How to Change Your WordPress Website’s Home Page
You wake up one morning, excited about the idea of redesigning your WordPress website. So you spend a couple of hours happily adding and removing HTML and CSS to give your home page a different vibe. But as soon as you log in to your site to make some changes, you realize that something’s not right. You’ve changed the color of the navbar and the fonts used for the headline and the excerpt, but other than that, the page seems almost verbatim to how you had it originally. Frustrated, you throw up your hands in anger and decide to call it quits for the day. Only to find, when you log back in the next afternoon, that the entire page is still changed. What gives?
Changing the look and feel of your WordPress website can be a painless process if you do it right. The key is to make sure that each change that you make is captured in a way that won’t affect the original design when you go to update your website later. This article will tell you how to make this process as simple as possible by taking the drudgery out of tracking each and every change that you make to your WordPress website.
The Anatomy Of A WordPress Website
Every WordPress website is made up of a series of web pages, also known as posts, that are stored in an individual folder on the website. This folder is referred to as the content repository, and it contains all of the blog posts, product reviews, and other types of content that you publish on your site. Any web address that you want to make available to the public, such as your home page, will be pointing to one of these web pages.
To start designing your WordPress website, you’ll want to navigate to your content repository in your web browser and create a new page. Make sure that you save the file as index.html (or a similar convention such as.php or.twig) so that it is easily identifiable as the home page of your blog.
Each page on your WordPress website has a pair of CSS-styled hyperlinks, known as nav bars, at the top of the page that allow you to quickly move to other parts of the site. The leftmost nav bar is typically used for navigation within the site; the rightmost nav bar is used for navigation to other sites. Your WordPress website also has a footer at the bottom of each page which is made up of copyright information and links to other areas of the site.
Tracking Changes To Keep Original Design
The key to making your WordPress redesign painless is by taking advantage of a feature built into the platform known as version comparison. When you log in to your WordPress website and click on the wrench icon for Settings, you’ll see a screen like this:
As you can see, WordPress allows you to compare two different versions of an item — in this case, the home page — and highlights the changes that were made in the latest version. When you make a change to anything on this screen, WordPress will automatically make the corresponding change on the live site unless you specifically tell it not to. To save time and effort, you can choose to make these changes live immediately by clicking on the relevant field and choosing Update Live. This way, you won’t have to revisit each change that you make individually and ensure that it is updated on your site — WordPress will take care of it for you.
Use This Tool To Compare And Restore Previous Versions Of Your Website
Another great feature that WordPress offers you is the ability to recover previous versions of your website. To access this option, click on the three dots icon next to the wrench and select My History from the drop-down menu. This will display all of the previous versions of your website in a chronological list, as shown below:
As you can see, the three previous versions of your website, in order, are displayed here. When you click on any of these three dots, you’ll be taken to that specific version of the site. You can then make your changes and see them instantly applied on your live site (this is helpful when you’re making large changes and want to ensure that you’re getting them right the first time). If you go back a few more versions, you’ll find an option here to download the entire site, including all of its content, as a ZIP file. This way, you can backup all of your website’s content in one convenient place should anything happen to your live site (such as a server crash or routine maintenance).
WordPress also allows you to selectively revert some of the changes that you make. To do this, simply click on the three dots icon next to the wrench and select Revert from the drop-down menu. You’ll then be presented with a screen that allows you to choose the changes that you want to undo. As with the previous feature, this is a time-saving feature that allows you to make large changes without having to go back and change everything individually. So, for example, if you wanted to change the color of the navbar on your home page, you could choose that option here and then click on Update Live to make the change live on your site. However, if you chose to revert some of the changes, you could choose those specific items here and click on Save to save them to your content repository for later use.
Redesigning Your WordPress Website To Have A Specific Vibe
You can take advantage of the version comparison and My History features to make major changes to the design of your website without worrying about accidentally changing something else. However, if you’re looking to give your site a subtle facelift without making too many major changes, you can use some of the other great features that WordPress offers to easily change the appearance of your site without worrying about breaking something else. To start, navigate to your content repository in your web browser and open the CSS-styled template that you want to use for the design of your website. Next, you’ll want to make a copy of this template, making sure to keep the styles intact. In your template, you’ll want to find the code (in this case, the HTML and the CSS) for the navbar, and replace it with your own custom CSS to change the appearance of the navbar.
Make sure to save this new CSS file as a separate style sheet (in this case, navigation.css) so that it is easily identifiable as the style sheet of your blog (this will make it much easier for you to maintain). Now, in order to see the changes that you made, you’ll need to go back to your Settings screen and click on the button next to the wrench icon. From here, you can choose to show or hide the CSS file that you edited (make sure to choose Show for this option so that the navbar looks like it did before you made the change). Finally, choose Update Live to apply your changes on your website and save the configuration as a draft for later use.
Keep A Design Memo
When you make multiple changes to the look and feel of your WordPress website, you’ll want to keep a design memo so that you can easily track what changes you made where. To start, navigate to your content repository in your web browser and create a new page (make sure to click on the Save button at the top of the page to save it as a draft). Then, using this new page as a canvas, make a few quick changes, and add some content here and there. Once you’ve got everything you need, wrap up the page with some cool CSS and call it a day.
The point of this step is to get everything down on paper so that you can easily go back later and add more details or make more changes. To keep track of your changes, you’ll want to make a note of each and every one of them. By doing this regularly, you’ll eliminate a lot of the frustration that comes with redesigning your website because you’ll be able to see quickly what needs to be changed where. Plus, you’ll be able to compare what you’ve changed previously with what is currently live so that you can easily see which changes you need to make. If you keep doing this, you’ll be making your WordPress redecoration process quite a bit easier — and that, my friend, is a very good thing!
Take Advantage Of Widgets
Do you ever find that some of the content on your site is a little too wordy for the size of your screen? If so, you can utilize widgets to display this content on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook — effectively spreading the word about your blog without being overbearing.