think we should opt for creating a free site with WordPress.com and see what all the hype is about.

This WPBeginner site looks like a really great resource and I’m sure we will refer to it again in the future. But for now, let’s head on over to WordPress.com.

The WordPress.com Site

Well, here we are!

What you are looking at on your screen may not look exactly like this. They may have switched out the look of their home page by the time you are reading this, and they also seem to have different looks depending on how you get there. But as long as the URL starts with “wordpress.com” you are in the right place.

Regardless of how you get there and what the landing page looks like for you, there should be “Log In” and “Get Started” buttons somewhere, probably in the top right-hand corner. Obviously we can’t log in without getting started first, so let’s hit that Get Started button! (This is so exciting!)

Here’s what I see:

Again, what you see on your screen probably doesn’t look like this. But you should see something that tells you to enter an email address and choose a username and password.

Uh-oh, it wants to get me a domain:

I thought we would be under the WordPress.com domain? Just like how with Wix, my free site is my_username.wixsite.com, I thought it would be something like my_username.wordpress.com. Well, I’ll try entering “Learning to Blog” and see what happens.

So they show me two options right at the top, labelled “Our Recommendation” and “Best Alternative”. These are “free” for now, but they will renew at a cost. So not exactly free then, is it?

But if I scroll down a bit, it gives me a long list of options that would cost me money eventually, but the very first option is the one that sits under the WordPress domain, and that one is free. So that’s the one I will select.

Gee, they really try hard to extract money from your wallet. Once again I was alarmed to see that I had to choose a paid plan:

But if you look closely, you’ll see tucked away under “Pick a plan that’s right for you”, in tiny writing : “Choose a plan or start with a free site”. It looks like it’s just underlined, but that’s actually a hyperlink, folks. That’s where we’re going.

And voilà!

Well that was relatively painless.

There’s a big red button right in the center that says, “Get started” and above that it says that it will guide us through setting up and launching our site. Why don’t we go our separate ways for now and meet back here when we’re done?

Sorry, just checking back in with you for a second. I’ve just finished naming my site and giving it a tagline, and now I’m in editor mode for the home page. Have you gotten this far yet? I haven’t made any changes yet–here’s what WordPress has given me to start out with:

Alright, carry on… Meet you back here.

Sorry to bother you again. I just wanted to show you something. I wasn’t really sure where to go from here so I clicked on Preview to see what it actually would look like so far. I noticed that what I had for my “tagline” is actually what I want to put as text on the Home page. So I wanted to change it. And I saw that in Preview mode, there’s an Edit Header option. Circled in red with a big red arrow pointing to it here:

When I click on that, it takes me here:

I’ve circled in red where you go to change your site’s title and tagline. And then I saw all the other things I can do here, like change the site’s colours and backgrounds. I think I could spend a lot of time here exploring backgrounds and pretty colours…

So I don’t know about you but I’m exhausted. And hungry. I think we should take a break here and enjoy our little slice of pie. Let’s ramble a bit on our own and come back to compare notes in the next post.

Spaced Out With Squarespace

Hello again! Thanks for joining me on our next field trip. This time we’re heading over to another website builder called Squarespace. Similarly to Wix, you don’t need to have any knowledge of HTML or anything like that in order to build a website with Squarespace. Is it as easy to use as Wix, though? Let’s find out.

Learn Squarespace on LinkedIn Learning

As with Wix, I tinkered around with Squarespace a couple of years ago and looked for a video tutorial to guide me. I found one on LinkedIn Learning by the same instructor as the Wix tutorial. (Remember that if you live in Toronto, you can access LinkedIn Learning for free with your public library card. Also, some organizations offer their employees free access to LinkedIn Learning, so check with your employer to see if they do!)

The LinkedIn Learning course is called Squarespace Essential Training: The Basics and, as of this writing, the most recent update to the course was in March 2023.

Keeping Up With The Versions

Remember back when they invented papyrus and it took another 4000 years or so to come up with the printing press? Yeah, it’s not like that anymore. Things change a lot more quickly in the digital age. When I was working my way through the course back in March 2021, I began to notice that things looked different. What I mean is, what I was seeing on my Squarespace interface did not always match what the instructor was showing me in the video tutorial. The further I got in the course, the less things seemed to match, until I was just barely muddling my way along.

Squarespace Versions 7.0 vs 7.1

I eventually made use of the Help section to try and figure out why I was so lost in space. Turned out that I was using version 7.1 of Squarespace, whereas the instructor seemed to be using version 7.0. (For a detailed explanation of the different versions, head over to this Squarespace blog post.)

