Editing Your WordPress Theme and Design
The great thing about using open-source CMSs like WordPress is you can freely edit your theme and design and get the exact look you are after. WordPress is built in PHP for functionality, MySQL for the database and content, and CSS for the appearance. You can therefore change the CSS (the appearance) of your site without having to know anything about PHP or MySQL. Changing the CSS is as simple as installing a new “theme” through the WordPress dashboard.
The theme you have chosen may well have been designed for a blog, so you will want to turn off some of the blog-specific functions such as RSS feeds and comments on posts.
Setup Your Settings
Start at the “Settings” tab on the left hand menu in your dashboard and click on “General”. Here you will be able to give your site a Site Title, replacing “Just another WordPress site” with something more relevant to your business. Below on this page you can also set your preferred date format (U.S. format is the default), and change your Permalinks format to “Post name”, which will help your SEO when creating new pages.
Choose Your Theme
Click on Appearance -> Themes and then on “WordPress.org Themes”. Here you will find thousands of available themes to browse through and preview. Many themes are free but will likely require a little customisation for you to get exactly what you want. There is also a premium selection available where you will pay US$39-49 for a theme that may have more functionality, better design, or simply is closer to what you are looking for. Once you have found the right theme, click Install Now and then Activate. This theme will then appear in your Appearance -> Themes dashboard, and you can click “Activate” to make this theme live on your site.
Make it Mobile Friendly
One big point to note when choosing a theme, is that a majority of people will be viewing your site on a mobile device. It is therefore very important to make sure your site is “responsive” and suitable to be viewed on mobiles and tablets of varying screen sizes. Once you have installed your theme, check out how it looks on your mobile and on a couple of other devices, to make sure you choose the optimum theme that everyone can enjoy browsing.
What do you want your site to be able to do? That’s where plugins will come in, and the good news is that they’re as easy as installing a new theme. Two pre-installed plugins that are useful are Akismet and Jetpack; these will help stop spammers leaving posts on your pages, and provide a great deal of help in your site operation and site statistics. Activate these plugins first by clicking on the Jetpack menu and then on Activate. Follow the prompts as Akismet requires you to get an API key from their site before you can complete the activation.
Plugins can be added for many different functions, such as SEO on your pages, social sharing buttons, connection to your favourite email marketing software, and collecting emails through a signup box…the list is almost endless. Keep in mind that adding endless amounts of plugins may slow down your site performance, so you’ll want to stick to the basics.
Your Logo and Colour Scheme
Once you have your logo finalized you will want to add it to your theme. In dashboard, click on Appearance -> Header and then the Choose File button. Upload your logo graphic here, keeping in mind the optimal size of the image is 300 pixels wide by 100 pixels high. You can then click Crop and Publish to add the logo into your header.
Chances are you chose your theme because you liked some or all of the basic colour layout. You can usually change the colour accents by clicking on Appearance -> Header and then Colors from the drop down menu. Changing the “Accent Colour” is possible here, and this will have different effects for different themes; keep in mind that this should be a colour that works with your overall theme colour scheme and brand positioning.
If you like the theme design but want to alter the overall colours of the theme you can do this with “Background Color” in the same menu as above. For more complex changes to the theme colour schemes, you will have to edit the CSS which you can edit using the built-in editor in the Pro version, or by installing the Firefox Web Developer plugin and loading your site in Firefox. This is a little involved but there are plenty of tutorials online that can help walk you through this process to get the exact colour scheme you are looking for.
Well done! If you followed the above steps in editing your WordPress theme and design you’ve made great progress! Time to check out our GROW section for more marketing and promotion tips!