Beginning Basics: Getting Started with Laurel
Please note: This FAQ Article is specifically for the Laurel theme.
Whether you're brand new to WordPress or would just like a quick lesson on basic Laurel theme features, you're in the right place! Below, we'll go through a number of how-tos regarding standard theme functions, from installing the theme to setting up your sidebar, the featured area slider, and more.
To skip directly to a specific section in the article, please use this index:
- Installing the theme
- Creating a post
- Creating a page
- Creating a category page
- Category Index Shortcode
- Homepage settings
- Adding a logo image
- Creating a main menu
- Adding a featured image
- Adding social icons
- Enabling the featured area
- Setting up your promo boxes
- Setting up your promo box widgets
- Setting up your newsletter widget
- Setting up your sidebar
- Setting up the footer area
INSTALLING THE THEME
So you've purchased Laurel and you're ready to get started-- great!
When you purchase a Laurel license from ThemeForest & download the theme package, you will receive a zipped folder titled "themeforest-18399837-laurel-a-wordpress-blog-shop-theme".
Unzip this first folder.
Within the unzipped theme package, you will find a number of folders such as demo content, documentation, logo image files, etc. There is also 1 additional zipped folder within, titled "laurel.zip".
Important: DO NOT unzip this "laurel.zip" folder! This particular .zip folder should remain zipped.
"laurel.zip" is the main theme.
Within your WordPress Dashboard, navigate to Appearance > Themes.
Click the "Add New" button at the top-left of the page > Click the "Upload Theme" button at the top.
Click "Choose File" > find your zipped "laurel.zip" file > Click the "Install Now" button.
Once the theme is successfully installed on your WordPress, you can "Activate" it via the installation page or via Appearance > Themes to switch over and begin using your Laurel theme!
Please note: If you try installing the entire zipped theme package or another incorrect file, you'll likely receive this error message:
"The package could not be installed. The theme is missing the style.css stylesheet. Theme install failed."
If you receive this error message, please be sure that you're installing the ZIPPED file titled "laurel.zip".
CREATING A POST
Laurel has the option to create 4 different post formats: standard, gallery, video, and audio.
To create a new post, go to WordPress Dashboard > Posts > Add New.
On the right-side panel, you'll see a box titled "Format".
Here, you can see the different post format options listed: Standard, Gallery, Video, and Audio.
Select whichever format you'd like. Each option will give you different input boxes depending on the content you'd like to add.
A standard post is the default post type.
You can add text and images to your post using the tools and content box.
Example of a standard post: http://solopine.com/laurel/sustainable-gardening-in-portland/
A gallery post allows you to create a slideshow-type gallery at the top of your post.
After clicking the "Gallery" option to choose this post format, click the newly-visible "+ Add Media" button within the "Gallery Post Format Options" box that has appeared. Select whatever images you'd like from your WordPress Media Library.
Example of a gallery post: http://solopine.com/laurel/hiking-the-isle-of-skye/
A video post displays a video at the top of your post.
You can share videos from nearly all video hosting sites, such as Vimeo or Youtube. Simply copy & paste the video's URL, oembed code, or embed code into the special input box titled "Video URL". When you preview or publish your post, the video will appear.
Example of a video post: http://solopine.com/laurel/secret-beaches-of-the-olympics/
If you have also selected either post layout options which include the full-width featured image, you have the option of adding a custom background image that will appear behind your video player. To assign your custom image, click the "+ Add Media" button in the section titled "Custom Video Background Image".
An audio post allows you to share a music or audio track and displays it at the top of the post.
Like the video post, simply copy & paste the track's URL, oembed code, or embed code into the special audio input box titled "Audio URL". When you preview or publish the post, the track will appear.
Example of an audio post: http://solopine.com/laurel/the-haunting-tunes-of-lord-huron/
If you have also selected either post layout options which include the full-width featured image, you have the option of adding a custom background image that will appear behind your audio player. To assign your custom image, click the "+ Add Media" button in the section titled "Custom Audio Background Image".
