You answered this question on 02/25/14

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Comment:   I asked many questions and Joshua answered each one thoroughly and promptly.
Questioner: Al
Category: WordPress
Private: No
Subject: WordPress Questions For A DIY HTMLer.
Question: QUESTION: I’m planning to use wp to create a blogging site. I have no experience with it. However, I have created a site using Kompozer and did minor code changes. I have a few questions about wp: `1. Can any theme be changed (if not on the dash then in the code)? 2. Is there a good source and a bad one to get the theme from? 3. I heard when wp updates the program it can “break” a site’s theme. What does that mean? What should I do to prevent the breaking from happening?


If you did OK with Kompozer, you will likely love WP. It will take a little learning, but less than using Komposer to do HTML and then FTP it.

1. The theme can be changed, via the dashboard or code. The only caveat is widget areas. Widgets are theme specific, so if you will be changing themes you will need to reconfigure them.

There is also an assumption that changing the theme will make badly styled content look good. This is not really true. The best way to achieve clean beautiful formatting using a theme without a pro is to use the themes built in styling options, which can be found under the appearance tab in the admin dashboard.

2. Some themes have systems that need to be learned just for them, and then cannot be applied to other themes. I like to take my styling with me when I switch themes, and minimally I want to be able to edit code on my themes. Some of the more robust themes work against this – like genesis, thesis, and others do so less, but still a bit, like avada and woo themes for WordPress website designs for beginners. I recommend responsive for a starter theme, it is pretty decent to work with, mobile friendly, lots of options and some user community.

3. You can break things when you update. Try to only use reputable plugins with frequent updates and a solid customer support base. Smaller plugins may not get updated, and then when the WP core upgrades the old un-updated plugin is not compatible and breaks the whole site. This is not a frequent occurrence, and the newest version of WP does auto updating for security purposes, which is great. People really expose their entire servers to danger by running outdated WP installs and sketchy badly coded plugins.

WP is the best software in the world, in my opinion, I really mean that. but poorly coded 3rd party extensions are poorly coded third party extensions. Research your plugins and developers, I try not to rely too heavily on any plugin that is not at least 100,000 users plus, or has not been updated in 4 or more months, or has recent broken reports.

———- FOLLOW-UP ———-

QUESTION: 1. you said “The best way to achieve clean beautiful formatting using a theme without a pro is to use the themes built in styling options”. Does that mean every theme has more than one theme option?
2. I assume every theme and plugin from is good.
3. I want a theme very similar in look and architecture to  any free ones that you know of from or some other (not free)?
4. I assume ads can be put anywhere on the site as well as social media boxes.
5. Picking a theme, adding content and then changing to another theme is ok?


Answer: 1. Most wordpress website themes come with sample pages or built in templates (can be selected via the template selector underneath the update button on the page edit screen). But if the theme says do three columns here, then text then a video, I recommend working your content to follow the pre-existing configurations. Of course it can all be modified, but the real value in a template is following it, not in modifying. Once you do enough modification, you may as well have started fresh on your website design.

2. Not every theme is great, but they have star ratings and download numbers they can be sorted by. Woo themes also have a few free themes that are good. Mostly look for a theme that has the look you want preinstalled, and is mobile friendly.

3. In terms of the look, it is basic, you could achieve that with responsive, or close to it. However, far more important is the functionality, you might try a premium theme to capture the sharing functions, perhaps″

4. Many themes support sidebars, and these are ideal for ads. Most widget areas are a good place to stick ads.

5. This works, except!! widgets, or certain things that are theme specific, like the featured image function for each page. So don’t set up widgets till you find the theme you will stick with, but everything else that is not theme specific will come over. Short answer: you can do this, but it can be extra work, try to find the theme you want before you add too much content.

Joshua Jacoby
My Favorite Web Designs