If you have not installed WordPress yet, go to Step 2 to use my easy guide to installing WordPress.
Now that you have mastered the basics of your blog, we can go into more detail. WordPress is an incredibly powerful tool allowing you to create your blog much as you imagine.
You probably think that your blog design is pretty boring now, right? Do not worry, I’ll show you how to change the design and layout in this step, along with many other cool tips and tricks to personalize your blog.
Click on the arrows below to see the guide for each topic:
Basic Blog Design
Everyone has a different idea of what they want for their blog. One of the good things about WordPress is that you can change the layout and complete design of your site in a few clicks. Here are some examples of completely free WordPress designs:
In WordPress, layouts are called “Themes”. Themes control the entire design of your blog. To modify your theme, you must click on the “Appearance” tab in the left menu.
You will see several themes already installed on your blog: Twenty Fifteen, Twenty Fourteen, etc. These are simple, clean looking themes that can work with just about any type of blog. Many bloggers around the world actually use one of these themes.
Unless you have a very specific design in mind for your blog, I recommend using one of these pre-installed themes to get started. For our example, we will use the theme “Twenty Twelve”. To activate the theme in your blog, hover over the theme and click on the “Activate” button. And that’s all! You have just changed the complete design of your blog in one click!
If you’re not a fan of pre-installed themes in your blog, do not worry. There are thousands of free themes that you can easily install.
To install a new theme, click on the “Appearance” tab in the left menu. In the new screen, you will click on the “Add” button at the top.
You will then be redirected to the theme search screen. There are many ways to find a theme that you like. You can search by color, layout and more by clicking on “Feature Filter”. In the Feature Filter, check the boxes you want, then click Apply Filters.
Now you can browse the themes with the desired features. When you find one that you like, hover over it with your mouse and click on the blue “Install” button.
Once the theme is installed, click on “Activate” to activate the theme on your blog. To see the new theme in action, visit your site and watch!
The next step in the process is to create a navigation menu so that your readers can easily find important sections of your site by clicking on the links in the menu.
To do this, click on the “Appearance” tab in the left menu of the administration area of your blog. Then click on “Menus”.
We will create a new menu called “Main Menu”. Continue and enter this name in the “Menu Name” box and click on “create a new menu”.
Now we can start adding the desired items to this menu. For our example, I will start by adding a link to the homepage of my blog.
For this, I will click on “Custom Links”. Then I will enter the URL of the home page of my blog. It’s just your domain name with “http://” in front of it (without the quotation marks). In our example, it will be http://teknologya.com
You must then enter the “Link Text”, this is the text you want to appear in the menu for the link to the home page. I will call this link “Home”.
Once your URL and link text have been entered, click on “Add to Menu”.
Let’s add another element to the navigation menu. I will add a link to a previously created page.
To begin, click on the “Pages” section of the menu editor.
This will show me all the pages I created. If you have not created any pages yet then this field will be empty or will display a “Sample Page”. In order to create a new page go to “Pages” in the left menu of the admin area of the blog and click “Add”
The page I want to add to the menu is “Contact Me”, so I will click on the checkbox before this page and then click on “Add to Menu”. Then I will click on “Save Menu” to save the changes I just made.
Now that I have created my menu, I have to add it to my blog. To do this, click on the “Manage Locations” tab. In this example, I want to add the menu we created (“Main Menu”) to the “Primary Menu” area. Simply use the drop-down menu and click on “Save Changes”.
Customizing the Design of Your Blog
Now that you have the basic design and navigation of your blog, you can further customize things to your liking. To do this, go to the “Appearance” tab in the left menu of the administration area of your blog. Then click on “Customize”.
This will take you to a screen that will show you the homepage of your blog on the right, with the customization menu on the left. Important: If you use a different theme than the one I use in this example, your customization options may vary slightly.
There are a variety of customizations you can make from this screen. We will see them one by one.
Site Title & Slogan
This section allows you to edit the title and subtitle appearing above in your blog. You can also completely delete them by unchecking the “Display Header Text” box.
Here you can change the color of the header text as well as the background color.
This option allows you to add an image to the header. Please note that each theme will have a different recommended image size for the header.
If you want a background image rather than a solid color, this section will allow you to do this by downloading the image you want to use.
You can choose which navigation menus you want to use here. The menu must have already been created, as I showed you in a previous step of this page.
Widgets are different items that you can add to the sidebar menus of your blog. This section allows you to add and remove them from the side panel menu (s). It’s a little more complicated than the previous options, let’s take an example.
To begin, click on “Widgets” and then on “Main Side Panel”. This will show you a list of currently used widgets in the “Main Sidebar” area.
You can see that we have 3 widgets: Search, Archives and Meta.
You can also see how these 3 widgets appear on your site, looking in the area of the right side panel. You can see that the search widget creates a search box, the Archives widget shows a monthly archive of articles and the Meta widget shows various links related to my blog.
I do not want to keep them all; then I will delete them one by one. For that, I simply click on the arrow next to the name of the widget and on “Delete” to delete it.
Now that I have deleted them, I will add those I love. For this, I click on the button “Add a Widget” and select the desired widget.
To begin, I’ll add the “Recent Articles” widget that will link to my most recent articles in the sidebar area.
Then, I will also add the “Calendar” widget that will display the calendar of the current month with the dates I have written highlighted articles. Once added, click on the “Save & Publish” button.
There are various other widgets that you can add as needed, feel free to explore.
Plug-In are additional tools of third-party developers that you can add to your WordPress blog. There are hundreds of free extensions available that can do a little of everything on your blog.
There are extensions for creating contact forms, adding social media buttons, or improving the visibility of your site for search engines.
There’s just too much to list here, but there’s a free plug-in, called Jetpack, where I think every new blogger should start.
Jetpack adds many easy features to WordPress like the ability to easily add images to sidebar menus, post your articles to Facebook and see the number of visitors to your blog.
Like all extensions, Jetpack is optional and you can definitely blog without it. However, I found that most bloggers enjoy the extra features that are included. Here’s how to install it: How to install Jetpack
Changing Your User Information
When you first launch your blog, it’s important to edit your user details so that people know who is writing to your blog.
To do this, click on the “Users” tab in the left menu. Then click on “Edit” under your username.
In the user details page, you will want to at least edit your username and email. Your nickname is the public name that will appear on all your articles, so keep it in mind when choosing.
Just enter what you want in the “Nickname” box and choose the same name from the drop-down menu after “Name to be displayed publicly”. You can also change your e-mail address if necessary.
Once all necessary modifications have been made, please click on the “Update Profile” button at the bottom of the page to save them.
Editing Your URLs
Each time you post a new article on your blog, you create a new page with a unique URL. The settings for cos URL names are “Permalinks”.
The default permalinks setting is not optimal in my opinion because it provides you with URLs that look like this: http://www.teknologya.com/?p=123
To change this setting, you must click on “Permalinks” by hovering over the “Settings” tab in the left menu. Then you can choose one of the listed options.
I use the “Item Name” setting on how to create a blog, but each of the other options is appropriate and does not affect the usability of your site. I just think that the default permalink setting is somehow bad.
Once this step is over, you should have a functional and attractive blog. You can always come in and make additional changes later. It does not have to be perfect right now.
Let’s move on to the fun part – writing your blogs!