An introduction to your Media Settings

Most people do not give this much thought, but when you first install WordPress, you get default media settings created for you. When you go to your Settings Media Screen in the admin, you will see various settings related to images and other media that are used in writing posts and pages.

Default Media Settings

The default settings will be as follows:

  • Thumbnail Size = 150×150 pixels
  • Medium Size = 300×300 pixels
  • Large Size = 1024×1024 pixels

When you upload an image to your media library, WordPress will create extra images from the original based on the sizes you set for thumbnails, medium, and large…even if you don’t need those extra images. One thing to note, is that if your image is at least 1024 pixels in size, you will get all three, plus the original. But if your image is smaller than 1024 pixels, you will get the thumbnail and medium size only.

The reason why we are talking about media sizes is to make you aware that every image will have extra copies of it in the different sizes that you set. This can be a problem if you do not intend to use the extra sizes because over time, your website uploads folder will start to get filled up with a ton of images.

One of the biggest problems is when it comes to backing up your website, your back-ups will include all your uploads, including all the extra copies that never get used. The more you upload, the bigger your back-up archives will be. This can also pose a problem if your web host server starts to get too big to the point your host will request you pay for more disk space.

Our Recommendation

This will of course be your choice, but I usually set each image size to zero (0) because I prefer to create my image thumbnail as I need them. This way, I can control what images are uploaded and what sizes.

Your Custom Sizes

If you decide to set your own custom sizes, the Media Settings is the place to do it. You can change the default sizes to your own personal preferences.

The Exception

One exception to the method mentioned is when you use a theme that has custom thumbnail sizes added for the purpose of the theme design concept. So in addition to the default WordPress sizes, you may end up getting even more sizes generated because of the theme. Just something to be aware of. 

Create your site favicon

A favicon (short for “favorite icon”) is an icon associated with a website or webpage intended to be used when you bookmark the web page. Web browsers use them in the URL bar, on tabs, and elsewhere to help identify a website visually. Also, it is used as application icon of mobile device, plus, if you add a website link to your desktop, you can get an icon displayed (if the site offers that).

Create Your Favicon

For this tutorial, we will use our Child Theme Styles logo as our example.

  1. Prepare image file. It must be square, and at least 512 pixels wide and tall.
  2. Go to Administration Screen > Appearance > Customize >> Site Identify
  3. Click “Select Image” at Site Icon section, upload the image file you prepared in the above step from Upload Files tab screen, and click Select. You will probably get the option to crop the image or skip cropping.
    Site Icon settingSite Icon uploaded
  4. Click “Save & Publish
  5. Now we can look at the browser tab for our new favicon (site icon)
    Active Favicon

More details about favicons

Normally, this icon should be an .ico format, but due to how WordPress provides this feature, it does not save your png, jpg, or gif file as an ico, but if you decide to override your theme with a child theme and want to take advantage of the .ico format, you can opt in for that.

For more detailed information regarding the WordPress Site Icon, you can check out the guidelines for Creating a Favicon.

Setup your site logo

Although some themes do not offer support for adding a logo to your website, ours do. Usually it’s a choice of a text based site title and description, or you can use a logo image.

  1. Log into your site’s admin (dashboard) area and go to Appearance >> Customize >> Site Identity
    Go to CustomizeSite Identity Customizer
  2. Depending on your theme, you may have the option to also show the site title and description with a logo; other themes not. For this, you will click on the “Select Logo” button.
    Add Logo Button
  3. Upload or grab an existing logo image from your media library, and then it will show in your logo setting once selected
    Our Uploaded Logo
  4. Click on the “Crop Image” or “Skip Cropping” button.
    Crop button
  5. Click “Save & Publish

Create your social icon menu

With our themes, you get social icon menus that are precoded with selective social network icons. This kind of menu lets you create links to your social profile pages, such as Twitter, Facebook, and many more.

Create a Social Menu:

  1. Go to Appearance > Menus
  2. Click on “Create a new menu” to create a new menu and name it something like Social Menu.
  3. Click on the “Create Menu” button
  4. Using the “Custom Links” panel to the left, we can now start adding our social profiles.
  5. For the URL field, enter in the full path to your page. We can use our twitter as an example: https://twitter.com/cthemestyles
  6. The Label field would then be: Twitter
  7. Click “Add to Menu”
  8. Repeat steps 4 and 5 for additional social profiles you want to add.
  9. When you are done adding the menu items, click “Save Menu

Assign the Menu to the Social Menu Location:

This will depend on the theme you are using because every theme will use their own menu locations that are made available to you. You are also not limited to just the menu locations that comes with your theme, you can also create additional menus to use in widgets.

  • Scroll down to the bottom where it says “Theme locations” and tick the menu location checkbox next to “Social Links Menu”. For example, we will use the Twenty Seventeen theme.
    Twenty Seventeen Social Menu
  • Click on “Save Menu”

Create Custom Menus

By default, and depending on what theme you use, a menu is usually generated for you when you first install WordPress. However, this is basic page-only menu that does not give you much flexibility. Because of this, we will take you through the steps of creating custom menus for your site.

