set up a Wordpress theme

How to set up a WordPress theme on your blog

A theme is a programme that will style your blog with a particular design. Every WordPress blog must use a theme.  WordPress offers a huge number of themes, from the very basic to the highly visual. There are two types of WordPress themes: free and premium.  As the name suggests, free themes cost nothing and there is a charge for premium themes.  The cost of premium themes varies from a few pounds to hundreds of pounds.

Free or premium WordPress themes – which should you choose?

If this is your first blog, choose a free theme to start with.  Choosing a free theme first means that if you change your mind and want to switch to a different theme, you can do so without having wasted any money. Some free themes have premium versions, so if you’re using a free theme that has a premium version and you want to keep using that theme, you have the option of upgrading to the premium version and taking advantage of the additional features within that theme.  Some of the additional features premium themes offer is greater customisation and more page design and layout options, for example, the ability to change the footer text, for example removing the words: Powered by ‘theme name’, and replacing it with your own text such as your business name, the year and the copyright symbol. As well as showing you how to set up a WordPress theme, this post will cover the main areas that you should set up at the same time to make sure your blog is ready to be published.

Have you set up WordPress in your hosting package yet?

You need to set up WordPress in your hosting package before you can add a theme to your WordPress blog. After you’ve finished setting up WordPress in your hosting package, you will receive an email from your hosting company letting you know that WordPress has been installed on your blog.  I use Dreamhost and the title of the email I receive from them when I set up a new blog includes the words: ‘Success installing WordPress on your site!’

Write some content!

Before you go to the next step, write the content for your blog pages and write your first blog post, so that you have content to add to your blog while you’re setting up the theme. Ideally, you will need a few pages, for example, home, about, contact, blog and one or more pages covering your products and/or services.

Log in to your WordPress Dashboard

The email you receive from your hosting company to let you know that WordPress has been successfully installed on your blog will contain a number of links and it will explain how to log in to your blog. Follow the links and log in.  You can change the password if the automatically-populated password isn’t right for you. At this stage, your WordPress blog will look like this (this is the default Twenty Nineteen theme).

Choose a WordPress theme

To choose a different theme you should: Click on Dashboard in the menu on the left and choose ‘appearance’ and then ‘themes’. This screen will appear:
It will show all 15 theme options (all free), including the theme that you are currently using (Twenty Nineteen). If you want to see what a theme will look like in more detail, browse the list of themes and click on the  ‘Live preview’ button at the bottom of each theme.  If you prefer to use the default Twenty Nineteen them, click on the ‘Customise’ button.
If you want to use a different theme and you know the name of it, you can enter the name of the theme in the search box to search for it. You can change your theme at any time.  Make sure you have a copy of your content and your screens so that you can check that everything is carried over to the new theme. I’m going to choose the theme, Libre: Select Libre and this screen will appear:
Click on ‘customise’. Then click on ‘activate and publish’. The preview shows you how the home page looks and at the moment, it looks like this:
You’ll need to make some changes to it.

Give your blog a name and a tagline

Click on ‘site identity’.  This is where you give your blog a name.  Currently, the default name is Just another WordPress site. I’m going to change the ‘site identity’ as follows:
I’m going to change the ‘tagline’ also so that visitors to my blog will know what the blog is about:
If you prefer your blog not to have a name or tagline, you can untick the box:
I’m going to keep the name and tagline in.

Add your page and blog post content

Under the ‘Dashboard’ menu click on ‘Posts’ and click ‘Add New’ add the content for the first blog post you have written.  Or write your first blog post now. Under the ‘Dashboard’ menu click on ‘Pages’ and click ‘Add New’ and add the content for each of your pages. The two main pages you should create are: ‘home’ and ‘blog’.  Your blog page is where all your blog posts will appear after you have written and published them. Remember to remove the default content in WordPress. In your posts, the default post to delete is ‘Hello world!’
In your pages, the default page to delete is ‘Sample Page’.

Set up your users

This is where you set up the name and email details of those who can use your blog.  As the person who has set it up, you will automatically be the administrator. Your WordPress site must have an administrator.  Other roles you may use are editor or contributor.  The administrator can create, publish, edit and delete content so be selective about who else you give administrator access to. As the administrator, WordPress will automatically allocate you a username.  This username will appear on all the content you publish, so be sure to change it to something you are happy with, such as your actual name. You can make those changes in the dashboard menu under users:
Hover the mouse over your username and the words Edit | View will appear.  Click on edit and it will take you to the profile and personal options screen. Scroll down to this section of the screen:
Add your name to the First Name and Last Name fields and click on the down arrow in the box alongside ‘Display name publicly as’.  A drop-down list will appear.  Pick the option you want as your public name.  The options will be your nickname (this automatically populates with your username, but you can change it, for example to the name of your business), your first name, your last name, or combinations of your first and last name. If you don’t add your name to the First Name and Last Name fields, the only option for your public name will be the default nickname or whatever you have changed the nickname to. I’ve changed mine to Debbie. Click ‘Update Profile’ at the end of the screen to save your changes.

Set up your homepage

In the Dashboard, select: ‘Appearance’ then ‘Customise’  and select ‘Homepage settings’ on this screen:
Would you like your blog posts to appear on your homepage, or would you like a static homepage (a homepage with text that is always there)?  I tend to have a static homepage, but why not try each option to help you decide? As you add more blog posts to your blog, they will appear on your blog page in reverse chronological order (the most recent blog post at the top). Use the radial box to make your choice on this screen:
You can pick from your Homepage and Blog page what you would like to appear from the drop-down menu. You can change it at any time if you want to. Here’s how my homepage looks with the two options: Static homepage
Blog post homepage
To save your choice, click ‘Publish’ at the top of the screen.

Set your permalinks

Now is the time to set up your permalinks.  You will find the permalinks under the ‘settings’ menu. Your permalinks are the settings for the format of your blog posts address.  I tend to set my permalink as the blog post name, but there are other options available. Here are two of the options from the list: Post name permalink: *This one is my preferred option Month and name permalink: Decide which format you prefer now and keep that setting.  It is possible to change your permalinks later on, but if you do change them once your blog is live, you will lose valuable traffic to your blog. >>> Is this the first time you have used WordPress?  Do you use other publishing packages?