Step 4: How to Customize Your Blog

If you haven’t installed WordPress yet, go to Step 2 to follow my easy WordPress install guide.

As now you know the basics of your blog, we can get into some more of the details.

WordPress is an amazingly powerful tool that also allows you to build your blog in just about any way you can imagine.

After setting the blog the first time you probably think that your blog design looks pretty boring now, right? Hahahaha…me too. Not to worry, I will show you how to change your design as well as the layout in this step. Also, I’ve given other cool tips and tricks for personalizing your blog.

Basic Blog Design

Not everyone has the same idea of how they want their blog to look. One of the great things that I like the most about WordPress is that you can change the entire layout and the design of your site with just a few clicks. Few examples of WordPress designs that are completely free:

In WordPress, there are site layouts which are known as “Themes”. Themes control the entire design of your blog. In order to change your theme – Click on the “Appearance” tab on the left menu.

You will see several themes are already installed on your blog.  Until you decide the better design, I would recommend using one of these pre-installed themes to start with. I’ve started my blog with the Twenty Twelve theme. In order to activate this theme on your blog, hover over the theme and then click the “Activate” button. That’s it!

Might you not be interested with the pre-built theme but you don’t need to worry as there are 1000s of other free themes that you can easily install.

To install a new theme, click on the “Appearance” tab on the left menu. Click on the button at the top that says “Add New”.

You will be now at “Theme Search Screen”. There are lots of ways to find a theme you like. You can search by color, layout, and more by clicking the “Feature Filter”. In the Feature Filter, check the boxes that you want and then click on the “Apply Filters”.

Now you can browse among the themes that have the characteristics that you want. Once you find the most appropriate one that you like, hover over it with your mouse and then click the blue “Install” button.

Once the theme is installed click “Activate” in order to activate the theme on your blog. To see your new theme in action, go to your site and take a look!

Creating Menus

Create a basic navigation menu so that your readers can easily find important sections of your site by clicking on the links in the menu.

To do this, click on the “Appearance” tab on the left-menu >> then click on “Menus”.

Create a new menu called “Main Menu”. Go ahead and enter that name in the “Menu Name” box and then click “Create Menu”.

Now we can begin adding the number of items we want to this menu. For our example, I am adding a link to the homepage of my blog.

Click on “Custom Links” >> Enter domain name with “HTTP://” (without quotes) in front of it.

Enter the text you want to appear in the menu in the “Link Text”

Once you have entered your URL and link text, click “Add to Menu”.

Let’s add one more item to the navigation menu for now. I am going to add a link to a page that I have created previously.

To start, click on the “Pages” section of the menu editor.

Clicking onto the pages section – this will show all of the pages that I have created so far. If you have not created any pages this may be blank or show a “Sample Page”. In order to create a new page go to “Pages” on the left-menu >> then click “Add New”

As I have created my menu I need to add them to my blog. To do this, click on the “Manage Locations” tab.

Customizing Your Blog Design

Now you can customize things to your liking. To do this, go to the “Appearance” tab on the left-menu >> Click on “Customize”.

This will bring you to a screen that shows you your blog homepage on the right, with the customization menu on the left. Important: Customization may vary slightly (depend upon the theme):

There are a variety of customizations options you can do from this screen. Let’s take a look at them one-by-one.

Site Title & Tagline:- Here you can change the title and sub-title that appear at the top of your blog.

Colors:- Here you can change the text color of your header as well as your background color.

Header Image:- Add an image to your header. Note: Different theme has different recommend image size for the header.

Background Image:-If you want to use an image as your background instead of a solid color this section will allow you to do that by uploading the image you want to use.

Navigation:- You can choose which of your navigation menus you want to use here. Menus need to be created already. We’ve seen how to create a menu in the upper section.

Widgets:-Widgets are various items that can be added to your blog sidebar menus. This section allows you to add and remove widgets from your sidebar menu(s).

To start, click on “Widgets” >> Click “Main Sidebar”.

You can see we have 3 widgets: Search, Archives, and Meta.

You can also see how those 3 widgets appear on your site, by looking in the right sidebar area.

I am going to delete them one-by-one. Click the arrow next to the widget name >> Click “Remove” to delete it.

Now that I have removed all of those widgets I am adding a few that I do like. Click “Add a Widget” button >> Select the widget you want.

I’m adding the “Recent Posts” widget which will create links to my most recent posts in the sidebar area.

There are a variety of other widgets you can add if you wish, so feel free to explore.

Adding The Plugins

Plugins are additional tools that you can add to your WordPress blog from third-party developers. There are hundreds of free plugins like creating contact forms, adding social media buttons, or enhancing your site’s visibility to search engine available that can do just about anything on your blog.

There are simply too many to list here, but there is one free plugin that I believe every new blogger should try is JetPack.

Jetpack adds a ton of easy to use features to WordPress like the publish your posts to Facebook, ability to easily add images in your sidebar menus, and see how many people have visited your own WordPress blog.

Changing Your User Details

When first starting your blog it is always important that you change your user details. To do this, click on the “Users” tab on the left menu. Then click on “Edit” under your username.

On the user details page, you need to enter your Nickname and E-mail. Your nickname is the public name. Simply type whatever you like in the “Nickname” box >> Choose that same name in the drop-down box next to “Display name publicly as”.

Once you have made all the necessary changes Click “Update Profile” button to save the changes.

Changing Your URLs

Every new post on your blog has a unique URL. The settings for your URL names are known as “Permalinks”. The default permalinks setting is not optimal in my opinion. To change that setting Scroll over the “Settings” tab on the left menu >> click on “Permalinks”. Then you can choose one of the options listed there.

What next?

After completing this step you have a fantastic blog. Again you can easily go back & make additional changes.

Now let’s get to the fun part – writing your blog!