In the last post I showed you how to get your WordPress site installed and up and running in no time. This post is about getting your website theme to look great as quickly as possible.
Choose a theme and set up your website layout and design
I’m going talk briefly about what a theme is then guide you in how to select a modern WordPress theme and get it set up and looking like a million bucks.
If you’ve been following along with the previous posts you will have a WordPress all set up and ready to go with a basic page structure and a menu in place.
What is a theme?
To put it simply a theme is the thing where the front end design of your website is determined and controlled from.
Everything you installed and configured in the last post is what makes up the foundation of your content management system (CMS) and enables you to add and edit content, and add functionality with plugins.
The theme is what displays your content to the world in a nice looking way.
Finding a current and responsive theme
There are a plethora of places on the internet to find WordPress themes and the amount available is staggering. As with everything I recommend not overthinking this. Themes can be updated or changed in future and you won’t be locked into any one design.
Below is a small selection of places I would start.
- https://wordpress.org/themes/ or right inside the WordPress admin area under Appearance > Themes > Add New. WordPress comes with a couple of themes more than suitable for a basic website and they release a new theme with each major version.
- https://themeforest.net offers a large range of premium themes which usually offer more features and functionality than free themes
- http://studiopress.com a bit more on the high end but the Genesis theme has been around for a long time and boasts a good selection of search engine friendly themes.
- http://elegantthemes.com creators of the popular Divi page builder, Elegant Themes offers a membership with access to all of their themes
Some of the links above are affiliate links. This means if you click through from here and buy a theme or membership I get a cut of any sales to help fund this website at no extra cost to you.
There are a few pre-requisites your theme should have to make life easier both in the initial setup phase and down the track as websites progress. Here are a few things to keep in mind when looking for a theme:
Is it current? Make sure it was initially built by it’s creator in the past 1-2 years or is regularly updated.
What do other people think? Often you will be able to see ratings from other users which will give a good indication of the quality and usability of the theme.
Is it responsive? It should be responsive which means it will work on mobile devices (iPhone, Android Phone), tablets (iPad, Surface Touch) and standard laptop and desktop browsers.
Does it have the options I need? Most modern themes will enable you to be able to update things such as the colour scheme, add a logo and favicon and more, depending on the theme.
If being able to update colours without editing any code is important to you then make sure you choose a theme including this functionality. Try to find a theme utilising the WordPress customizer for this.
Some themes also include the option to easily add social media icons to link to your pages and social sharing functionality with will save a lot of time setting up.
There are many other factors contributing to how good a theme is and how easy it will be to use. Feel free to comment below or in the Facebook group if you have any questions.
In recent years the popularity of WordPress page builders has been growing rapidly. Usually they are added to the site as separate plugin and the add the ability to drag and drop content rather than the basic WordPress content editor which is more focused on text and html.
Some of them also enable you do edit the front end so you can see exactly what changes you are making on the site before you save the changes. This is good for more visual people who like to see what changes they’re making before committing them to the live website.
There are a ridiculous amount of page builders available today. Some offer a free version with a paid version for more advanced functionality. Here are a few I have used and recommend.
- Elementor – Free and paid versions.
- Beaver Builder – Free and paid versions.
- Visual Composer – Paid version only. Full of features but has been known to slow down a site’s performance
- Divi – Paid version only. Has been known to make it difficult to switch to a different page builder in future.
- Installing and configuring
Once you’ve selected your theme you can go to your website admin area Appearance > Themes > Add New and either upload the files or if you’ve chosen a theme from right in WordPress, go ahead and click install.
Some themes will add a new menu item but most of the time your theme options will be under Appearance > [theme options] or for more current theme Appearance > Customiser
Adding a logo image and favicon
If you have a logo in an image format you can usually upload it through the theme options or customiser. The best file type for a logo depends on the logo and how big you want it but usually about 600-1000 pixels wide and saved as a transparent png is good. A good theme will have the option to adjust the size.
A favicon is the little square icon in the browser next to the website address. It’s also used when the site is saved as a favourite and increasingly on other devices in all different sizes. A square png at 512px x 512px is usually a good start but it can take some tweaking to get this right.
Small design tweaks
Most modern themes have the option to update your colour scheme from within the time options without changing any code. Every theme is different so you will need to have a look at the theme documentation if it has any to find out where they are. A good place to start is in Appearance > Customiser > Colors or something along those lines.
You may have noticed not once have i mentioned going to the front page of your website to have a look at it! This was intentional as I wanted to show you all the set up stuff before you start worrying about how the website looks.
If you want to have a cheeky sneak peak go to your main domain name and refresh your browser.
Adding pages and posts with images
If you have content ready for your pages you can go back to Pages, select the page you want to edit by clicking on the title and add your content in the content editor.
Depending on the way your theme is set up you can add images to your pages in a few ways.
If the theme has support for thumbnail or featured images you can upload a main image in the Featured image section on the right. You can also place your cursor anywhere in the text and click the Add media button then upload or select an image.
If you’re using a page builder there will most likely be an image block you can drag to where you want it then add an image.
You should now have a website really starting to take shape! Head back to your website address and refresh your browser. If not, go and get building!
In the next post I’m going to touch on plugins and adding extra functionality such as contact forms, shopping carts and pretty much anything you can think of in between. If you can think of it, chances are someone else has or at least something similar.