If your audio file is hosted via "Spotify", please be sure to select the check-box option titled "Spotify Link". This will ensure your audio player box is the correct size.
Once you've determined your desired post format, entered your title, and added your content, remember to assign at least 1 category to your post. Additionally, also ensure you assign a featured image to the post.
Once you're finished preparing your post, you can click "Preview" to preview how your post will look once published onto your site, click "Publish" to have it appear on your site, or click "Save Draft" to save your post as it is, though not publish it yet.
To learn about how to add the "Read More" button seen on the demo site to your posts, check out this article: How do I add the "Read More" button to posts in Laurel?
CREATING A PAGE
A standard, static page is similar to creating a post in many ways and is ideal for creating an About Me or Contact Me section to your website.
To create a new page, navigate to WP Dashboard > Pages > Add New.
Like a post, you can enter a page title, add content, and assign a featured image.
Additionally, you have the option of choosing between a number of page templates/layouts via the drop-down menu on the right titled "Template":
- Default Template (sidebar is enabled)
- Full Width Page(sidebar is disabled)
- Full Width Page w/ Fullwidth Image
- Full Width Page w/ Slider
- Page w/ Fullwidth Image(sidebar is enabled)
- Page w/ Slider(sidebar is enabled)
Once you've published your new page, it will not automatically appear in your main menu. For a tutorial on adding items to your main menu, please check out this FAQ article: How do I set up my navigation menu?
CREATING A CATEGORY PAGE
A category page is a dynamic page that pulls in all of your posts assigned with a particular category.
You do not create a category page like you would a standard static page (described above).
A category page is generated by WordPress after you add a category to a post, though it will not automatically appear as a menu item in your navigation menu. To make your category pages easily accessible to your visitors, you can add it to your menu yourself.
First, ensure you've assigned the category to at least 1 published post.
Then, navigate to WP Dashboard > Appearance > Menus and click the drop-down box heading titled "Categories" on the left of the page. Below, your categories will be listed. Check the box next to your desired category and click "Add to Menu". Be sure to save.
When you click on the newly-created menu item, it will take you to that category's page.
For more information on creating a category page, please check out: How do I set up my navigation menu?
ADJUSTING THE LAYOUT OF YOUR CATEGORY PAGES:
Category Pages which display all posts related to a particular category, Tag Pages which display all posts related to a particular tag, Author Pages which display all posts related to a particular author, etc., are called "Archive Pages".
To change the page layout of your archive pages, head to Appearance > Customize > General Settings > and choose from the layout options within the "Archive Layout" section.
Here, you can also enable or disable the sidebar from displaying on Archive pages.
CATEGORY INDEX SHORTCODE
Laurel offers a unique shortcode called the Category Index Shortcode. This little bit of code allows you to display a grid of posts from a particular category within a page or post simply by pasting in the little shortcode and adding parameters to customize it.
This category index element can be a wonderful feature if you'd like to create a page that pulls in posts from multiple categories-- for example a Travel page that displays a selection of posts from your Asia category, followed by your South America category, your Europe category, etc.
In order to activate this shortcode option, you'll first want to ensure you've installed & activated the required Solo Pine Shortcode plugin. This plugin comes included with the theme.
When you first activate Laurel, you should notice a banner notification across the top of your dashboard advising you to install specific required & recommended plugins.
Install & activate the Solo Pine Shortcode plugin by clicking the "Begin installing plugins" link. Check the boxes next to the plugins > select "Install" from the drop-down menu > and click "Apply".
After, follow the same steps yet select "Activate" from the drop-down menu (plugins need to be both installed AND activated to function).
For steps on how to implement and customize your Category Index feature, please refer to this article: Laurel's Category Index Shortcode.
Your homepage is the first page visitors will see when they arrive at your website. By default, the homepage will be the page that also displays all of your published posts, beginning with the most recent. We call this feature the "post feed".
