With your bare website alive and kicking, it’s now time to make it feel more like your own by picking a nice design, customizing it, and adding branding elements.
1) Choose a Theme for Your Website
WordPress themes are out-the-box design packages that change the way your entire website looks like. WordPress themes are interchangeable – you can switch from theme to theme easily.
Most importantly, there are thousands of free and paid WordPress themes available on the web.
If you want to get a free theme – which is where most people like to start – the best place to go is the official theme directory at WordPress.org. Particularly, the section for the most popular themes.
All themes you see there have proven to be of great quality and have large user bases behind them.
You are free to browse through that list and pick any theme you fancy but to speed things up for you in this guide, we recommend Neve. It’s a versatile theme that comes with a handful of starter sites (design packages for different niches and types of websites).
We’re going to use that theme in this guide going forward.
2) Install the Theme You Like
Go to your WordPress admin interface. You can find it at
YOURSITE.com/wp-admin. Use the username and password you got during WordPress installation.
- From the sidebar, go to “Themes → Add New.”
- In the search box, type in “Neve” and click on the “Install” button next to the theme’s name:
- After the installation is done, click on the “Activate” button that will appear in place of the “Install” button.
- You’ll see a success message, which lets you know that the installation went as expected.
3) Import a Design (Only for Neve Theme Users)
Although the theme is active at this point, there are a couple more things you should do to make it look right.
You’ll see this welcome message:
One of the great things about Neve is that you get not just one design with it, but a whole range of different designs that you can pick from. Click on the big blue button to see them.
There are more than 20 designs available for free, and they cover most of the popular website niches, like business, restaurant, fitness, music, food, wedding, photography, eCommerce, portfolio, and more. Basically, no matter what the topic of your site might be, you’ll find a design package that fits.
For the purpose of this guide, we’ll pick the first one on the list – called “Original.”
You’ll notice that this installation process takes care of all the elements you’ll need on your site – you get the design itself, all the plugins required to make it work, and also demo content that you can later modify.
Click on the “Import” button to get everything going. After a minute or so, you’ll see the success message.
Next, go to “Appearance → Neve Options” to see what else you can do with the theme.
We’re going to explore some of these options below:
4) Add a Logo
The first thing that most users want to do is upload their logo and have it displayed in the top left corner of the site. Let’s do that now.
You can DIY a logo. Here are some of the tools you can use to create a logo yourself.
Once you have a logo ready, you can add it to your site. Go to “Appearance → Neve Options” and click on the link labeled “Upload Logo.”
Here’s what you’ll see:
This interface is called the WordPress Customizer, and it allows you to edit various aspects of your website’s appearance. For starters, you can upload your logo. To do that, click on the “Select Logo” button that’s near the top left corner.
WordPress will give you an option to crop the logo, but you can skip that.
You should see your logo in the corner of the page shortly.
Additionally, you can choose if you want to display the site name and tagline alongside the logo, and set the max-width of the logo. Experiment with these settings and pick what works best for you.
Click on the “Publish” button when done (the top left corner), and then click on the “X” button to exit the Customizer.
5) Change the Website Color Scheme and Fonts
Another thing you can experiment with is changing the color schemes and fonts used on the site. As you’re learning how to create a website, this is an easy fix to make your site more unique and more in tune with your brand identity.
- To begin, go to “Appearance → Neve Options” again. We’re going to focus on the following two options:
- First, click on “Set Colors.”
- Most WordPress themes are defined by the color scheme they use for various elements of the design.
- Most commonly, those are colors of the links, texts on the site, and backgrounds.
- You can change the color assignments for the Neve theme via the Customizer.
- To switch any of the colors, just click on it and pick a new color.
- Click on “Publish” and “X” when you’re done.
Changing fonts works similarly:
- Click on the “Customize Fonts” link in the “Appearance → Neve Options” panel.
- Neve lets you pick from a whole catalog of system fonts and Google Fonts.
- Just click on the “Font Family” box and select the font you like.
- After that, you can fine-tune the individual fonts used for your headings.
Experiment with these settings to see the effect they have on your site.
- To customize the font used for the body section of your site, click on the arrow button near the top left.
- Click on “General.” This will take you to a similar options panel, but this time you’re adjusting the main body font.
- Click on “Publish” and “X” when done.
6) Add a Sidebar
Another thing you can do in the “Appearance → Neve Options” panel is set how you’d like your sidebar to look. Click on “Content / Sidebar” to begin.
You have three main options here: no sidebar, sidebar to the left, or sidebar to the right. Sidebar to the right is the classic layout for most websites. You can also set the content width. After doing your changes, click on “Publish” and “X.”
7) Add Widgets (Free WordPress Add-Ons)
Widgets are those small content blocks that usually appear in websites’ sidebars. Since we’ve just set the sidebar in the previous step, let’s now customize it with widgets.
To configure widgets, go to “Appearance → Widgets.” You’ll see this:
On the left, you can see all the widgets available; and on the right, there are all the widget areas supported by your current theme. To add a widget to the sidebar, all you need to do is grab the widget from the left and drag and drop it onto the sidebar area.
For example, if you want to list all your pages in the sidebar, grab the “Pages” widget and drag it onto the sidebar section. You can also configure some basic settings of the widget.
8) Experiment With the Theme You Built
What we’ve covered above will be enough for you to figure out how to create a website that stands out and looks original, but there are many more options available.
To see them all, go to “Appearance → Customize.” This will fire up the main interface of the Customizer with all its settings and presets.
We encourage you to browse through what’s available there and play around with some of the options. You’ll likely stumble upon some customizations we haven’t discussed here.