This post is in the final instalment in our four-post series on the Basics of Blogging. In the first three posts, we have covered some important topics, including how to choose a web hosting company, how to add a domain name to that web host, and how to install WordPress. Please feel free to check out any of those previous posts if you need help on those topics.
If you have followed along with us to this point so far, congratulations! You already have a site live on the web, although it probably isn’t much to look at just yet. Fortunately, in this post, we are going to help you go from a plain WordPress installation to a great looking site which you can begin to fill with informative, entertaining content. Building a website is plenty of work, but there are many potential rewards down the line once you see your vision come to life.
Choosing a Theme
Picking a ‘theme’ for your site is one of the most-important steps of the entire process. What is a theme? Basically, you can think of a WordPress theme as a template for your site which is going to serve as the framework you can use to add content, media, links, ads, and much more. Everything you do on the site will be done within the context of your chosen theme, and there are thousands and thousands of options to choose from.
Themes come in the form of both free and premium, and you can search out themes from any number of different sources. A quick google search for the phrase ‘WordPress themes’ is going to return a shocking number of results – in fact, you will find too many to ever sort through. To avoid overwhelming yourself with options, you may want to shop on a site which is dedicated to the sale of WordPress themes, such as ThemeForest.
Do you need to pay for a premium theme in order to build a quality site? No – but it will make your life quite a bit easier. As you would expect, premium themes tend to be of a much higher quality than free themes, and they are easier to use in most cases as well. If you have a modest amount of money to invest in your site (usually less than $100), buying a premium theme from a respected developer is a smart choice.
Here’s where you can search for free WordPress themes: https://wordpress.org/themes/
Setting Up Menus
Once you have chosen a theme and you have installed that theme on your site, one of the first things you will want to do is to create a menu or two. Creating menus is easy in WordPress, and it is a powerful way to shape your site into something that matches your vision. To build your first menu, follow the simple steps below –
While logged in to WordPress, click on ‘Appearance’ in the left side bar, and then select ‘Menus’ from the drop down menu
On the next screen, you will see a box labeled ‘Menu Name’. Enter a name for your first menu in that box, and click on the button that reads ‘Create Menu’.
With the menu created, use the box on the left side of the screen to pick the pages which you would like included in the menu. When you have selected all desired pages, click ‘Add to Menu’. If you are happy with your choices, click ‘Save Menu’ and you will be finished.
Most likely, your theme is going to include at least one or two designated spots for menus to be used. Often, there is a menu somewhere in both the header and footer, if not a sidebar as well. Now that you know how to create a menu, you can customize these parts of your site to suit your needs.
Front Page Decisions
The front page of your website is like the front door to your home – it should be inviting and welcoming, rather than off-putting. One big decision you need to keep in mind when developing your site is the appearance you wish to have on your front page. Do you want that page to be static, or would you like it to be a feed of your latest blog posts? There is no right or wrong answer on this point, so think about the purpose of your site and which choice makes the most sense. To make this selection within WordPress, click on ‘Settings’ in the left sidebar, then ‘Reading’. On the Reading Settings screen, you will be able to toggle between ‘Your Latest Posts’ and ‘ A Static Page’ for your front page display options.
The most-important thing to remember when working in WordPress is that help is always available. If you get stuck on a particular issue while building your site, a quick search for the topic and hand will likely reveal the solution in short order. Good luck, and we hope you have enjoyed our Basics of Blogging series!