Structure Considerations for Your WordPress Blog

By Lisa Sabin-Wilson

When you first begin a WordPress blog, you need to consider how you want to structure that blog and how your theme choices will match up with that structure. A WordPress blog, in its very basic form, has four main areas.

image0.jpg

These four main areas appear in the default theme that comes in every version of WordPress:

  • Header: This area usually contains the name of the site along with the site tagline or slogan. Sometimes the header also contains a graphic or image.

  • Body: This area is where your blog posts appear in chronological order.

  • Sidebar: This area is where you find lists of blog-related elements, such as the blogroll, the archives, and a list of recent posts.

  • Footer: This area, at the bottom of the page, often contains links to further information about the blog, such as who designed it, which company provides hosting for the blog, and copyright information.

These four areas are the absolute bare bones of a basic WordPress blog template. You can extend these areas and create new sections that carry more information, of course, but for now, let’sfocus on the basics.

The default WordPress theme is called Twenty Fourteen, it’s a pretty doggone wonderful starting point for you, especially if you’re just getting your feet wet in the blogosphere.

Many themes developed for WordPress are free for public use, and it’s strongly recommended that you find one that you like and download it. Use the free themes as a place to get started in theme development. With the free themes available today, most of the work has already been completed for you, and you may find it easier to use one of these themes instead of creating your own.

Each free theme available for download is different, depending on what the developer included (such as CSS styling, display options, format, and layout). So experimenting with a few themes is a fun and great way to learn more about the development of WordPress themes. A great place to find free WordPress themes is the official WordPress Themes Directory.

To build a basic WordPress theme that covers the four basic areas of a blog, you need these five templates:

  • header.php

  • index.php

  • sidebar.php

  • footer.php

  • style.css

Each WordPress theme comes with a stylesheet (style.css), which drives the formatting and layout of your blog template in terms of where the elements are positioned on the page, what the font looks like, what colors your hyperlinks will be, and so on. As you may have already figured out, you don’t use CSS to put content on your site. You use CSS to style the content that’s already there.