To create a custom navigation menu:

  1. Go to Appearance > Menu
  2. Click on “Create a new menu” to create a new menu (eg. Main Menu).
  3. Add the menu items from the left panels whether they are pages, posts, categories, or custom links.
  4. To create dropdown menu: drag the menu item toward the right (the item(s) will be indented)
  5. When you are done adding the menu items, click “Save Menu

To assign menu locations:

This will depend on the theme you are using because every theme will use their own menu locations that are made available to you. You are also not limited to just the menu locations that comes with your theme, you can also create additional menus to use in widgets.

  • Scroll down to the bottom where it says “Theme locations” and tick the menu location checkbox. For example, we will use the Twenty Seventeen theme.
    Twenty Seventeen menu locations
  • Top Menu – This is the main menu for Twenty Seventeen
  • Social Links Menu – This is the social icon menu for Twenty Seventeen

Do You Need More Detailed Tutorials?

This tutorial is a basic tutorial for creating a menu. However, if you are a WordPress beginner, you can refer to the WordPress Menu User Guide.

Introduction to plugins and recommendations

When you first install WordPress, you get just a couple plugins included. The Akismet is for spam control and then the Hello Dolly plugin….well, let’s just say delete it.

What we will do here is give you some plugin recommendations to consider when setting up your website. Atlhough they are not required or endorsed, we are basing the upcoming list as simply…recommendations. You may have your own preferences, so you are free to use those instead.

What Are Plugins?

Plugins are installable scripts that adds or modifies features and functions for your WordPress and/or theme. They can be very small like adding the ability to hide a page title to very large ones that turns your website into a fully functional e-commerce shop. One example is the popular WooCommerce plugin.

WordPress in generall is very limited in features and functions, so we need to add plugins to make the site work for your needs. Everyone will require different plugins, and with the 1000’s of choices, it won’t be difficult to find the right plugin for you.

Our List of Recommended Plugins

Again, these are just recommendations.

  • Jetpack – Loaded with a variety of features, you basically get a suite of options that you can turn on or off, depending on your needs. The ChildThemeStyles.com website uses Jetpack.
  • Akismet – We would say this is the standard for managing spam
  • Remove Widget Titles – This gives you the ability to show or hide widget titles from the front-end of your site.
  • Display Widgets – If you want to publish widgets to select pages, this plugin will do it. However, if you use Jetpack, it has it’s own version called Widget Visibility. By default, WordPress will show your widgets on every page that has the sidebar you published it to.
  • WP Editor – A nice editor with the ability to show actual HTML code in your post, plugin, and theme editors. This is ideal if you need to see the code and see it with line numbers and colour coded attributes. We use it on this site.
  • Simple Custom CSS – A great way to make custom CSS changes to your website.
  • bbPress – Although you have very little option in what forum plugin you use, bbPress is probably the most common and popular.
  • Image Widget – A nice widget that gives you the ability to upload an image, such as a banner, directly into a widget. Normally when it comes to showing an image or banner in a web page, we use the text widget with some HTML code, but this makes it easier because it does not require coding.
  • Smart Slider 3 – Top rated and free slider
  • Breadcrumb NavXT – Probably one of the most popular breadcrumb navigational plugins, this one can be coded into a theme, or use a shortcode, or a widget.

Manage License Key Websites

When you get a license key for your theme, you also need to assign a website to it. This will enable your website to receive update notifications for your theme. Although you can use the theme on as many websites as you want, the license key does limit you to a specific number of domains you can receive support for updates.

  1. Log into the ChildThemeStyles.com website and go to Members >> Purchase History >> View licenses
  2. Click on the “Manage Websites” link. You will also find the “Avtivations” column that tells you how many sites are using this license key. In the example screenshot, you see 0/5 which means you have up to 5 sites that you can add.view license key
  3. Add a new website into the the field with the example URL you see in the screenshot below, and then click “Add Site“.manage websites key
  4. If you need to add more websites, repeat step 3.

NOTE: Remember that you have an actviation limit to how many sites you can assign to your license key. Also, the license key you see above is only an example and is not a valid key.

Updating your theme

When there is an update, you will normally get a notification show up in your site’s dashboard for any themes and plugins you have installed. For themes from us, you will receive notification just like the standard WordPress method.

There are a few ways to update your theme, so we will outline each one below.

Method 1 : One Click Update

This is by far the easiest method because it’s just one-click. However, this depends on if you’ve setup your license key and added your website to your license key as well. Doing this will allow you to receive auto updates.

  1. When you see an update is available either at the top of your admin window:
    updates available…or seeing the theme thumbnail with a notice:
    theme update available…Click on the Update now link.
  2. To confirm you are updated, check the Theme Details and see if your version number has increased.

Method 2 : Update Manually with FTP

For anyone comfortable using an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) program, you can upgrade the theme by manually uploading your new theme. The FTP method is a good method if the auto update failed, or if you are unable to log into your WordPress dashboard. This is also a great way to learn how to use FTP because there will be times when you need to use it. It gives you hands on management of your site files.

