Step 3: Configuring WordPress
You can log into WordPress at www.yourdomainnamehere.com/wp-login.php *. Don’t worry if you inadvertently closed the password window – just check your email. Your credentials (username and password) should have been emailed to you after installation. Log in now and you will see the WordPress Dashboard.
(* your link might look like this, which also works: www.yourdomainnamehere.com/wp-admin)
The Dashboard is the main control center for your WordPress website. This is where you will set all aspects of your website design and content. Let’s start with changing how your site looks (the Theme). To do that, click on Appearance –> Themes on the left-hand side.
At the top of the page, click to select the tab titled “Install Themes”. Here, you can search for a theme you like from a wide variety of choices. You can select certain criteria for your website appearance in the Feature Filter (or leave them all unchecked to browse all themes). When you have made your selections, click the “Find Themes” button.
All of the themes meeting your criteria will appear in the search results. For each theme in your result list, you have three links beneath the thumbnail: Install Now, Preview, and Details. Look through and preview as many themes as you like, and once you have selected the one you want, click the “Install Now” link beneath the theme’s thumbnail photo.
Once the theme has been installed, you should see the following message: click the “Activate” button to activate your new theme.
Congratulations, your website now looks just like you wanted! Open your site in a new browser tab or window to see how it will look to visitors (if you still had a tab/window open, you may need to “refresh” to see the changes).
There are a couple of other features of WordPress that will control how your site looks:
- Appearance -> Customize will let you set certain aspects of your theme, typically your title and tagline (a sentence describing your site) and sometimes your navigation menu/s/ or page background colors. The options that appear here differ from theme to theme.
- Appearance -> Widgets will let you add, remove, and change the Widgets on your website. Widgets are typically the boxes that appear at the right or left column, top, or bottom of your website. They commonly offer features like a search box, list of recent comments on your site, or even just any piece of text you want to include (like an address or contact information). Again, these vary from theme to theme, but most widgets appear on a sidebar (either left or right) and remain constant for all pages on your site.
- Appearance -> Menus will allow you to determine which pages and links are specified on your navigation menu. Some themes support more than one menu; for example, a main menu in the header and a secondary one in the footer. This page is where you can create and save different menus for your site. If you do not define any menus, WordPress will generate the main navigation menu automatically.
Now that the basic structure of the site is set up and the theme has been chosen, the next step is to add your content. There are two basic types of content in WordPress: posts and pages.
Posts are how you will add content to your homepage. A post can be as short or as long as you wish and can contain photos and videos in with your text. Posts are typically displayed on your homepage in reverse chronological order (meaning the newest ones appear at the top). To begin adding content, click Posts -> Add New on the left-hand side of the Dashboard.
Your post will need a title; this can be anything you want and should be typed in the small box underneath the words “Add New Post”. The main body content of your post will go in the larger box beneath the title. If you notice, at the top right corner of this box, there are 2 tabs: visual and text. Be sure to type in the Visual editor tab if you want to be able to preview how your post will look as you type.
You have several formatting options as well, which are all similar to a wordprocessing program: bold text, italics, center or right alignment, etc. The “Add Media” button will allow you to add photos or videos to your post. If you wish to add a picture, for example, click “Add Media” and follow the directions on that screen: when you are finished, the photo will be added to your post body content. Once you have entered all of the content and media you want, all you need to do is click the “Publish” button. If you now return to your website and refresh the screen, you should see your new post on the main page.
The other one of the two main content types in WordPress are Pages. Pages are generally used for static content (information that doesn’t change often). These are automatically added to the navigation menu when you save them. They are good for information such as About Us or Contact pages. You add a new page by clicking Pages -> Add New and following the same steps as you did to create a new post. When you refresh your site after adding a page, you should see the new Page on your navigation window.
Congratulations, the first version of your site is ready! Now you know the basics of how to create a website. The final step is to cover some of the basics of promoting your website.