WordPress is basically made up of two parts:
- A “back-end” framework, like the inner gears of an engine, that runs the whole deal. Think of the back-end like you think of an engine of a car. You don’t necessarily need to know how it all works, to pick the right car for you.
- A customizable “front-end”, using themes that change the design of your blog and offer different features. Think of themes as the “body” of a car – it has the elements that you (and others) will actually have contact with on a daily basis. Just as you pick a car based on its roominess, interior features, color, and flexibility, you pick a theme for your blog.
The part you really care about for your blog is the “front-end” – it’s what you can most easily control. And you usually don’t need to know any programming to manage it.
There are literally thousands of themes available for people to use. Design professionals make a business out of creating WordPress themes, and there are some really great ones out there.
You can pay for a theme, or you can get them for free. I always go for free, because my needs are basic and straightforward, and I can do everything I need to do with a free theme.
What are my needs?
- Responsive – my site will adjust to the size and shape of whatever device people are using: phone, tablet, laptop, desktop, etc.
- Customizable header – so I can change my look, if I like.
- Sidebar – so I can put in my “follow” buttons and links list and archives, etc.
- White color scheme – it’s easier for me to read.
- Social sharing – so people can share my posts with others.
- Good font size – that makes it easy to read (most themes have that now, but it’s an important thing to check).
- Free – because there are too many good choices, and I don’t need a lot of bells and whistles.
So, where do you find the magic? Log into WordPress, and you’ll see an “Appearance” choice in your WP-Admin.
Choose Themes, and you’ll see this (or something like it):
This page shows you which theme is active for you, and it lets you pick from a wide array of choices.
You can see all the different options that you have for themes. There are themes with a single column, two columns, three columns, and there are themes in different colors and so forth. I have spent a lot of time looking through a lot of different themes, and I have found that in my case simplest is best. You can easily spend hours and hours looking through all of the different options, trying them out, and seeing what you like. But it is a much better use of your time, if you find something simple to use, and start with that.
If you search for “responsive white sidebar”, the page will change to show the ones that fit your search. And you can explore from there.
Personally, I’m a huge fan of Twenty Sixteen. It’s responsive, it has one sidebar on the right, I can customize the header, and it does everything I want it to do. It’s fast and easy to configure, and it’s not a huge headache like other themes.
There are many, many web pages and guides out there which talk about WordPress themes, so if you want to dive deeper, scout around a bit.
To activate your theme, all you have to do is put your mouse over the theme, and the Activate and Preview buttons will show up:
You can preview your blog and see how it will look with that theme. If you don’t like it, then just close the preview. If you do like it, click the Activate button, and now you’ve got that theme.
Remember that you can easily change out your theme in the future, so don’t worry too much about choosing the exact right one, right off the bat.
You’ve got plenty of flexibility to change later.
So, have fun with it!