Just about anyone can make a nice-looking, well-organized website these days if they are willing to get their hands just a little dirty. I’ve used WordPress with customized themes to create the following sites:
- The Joanna Hayes Foundation
- USATF Diversity Committee
- The Official Website of Jason High
- Jonathan C. Little, Attorney at Law
Here are a few tips for creating a website with WordPress for your personal or business use:
Create Pages, not Posts, for your informational content.
Most websites have a Home page and an About page. Depending on what the site is for, you may also want “Services,” “Portfolio,” “FAQ,” “Links,” pages and so on. These should be created as Pages in WordPress, not Posts. Only write Posts as part of your site’s Blog, if you want one.
Make sure you create a Page called “Home.” Then under Settings -> Reading, at the top of the screen, check the box for the front page to display a Static Page and select the Home Page to be the one displayed.
Get rid of Commenting, Author Name, the Timestamp and anything else but the actual content on each Page.
This will get rid of that “blog look.” For some themes, you can disable these things in the settings. For others, they are already removed on the static Pages for you. In case they’re not, you’ll need to edit the page.php file under Appearance -> Editor. This is the template file that each of your site’s Pages follows.
In the page.php file, look for a PHP function call that says “comments_template();” and put two slashes in front of it to disable that call: “//comments_template();” …do the same thing with the function call “the_time();” to get rid of the timestamp for the date and time the page was published to the site. If you see an Author listed under the title of the Pages on your site, look for a function call like “the_author()” or “the_author_posts_link()” and put two slashes in front of it. If there is also the word “by” in front of the author call, just delete it.
In general, if you see something in the body of a Page on your site that you don’t want, you can search the page.php file and get rid of the code causing that information to display.
Put your own copyright in the Footer
Under Appearance -> Editor, edit the footer.php file. This is usually just a few lines of code. Usually there is a credit to the theme’s author there. Ethically, you should leave this in unless you customized their theme so much that it is unrecognizable from their original. But next or above their credit, add something like “© 2010 [YOUR SITE NAME],” replacing of course “[YOUR SITE NAME]” with your site name. The “©” will show the copyright symbol. If you want 2010 to automatically increment every year, then replace 2010 with “<?php echo date(“Y”); ?>.”
Customize your Sidebar…or get rid of it.
For a site that will include a blog, a great way to display recent blog posts is to put them in the sidebar using a widget. Go to Appearance -> Widgets and drag the “Recent Posts” widget over to the Sidebar box on the right.
If you are on Twitter or Facebook, either put links to your accounts in your sidebar or embed a Twitter and/or Facebook widget for your account.
If you’re just going to link to your accounts, it is a nice touch to use icons instead of text links. Here is a great site from which to download Social Media Button icons. You will need to upload these button icons under Media, copy the link to each, and then create a Text/HTML widget in your Sidebar that looks similar to:
<a href="http://twitter.com/yourtwittername" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.yourdomain.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/tweet.png" border=0></a>
Of course, you would replace “yourtwittername” with your twitter handle and
with the link to the social media button you uploaded under Media.
If you want to embed a Twitter or Facebook widget, you can grab the code from your account on those sites and paste it into a Text/HTML widget in your sidebar.
Other ideas for your sidebar are:
- Contact Information for you or your organization
- Upcoming Events, if applicable
- Partner or Sponsor links and/or logos.
If none of these apply to your site, and you don’t have a blog on your site, you don’t HAVE to have anything on your sidebar.
To get rid of your sidebar entirely, you can usually edit the footer.php file and put two slashes (“//”) in front of the call to “get_sidebar();” to disable it. If you don’t see that in the footer.php file, you may be able to disable it in your theme’s settings.
While I certainly didn’t cover all of the possibilities for customization here, I hope that gets you off to a good start. Feel free to comment if you have questions!
– Ann, Chief Go-Getter