Starting your WordPress Blog — All about Appearance?

fashion beech by skeez cc0 public domain from pixabay

You are cre­at­ing your blog and you sit look­ing at the cPan­el dash­board on your host’s site and some­where (nor­mal­ly towards the bot­tom) is the script for installing var­i­ous soft­ware, includ­ing Word­Press, some­thing you can do while while look­ing good and relax­ing on the beach, it is all about appearance.

cpanel-wordpress-installation

This is the start to your Word­Press world. Before you get going you should be aware that this soft­ware is used by cor­po­ra­tions and pro­fes­sion­al blog­gers the world over and you should move for­ward with the assur­ance that you are select­ing one of the world’s most pow­er­ful and flex­i­ble con­tent man­age­ment pack­ages. The scripts to install this soft­ware rarely go wrong and if they do, it is most like­ly that a link to one of the many ser­vices need­ed has tem­porar­i­ly failed. Don’t wor­ry about this, sim­ply come back at a lat­er time to try again or con­tact tech­ni­cal sup­port to get spe­cif­ic assistance.

 

A Question of Style?

It is always pos­si­ble to update the style and appear­ance of your blog, but when your blog is first installed you have most oppor­tu­ni­ty to ensure it is set-up cor­rect­ly. With almost every instal­la­tion there are choic­es to be made, these include:

  • The appear­ance or theme to be used
  • What plu­g­ins are needed

Most peo­ple find out about these things after they have been work­ing on their blog for quite some time, but the soon­er you know your options the more pro­fes­sion­al your site will become. This arti­cle will not look at the plu­g­ins, but will focus on appear­ance and style instead.

 

Appearance and Themes

appearance-on-your-dashboardWhat kind of theme is best for you? There is noth­ing as bad as the default theme, but there are thou­sands of peo­ple that lim­it them­selves to the default theme. Few suc­cess­ful blog­gers lim­it them­selves this way and the ear­li­er in the life of your blog that select a suit­able theme the bet­ter. Per­son­al­ly I would not start a new blog with­out select­ing a well laid out theme before pub­lish­ing my first post, indeed it could be argued that you should have five posts ready and have a theme that makes a good appear­ance before declar­ing your site as live and avail­able to all.

 

Selecting a Theme

Every Word­Press instal­la­tion will include some pre­s­e­lect­ed themes, which may or may not prove use­ful when mak­ing your choice, via the “Add New Theme” option. My guide­lines are to search for any of the fol­low­ing terms:

  • Fea­tured
  • Slid­er
  • Social
  • Mag­a­zine
  • Respon­sive

Select­ing a suit­able theme is a mat­ter of style and needs to be right for what you are doing. If you are cre­at­ing a busi­ness focused blog you may wish to select a crisp busi­ness type theme. With any theme it is best you take a look at the “Live Pre­view” before choos­ing to install it. This will allow you to see how your blog could appear before you select and install any theme.

corporate-business-theme

The exam­ple shown here is one exam­ple of how the theme can be made to look, one appear­ance option, pos­si­ble if you pro­vide the rel­e­vant infor­ma­tion etc. This one includes options for con­tact details at the rop of the screen, should your wish to use those.

 

Customising the Appearance of your Chosen Theme

theme-options

Once you have select­ed a theme you will need to cus­tomise it to make it work how you wish it to. Theme options are shown for one theme here, oth­er themes may pro­vide oth­er options, but the ones shown in the pic­ture are used in many themes of this kind.

blue-house-512Home Page Fea­tures pro­vides options for slid­ers or fea­tured arti­cles. Site Iden­ti­ty allows you to set the site title, tag line, logo, and icon that is used as a brows­er and app icon and should be square shaped. The site icon will appear on the left hand size of your brows­er tab, it should be a square image which shows the theme of the tab (as shown in the house image linked to this paragraph).

Social Media icons will allow you to show your read­ers your social media loca­tions. Col­ors allows you to set the back­ground, text and theme colours.

Head­er and Back­ground Image options allow the set­ting of rel­e­vant images used on the theme. The head­er image can be a pic­ture that acts as a focus for your site, some­thing more than a logo and in my view should include a rel­e­vant image, your site name and the tag-line and if you are a busi­ness it may include your logo. These should improve the gen­er­al appearance.

Menus allows you to set the posi­tion of the menu on the page and cre­ate spe­cif­ic menus, add items to the menu, this also relates to the posi­tion of the menu on which wid­gets will be placed.

Wid­gets will allow you to deter­mine the posi­tion of wid­gets on the page.

Sta­t­ic Front Page is an option which allows Word­Press to be used to sup­port nor­mal web pages. You will nor­mal­ly need this to remain at “your lat­est posts,” the nor­mal set­ting for a blog.

When you make any changes to your theme that you wish to keep them then you must use the “Save and Pub­lish” but­ton.

 

Trial and Error

It would be nice to think that every­thing will be per­fect the first time you set it, but I have spent many hours tweak­ing and play­ing with theme set­tings in order to get them just right. Themes may take a lot of adjust­ments in order to make them right and there are times when you have to select anoth­er sim­i­lar theme to pro­vide the right appear­ance. You prob­a­bly won’t be fin­ished adjust­ing your theme until you have at least five or ten pub­lished posts, in fact it may pay off to con­tin­ue to exper­i­ment with set­tings and themes till you find the per­fect set-up.

For exam­ple, I have spent many hours test­ing the cor­rect slid­er tim­ing set­tings, for a client site. Too fast and it was like wit­ness­ing the cars in a For­mu­la 1 race, too slow and it is like watch­ing a snail move, nei­ther of those being desir­able for the read­er, who needs time to read the title and excerpt only.

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2 Replies to “Starting your WordPress Blog — All about Appearance?”

  1. […] that enough? Much will depend on your busi­ness goals. Is a blog nec­es­sary? That will be dis­cussed here more […]

  2. […] “Start­ing your Word­Press Blog – All about Appear­ance” and […]

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