How to Customize Your WordPress Blog

By Amy Lupold Bair, Susannah Gardner

After you’ve played around with a few of the WordPress features, you may be thinking, “How do I make this new blog pretty?” The answer is as simple as a menu click. Just follow these steps:

  1. From the menus on the left side of the Dashboard, click Appearance.

    The Manage Themes and Install Themes tabs open, displaying a list of themes that you can install and allowing you to install new themes, respectively.

  2. Select Install Themes to search for themes based on color, keyword, columns, width, features, or subject, make your selections, and then click Find Themes.

    WordPress returns a list of themes based on your search query.

  3. Click Preview to see how a particular theme looks in a pop-up window. Close the pop-up to look at the list again.

  4. After you find a theme that you like, click Install to load the theme onto your server.

  5. Click Activate to apply the theme to your blog.

You can install several themes all at the same time and then take time to test which theme best suits your blog.

Now, do you want to get into the code even more? If so, get ready to dive into HTML. Only the brave venture into this territory because it requires knowledge of HTML, CSS, PHP, and WordPress’s own markup language. The code editing for WordPress includes a little more than just plain old HTML.

Some bloggers love playing with HTML code; others run away as fast as they can. If you have the chops, however, the developers of WordPress have made accessing and modifying the theme files a fairly easy task.

Select Editor from the Appearance menu to get at the editing interface for the currently installed theme. The editor is simply a text editor in which you can manipulate the files in your theme without using any other technology (such as FTP) to access the files. It’s simple to use and doesn’t have too many frills.

The drawback to using the editor is that you really need to know your stuff when it comes to HTML code, CSS, and a little PHP thrown in for good measure.