How To Customize WordPress         

with WordPress Themes & Plug Ins

Learning how to customize WordPress with Themes & Plug Ins just got easier with our step-by-step tips. So now that you’ve got WordPress installed you can move ahead to the fun part.

Reminder: These are basic instructions - WordPress or any other company may make alterations, improvements, and changes over the years.

3 Part Series: Getting Started with WordPress

Part 1: What is WordPress

Part 2: Setting Up WordPress

Part 3: How To Customize with Themes and Plug Ins

Getting Started with WordPress - Customize with Themes & Plug-Ins Best Pennywise TipsGetting Started with WordPress - How To Customize with Themes & Plug-Ins

How To Customize WordPress: Introduction 

Once you load your site onto your hosting provider’s service then it’s time to customize your installation. You will receive information from your installation that gives you the URL in which to sign into your Dashboard. The Dashboard is where you will do all alterations to your WordPress site. It will usually look like this: http://www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin or http://yourdomain.com/wp-admin.

You might have one more directory after your domain name /blog/wp-admin if you installed your instance of WP into a special directory. This is the link you sign into in order to customize your WordPress site.

First, choose a theme, and then add in a few security-focused plug-ins. Next, you can add pages, create your blog, and more. As you move forward with the customization of your site it will start taking shape right before your eyes.

How To Customize WordPress: Choosing a Theme

Getting Started with WordPress - Choosing a ThemeGetting Started with WordPress - Choosing a Theme

Inside your dashboard there are many themes you can choose from. Click appearance, themes, and install themes to search through the various free themes that are available. Some of these themes also offer premium upgrades, some are just free.

Pay close attention to the documentation provided by the developer to ensure that you don’t misuse the theme. Some developers require that you leave certain parts of the theme alone such as the “created by” usually at the bottom of the site. This is especially true of free themes.

You can also find premium themes. Simple do a search for “premium WordPress themes”. These are themes created by individual developers for a fee. Ensure that you check out any theme developers to ensure that they are legitimate and not full of undesirable links.

Some recommendations for premium themes are:

  • StudioPress.com – These are professionally designed themes that are easy to use and customize. They already have a lot of the functionality that you need and offer the ability to customize easily from the dashboard. Support is provided in a private owners only message board.

  • ElegantThemes.com – Professionally designed themes that pride themselves on their beautiful and clean design. They offer great customer support and a lot of different themes from which to choose.

  • Obox-design.com – If you need an ecommerce theme then this is where you should get it. Obox offers many different types of premium themes and excellent support. They have great documentation and a support forum.

  • PremiumPress.com – They pride themselves on providing what they call “turn-key” themes for those who want to run ecommerce sites. But, they have many choices that can be used for any type of site.

There are many more places you can get premium themes but these will get you started. Something to consider today is choosing responsive themes. That means that they will respond to whatever type of device or screen that the user is has including tablets and mobile devices.

As our society shifts to a more mobile society, and mobile devices continue to outsell, this becomes an imperative for you as you start out creating your website.

Thankfully, with WordPress it’s easy to have a responsive website.

How To Customize WordPress: Choosing Plugins

Getting Started with WordPress - Customize with ThemesGetting Started with WordPress – How to Customize with Themes

One thing that makes WordPress super special is the ability to customize the site. Learning how to customize WordPress with themes and with plugins will be the beginning of making a working site that is yours.

The community is large so you can find a lot of the customizations you seek free of charge, or for a very small donation or price. There is a large developer community that creates premium plugins that enable you to have even better access to even more customization for a small fee.

In addition to themes as discussed above finding plug-ins that define the look and feel of your website isn’t very hard. One way to find plug-ins is to go to the WordPress.org site and click “plugins” to look at what is available there. You can also do a search for "premium WordPress plugins” just like you can with themes on a search engine. It's important to check out any vendor to ensure that they are legitimate and well known before purchasing or even using free plugins and themes.

Now that you're moving on with learning how to customize WordPress you'll feel more comfortable about working in your Dashboard. You can easily add plugins by signing into your Wordpress Dashboard. Look under Appearance to find plugins. Some of them come with an option to upgrade for even more features. You can do a search for a function you'd like to have, or you can scroll through all of them. You can install right from your dashboard. Some plugins that are premium and found elsewhere, in that case you’ll have to download to your computer then upload via your dashboard. It’s a very straightforward process. Most premium plugins come with step-by-step instructions.

