When you first install WordPress, it’s a blank canvas. It won’t have any images, pages, menus, etc. It will look something like this:
Choose a Theme
The first thing you’ll want to do is choose a theme. Log into the Admin and click on Appearance. This will give you a screenshot of all of the themes available. When you find one the one you want, click Activate. You can now visit your site and see how the theme looks on your site.
If you haven’t added any content yet, it will most likely look very basic, like the image above.
Basic WordPress Settings
There are various tabs listed in the Settings area of the Admin. It’s a good idea to review all the settings on your site so that you know what your options are and what your blog is set to do. Below are some of the more important settings.
- General – You can set your site Title and Tagline (The tagline usually appears under your title and serves as a “catch phrase” for your site. However, on some themes the tagline is invisible, but can still useful for SEO). You can also set the time zone.
- Reading – You can set your home page to display “Your latest posts” or use a Page that you’ve created. If your home page is built with widgets, then you’ll want to leave this set to “Your latest posts”.
- Writing – You can change the default post category from “Uncategorized” to something else. You must create a new category first.
- Discussion – To minimize spam we have set several defaults which you are free to change:
- Comments are turned OFF on new posts.
- You will be emailed whenever someone attempts to post a comment to your blog.
- The comments will not go live unless you manually approve it.
Setting up a Menu
When creating a site menu, you first need to create your pages. Click on Pages > Add New to create a new page. You can type in the title for the page and click publish. Repeat for as many pages as you’d like. Once you have created some pages, you can create a menu.
Navigate to Appearance > Menus. Use the options on the left to add your pages to the menu and then save. At the bottom of the menu you can select a position for your menu, either Primary or Secondary. If you’re not sure which one you want, try them out to see what you think looks best.
Some themes also have a Head Right widget area where you can place a menu.
Next, navigate to Genesis > Theme Setting to see what options are available for the theme. If your theme has color options, you’ll find them on this page. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer for what to set your theme settings to. The best way to see how they work and what you want things set up is to switch the settings around and then preview the site to see how they look.
Widget Areas are places on your site where you can insert a widget that does something specific. For example, if you have a Header Right widget area, then you can place a menu in it, or add social media link, or a search menu, etc. Not all themes have the same widget areas. You’ll want to navigate to Appearance > Widgets to see what areas you have available to you.
Some plugins have been activated automatically for your convenience, but there are even more listed on the Plugins page in your Admin. If you’re looking for added functionality on your site, this is the place to go. Some of the more advanced plugins, like My Custom CSS and Genesis Simple Hooks can, with some knowledge, help you transform the look of your site!
Once you’ve had a chance to play with the settings, menus and widgets your site will be starting to come together. Below is another screenshot of our sample site, with a few of the customizations that we went over in this tutorial. Next up you’ll want to add your content! Photos, pages, blog posts, etc. Once you get more content on your site you may want to come back and tweak the design more.
Be sure to check out the our Basic Theme Setup guide as well as specific tutorials for each theme.