Starting With WordPress: Appearance

Posted June 20, 2016 by Kayla in Blog Series, Wordpress / 0 Comments

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Starting with WordPress_ Appearance

Starting with WordPress is a series I am doing on how to use wordpress in easy to understand terms. I found the Codex to be helpful but felt that it was very technical. These are my instructions in a more non-technical way. Visit the series page for a list of all the topics in this series.

Themes

I’ve already cover this in the Themes part of this series.

Customise

In the customizer section, you can add your site identity information. This is the same site name and tagline but takes it one step further by letting you add an icon. This icon should be 50px X 50px and is an image that will be shown in the browser tab like when you’re on Facebook and you see the Facebook logo on the tab.

You can also change the header image, and background image of your site along with menus, widgets and set static page as home page. We’ll cover some of those in this and some topics have already been covered. I don’t normally use the customizer but it allows you to preview your changes before you set them.

Some themes have more customisation options but that depends on the theme developers. For example my theme developers have a section in the header to link my social media pages. Therefore this is where they included the fields for me to add the links to my social media profiles.

Widgets

A widget is a small area on your page that may contain other information, like a list of pages on your site, a subscriber form, books you’ve read, categories on your site, and many other things. WordPress utilises these to let website owners maximise the space on their pages to let their reader / visitors navigate to other parts of the site, get updates, sign up for emails, etc.

WordPress has some standard widgets like categories, meta [sign in information], recent posts and many more. Additionally, you can install plugins, like Jetpack, that can add more widgets. You can also add “Text” widgets to display a welcome message or use html to create your own widgets.

Widgets areas are limited to where your theme allows them. Some have a column for widgets to the side while others may have them in the footer and some might have both.

You can even set widgets to only show on certain pages or not to show on certain pages.

Menus

Menus allow your users to see a predefined list of pages on your site and navigate to them by clicking on the name. Most themes will have at least one menu where you can locate your home page and other important pages or separate them into sections. For example I have my home page, a Features Tab where I will add different series pages as sub-menu items, and a link to my reviews blog.

You don’t have to add all your pages to your main menu. You can create another menu to add to your widget area. Maybe you have many categories but 3 main categories that you want to highlight. Some themes even have a special footer menu to add things like terms and conditions.

If your theme has more than one menu location, you can assign a menu to a location in this view.

Header

Allows you to change your header image and preview it before your implement it.

Background

This allows you to change your background image and preview it before you implement it.

Edit CSS

CSS stands for cascading styles sheet. This is a sheet that the browser loads that tells it how things will look. Your theme by default comes with one of these but you can add styles to overwrite what is in the theme’s CSS.

CSS controls the fonts, colors, and other style formatting of your website. It’s pretty easy to learn and if you don’t know how to do something you can simply search it up online. Some theme developer might name elements different and so you may have to view the source of the page, depending on what you are trying to change, to identify its name.

Editor

If you are familiar with php you can use this to edit your functions.php page although this is very much frowned upon. If you are 100% sure that the way you edited the code is correct, you can make the change and save it here but it is recommended that you don’t make changes here but via your file manager or FTP/SFTP server provided by your hosting company. Basically you will copy the file and edit it and upload it in a file manager / explorer that looks like the one on your computer.

The benefit to this is that if you muck up your code you will inevitably get what is known as the “white screen of death” which is a white screen showing the error. Your ENTIRE site will look that way. And then you can’t even access your admin page to fix it. BUT, if you have your file manager or FTP client then you can replace the bad file with the one you copied and it will resolve the issue. Or you can fix the code to fix the issue.

Alright, so now we have tackled two thirds of the customisation and configurations stuff. Next time we will be tackling Plugins.

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