WordPress is one of the most powerful website platforms in the world, but if you’re new to it, you wouldn’t know it. Many people assume they have to use out-of-the-box themes or enter all their content as blog posts. The truth is, WordPress is incredibly customizable! It just takes the right combination of tools — and knowing where to look.
Here’s an easy 5-step checklist to start fully customizing your WordPress site to perfectly match your brand and business needs!
- Set Your Homepage to a Static Page
WordPress began as a blogging platform, so the default setting is to show your latest posts on the front page. This isn’t ideal for most websites, though. Most business websites want a static front page. You can change this setting; go ahead and do it before you select a theme. Simply navigate to Settings > Reading in your WordPress Dashboard and switch “Your homepage displays” to “A static page.” You can then choose which page to make your homepage.
- Change Your Theme
If you’re not able to hire someone to build your theme from scratch, there are hundreds of pre-built WordPress themes that you can customize. Every WordPress installation comes with a standard theme (in 2021, it’s called Twenty Twenty One), along with other popular options.
To choose and customize your theme, navigate to Appearance > Themes in your WordPress Dashboard. Click “Customize” on your active theme (“activate a different theme if needed.) If the pre-installed options don’t suit your needs, click the “Add New” button to install a new theme, then activate it.
Each theme has different customization options, but you can generally change the “site identity” (title and tagline), colors, menus, and widgets. Some themes have pre-built page sections so you can fully customize your homepage. If your current theme doesn’t offer the flexibility you need, you’ll likely need to install a new theme. Keep in mind that not all themes allow you to choose custom fonts and colors, so if those are important to your branding, pick a theme that permits those.
Don’t forget to change any background or header image pre-loaded by your theme! Choose a high-quality image that matches your branding.
- Customize Your Menus
WordPress’s default menus usually display links to all your pages. That’s almost always more than you need. Choose the few options that are most relevant to your target audience. Note that you can change the display title on the menu! This is ideal for shortening long page titles to avoid menu clutter. You’re not limited to pages, either. You can make any post, page, form, or URL a menu item.
If you want to divide your menu into sections with non-clickable labels, use this trick:
- Add a “Custom URL” item to your menu, but instead of entering a URL, type a pound sign (#).
- Enter your desired label in the Link Text field.
- The item will show as a non-clickable label under which you can nest other items.
- Configure Your Widgets
Every theme is different, but most of them have options for sidebars, homepage columns, and footers. You can install “widgets” to display additional information in each section. By default, WordPress will show your list of posts, categories, and “meta” information. Honestly, none of this is very interesting to your visitors. Use those widgets to add value, such as social media embeds, contact forms, and other interactive content.
You can also install Plugins on your site that expand your widget options. If you know HTML, you can even write your own widget and paste the code into WordPress’ “custom HTML” widget. This is perfect for newsletter signup forms, a small “About Us” section, and so on.
- Change Your Permalink Structure
Another holdover from WordPress’s origins as a blogging platform is that all posts have this URL structure by default: /[year]/[month]/sample-post/. This is a really long URL that’s often not ideal for SEO. Also, you may not want dates included in the permalink. To change it, head to Settings > Permalink and choose a format that’s shorter and more keyword-friendly.
These are just a few of the ways you can make your WordPress a one-of-a-kind business website. The possibilities are endless! With the right combination of your theme, widgets, plugins, and content, your website can be completely unique and multifunctional — even if you’re using an out-of-the-box theme.
For expert assistance with WordPress development and customization, reach out to NuEthic. We’re more than happy to help you translate