Here I am, less than two days after starting my first WordPress blog, and I feel compelled to write a how-to article about using the WordPress theme Dazzling. It’s not that I think I’m so much smarter than any of the WordPress experts out there. It’s just I think they’ve forgotten what it’s like to be making a blog for the first time and I’m afraid that if I don’t write down what I’ve learned in the past two days, I, too, will forget just how clueless first- time users can be.
Recently, after years of thinking about it, I finally decided to start my first homeschool blog. I had heard great things about WordPress from my sister who is a professional web designer so that’s what I used. I wanted more freedom over what I could do with my blog so I chose to host my site with Bluehost which was the host recommended on WordPress.com. (I’ve since switched to SiteGround. Read why here.) So far so good. Everything went pretty well, though there was a small username and password confusion which was cleared up by looking at the email Bluehost had sent me upon sign-up and installation of WordPress.
I spent all of Friday evening choosing a WordPress theme among all the great options available. Finally I decided on Dazzling. Then came the problem. When I tried to customize it, I could not make it look like the demo. I tried all day Saturday and could not make any progress. I read dozens of help articles on the WordPress help forums and on colorlib.com. I studied the Dazzling theme documentation. I could not figure out what I was doing wrong. I tried half a dozen different themes, but they were all just as confusing. I finally settled on theme Twenty Ten because it was the easiest most straightforward one to get to work.
I was in dismay. My website was taking shape, but it was not what I had envisioned.
Now about now you may be wondering why I didn’t just call my talented sister. Well, I’m just stubborn that way, I guess.
I decided to try one more time. Finally around the time my family was sitting down to cold cereal for supper it started to fall in place. I was so happy I almost cried. I felt like scouring the help forums and letting the other confused newbies know what they were doing wrong. Why had no one explained it? It was so simple. So that’s what I’m going to attempt here.
Now I want to say this is for a complete beginner. My experience with WordPress is less than two days so don’t expect anything profound here. Definitely don’t expect anything to do with HTML or CSS. But I’m hoping this will help others who are as confused as I was. I suspect this will not only help with the Dazzling WordPress theme, but with other WordPress themes as well.
First, I assume you have WordPress installed. You’ve picked Dazzling as your theme and activated it. Now you’re wondering “How can I make it look like the demo?”
Beautiful, isn’t it?
Now before you start to customize the theme (which you will naturally want to do) you need to add a blog post and set a featured image (I’ll explain exactly how to do this in the next paragraph). This is where the photo you see at the top of the screen, and the text in the green and brown box will be taken from. Eventually, if you want the slider feature to work, you will need multiple posts with featured images set. But initially, I didn’t care about the slider. I just wanted my homepage to look like the demo. I wasn’t interested in being able to have multiple images to slide between.
In your dashboard, hit “Add New Post”. Type something in the Heading section. This is what will show up in the green box. Then type something in the main body setting. Just a sentence or two for now, so you can see how this is going to work. Now in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen, there is the option to “Set Featured Image”. Click on this and upload an image if you haven’t already. Dazzling documentation suggests 1920 by 550 pixels. I edited my image with Paint before uploading. I’m sure there are more sophisticated ways of doing this.
Next, and this is important, chose a category for your post. This can be done on the right of the page about half-way down. Right now your post is uncategorized. Add a new category (you can always change the title of this later) and make sure the box next to it is checked. Now you can hit “Publish”. Don’t worry it will not actually be published to the web if you have not yet launched your site. You should still see the message at the top, “Your site is currently displaying a “Coming Soon” page. Once you are ready to launch your site click here.”
Now you’re ready to set up your slider. Now go to Appearance on the left. Then to Theme Options toward the bottom of the pop-out menu.
Make sure the “Check if you want to enable slider” is checked. Now you can choose a slider category. I had put my post in Miscellaneous for now, so that’s what I picked. You probably only have one slide item so you can pick one. This can always be changed later.
If you want the green bar underneath the photo that says “Are you ready to get noticed on the web?” You will need to choose the Action Button right next to the Main heading that you can see on the top of my screen shot and fill it in with your own information. I haven’t seen the need for this so far.
One more thing, sooner or later, (it was sooner for me), you will wonder what to do if you want to customize exactly which text appears for the post excerpt. This is also very easy to change. Go to the post you want to edit. In the top right hand corner click on “screen options.” Check “excerpt” than scroll to the bottom of the screen and fill in the excerpt section with whatever text you want.
That’s it! You should now be able to view your site and it should look like the demo.
I hope this will save someone some frustration. Please leave a comment if this was helpful to you. Thanks!