WordPress, so synonymous with website design that even people who have never been web designers or involved in marketing can call up the name at the drop of a hat.
One of the questions we get asked all the time by friends and family is how they can go about creating their own wordpress website. Often this asked with some trepidation. But never fear! Web design is no longer for those educated in the dark arts of code and graphic design.
Just for you guys, and, if we are honest, in order to save having the same conversations again and again, we have created this very quick little WordPress 101 for beginners.
This post assumes that you already have your domain and your hosting company onboard – both of which we will deal with in another post with an Australian slant. We’ve tried to address some of the basics and also basic pitfalls that we’ve fallen into in order for you, my friends, to benefit from our fuck ups.
1. Do Your Research
What is your content going to be and who will your audience be? Both of these factors will help you decide which free WordPress theme you will choose.
It is ideal to select the right theme prior to populating your website with content. Nothing sucks more than getting part way through and realising that you just don’t have the coding skills to change the default font, or that certain theme elements cannot be changed at all.
Additionally ensure that your theme has adequate documentation. Good themes have a link to the documentation from the WordPress theme page. This documentation invariably gives instructions regarding basic set up of your site using the theme.
Select a theme that best suits your purpose. For example, if you are a designer or involved in a creative pursuit you may want to consider a portfolio site, like our one, we use Portafolio btw.
If you want to be able to transact from you site you will need a template that either has this built in or will lovingly accept one of the many e-commerce WordPress plug-ins that are available without too much fuss.
Once you have selected your theme and have started playing around with it never be afraid to get out and try another theme as early as possible. The content that you’ve entered into the first theme will still be available in the new one, you might just need to manipulate it differently into the new template, not as scary as it sounds, we promise!
2. OK so you’ve committed to a theme, yay!
Your very next step is to create a child theme. You DO need a child theme. The reason being that at some point you might want to tweak that parent theme with some code you have researched by adding custom CSS to change the size of the header or the default font etc and if you don’t use a child theme you will lose all of your changes when the parent theme offers an update. “But I’m not skilled enough to do any coding. I’ll never make any changes like that”! we hear you say. OR “I just won’t run the updates to the parent theme.”
Firstly, don’t underestimate yourself. It is quite easy to make changes through Custom CSS and there are all sorts of people online using the same parent theme as you that post those codes in forums, you’ll get there, and you CAN do it. Secondly, it is advisable to update the parent theme to your website. Sometimes themes are found to have weaknesses which allow hacking and the like. Good theme updates should address those hacks and keep your website safe. Also, theme updates sometimes give you more functionality within the theme, so as your website ages and you want to make changes you may find that you have access to new and improved ways of displaying information.
Now here’s the good news. You do not need to know code to create a child theme any longer! WordPress sites have add ons called plug-ins, which are also free, and there are several child theme plug-ins on the market. We have used one-click child theme (because we are lazy and can’t be bothered coding unless we have to!) before with success. You install the plugin, click on it and off you go – instant child theme!
One-click child theme
Create your child theme in one click.
Allows you to easily creative columns/dividers/
highlight boxes such as this one without code.
Contact form 7
Easily add a contact form to your site.
Social Media Feather
Allows your website visitors to find your social
media sites and share your content with friends.
Be Funky-Photo Editing
Edit photos online and create collages etc. We used this for our header slider.
Create online forms and embed them in your site.
Online Quiz Creator. Make and embed awesome interactive quizzes into your website.
Dollar Photo Club
Photographs are an necessary evil to lift your website. Dollarphoto has disrupted the very expensive stock photo industry by offering photos to subscribers for just $1 each. Of course you can also use photos from around the web, just be sure to credit your source each and every time.
3.Without getting to in-depth here are a few pointers when it comes to starting to add content.
Use these instructions to get started OR check out your themes documentation, which often includes tips on getting started which are specific to that theme.
1. Start with the menu item in the left hand WordPress backend called “Pages”, create a draft page with a title and silly draft (mash the keyboard a few times) content here to use for testing purposes. name this page “blog”. This will allow “blog” to appear in the top menu and will be the place from which people will be able to access the content you place under “posts”.
2. Then create an item under “posts”, also in the left hand menu. This will essentially be an item that will later appear under your menu item “blog”.
3. Go to “Appearance” in the WordPress backend menu and then “customize” here you will find lots of fun things to play around with such as you site title and uploading your logo etc. BUT first go to “Static Front Page” and designate the page that you created to hold your blog. Then go back to all the fun options and play around with them.
A static front page means that you will be able to design a custom landing page for your website using the tools and the display options that are available in your themes front page settings. The other option is to choose “your latest posts” which essentially means that your blog will be displayed on your front page. This process should be straightforward but can be a little tricky in some themes. That’s ok, you just need to access the theme documentation which usually provides set up instructions. N.B – Many portfolio themes rely on your setting your front page to “my latests posts” others have a separate portfolio menu item in the WordPress backend menu that you can use. It can take a little playing around. But never fear you won’t break anything.
Good luck WordPress newbies and let us know how you go!
Quiet Riot Team.
One page websites are very popular at the moment but at the moment as a newbie website designer it would be something we would avoid.
One reason for avoiding these is that there are very few, free, well designed and well supported WordPress themes in this category. Additionally, using a one page theme is a significantly more challenging than creating a regular website. If you are really set on a one page design there is no reason, with a little research, that you cannot find an extended theme that can be adapted as as a one page design. However, I would still be reticent to embark on that endeavour.
Never, and we mean NEVER muck around in your sites php code.