When you first create your WordPress site it will have a couple of plugins already installed depending on the theme you chose. One of them is Hello Dolly which you can uninstall and delete. There is no need for this plugin. Depending on the theme you may already have some plugins installed that give the theme the functions it has. It's always a good idea to take a look at what is already installed for any particular theme so that you don't add anything that might work against what you already have.

Note: It's also a good idea to only install one plugin at a time, set it up completely, and then make sure your site works the way it's supposed to. That way if you do add a plugin that causes problems you'll be able to easily pinpoint the issue. Some plugins don't play well together, so it's always a good idea to read the documentation that is available, as well as reviews of any plugin you think you want to try.

Getting Started with WordPress – How to Customize with Plug-InsGetting Started with WordPress – How to Customize with Plug-Ins

How To Customize WordPress: Some Basic Plugins

There are some basic plugins that you will want to start with such as:

  • WordPress SEO by Yoast -- This plugin allows you to improve the search engine optimization of your WordPress site. While WordPress already has some things built in for SEO, this improves it allot by helping you focus on a certain keyword within each blog post and more.

  • Google sitemap plugin -- This lets you create and add a sitemap file to Google's webmaster tools easily. This can help you a lot with your Google ranking and since Google is still the number one search engine this will be very helpful.

  • Akismet -- This plugin is usually already installed on WordPress. Some people really love it and others don't. But, it can really help you by checking for spam comments. You need to activate it by getting an Akismet.com API key. There is a small fee for business websites but a personal blog is free. There are other options available like Comment Redlist.

  • UpdraftPlus -- This is a WordPress backup and restoration plugin. It's very important that if you don't use this plugin that you find a back up service of some sort that will take care of this for you. If anything happens you'll be able to quickly reactivate your site. A great service is also available here: VaultPress.
  • W3 Total Cache -- This speeds up your page loads and helps visitors not become inpatient. This plugin hasn't been updated this year, so you may want to keep an eye on it so that it doesn't become outdated. There may be other options but for now this one works fine.

  • Broken Link Checker -- As your site grows it will be more difficult for you to manually check for broken links. No matter how good your website is there are times when broken links will happen and this plugin will help you avoid missing out on a sale, or frustrating a visitor.

  • Contact Form -- You need to be able to have a form so that people can contact you. A form cuts down on spam and makes it easy for people to contact you. This is one of many different types of forms. You can spend some money and get a better form maker here: Gravity Forms.

  • Better WP Security -- This is a very easy to use plugin that helps you improve the security of your WordPress site without really understanding what you're doing. If you just pick one security plugin, this is the on

All of these can be found by doing a search online or by searching for them in your Dashboard. There are also a number of premium plugins that can be found from developers. Typically, they will put a free version on the WordPress.org site and then in the dashboard you'll have a chance to upgrade if you want.

Always check the reviews of any plugin because developers sometimes stop supporting them.

Reminder: What is listed here could be out of date by the time you read it, but you do need these types of plugins so you can get started on the right foot.

How To Customize WordPress: Wrapping it up! 

3 Part Series-Getting Started with WordPress – You Could Get Started In 10 Hours Best Pennywise TipsGetting Started with WordPress – You Could Get Started In 10 Hours

WordPress is clearly a dynamic website building software that anyone can use to build awesome websites. There is not a huge learning curve to get up a basic website with a blog. It might take a few more lessons if you want to build a website with e-commerce capabilities, message boards, and more.

But, most people can build a successful business website in just a few hours with WordPress that works well to bring traffic to the site. I hope you can understand the value and necessity of learning how to customize WordPress.

Building the website is the foundation, learning how to customize WordPress for your own style is the beginning of branding, adding the content and your message is creating a business. 

With what you learned about how to customize WordPress, you're set to give it a try!

SIDENOTE:

What we're talking about here are content management systems to build a website. And that's good! 

But what about building a business? That's a whole different thing. 

Read how others go beyond just using a CMS to building a successful E Biz. Have you got BAM?  These people do. You may be surprised about how much is included.

Reminder: These are basic instructions - any company may make alterations, improvements, and changes over the years.

3 Part Series: Getting Started with WordPress

Part 1: What is WordPress

Part 2: Setting Up WordPress

Part 3: How To Customize with Themes and Plug Ins

Getting Started with WordPress - Customize with Themes & Plug-Ins Best Pennywise TipsGetting Started with WordPress - How To Customize with Themes & Plug-Ins

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How To Customize WordPress; Return To Homepage


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