If you missed Part 1 you can view it here »
Setting Up Your Website
I know you want to give your site some personality and put your mark on it, but first we have to do a few little Setup tasks to get this site in order. At the very bottom of the menu on the left, select Setting and then click General.
Enter a Site Title and Tagline. Then click Save Changes at the bottom.
Next, visit Settings > Permalinks. Check the radio button next to Post Name and hit Save Changes at the bottom. This gives the URLs for your pages and posts a nice user friendly name.
One last thing before we start to add content. We are going to install a Plugin. Plugins are basically little programs that you can install to give added functionality to your WordPress site. Stuff it cannot do out of the box. There are tons of Plugins out there. Because we are trying to keep this simple we are only going to install a couple free Plugins what will be necessary for the site.
So on the left navigation bar of your WordPress Dashboard click on Plugins and then Add New.
Just like with the Themes, there are lots of free Plugins you can install quickly and easily.
Some Plugins I’ve Installed include:
- WordPress SEO by Yoast - A nice little SEO Plugin that shouldn’t take much setup
- Jet Pack - A bunch of additions in one pack, made by WordPress that will come with your installation
- CKEditor for WordPress - A better text editor
- Black Studio TinyMCE Widget - Allows you to create widgets with a TinyMCE editor, not just plain text
- Display Widgets - Always you to show different Widgets on different pages
Lets start with the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin. So in the search field on the Add New Plugin, search for… “WordPress SEO” or just “Yoast”. If you don’t know exactly what you need you can click one of the tags and see a list of Plugins that follow under that general category.
Click Install Now below it’s title.
You’ll get a prompt, click OK. It will take you to a new page. Just like with installing a Theme , click Activate.
There is a ton more we can do with Plugins but for now lets move on to the good stuff. If you want to know more here is a list of WordPress Plugins that may be useful.
Adding Pages and Menus
Ok now it is time to get down to business. Before just randomly adding content to the site, make a list of the content your site is going to need to have and what pages it will appear on. For this site example we are creating a pet grooming company site Paulina’s Pet Grooming. So here are the pages I feel the site needs. Your site may need more or less.
- Home - Basic information about the site: Who, What, Where, Why.
- About - Something personal about the owners/employees and their love for animals.
- Services - People want to know what it is you do and how much it costs before they contact you. Lay it out for them.
- Gallery - Well it will actually be more of a blog with before and after photos of the animals after they are all cleaned up.
- Contact - You will have your contact information in multiple locations but this is just one more way they can reach you.
So now that we know what are pages are going to be, lets start building them.
In your WP Dashboard click Pages and then Add New.
Start by creating a home page. Give it a title of Home and in the big field below it you can add your homepage content. You can come back to this later and update it as much as you’d like so don’t feel you have to get it perfect now. When ready click the blue Publish button on the right site of the screen.
Please note that some Themes will have a custom homepage and not be set up this same way.
Again click Add Page and follow the same steps for the About, Services, Gallery and Contact pages.
Any time you want to make a change to one of these pages, simply click All Pages to bring up a list of all the pages you’ve created. Hover your mouse over one of the page titles and you’ll see a list of options appear.
You can edit all of your pages this way. Also, go ahead and Trash the Sample Page that was in your installation by default. Be careful, when you Trash a page, it is gone.
When visitors come to your site they need to be able to get from page to page. So creating a main navigation bar will make that possible. In your WordPress Dashboard on the left hand menu click on Appearance and then Menus.
I named my menu Main Menu since it has the primary navigation for the site.
After adding the menu, in the left hand box titled Theme Locations, select your menu (it should be the only one on the list). This is how you display your menu on your website, so make sure not to skip this step.
As you can see there are four areas where you can assign a menu. Some Themes are different but generally they will use these same areas. Header Menu tends to be the primary menu for a website so we’ll select our Main Menu we just created and click Save.
Two boxes down there should be one titled Pages. We have created a menu but there are no links on it yet. So sdd a check next to Home, About, Services, Gallery, and Contact (pages we created in the previous step) and then hit the Add to Menu button. You will now see your Pages listed in the Main area of the page.
The order probably won’t be what you want but that is easy to fix. You can click and drag the Pages to put them in a new order. You can also create subpages (the pages will appear indented) but we don’t want to do that right now.
Now just click the blue Save Menu button on the right side when you are ready to save your menu settings.
Assigning a Homepage and the Blog
If you head visit your website now, you’ll notice your homepage doesn’t have your homepage content on it yet, and the Gallery page doesn’t look like what we want either. So we’ll fix that now.
In your WordPress Dashboard on the left hand menu click Appearance and then Themes. It should show the current theme we have selected, TwentyTen and there should be a Customize link, which I want you to click.
This will reveal your homepage and have a sidebar on the left with some new options.
Currently the site is set up to show blog posts on the homepage but we want a static homepage. So under Static Homepage select A Static Page. Under Homepage select Home and for Blog select Gallery.
Now hit the blue Save and Publish button to make those changes live. What we did was move the blog from the homepage to the Gallery, and we added a static homepage.
You’ve probably noticed there are a lot more things you can do on the Customize page to customize and brand your website.
Under Site Title and Tagline fill in the fields with the information you want, click the blue Save and Publish, and it will appear on your site.
Under Colors you can change the background color of the site.
An important one. Under Header Image you can replace that random image with one of your own. Just make sure the image is 940 pixels wide or else it will either be too small or too big for the space.
WordPress Widgets allow you to add content blocks to different areas of your site, like say the footer or the sidebar. Different Themes come with different Widget areas. There are a number of widgets you can use by default but we are going to install one that isn’t. To do so, you actually have to install a plugin, Black Studio TinyMCE Widget. So go to Plugins > Add Plugin, and then search for the Plugin. Remember to click Install and then Activate.
Now head to the Appearance > Widgets page. You will see a bunch of different widgets in the center of the screen and a list of areas to place those widgets on the right.
It is really just as simple as dragging the Widget you want into the Widget Area where you wish to display it. The one we will be using mainly is the Black Studio TinyMCE Widget which allows you to add content, images and links and style it with the WYSIWYG editor. If you aren’t sure where a Widget area is on your site just put a Text widget in it and give it a name like Widget 4. Save, and then see where it appears on your homepage.
What to use widgets for:
- Promotions and advertisements
- Social media feeds
- Secondary navigation
- Text boxes and callouts
- Contact information
- Newsletter signups
- and so on…
As you can see there are tons of uses for widgets. Essentially anything that can fit in that area of the site is fair game.
Writing and Styling Website Content
The next part of this course will go into more of the details about how to write compelling content for your website. As well as how to style that content by adding links, images, and headings.
Begin Part 3 here.