After purchasing a hosting plan and installing the WordPress on your computer, you were probably ready to rule the world. But then you enter the WordPress admin area to find a mess of a dashboard with a lot of the tabs and options. So let’s customize your WordPress website to make it look less complex.
When you first open your WordPress admin dashboard, it looks scary.
There’s so much going on that you don’t know where to start or what to do. When I first opened my WordPress dashboard, I was beyond intimidated. I just didn’t know what to do. It scared me to touch the wrong thing and click the wrong button. And rightfully so. We really don’t want to click the wrong button and cause an error when we haven’t even started yet.
In this post, I’m going to cover all the steps you need to follow to customize your WordPress website. And by the end of the post, you will have your WordPress website ready to use with no worry.
Customize Your Screen Option
In your dashboard you might see a lot of different screen elements, each telling you a distinct thing. On the top right of your home dashboard screen you will find “screen option”. Just click and open this setting. From here you can check and uncheck these screen elements as you like. You don’t have to worry about the screen elements disappearing when you uncheck them, they will always be in your screen option.
Some of what you’ll see are listed below, so that you have an idea what you want and what you don’t want to hide:
- Welcome: This is just a page to welcome you on your WordPress website.
- Activity: This is a quick snapshot of the new content on your website.
- At a Glance: Pages, posts and comments on your website.
- Quick Draft: You can jot down any quick thought and note about posts here.
- WP Events and News: As the name suggests, it’s a news page which in my opinion is useless to you.
You can expand or collapse any of the screen elements as you desire by just clicking on their heading. As you go on with your journey and add new plugins, new boxes will appear in here. If you want to arrange them in a different position, then click on the headings and drag them to a new position.
Customize Your WordPress Settings
After making your dashboard screen less clustered, let’s move to the next step. To customize WordPress website settings, find “Settings” in the menu on your side bar and click on it. You will find all different settings here that we’ll go through.
In the general settings, one of the first thing you will see is the site title. If you don’t have your logo decided yet, this works as an alternative on your site. The name you see on the very top left corner of your WordPress admin is your site title. There’s also tagline box if you want to add one.
Next things in the row are WordPress URL and Site URL. They most probably match with each other and the domain name you purchased. However, if they don’t match, don’t change it yourself. It can cause some heavy shutting down off your entire website from your database and you won’t be able to recover it.
In this case, just contact your domain hosting provider or hire someone to help you and don’t forget to make a backup before doing anything.
Next thing you’ll find in the row are “administration email address” and “new user’s role”. Your admin email will be with which you had made your website with. If you have just started, then you don’t need to worry about changing it right now. Role of new users depend on the work in your website. For example, for a blogging website, new users will be defined as subscribers. After making all the changes, click on the “save changes”.
If you plan on writing on your website, then making a few initial checks in this setting is enough otherwise you can move to the next step. If you have different categories in your blogging posts, then you will need to select a default post category. By default your category will be “all” which is fine by itself, but if you want to change it, you can.
You don’t need to make any new change in it as of now. Just save the change if you made one and move to the next step.
This setting determines how your website appears to the readers. First thing that you’ll see in the row is your “home page display”. If you want your homepage to display your latest posts, then leaving it to the post page is fine. But if you want to have a welcome page, a home page or any other page, then set it to static page.
After that in the “for each post in a feed, include” set the display of the post to summary. This will speed up leading time of your website. Before saving the changes, make sure that the box in front of “Search Engine Visibility” is uncheck. You want Google and other sites to find your site.
In this setting, you’ll find different settings related to posts and comments on your WordPress website. You can check and uncheck them to your liking. But make sure to uncheck the box that says “Allow link notification from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks) on new posts” in the default post settings for major security purpose.
You can skip Media settings for now as there’s not much to change there. But if you still want to check it, then you can adjust your WordPress image sizes.
In the permalinks settings, WordPress offers you the ability to create a custom URL structure for your permalinks and archives. Custom URL structures can improve the aesthetics, usability, and forward-compatibility of your links.
Default sets the structure of your web page address to “Post Name”. It is a good structure for your website and so you can leave it like this.
Add and Edit Users’
Next stop is “Users” in the sidebar of your WordPress menu. You can add new users to your WordPress website here. To add the new users, just click on the “add new users”. Fill in the information like name and email and other important Information with the password at the end. You can customize the new users’ role in it too.
If you want to edit your user profile, click on very top right corner of your screen where it says “edit profile”. Now you can edit colour scheme and add your name and nickname in this. Again, leave the website URL as it is if you don’t want to mess with your database. You can fill in the information about yourself here that will be publicly visible.
Another thing you can do here is manage your account by changing your password. Changing the password of your WordPress admin is a good thing occasionally. In fact, you should change it a couple of times a year for safety measures.
Customize Your Theme
Next step you should take to customize WordPress website is choose a theme. For that you need to click on the “Appearance” in the sidebar and go to “Themes”. WordPress auto-install some default theme for you. To add a new one, just click on the “Add New” and choose the one you want. You can also watch preview and details about the theme by hovering over the theme and clicking on preview option.
After you’ve decided which one you want, click the install button and wait while it is installed for you. The button will change to activate button after the installation is complete. Just click on it to make it your major theme. You can have a premium theme by downloading the theme file. Drop your WordPress file in it. The unloader will auto-install and activate your theme for you.
Now to customize your theme to your liking, go to Appearance>Customize. Most of the layout of the themes is similar to each other, with slight change. A few things to change in accordance to your website in site identification are site title, tagline, etc. To put your logo, make sure it is a PNG or WEGP file. Your colour theme and typography are other things that you can customize to have a desirable appearance on your website.
Plugins are essential for your website. They are the software component that adds a specific feature to your programme. It helps in easy customization of your website and saves your time. And while they are helpful, using too many plugins can cause some glitches and slow down your site.
Use only the plugins that are necessary. You can find yours by going to the plugins in your sidebar and clicking the “add new”. Now type the keyword for the plugin in the search bar and install and activate the one that you want. After activation, you can find your plugins in the sidebar with other options.
Some type of plugins that you must have are:
Create New Pages
Now that most of your website is integrated. It’s time to create some content on your site. For that you need to start with creating pages. Pages will make different parts and corners of your website. To create one, go to the “Pages” in the sidebar and as usual click “add new”. Name the page accordingly and start writings and adding blocks.
To add blocks, click on the plus sign in the top left and select the block you want to use. Some important pages that you should have on your website are:
- Terms and Conditions
If you don’t want to publish a page right away, you can click on “Save draft” or schedule it to publish automatically on a specific day. Moreover, you can edit a page and change the settings of the permalink, featured image and categories/tags by clicking on the setting icon on top left. Make sure to preview your page in a new tab before publishing it.
After having your pages, it’s time to write some blog posts. Whether or not you are a blogger, having some original written content on your website is not only good for impression but for traffic. To create your blog post, go to the “Posts” in your sidebar and add a new post. You can see if your blog posts are showcased in your service/blog page by going to settings and checking your post page. If you want to know how to write your first blog post step by step, you can check my blog post here.
Customize Widgets And Menu
To have the desired appearance of your pages and layout as you want, you need to customize the content in your menu and widgets. You can edit both in the “Appearance”. Add or remove the pages in them and reorder them as you like. Additionally, you can edit the position and name of them too.
So you have come to the end and complete all the steps to customize WordPress website. Many people think that creating the content with constant update is all you have to do once you have your website set. But to have your website running smoothly and up to date, the constant work done behind the scene is important too.
Hope my guide to customize WordPress website was helpful to you and to anyone you share it with. If you have any questions or thoughts, you can comment down below in the comment section.