WordPress is one of the most handy and practical content management systems (CMS) for a custom website or blog. However, non-programmers often find it confusing to go beyond a standard pattern and create something unique.
Fortunately, there are some techniques that allow anyone to customize design of a WordPress website or blog easily with few or no programming skills at all. Let’s have a closer look.
There are two types of WordPress themes available on the web:
You can download thousands of free WordPress themes from special web resources. The main advantage of free WordPress themes is that they are pretty easy to install and you are not obliged to possess deep coding knowledge, few HTML skills will be enough.
Many blog owners cannot afford applying custom theme because they should pay for design, coding and implementation of some particular features into a theme. So let’s find out how it is possible to use ready design and apply it to your blog.
First of all, simply search free WordPress themes on Google or any other search engine. Once you have chosen and downloaded the desired theme, go to the dashboard, then click on Appearance — Themes. Upload your custom theme and activate it in the Manage Themes section.
OK, we’ve installed free WordPress theme but we’d like to make it look unique. Let’s see what we can do.
Widgets can be useful to make your blog more interactive, searchable, improve navigation through blog pages and display valuable information to your audience. You will see the list widgets available for your theme. Drag and drop desired widgets to relevant areas. Most blogs have a minimum set of the following widgets:
- recent comments;
- recent posts;
You can add more widgets if you want, for example, Twitter or Flickr feed.
To customize blog menu go to Appearance/Menus section. It allows you to add as many blog pages as you want to your menu, as well as categories for your posts and custom links to external pages.
Some themes allow you to configure additional settings, for example, upload your own header and background image or set background color, select color scheme and even use custom CSS, so you can have fully unique design of your blog.
Embedded Web Forms
With embedded web forms you can solve multiple problems related to collecting data from your blog visitors. Besides, a web form can become an eye-catching element of your WordPress blog design. It is better to use a web based service to create a form. Even if you have enough programming skills to write a form script yourself, a web form generator will save you much time and provide you with all possible per-designed form elements in one place, with no installation or downloading required.
Nowadays one of the most easy-to-use online services that allows to create fully professional web forms and online surveys is PHPForms.net. It is pretty easy to create a web form in a few mouse clicks by dragging and dropping desired form elements to form builder workspace. It also allows you to fit your forms into a WordPress theme and embed them easily in any page of your blog.
To make your form design comply with your WordPress theme, go to the Themes section within your PHPForms account and select an appropriate form theme or use a built-in theme constructor to create your own theme. You can even upload custom logo, background image or use custom CSS here. So, any form you create can be 100% consistent with any WordPress theme.
One of the most frequently used types of web forms is a contact form. Let’s see an example of how to embed a contact form in a WordPress blog in practice.
Once you have built your form, you should grab the generated code. Simply click on the «Get code» link on your form in the form list.
Supposing you want to create a «Contact us» page using which your blog visitors will send feedback to you. Go to your WordPress blog dashboard, find «Pages» item and select «Add New». First enter page name (e.g. Contact Us), then switch from visual to HTML editor and paste form code.
Almost done! Now you can publish your new contact page that looks awesome with embedded contact form.