Before we open our blog to the public and start writing posts, we want to make sure we put out the welcome mat. One of the best ways of doing this is by having a nice front page.
The first three seconds of a person’s visit to your blog is crucial. It needs to be inviting, welcoming, interesting, informative, engaging, entertaining, colorful, simple, and give the reader that warm feeling of “home.”
The primary key to making sure you stand out and retain visitors is by making sure you have a good WordPress Theme. I went over some of this in the “Selecting a Theme” post, and will not cover the same information here, but just by way of reminder, this is one of the many reasons I chose the Standard Theme.
I know that at the time of this post, the front page doesn’t look like much, and as I have watched my statistics on Google Analytics, I have seen many visitors immediately leave after visiting. I am sure that some of this is because of how drab my blog currently looks.
But since I have a commitment on this blog to not do anything on it unless I show you how, the tweaks and upgrades will have to wait. Over the course of my blogging journey here on Grace Blogger, I am going to walk you through how to tweak your Standard Theme to make your home page everything I described above, and more.
There is way too much to cover in just one post, so over the course of the next several months, as I modify my blog, I will show you “before” and “after” pictures of my front page, and then show you step by step what I did with the Standard Theme to bring about these changes.
This post contains the bare-bones basic set up for the Standard Theme.
Although I am walking you through the setup process for the Standard Theme, similar steps will be used for almost any WordPress Theme, both standard and free.
Let’s begin with the BEFORE picture:
Log In to the Standard Theme Dashboard
Most often, you will make adjustments to the appearance and functionality of the Standard Theme inside the Dashboard, under the “Standard” menu area.
So let’s begin.
Standard Theme General Settings
In the General Settings Tab, I am going to place the blog title in the place of the logo.
This is a very short-term solution, but since I have not yet show you how to make a Custom Logo, it will do for now. Remember, this is the VERY basic setup for the Standard Theme.
We cannot do anything else in the General Settings tab either until we do some Graphic Design. So, save your changes, and let’s move on.
Standard Theme Framework Options
You can see the settings I have chosen below.
I definitely want CSS3 effects as they provide some cook features which make the Standard Theme stand out above the crowd.
I also want the Navigation bar below the header, rather than at the very top of the screen. This is where the Navigation bar most often is on most blogs, and when people visit my blog, I don’t want them to be confused, even for a second, about where my navigation bar is.
I like the large social icons, because I think they look nicer, and bigger icons attract more clicks. But you choose what you want.
I placed my sidebar on the right for this theme, but could quickly switch it to the left with this next option. Most blogs have it on the right, and so I leave it there, for some of the same reasons that I place the navigation bar below the header.
I will be changing the background color, and so want the WordPress background support turned on.
Finally, I don’t like footer navigations bars, so turned them off.
That’s it for this menu item.
Standard Theme Navigation Options
I do like to use the breadcrumbs, because it helps people back out of a post, or find their way back to a previous page that they might have come from.
I prefer to use the WordPress Custom Menu, and will show you how to set that up in a later post.
Since I am using the WordPress Custom Menu, I don’t really need to worry about the other two boxes on this screen. If you are not using the Custom Menu, then you must choose which categories and pages to exclude from your menu.
Standard Theme Post Thumbnails
I don’t like post thumbnails, so I leave them both turned off.
Standard Theme Author Box
The author box is a little “About the Author” picture and description which can appear at the bottom of every post. It is set up in the “Users” section of the Dashboard, but here is where you can select a few more “Standard Theme” specific options of how this box appears.
I like the Author box, as it invites people to leave a comment, follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook, or share my post. So I turn all the options on. Also, I edit and tweak my Author box, but we will do another post on that later.
Standard Theme Comment Options
I don’t like seeing all the code options under the comment section, and right now, we are not doing any Graphic Design, so we will leave the default Gravatar. If you don’t know what a Gravatar is or how to get one, we will talk about that later also.
Standard Theme Sharing Options
Social network sharing is a vital element to any blog, and so you need to make it easy for readers to both follow you and share your posts. But don’t overwhelm them with options.
All the Ads we are going to skip for now, though we will get to them later when we begin to think about monetizing our blog.
Standard Theme Analytics and RSS
On the analytics and RSS page, you can add a few more ways for readers to subscribe to your blog.
Enter your Feedburner feed in the place provided. If you cannot remember it, just login at feeds.feedburner.com and get it from there.
In the second box, you can enter a way for readers to subscribe to your posts by email. It is asking for the Feedburner email link. Where do you get this? Also from Feedburner. Click on the “Publicize” tab, and then select “Email Subscriptions.”
The email subscription link is the part I have underlines in red, though yours will be slightly different. Paste that into the Email Subscription box of your Standard Theme setup.
If you set up Google Analytics, you can paste the tracking code in the box provided, which we already talked about in the Goolge Analytics post.
Standard Theme Affiliate Code
The final area I want to talk about in the Standard Theme Basic setup is the affiliate code. One nice feature about Standard Theme is that if you buy it, you can also become an affiliate for it, and make money by recommending it to others. This isn’t the reason I recommend it, however. The them is just a great theme.
Once you buy the Standard Theme, you not only get full access to their fantastic support forums, but also can get an affiliate code link from e-junkie.com to put affiliate code in your website.
Speaking of which, if you do decide to buy the Standard Theme, I would appreciate you buying it through one of the links on this site! Thanks!
We have now finished the very basic setup for our Standard Theme blog. After all these very basic changes, here is what the new home page looks like:
Nice, huh? Not a whole lot has changed, and the site still needs work to make it fully mine, but I will show you how to do that in several posts later on.
Make sure you subscribe to the posts so that you don’t miss a single one!