One of the main reasons why WordPress is the leading publishing platforms for blogs is because it has been designed to be easy to customize. You can tweak and adjust a variety of settings, download plugins and create a unique website that best reflects your brand and your goals.
Now that you have purchased your domain, downloaded WordPress and learned how to access your dashboard, we can start personalizing your website.
1. Choose a Theme
A theme is simply a template that provides you with a basic layout for your website. There are literally thousands of WordPress themes to choose from. Because WordPress uses open source software, developers from around the world are able to design themes and share them with the WordPress users. Perhaps the best part is that most of these themes are available totally free of charge.
All you have to do is browse through the selection of free themes and choose one that best suits your site and the type of content you will be publishing. Typically, themes are for specific purposes. For example, if you are a photographer looking to highlight your portfolio, there are plenty of options that will meet your needs and showcase your images.
2. Change Your Theme
Once you have found a theme you like, you can click on the “Appearance” tab located in the left side bar menu. Click on the “Theme” category and you will be taken to a screen where you can search for and add new themes. If you have done some research and know the name of the theme you want to use, you can type it into the search box and click install when it shows up in the search results.
The installation theme allows you to preview what the layout will look like before officially updating your site. If you are happy with the theme, click activate and your new theme will be applied to your site.
Down the road, if you decide that you want to update the look of your site, you can change themes and the information from your website will be transferred and configured into the new theme format.
3. Add Widgets to Your Site
Another way to customize your site is by adding widgets, which are also found in the appearance tab. Essentially, widgets allow you to add certain boxes to the sidebar menu on your site. Typically, these include facebook “like” boxes, RSS feeds, search boxes, blog archives and other categories. Simply find the widget you want to add and drag and drop it in the sidebar menu.
4. Install Plugins for Additional Functions
Plugins are little bits of code that add certain functions to your site. As with themes, developers design and share plugins that they have created, which means that you have free access to thousands of different options that will allow your site to do anything and everything.
Popular plugins allow you to add contact forms, slide shows and help make your content search engine friendly. Each plugin also displays ratings provided by users and the number of times that plugin has been downloaded so that you can make an informed decision about which option is best for you.
5. Install and Use Jetpack Plugin on Your Site
For beginning bloggers, the WordPress Jetpack plugin provides a variety of helpful functions all in one download. It is a great place to start and takes just a few moments to set up. First, go to the plugins page in your dashboard and type Jetpack in the search box. Before you can fully implement the plugin, you will have to create an account username and password. Click here to be directed to the sign up page. Once you have created your account, you can go back to the plugin page and click on the green box labeled “Connect to WordPress.com.” You will then be prompted to enter the account information your just created. After your information has been verified, you are all set to start taking advantage of Jetpack’s features.
6. Create User Details for Your Site
Changing the default user details is an important step that is easy to overlook. This setting allows you to display your name and connect your email address so that readers know who is the author of each post. In addition, to adding your own information, you can also add other users so that guest authors and other collaborators receive credit for their work as well.
To update your profile, click on “Users” in the left sidebar menu. Locate your username and click “edit.” The next screen will allow you to change your information. Just be sure to click “Update Profile” at the bottom of the page before you navigate away.
7. Customize Post Links to Make More Searchable
Each time you post a blog, WordPress automatically creates a link. Typically, it will be full of numbers and symbols and not necessarily reflect the content of your article. To edit your links and create more specific and relevant URLs, go to the Settings tab in the left sidebar menu. Click on the Permalinks option and choose a new URL format.
8. Create Pages and Expand Your Site
Pages differ from posts in that they are usually more permanent pages that are not being constantly updated. They are typically listed in the navigation menu contain important information that doesn’t change. About Us and Contact pages are just two common examples.
Creating a page is simple. Click on the “Pages” tab in the left sidebar menu and click “Add New.” The same editor is used for both pages and posts and is similar to most word processing programs, so there is very little learning curve involved in creating and publish content in WordPress.
Click on “All Pages” to view all the pages you have created. WordPress automatically creates a sample page. I would recommend deleting the sample and starting with a clean slate.
9. Adjust Text Color and Size for Custom Design
Another common feature that bloggers often want to adjust is the color and size of the text in their theme. While the page and post editor does allow you to create bullets, bold and italicize words and make other minor changes, you have to make sure that you are viewing the full toolbar in order to change the text color and size.
If you toolbar only contains one row, then there are hidden options that you can uncover by clicking on the “toogle toolbar” button highlighted below. That should create a second row of options.
Change the Text Color
To change the text color, click on the arrow next to the text color button, which is represented by the letter A. The drop down menu will provide you with standard color options or you can insert a custom color to use. If you have already written the text and want to change the color, simply highlight the section you want to change and click on your color choice.
Change the Text Size
The very first option in the second row of the toolbar should be labeled “Paragraph” and contain a drop down menu. If you click on the arrow, you can choose from different text sizes. Sometimes this option can be a little tricky though and change the font size of entire paragraphs and not just the highlighted material. If you run into this problem, here is how to fix it:
1. View the html for the post my clicking on the “Text” tab in the upper right hand corner of the toolbar.
2. In the text mode you will see that headings are indicated by </h3> or </h2> depending on the text size you chose. To correct any sizing problems, place that code before and after the text that you want re-sized.
3. Click the “Update” button.
4. Go back to the “Visual” mode to check your work and make sure that everything looks correct now.
These simple steps will allow you to setup, configure and adjust your blog so that it reflects your content or business. With a few simple steps, you can create a unique and attractive blog to show off your work and attract visitors. If you have problems or are looking for a very specific plugin function, don’t forget to take advantage of WordPress forums. Chances are that someone has posed a similar question and received plenty of helpful answers. Often times, you can speak directly with developers to