WordPress Basics

There are some universal controls within WordPress you may want to familiarize yourself with if you aren’t completely conversant with the system yet.

Setting the Site Title

The site title can be changed from the WordPress dashboard under the “Settings > General > Site Title” setting. Note that the University of Illinois theme does not use the Tagline field, but you use Secondary Site Title (and optional link for it) in “Theme Settings > Secondary Site Title” to add an additional title/tag line to the header of your site. More detailed information about the General Settings Screen is available from wordpress.org.

Selecting the Site Home Page

Screenshot of Reading Settings Page with the homepage displays options highlighted in yellow. You can set your site home page under “Settings > Reading > Your homepage displays.” The default for the homepage is to be a reverse chronological listing of all your latest posts, but you can change the home page to be any page you have already created in your site by setting this to “A static page” and then selecting which page in your site you want to be the home page. More detailed information about the Reading Setting Screen is available from wordpress.org.


Screenshot of Menu Management page with the Display Location and Save Menu options highlighted in yellow.
Managing menus in WordPress is done through a graphical user interface. The most common use for menus in WordPress sites is for site-wide navigation, although some themes and widgets employ them for alternative uses. If you are using the University of Illinois Theme, after creating, organizing and saving your site navigation menu, in the “Display Location” section of the menu interface check off “Site Navigation” to have it appear as your site-wide navigation (just below the site header).

Editing the Sidebar (Widgets in WordPress)

You can manage your site sidebar (and any other widgets areas your theme supports) either from “Appearance > Widgets” or “Appearance > Customize > Widgets.”  Widgets in WordPress are chunks of content that you can use on multiple (or even all) pages and posts across your website. The University of Illinois theme (and many others) use widgets in WordPress to allow you to add content to an (optional) sidebar on the right-hand side of the page. In the University of Illinois theme, this is labeled as “Sidebar” in the Widgets menus
Screenshots of the Theme Settings and page/post edit screens, for classic and block editing, highlighting the sections where the sidebar can be displayed/hidden.
Screen shot indicating where to edit widgets in the WP dashboard

Adding and Editing Pages or Posts

Individual pages and posts can be created and edited from the WordPress Dashboard under “Pages” (“All Pages” or “Add New”) or “Posts” (“All Posts” or “Add New”).