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Part four: Theme and Plugin Installation 

This entry is part [part not set] of 10 in the series How To Build Your Own Simple Website Series.

We are now very close to realizing our dream of making our simple websites. To give a quick brief on what we learnt in part three of the series, we took a tour of our WordPress dashboards and learnt about the different elements and what each does. These are the elements that will be helping us to build our websites. I hope we all took the time to check out the dashboard and explore the different parts. I also believe we now have all the materials we need to build our websites at hand. These include the logo and the content. Not forgetting the structure and the colors you want for the site.

In this part we are going to be choosing our theme and installing any plugins that we may require to build our website. For this lesson we will be using ‘Appearance’ and ‘Plugins’ on our WordPress Dashboard to install our themes and plugins. The first step is to login into our wordpress dashboards as usual. Let’s dive into it:)

Theme Installation:

To install your theme you need to follow these steps:

1.Go to Appearance > Themes in your WordPress dashboard.

2. Click Add New.

3.Search for the theme you want to install.There are a variety of free themes from which you can choose. For this lesson, however, I will be using the free theme called Neve. Kindly note that I chose this theme because it comes with some free page templates which you can import thereby making it easy to customize. It also supports page editors like Elementor, Guternberg and Beaver. In this case I am going to be using Elementor so I will be choosing page templates made for Elementor. However, you are free to do your own research and choose any theme you want depending on your needs.

4.Click Install.

5.Once the theme is installed, click Activate. After clicking on activate, you will be able to see a congratulatory message(differs depending on the theme).

Activation message from Neve

After visiting the templates page and choosing ‘page templates’-(full site templates are not free) you will have to choose your page editor and import the pages you want(I will be importing 3 for my simple site – Home, About Us and Contact). After importing, these pages will be displayed on the header of the website.

Neve Page Templates

6.Make sure that you set your homepage by going to Settings – Reading (shown below). Then choose ‘static page’ and choose the homepage from the drop down list and then save changes. After doing this the theme’s homepage will be displayed when you visit your website. If you skip this stage you might notice that a sample page that is different from the template page you chose is displayed.

There are a few tips that you may need to keep in mind when choosing your WordPress theme and these are:

  • Choose a theme that is compatible with your version of WordPress.
  • Choose a theme that is responsive and mobile-friendly.
  • Choose a theme that is well-designed and easy to use.
  • Choose a theme that is lightweight and does not slow down your website.
  • Choose a theme that is SEO-friendly.

Plugin installation.

As covered in the previous lesson, plugins are there to add functionality to your website. With some themes, the required plugins will automatically be added whilst with some you will be prompted to activate them. You may also need to add your own in order to add some functions that the theme may not offer by default. In the case of the Neve Theme that I chose the two required plugins(Elementor and Templates Patterns Collections) were automatically activated as shown below.

Plugin Activation

For the plugins that may need activation you need to follow these steps:

1.Go to the plugin’s page in the WordPress dashboard – I used the default the default WordPress plugin called Askimet Anti-Spam to display how you can do this. Kindly note that if you are planning to have a form on your website you may need to activate this plugin to fight spam.

2.Click the “Activate” button. Screenshot shown below

3.If the plugin requires any additional settings, follow the instructions on the plugin’s page.Once the plugin is activated, it will be available to use in your WordPress site.

Plugin Installation

In the event that you need to add new plugins of your own you may follow the next steps:

1.Go to Plugins > Add New. This will take you to the page shown below.

2.In the search bar, type in the name of the plugin you want to add, eg, WPforms.

3.Click on the Install Now button next to the plugin you want to install and then Activate once installation is done.

Once you have installed and activated your plugin you may receive a welcome message that will contain some guidelines as well as information about the plugin as the one from WPforms below:

The new plugin will also be displayed on the plugins list with the rest of the plugins.

There are a few tips that you may need to know when adding new plugins in WordPress and these are:

  • Only install plugins from trusted sources. It’s wise to choose a plugin that is well-reviewed and has a lot of active users.
  • Make sure the plugin is compatible with your version of WordPress.
  • Read the plugin’s documentation before installing it.
  • Choose a plugin that is easy to use and does not require any coding knowledge.
  • Choose a plugin that is lightweight and does not slow down your website.

Remember to always disable or delete plugins that you no longer use.

Now that we have installed our theme of choice and the required plugins , what is left is to add our content and customize the theme to suit our needs. This is what we will be covering in part five of our series. After this final part our websites will be ready for use. I hope we are all looking forward to the customization part.

As usual, do not forget to share your adventure with us in the comment section:)

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