Page Structure and Widgets

Now it is time to set up your pages so that when you start adding content in the forms of text, pictures and widgets they are in the correct places you want them. Depending on your theme hopefully it has the options to adjust your sidebars and content not only on how they are set up but what width they can be. Sometimes you get widgets like facebook like boxes that look silly when they are squished into thin sidebars, and the ability to widen the sidebar to fit this widget comfortably is a great feature. I’ve been looking over some of the themes i manage and they go from zero customization of pages to ones that allow you to have one sidebar, two sidebars, 4 sidebars all with customizable width. Another theme had the option to change sidebars on any given page you specify. It’s good in this early stage that if you have a theme that really doesn’t allow you much freedom maybe you should consider uploading and trying out another one.

We have worked with the headers and now you have options about putting in sidebars on the right, left and even below content. My current theme allows for 2 sidebars on either side which is almost magazine style with so many columns and places to put content it might be too much for some websites and just enough for others.

Now things get a little tricky, let’s explore a default page first and see what options your theme gives you. Go to page>add page and enter a page title, now go down the right side to where it says template and a drop down menu. Click into the drop down menu and you will get options like: contributor page, full width page, default template, front page template, blank front, page featured, front portfolio template, list of posts, 0 sidebars, 1 sidebar right, 1 sidebar left, 2 sidebars, etc. Now you can mess around and see what each does, sometimes certain content will automatically go to certain pages. The ones i want you to pay attention to is sidebars, some themes have this when you set up your page so that each page you make has its own structure. Sometimes you have to go into your appearance>(your theme) options and find page layout or sidebar options and set that to your default theme and just select default theme when you add this page. Just put something in the box below your title and hit publish just so you can see how the page will look. Publish on the right side then click preview above it. You will see your text in the content area and you might see some default things in the sidebar locations that you specified. This gives us an opportunity now to check out one of the coolest features about wordpress which is widgets.

Go to appearance>widgets, we have seen this screen before and now it’s time to get started playing around with widgets.  Your widget page will probably look different depending on your theme. You will see the default widgets in the middle archives, calendar, categories and some more. If you click on the dropdown of your sidebar, main sidebar or other sidebars they may or may not have items in them. See if you can find the sidebar of the page that you created and find the items in them. When you drag these items to the sidebar you create text, links or pictures. Some examples of items are archives would be older articles, categories would be a list of categories, meta is the block that gives people the ability to log in as registered users, pages would be pages you can show in the sidebar, recent posts would be lists of posts, recent comments is comments by other people, search bar for search, rss is a feed from another blog or page and text should be one of the widgets you use most. Text is where you can copy  and paste code from just about anything to show up in the side bar, or just text you want like in my sidebar to the right. When we get into uploading plug ins, this area is where most of them put some kind of widget that you have to drag to the sidebar to activate it. This is also where you can put another menu like the one you created last time and have links to your sites pages or create another menu with only the links you want and drag that menu widget here. Play around a little and find the sidebar that is active and take items out and put items in and then view your page you created and see the changes that you are making. You might have to refresh your browser to see the changes, when you drag a widget out or into the sidebar it is automatically saved. Take note of which sidebar you are changing, if you are putting things into your left sidebar and the page you created uses one sidebar right you will not see anything in the left sidebar unless you have a page set up with a left sidebar. Some themes also have options to put widgets in the footer at the bottom. This is pretty useful as well because footers usually have a wealth of information from your site and ive seen themes that allow 6 widgets across in the footer.

Now if you want to change an existing page just go to pages>all pages and hover over any existing page and click edit, now go to the bottom right side and change the template to the sidebars you want. Next we are going to get your homepage the way you want it. Some people choose to have their blog posts or articles be the home page and some like a custom home page that has info about what the site is about or anything you want. Go to appearance>customize and on the left side you will see static front page, click the dropdown and the 2 options you have are latest posts, which automatically makes your home page your recent posts. The second option is A static page, if you click that it will give you options of Front page and posts page, go ahead and click the drop down of front page and select the page you created or another page if you made some and click save&publish. So now when you go to your domain name it will go to this first page that you created or your posts page. If you want the page that you created in your menu go to appearance>menus click the page in the pages drop down, and click add to menu. Make sure your custom menu is in the menu name and save your menu if the page is in the position you want. Next tutorial we are going to deal with plug ins.