In spite of this enlightening bit of information, I for some reason continued to struggle through to the end of the course before it finally occurred to me to check if there was a newer version of the tutorial and… yep, there was. It was released just a few months prior, in October 2020. The older course was created in May 2018; the newer one in October 2020. That’s almost two-and-a-half years older! The course that is there now was just updated a few months ago, but by the time you read this, it too may already be a relic of an earlier, simpler time.

What’s really hilarious is that the outdated course I had just finished slogging through was almost 5 hours long, whereas the newer course was a mere 2 hours. I spent about 9 hours on the project altogether!

Expect Change

The take-away here is: don’t be surprised when things look different. In fact, be a little suspicious when things still look the same. If you find that things on your screen don’t match up with the tutorial, don’t panic! Chances are, things will look a lot more different than they actually are. Just do your best to muddle your way around. The more you muddle, the better you get at this learning tech stuff!

Just to be clear, the May 2018 course, which is the course I originally worked through, was for Squarespace version 7.0. The October 2020 course was for Squarespace version 7.1. This is why they looked so completely different from each other! (Note that the October 2020 course was last updated in April 2022.) The current course, released in March 2023, is also for Squarespace 7.1. You will only find this latest course listed in LinkedIn Learning, the first two have since been archived. But they still exist in cyberspace, just follow these hyperlinks if you want to check them out:

I am currently working through the March 2023 course. I’ll report on the new course in a future post. For now, let me share what I learned about Squarespace the first time around.

Shocker #1: Squarespace doesn’t have a free option

Gah! How are us broke people supposed to check this thing out if it’s not free??

Thankfully, they do offer a 14-day free trial. I would suggest that you don’t start your 14-day free trial until you are ready and able to dedicate some solid blocks of time on this.

If I can use Wix for free, why would I pay to use Squarespace?

Well, first off, the free option for Wix is very limited in its capabilities. It’s pretty much like an unlimited free trial. In order to have a fully functional website, you’d need to upgrade to a paid plan. Beyond that, Squarespace apparently has a lot of features that make it “better” than Wix. The LinkedIn Learning tutorial goes over some of these. For instance, Squarespace automatically makes the necessary changes to your website so that it can be viewed on any device, whether that be a desktop computer monitor, a tablet, or an iPhone. Wix does too, but doesn’t do it as well, says our instructor, and requires extra tweaking, which means you have to spend more time building your site. Time is money, people!

Another feature that Squarespace has that Wix allegedly doesn’t is the ability to export your site to WordPress. Naturally, you have questions. What is WordPress? And why would I want to export my site to it? WordPress is yet another website builder, and it is on our travel itinerary, so hang tight, we will get to it soon! If your business or organization or project outgrows your initial small website, you will likely need to move to another platform that can handle a larger, more complex site. So that’s where the exporting from Squarespace to WordPress would come in. There isn’t an easy way to move your site from Wix to WordPress; you’d pretty much have to rebuild the site all over again (ouch!)

I know what you’re thinking. Why not just start with WordPress and avoid the potential hassle? Well, according to our instructor, “What makes WordPress so popular (all the functionality) is also what makes it confusing (all the functionality).” In other words, it might be more website builder than you need. Both Wix and Squarespace could be just fine for a small business or organization, or as a hobby site.

Shocker #2: Planning your website

Uh-oh, we need a plan??

Yes. According to our instructor, we need a plan. In the March 2018 course, she spent a significant amount of time explaining how to plan out your website and why it’s important to do so before you begin building it. This planning out stage is not specific to Squarespace, this is something we are encouraged to do regardless of which website-building tool we choose. She also went over some basic information about working with photos and how to decide whether our website should be single-page or multi-page, among other things. This is why that 2018 course was 5 hours long vs. 2. I think she has now created a separate course to go over this information; I’ll have to look into it to confirm and get back to you on that.

Adding Photos In Squarespace

Here’s an important thing I learned while working through the Squarespace course: photos don’t just appear out of nowhere. You may recall back in Wix Land, back when we were mere Noobs, we discovered that it was easy to find professional-looking free stock photos right within the Wix interface. (If you missed it, here’s the post in question.) Well, it doesn’t look like Squarespace has this handy feature. So, I did a little research and found this website called Pexels. It looks like photographers upload photos for you to use for free, although there is an option to donate to them if you wish. You can also copy a link back to their profile page to include on your site in order to give them credit and exposure. Please be sure to give credit where credit is due!

Squarespace or Wix?

So which is better? Squarespace or Wix? In my very limited experience, here’s my opinion.

