New to WordPress?
If I were giving advice to my younger self, the younger me who didn’t know much about WordPress, I would say –
I see you are the kind of person who likes to see an overview of how everything hangs together before you commit.
So start your blog/website/whatever you want to call it/ and don’t tell anyone about it.
Don’t put your heart and soul into posts and don’t seek out people to comment on your posts.
In fact, you can set your blog/website whatever to ‘private’ if you want – at least to begin with. (The setting for that is under Settings/Site Visibility)
Themes are like fashion garments. You activate them with one click and you drape them on the basic WordPress structure.
But some themes have pants and some have padded shoulders – you have to try them out to see the differences.
There is even a way to preview them so you don’t have to commit to one. But it’s no big deal if you activate one and it turns out you don’t like it. Just choose the one you had before or choose another.
Here’s a tip – You won’t find a list somewhere of themes you have used previously, so write down the name of themes you use in case you forget them later.
Don’t buy a theme. Later on you might want to because of some feature it has. But to begin with, use a free theme.
There are hundreds of them in the WordPress theme library and you can choose and swap all day long if you want.
Start with the TwentySixteen theme. Last year I would have advised you to use the TwentyFifteen theme. See the 2022 update at the end of this post
These particular themes are made by the people who make WordPress and they are flexible.
Not all themes are flexible. With some themes, for example, you can’t have sidebars.
And then write anything you want. Don’t think too much about it.
You can even import some dummy text if you want ( http://www.lipsum.com ).
Make an About page and a Contact page. Add a few widgets in the sidebar – a ‘search’ widget and a ‘recent posts’ widget will be a good start.
Make a menu and a navigation bar. Some themes put the navigation bar in weird places that are not so obvious to visitors, so experiment with that.
That’s enough for you to be getting on with.
Actually, younger-David, because it is free for you to make a website with WordPress.com, I suggest you make one to use specifically for testing features, and you can try out different themes there. I used to have a site I named I Use This For Testing (cute name, eh.)
I had some text in it, with headings, bold text, italics, quotations, image placement, captions, etc. because theses things look different in different themes.
Was there a customiser for the back end in 2016 when I wrote this post? I don’t remember. And now things have moved on even from the customiser and it’s a bit more complicated now in 2022.
WordPress has moved to full site editing, which means that it is less important which theme you choose because you can now change the header and the footer. Well, that’s the theory, but believe me it is not as easy as it was in the days when you just picked a theme and lived with whatever it dictated. You can still do that, but when you start looking for the customiser to change typography or colours, you find yourself in strange territory. Now there are templates and partials, and changing things around is a bit of a rabbit hole. I am sure we will all get used to it.