WordPress runs on three main web technologies, namely CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), and the PHP programming language. All of these systems work together to create the design of pages and posts you see on your blog. A theme is a collection of specific HTML, CSS and PHP files, as well as graphics files, that are designed to work together to create the overall design of the website. You don’t need to know the details of any of that to install a new theme, as the whole process has been so streamlined and simplified that even the most non-technical of us can manage it. The hardest part of this process is to find a theme that you like. This isn’t easy given the number of excellent examples available in the marketplace, both free and paid. As a web developer, I have used a number of themes over the years but lately I have settled on three favorites that I use over and over again, only one of which is a paid theme. The only real difference between free and paid themes is the free themes have no support. You are on your own if things go wrong and you can’t figure something out.
Designing pages in WordPress
Hover your mouse pointer over the menu ‘Pages’ and then click on ‘Add New’. You will be taken to the page editing screen. Add your title and then enter your text in the large editing box underneath. It is quite literally as easy as using any old text editor such as Microsoft Word or WordPad, possibly even easier. You have a variety of formatting options in the menu bar and can even edit the raw HTML if you so desire and have knowledge of this arcane art form. Just click on the HTML tab that is displayed on the far right of the editing box to do so. The option is also there to edit in full screen mode if you don’t like to get distracted with clutter on your screen. It’s the icon second in from the right, with four little arrows pointing diagonally to each corner of a square.
Images in the WordPress design
There are a couple of important tips to consider when inserting images into your WordPress blog. The first and most important is to always resize your images before importing them into your post. You can get WordPress to resize the images by altering some settings in the media library box. There are two reasons why you don’t want to do this. The first is that the proportions will be skewed. You want your images to be pleasing to the eye. If you muck about with the image size in WordPress you may alter the proportions and make everything look all squished or stretched. Photos can also become jagged and pixelated because of resizing in web browsers. It is much better to do your alterations in a photo editing app on your computer, where you have complete control.
Make Your Blog Look like a Normal Website
Instead of going out and investing more time (and or money) in another tool for creating static websites, muddling through FTP (File Transfer Protocol), and transferring a million files backwards and forwards, you can still actually use WordPress to create your site and get it to mimic a more traditional website. A little bit of tweaking will have the average visitor none the wiser that your website is built on a blogging platform.
The first thing to do is create a ‘Page’. This was also covered earlier. Call it something typical of a home page such as ‘Home’ or ‘Welcome’. Fill the content section with some relevant info regarding your site and publish it. In my case I have changed the slug to ‘home’ and given it a title of ‘Welcome to my Site’. You could just as easily give the slug a title of ‘home’. Now that we have our page we need to change one of the settings that we played around with at the start when we were first setting up. Go to ‘Settings’ and then click on ‘Reading’. Instead of having WordPress display your latest post by default we want to change it to greet the visitor with the home page we have just created. Select the ‘Static Page’ radio button and then use the drop down box to select your page that you just created. Save your changes and view your website.