Ease of Use

In terms of actually building a site, as someone who was just learning how to do this, I think I preferred Squarespace to Wix. I think. But I’m not really sure. Fourteen days just wasn’t enough time to get a good feel for it. I think I preferred it for its seemingly more customizable design capabilities though, not for ease of use. Remember that Wix had two interfaces: Wix ADI and Wix Editor. The Wix Editor had more customizable design capabilities as well, but it also had a steeper learning curve than Wix ADI. I guess if we’re talking strictly about ease of use, Wix ADI wins hands-down.


Let’s talk money. Currently, the cheapest plan Squarespace offers is $192/year. This is for the “Personal” plan. The next tier is called “Business” and costs $276/year. I’m assuming this is in US dollars, so for Canadians we’re looking at around $250/year for the Personal plan and $365/year for Business. For Wix, the cheapest plan is free, followed by a very basic plan for $90/year, then a personal plan for $180/year. The next tier is for entrepreneurs and freelancers at $240/year. These prices are all in Canadian dollars. I guess if you’re reading this, it means you’re just at the learning stages of website building, in which case Wix is probably a more budget-friendly option to start with.

My First Squarespace Site

Now, since Squarespace doesn’t have a free version, and I wasn’t about to pay to make a fake site I will never use, I had to get creative with how to share my project with you. Because I can’t actually publish it, I instead took a series of screenshots, hacked them into photos, and put them into a free Wix site to make it kinda-sorta look like what it would look like if you were actually looking at it as a real website. (Note that it’s a bit fuzzy-looking because detail was lost in going from screenshots to jpegs. If it were an actual Squarespace site, it would look much crisper.)

I added hyperlinks so you could “pretend” to click on links and move through it like you would a real web site. (Tip: hover over the menu bar at the top right and just click anywhere, it will move you to the next page. Just keep doing that until you come back to the Home page.) You’ll have to use your imagination a bit.

I’m not sure exactly how it will turn out on your end. It should look “okay” in either desktop or mobile (not sure about tablet), but if things look really wonky or broken, it means my hack didn’t work out. C’est la vie.


Ok then, off you go! Have fun! Don’t forget to write!

A space portal.

Enter imaginary Squarespace website

through this portal.

Image credit: Christopher Burns on Unsplash

Tourist in the Land of Wix

Did you try making a free website with Wix yet? How did it go?

After I created my first Wix website, I wandered aimlessly around my Wix ADI interface for a while, pushing random buttons to see what would happen. Eventually I decided to look for a knowledgeable tour guide to show me around. If you’re feeling as lost and directionless as I was, and not really sure of what to do next, read on!

Learn Wix ADI on LinkedIn Learning

If you are familiar with LinkedIn, the social media platform for business relationships, you may know that they offer a library of high-quality online video courses for workplace skills development. One of the courses available is a beginner-level course called Learning Wix. It walks you through the process of using Wix ADI to build a website for an imaginary custom cake business.

You need a premium membership with LinkedIn to access the course, but if you live in Toronto, you can access all of the LinkedIn courses via the Toronto Public Library website for free! All you need is a library card and an Internet connection. Just do a search for “LinkedIn Learning” at the TPL website and it will bring up the portal.

The LinkedIn Learning video course is just over an hour and a half long. You will be guided through the steps of building a simple business website using Wix ADI, starting from signing up with Wix to publishing a free site under the Wix domain. It’s a good first course for finding your way around the Wix ADI interface. Here is a link to my finished project, a website for an imaginary floral design business: https://csistok.wixsite.com/wixadisamplesite

As you can see, there is a banner across the top advertising Wix, which is the trade-off for having a free site. If this were a real business, I would want to upgrade to a paid plan to get rid of that banner. This would set you back around $15-20/month. But let’s just stick with free website-building for now!

Other Resources for Learning Wix ADI

If you don’t live in Toronto and your local library doesn’t offer access to LinkedIn Learning, this YouTube tutorial by ProfileTree is a good alternative. It’s about an hour long and walks you through the process of building a business website for a coffee shop using Wix ADI.

Of course, you could also just walk yourself through the learning process by making use of the Wix Help Center. From your main page on the Wix dashboard, find Help on the menu bar at the top left. When you select it, you should see a hyperlinked text: Visit Help Center. From there, you will find all the articles they have about using Wix ADI.

Overall, I found the Wix ADI interface very easy to use. But after getting some hands-on experience using it, I began to see how it has its limitations and why one might prefer to use the Wix Editor instead. So, now that we are pros at using Wix ADI, are we ready to move onward and upward?

Next stop: Wix Editor!

Image credit: Waldemar on Unsplash