Before you get to the graphic look of your site, let’s do a little more administration to your site to set it up. Consider making your first plugin installation the Enhanced Admin Bar with Codex Search. It allows you to search both the WordPress Codex and WordPress Support Forum from your WordPress Administration Screens. Click on one of the search results and the page will open in a new window or tab so you can have the article or discussion open while working on WordPress. This will make your transition to WordPress a much gentler one with information right at your fingertips. You can also work from this page by clicking on a link with a Right Click and opening the documents in a new window or tab, so you can read along as you work on your site.
You may also want to install plugins such as Jetpack by WordPress.com to supercharge your website, and don’t forget to activate the Akismet WordPress Plugin that is available with all WordPress sites to help protect it from comment spam.
But now, let’s start with making those categories you wrote down before.
In the Posts > Categories tab, in the Add New Category area, fill in the information about your category. Continue to add your parent categories, going down the list. Hold off on entering subcategories until all the main categories are entered.
- NOTE: You can add any new categories at any time, but make a note of the fact that categories can be sorted in WordPress in two ways: by name (alphabetically) or by ID number. As you enter the categories, they are assigned an ID number. It is difficult to change this, so if you don’t want your categories sorted alphabetically, enter them in the order you want to see them presented on the screen.
When you have the parent categories entered, enter your subcategories. In the pull down menu for Parent Category, you can select the parent to the subcategory you are adding. When you view your categories in the Manage > Categories Screen, you will see the categories listed like this:
- – Windows
- – Linux
- – Mac
Web Page Design
- – Web Standards
- – WordPress
- – – Plugins
- – – Themes
Put Posts into Categories
Let’s put some of your test posts into categories so you can see how this works.
From the Posts > Category Screen, click on the tab for All Posts. You should see the test posts you entered here. When you hover your mouse over each post title, under the title, you should see the Edit | Quick Edit | Trash | View links. Click on Edit to edit one of the posts. On the right side of the Edit Post screen you will now see your Categories. Choose one of them by clicking in the box next to it. Then in the Publish module above, click the Update button. Repeat this for your other test posts, putting each one in a different category.
Now view your page by clicking on your site name in the toolbar at the top of your Administration Screen. Do you see the categories listed in the sidebar now? Great. If you are missing a category, that usually means that there are no posts in it. This is the default function of WordPress, so not to worry. When you add a post to the “missing” category, it will appear on your web pages. Click on one of the categories and you will be taken to a page for just that category. You should see the posts that went into that category. This is a generated Category page.
Now, click on the Archives for the month showing. Now you are visiting a generated page of your posts listed in chronological order for this month – well, specifically for today only. Two methods of finding the same information.
There is more to think about when it comes to having comments on your site. Unfortunately we live in a world where spam is a fact of life. It is recommended that you begin battling the comment spammers with the helpful article, Introduction to Dealing with Comment Spam.
What Is Next
You’ve now done all the basics for your new WordPress website. You know how to write a post, create a category, and how to view your site’s information by category and archive. You can start the customization process, and when you are done, don’t forget to delete your test posts! Then start writing some wonderful information to share with your new-found public!
Customizing Your WordPress Site
Once you are familiar with how WordPress works, it’s time to get creative and start customizing. The tutorial now splits into different subjects that require no order. From here on you can do whatever you want, adding and subtracting, perfecting and scrambling your site at will. The amount of effort you put into the site is now up to you. You can work with the two WordPress Themes that came with the installation, or seek out another Theme that better meets your needs. Or you can create your own Child Theme. You can totally customize all the links and information, or get serious and completely re-design the entire site to do whatever you want. You have the basics, the rest is up to your imagination.
- Finding a WordPress Theme
- Look for one that better suits the look you desire on your site.
- Customizing the Look
- When you are ready to plunge into the code, you can customize the look and layout of your site through CSS and modifying the Themes (or create your own). If your customizing goals are not seriously extensive, a good bet would be to develop your own Child Theme. A minimal Child Theme is a fairly simple project if you have a little coding experience.
- Enhance Your Site with Plugins
- Plugins add function and sometimes fun to your site. There are hundreds of different plugins for adding custom links like related articles to your sidebar to adding weather reports. Just like Child Themes are an easy way to customize the look of your site, with a bit of coding experience, your own minimal Plugin is an easy way to change how your site works.
There are hundreds of WordPress Themes to choose from. All do basically the same thing but graphically present the information in a myriad of ways. Choose a few that look interesting to you, and meet your audience’s needs and your desires, and then test drive them following the test drive instructions above. Click through the whole site, the categories and archives as well as the individual posts to see how the Theme handles each one. The look may be nice on the front page, but if it handles things in a way you don’t like in the single post, then you will have to dig into the code and make changes. Not ready for that, try another theme.
If you run into problems, check out the Codex’s Troubleshooting Themes article.
Customizing The Look
If you are familiar with CSS, HTML, and even PHP and MySQL, consider either customizing the Theme to your own needs, or creating your own Child Theme. This is not for the timid, this is for the informed and experienced. That said, a Child Theme is an easy, safe way to tinker under the hood/bonnet of WordPress. If things go badly with your customizations, simply activate an approved, unmodified theme and your site is up and running and looking perfectly again. If you want to expand your website design and development skills, the Codex can help:
- WordPress Theme Directory
- Using Themes
- Theme Development
- Child Themes
- Stepping Into Templates
- Templates Files
- Blog Design and Layout
- CSS Overview, Tips, Techniques, and Resources
- FAQ – WordPress Layout
- Stepping Into Template Tags
- Template Tags
- CSS Troubleshooting
- CSS Fixing Browser Bugs
WordPress Plugins are also known as add-ons or extensions. They are software scripts that add functions and events to your website. They cover the gamut from up-to-date weather reports to simple organization of your posts and categories. Plugins are designed by volunteer contributors and enthusiasts who like challenges and problem solving. They are usually fairly simple to install through the WordPress Admin Plugin Screen, just follow the instructions provided by the plugin author. Remember, these are free and non-essential. If you have any problems with plugins, contact the plugin author’s website or plugin source first, then search the Internet for help with that specific plugin, and if you haven’t found a solution, then visit the WordPress forums for more help.
- WordPress Plugin Directory
- Managing Plugins