Now for the reason most people use WordPress. You can change your entire site design with a few clicks. That’s right. The most daunting task a web designer faces, is handled in a few clicks.
I’m assuming you are logged into your account at wordpress.com and you have clicked on one of your blog names under the My Dashboard link at the top of your screen. Now, let’s change the design of your site. Click on Appearance, on your left tool bar.
The default theme is called Kubrick. You will see a preview of the theme, at the top of your screen along with a list of options.
What are Widgets
Widgets are tools that help your readers use your blog or website. Click on the link labeled widgets. You add widgets to your right toolbar, most of the time. You add them simply, by dragging and dropping them to the little box labeled sidebar on the right of your screen. You can then order them by continuing to drag and drop them inside of the sidebar. The most common widgets that everyone uses are Search, Archives, Categories, Pages, Top Posts, Links, and Akismet (a spam blocker).
Previous articles explain what each of these terms mean. I’ll briefly explain a bit about the widgets that are not easily understood.
Box.net file sharing: If you have an account at box.net (you can get 1 GB of space for free) you can create a folder, containing files that anyone you chose can access.
Category Cloud: Displays your categories in a list and increases the font weight/size to emphasize which categories are the most important.
Del.icio.us: del.icio.us, is an online service where you can manage and share your bookmarks with other people. With this plugin you can add a “Bookmark this page on del.icio.us” link to your posts or sidebar. This will allow your visitors to add your page directly into their del.icio.us profile and makes your blog more popular!
Flickr: This plugin allows users of WordPress to display their Flickr photos on their own site. Flickr, is a free photo sharing website.
Gravatar: A Gravatar is an image that represents you not only on WordPress, but can be used on most any social networking site. You can sign up for a free account at en.gravatar.com
Meebo: Meebo me lets you chat with your site visitors using your free Meebo account. Sign up for Meebo at Meebo.com.
Platial MapKit: Allows you to imbed a map lookup tool on your site. People have found it to be buggy.
RSS: RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. The RSS widget will let you display entries from any RSS feed. If you want to share the posts made on other sites this is the tool for you. To find a large list of feeds go to http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/rss/. If you find a feed you like click on the orange square with 3 white lines in it. This will take you to the feed. Copy the link that is in the top of your browser. Then click on the downward pointing arrow to the right of the tool labeled RSS, that you just dragged into your side bar. Paste the link into the top text box, where it states Enter the RSS feed URL here. Assign a title if you like, as well as how many posts and what data associated with each post you’r like to be displayed and then click Save.
RSS Links: Are links you provide to others, to reach your RSS feeds.
SocialVibe: Places an ad in the sidebar of your blog, where readers can engage and help you earn money for charity.
VodPod:The Vodpod videos widget lets you display image-links to your favorite videos from around the web in your sidebar. To use this tool you must sign up with vodpod. Then paste links to videos into the VodPod drop-down in your right sidebar.
What are Extras
These are general extras that you can enable for your entire blog. There may be an extra that will put a snow animation on the list (seasonal).
The extra labeled, Enable mShots site previews on this blog, is a bit complicated.Media Shots (mShots) enable anyone visiting your site to get a glimpse of the sites you are linking to without having to leave your site. By rolling over a link a visual preview will popup showing the linked site without requiring any clicks or a visit to the linked site. This is a nice extra, hence it is checked by default.
The Display a mobile theme extra should also be checked. It will automatically create a mobile version of your site for smart phone owners. Another reason WordPress is amazing!
Finally, leave the last box unchecked. By leaving the Hide related links extra unchecked you will increase your overall traffic and when is that a bad thing?
The Custom Header, Header Colors and Edit CSS Extras
By clicking on the Custom Header link, you can chose to hide your title, change the text color, change back to the default color, or upload your own custom header. As it states, if you chose to upload a custom header image make sure the dimensions are 740 x 192 pixels.
If you click the Header Colors link, you’ll be able to change the font color of your title, your slogan, revert back to the original colors, or click on advanced an enter the hex code for the text color you want. If you know what a hex code is use it, otherwise just change the colors using the other options.
The last option is Change CSS. If you want to pay $14.97 per year to change your CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) styling on your website, you can do that here as well in other ways. I’ll cover how to use CSS in a later post, because it is a little more advanced to cover it at this time.
Change the Theme Design Already
Now it’s time to change themes. It’s so simple. If you click on Appearance, in the left toolbar, you will be taken to a page listing the most popular themes. At the top of the page is your current theme. Probably Kubrick at this time. To see what your site will look like with another theme click on Preview under the name of each theme. There are 77 possible themes as of December 2009. If you like a design click on Activate and your done. To see your new design click on the Visit Site link at the top of your page.
That is everything there is to know about editting the appearance of your website at wordpress.com. In the next article I’ll cover every remaining topic being, Users, Tools, and Settings.