Last week, I had an interesting request from a WordPress site owner. She wanted to change the physical address posted in the top right corner of her site (she has a brick-and-mortar location for her biz, so this is important). Easy, right? Wrong! The information was not in a widget text box or a setting in the header customization section, or even as an adjunct to the menu options. Nope. She asked me to find out where that address information was hidden, and it took a bit of detective work to find it. I actually had to go into the Editor function and look in the header file to see the address, phone number, and email typed into the code of that PHP file. It was easy enough to replace the address text, but this method raised questions for me.
Why? Because normally one does not make changes directly to a theme’s main files, or even the style sheets. That’s because whenever you update the theme, anything you’ve changed there will disappear and be overwritten with the default code and instructions. So if you added a bunch of stuff directly, you’d be constantly redoing it every time you updated the theme.
But perhaps the site owner wanted this contact information boldly visible on the front page just because she has a business in the physical world. I think I still would have looked for a way to add a widget area or use the widget areas already available to display that information.
So, Where is My Stuff?
For those of you who are site owners and know the basics of logging in to the Dashboard of your WordPress site, if you are looking for your main page content and layout (I assume you know where posts and pages are where you can write and edit content), here are the places in the Appearance section that you will be most likely to find it:
- Customize: This is a relatively new feature in WordPress that connects to some of the other areas in Appearance. It brings up your front page on the right and a special customization menu on the left, where you can go through and make basic changes to colors, site title, menus, even add widgets.
- Widgets: The Appearance section also gives you direct access to your widget areas to add, subtract, or modify information that shows up in your sidebar(s) or in widget areas that your theme may have created to go in the footer section of your site, or sometimes also in your header (usually on the right side). Just click on the little widget rectangles under the widget areas and they will open to show you either plain text, or feature options for plugins that use widgets to do their thing (like social media icons/connections or sign-up forms for your newsletter). You can also add widgets with certain features by dragging them over from the left, and delete widgets by dragging them out of the widget area boxes.
- Menus: This is where you can change the pages that show up in your menus and if the theme supports them, put links to different pages in more than one menu (extra menus are usually put in places like above the header or in the footer of the site).
- Header: The Header section in Appearance usually takes care of just images or logos that go in this space. Just so you know that extra information or menus that appear in the header part of your site would be controlled in the Widget section or Menus section and then automatically appear in the header.
- Edit CSS: If your developer tweaked the display layout beyond the usual options that the theme provides, they may put that modified style info in this space. Unless you know how to do the tags and all in CSS, it’s best to leave changes here to someone who knows (I do!).
- Editor: Like I wrote in my detective story above, my client’s address info was written directly into one of the files listed on the right side of this Editor. As I wrote above, this code that undergirds the theme functions of your site will not keep any changes made directly to it when you update the theme, so it’s best not to add text here.
Well, that’s enough for one post, I think! Do contact me if you have specific questions about your own site that you can’t find answers to. I really do like to help troubleshoot where I can, and if I can’t, I can certainly refer you to a developer who can.