Setting Up Your WordPress Blog

Display Name for your site

Create a site name and tagline. Put a title on your site. Many themes will display the tag line for your site.

To set the title and tagline:

  1. Select the General item from the Settings menu
  2. Change your blog’s name or description
  3. Click save at the bottom of the page.

Customize the Appearance

A theme controls the appearance of your blog, by specifying things like colours, fonts, and layout. There are a number of pre-installed themes to choose from, or you can use the default theme called “Twenty Eleven,” (which this blog uses) which features extensive customization options.

How to Change your Theme

Under the Appearance menu, select Themes. From the “Manage Themes” tab, you can activate or deactivate themes that have been installed. To preview what a theme will look like, click on the thumbnail image.

The Install Themes tab will let you search through the many free themes available. Pay attention to things like WordPress 3 support, widget support, and customization options

How to Customize your Theme

Many themes will have customization options. These themes will usually add an option to the Appearance menu called “options” or “theme options.” Some themes will add a new menu item to the admin sidebar, usually with the name of the theme. Look for these menu items at the bottom of your admin sidebar menu.

The default Twenty Eleven theme adds theme options like custom colours and layouts, as well as custom background and header images, which can be changed through the menus added to the Appearance menu.

Find out more about Themes from the WordPress Codex

How to work with Widgets

Most themes include what are called “widgeted sidebars,” which are areas of the blog layout (usually on the right side) in which you can display items like menus, lists of recent posts, calendars, etc.

To customize your blog’s widgets, select Widgets under the Appearance menu.

Some themes will have multiple widgeted areas, such as different sidebars for different pages, or widgeted footers (the content at the bottom of the page). TO add widgets to different sidebars, just drag and drop the widgets you want. You can change the order of your widgets by dragging and dropping.

More about Widgets from the WordPress Codex

Navigation Menus

WordPress 3 added support for much more customizable menu options. To create navigation menus on your website, go to the menus option under the Appearance menu.

Creating a menu

To create a new menu, you first need to add a name where it says “Menu Name.” This name will not be displayed, so just pick something descriptive. If you select the checkbox that says “Automatically add new top-level pages,” then all pages you’ve created that aren’t sub-pages will be automatically added. Click “Save Menu” to continue.

At this point, you need to select a location for your menu before it will display. In the “Theme Locations” box, you’ll see at least one “location” for your menu to appear. Most themes will have only one menu location, but some might have more, for example, one menu at the top of the page, and another at the bottom.

To add your menu to a location, just select the menu you just created from the dropdown menu for the location you want to use.

Adding items to a menu

Once your menu is created, you can add links to pages or categories using the checkbox menus at the side of the page, or add in custom links. For example, select the pages you want to display in the menu in the “Pages” box, then click “Add to Menu.”

Once you’ve added items to the menu, you can re-arrange them by dragging and dropping in the list. You can also customize the name that appears in the menu. For example, your page might be called “About Our Organization,” but you might just want it to say “About” in the menu.

More about WordPress 3.0 Menus from the Codex

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