To update themes with FTP:

  1. Log into the ChildThemeStyles.com website and get your theme download zip file (for the new version).
  2. Double click the zip file to extract (sometimes referred to as unzip) the latest theme zip on your local computer. This process creates a folder on your desktop the same name as your theme; where your theme files are located, such as the style.css file.
  3. Connect to your server via FTP.
  4. Navigate to “/wp-content/themes/” which is where your themes are located. You will know when you are there because if you still have a default WordPress theme installed, such as Twenty Seventeen, you will see a folder named twentyseventeen.
  5. Before you replace any files or folder on your server, we recommend to download a copy of the current theme folder to a safe location on your computer as a backup.
  6. Then upload your new theme folder to replace entire theme folder. For example, if I downloaded the latest version of Twenty Seventeen, extracted it to give me a folder named “twentyseventeen“, I would upload that folder to the /wp-content/themes/ so that it overwrites the existing “twentyseventeen” folder.
    ftp upload filesNOTE: The FTP program I use is ws_ftp Professional

Method 3 : Delete & Reinstall your Theme

If you did not modify any theme files, it’s safe to delete and then reinstall the theme without losing the theme settings and content. You may use the WordPress theme installer to delete and then install the latest version of your theme by uploading the zip file like any new theme install.

IMPORTANT: I recommend you always make site backups before updating themes, plugins, and especially WordPress. Always expect the unexpected.

  1. Log into the ChildThemeStyles.com website and then go to Members >> Purchase History >> View Details and Download. Download the new theme zip.
  2. Log into your website’s admin area (dashboard).
  3. Go to Appearance > Themes.
  4. Temporarily activate a different theme (I recommend a default WordPress theme).
  5. Now go to the Theme Details for the theme you will be updating and click on the “Delete” button to remove the theme.
  6. Then click on the “Add New” button at the top and then click on the “Upload” link, upload the latest theme zip and activate it. This is the same method as the Installing themes tutorial.

Method 4 : Use the Easy Theme and Plugin Upgrades Plugin

There is a very convenient plugin called “Easy Theme and Plugin Upgrades” that offers a fast and easy way to update and backup your theme easily.

IMPORTANT: As usual, we strongly recommend you ALWAYS make a full site backup before updating plugins, themes, and especially WordPress.

  1. Log into your site’s admin and go to Plugins >> Add New. Do a search for the Easy Theme and Plugin Upgrades plugin.
  2. Activate the plugin on your site and make sure you read the developer’s documentation first.
  3. Log into the ChildThemeStyles.com website and go to the Members >> Purchase History >> View Details and Download. Download the latest theme zip to your desktop.
  4. Go back to your site’s admin dashboard and then Go to Appearance > Themes.
  5. Click the “Add New” button at the top of the page.
  6. Click the “Upload Theme” button at the top of the page.
  7. Click the file browse button to select your theme zip file.
  8. Select the theme’s zip file that you downloaded (this will be the latest version) and upload the new theme file.
  9. Select “Yes” from the “Upgrade existing theme?” option.
  10. Click the “Install Now” button.

Adding a License Key

One of the nice features of getting updates is being able to use a one-click update like you get with themes and plugins that you get from the wordpress.org website. Whenever there is an update, you get notification and a one-click update feature built into WordPress. Our themes have this capability as well.

However, to add this feature, you need to setup a license key that you get with your premium theme. Notice that I said premium theme? This is because child themes should not get updates because of what a child theme is generally used for (more on this in another tutorial).

  1. Log into Childthemestyles.com and go to the main menu >> Members >> Purchase history
  2. To get your license key, you have several options:
    1. Get it from the email receipt for your theme purchase
    2. Get it from the Purchase History >> View Details and Downloads
      purchase history
    3. Get it from the Purchase History >> View Licenses >> clicking on the Key icon
      view license key
    4. Get it from the Purchase History >> View Licenses >> Manage Sites
      Note: The key you see here is an example and not valid
      manage websites key
  3. How you get your license key is up to you, but when you find it, copy the license key (the long string of characters).
  4. You will need to be logged into your dashboard to add your license in one of two ways:
    1. With your theme active, go to Appearance >> Theme License
      enter-theme-license
    2. If your theme is not active, go to Appearance >> Themes >> click on your Theme Details, activate the theme, and then at the bottom, click on “Theme License
      enter theme license
  5. Make sure you save it.

Download your theme

This tutorial will guide you through the download process of getting your theme from ChildThemeStyles.com. We will focus on the premium themes instead of the free child themes because the child themes are instant downloads.

Method 1 : Your Email Purchase

This one is quick and easy because when you purchase your premium theme, you will receive an email receipt that contains the name of your theme that is linked for downloading.

  1. Open your email receipt with your email client (program) or online service
  2. Look for the name of your theme that is linked and then click on it
  3. Download your theme to your computer’s desktop. This will download as a zip file.

Method 2 : From Your Purchase History

  1. Log into this site and go to Members >> Purchase History >> View Details and Downloads
    purchase history
  2. In the lower table, you will see your theme name that is linked (see Products). Click on that to download your theme zip file. Now you are ready to install it to your website.
    view downloads


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