Customizing your WordPress Look and Feel

Ideally you want your WordPress blog to look like the rest of your website so it fits in smoothly. If your website is all done in orange and white colors you want your WordPress blog to be orange and white as well. Luckily WordPress makes it very easy to customize your system fairly completely!

WordPress customizes with "themes". Especially when you're starting out, I recommend you NOT try to create your own theme from scratch :) They can be very confusing. Instead, look around for a publicly copyright-free theme that you like, and then use that as your starting point. Put it into the directory under wp-content/themes. Then copy it and give it a fresh name. So for example my theme on my WineIntro site is called WineIntro. That way I can play around with my new theme without damaging the original one (in case I need to start over again).

The main file you'll want to play with is the style.css file. In this you want to customize the top area with the theme name and so on for your own tracking purposes. This is what shows up in the theme list in your WordPress admin area, under "Appearances". Use the "Widgits" area to add their built in items to your shell. I like to have a column on the left and right, surrounding my main blog area. On the left top I have the calendar, and then my regular site navigation beneath it. On the right I like Recent Posts, then Categories, then Blog Archives, and beneath that the normal sidebar processing.

To do thsoe "normal sidebar processing" activities, add a "Text" widget at the bottom of each column. Simply paste all your normal HTML into that text widget!

Use the Appearance - Editor area to edit your Header file and customize that with all your standard meta tags and so on. Customize with your standard website stylesheet and favicon. Next, edit the Footer file to have all your bottom-of-page standard copyright and disclaimer statements.

Once you get the blog looking close to what you're aiming for, it's time to add some content, to get a feel for how this will work!

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