To customize how your homepage looks, including its layout, colors, enabling/disabling the sidebar, etc., navigate to WordPress Dashboard > Appearance > Customize
Under the various drop-down tabs on the left of this screen, you'll find loads of ways to customize your homepage & website in general.
For example, within the "General Settings" tab, you can choose your homepage's post layout and enable/disable the sidebar.
Be sure to explore the various options within this Customizer section. The live preview on the right will show you a preview of how each adjustment will visually affect your site before you actively apply it.
If you'd like your homepage to instead be a static page and have your post feed display on another page entirely, please check out our tutorial here: How to create a static homepage & separate blog page.
ADDING A LOGO IMAGE
To add in your preferred logo image, navigate to WP Dashboard > Appearance > Customize > Header & Logo Settings > Upload Logo > and upload your desired logo image here. It will automatically replace Laurel's demo logo with your own.
Within this Customizer screen, you can also change where your logo image displays, adjust the size of your logo image, and even use a text logo instead of an image!
For more detailed instructions on Laurel's various header & logo options, please reference this article: Setting up Laurel's Logo & Header Options
CREATING A MAIN MENU
Setting up Laurel's main menu is quite simple! For a walk-through on how to go about it as well as more specific how-to tutorials, please check out: How do I set up my navigation menu?
ADDING A FEATURED IMAGE
Assigning a featured image to your posts is very important, as the featured image is what the theme & other web functions use to visually represent the post in various situations.
For a walk-through on where and how to assign a featured image, please take a look at: How do I add a Featured Image?
Additionally, even if you don't want the featured image to display at the top of your post, you should still assign a featured image. Once that's done, you can hide the featured image from the top of your posts by navigating to WP Dashboard > Appearance > Customize > Post Settings > and checking the box next to one of the 3 options: "Display Featured Image", "Hide Featured Image" or "Hide featured image only on single post pages"".
ADDING SOCIAL ICONS
SOCIAL ICONS IN TOP BAR & FOOTER:
Navigate to Appearance > Customize > Social Media Settings.
Here, you will see a list of social networks followed by a text input box. If you'd like to have a social icon for a particular social network, you can type in your username for that particular network.
Please note that you do not need to insert your profile's full URL into this box unless prompted to do so. Only your related username is required. The username you enter will be added into a pre-set URL for the network.
For example, if you enter the Instagram username "solopine" within Social Media Settings, your Instagram icon will automatically link to the URL: https://www.instagram.com/solopine
Once you enter your username into a particular social network's text box, its icon will appear in your top-bar & footer social icon areas. If you leave a social network's box blank, the social icon will not appear in the top-bar or footer areas.
SOCIAL ICON WIDGET:
To add the social icon widget to your sidebar, navigate to WP Dashboard > Appearance > Widgets.
Drag the widget titled "Laurel: Social Icons" into your Sidebar's widget area. Check the boxes for the social networks you'd like to display in the widget.
Please be sure you've also entered your related social networks' usernames within Appearance > Customize > Social Media Settings, otherwise the social widget's icons won't know where to link.
Don't see your desired social network? There are tons of social media sites out there and we're unfortunately not able to include built-in options for all of them in the theme. However, don't fret! We have a tutorial written up on how to add custom icons to your theme here: How do I add social media icons to Laurel?
ENABLING THE FEATURED AREA SLIDER
Laurel's featured area slider displays any number of posts or pages of your choosing in a full-width element toward the top of the homepage.
ENABLING YOUR FEATURED AREA:
To enable your featured area slider, you can navigate to WP Dashboard > Appearance > Customize > Featured Area Settings > and enable the element here.
Please ensure your posts have a featured image assigned to them.
Laurel gives you two options for assigning an image to represent a post in the featured area slider:
- One option is to simply assign a Featured Image to your post. By default, this is the image that the featured area slider (and many other sections around the theme) will pull in to represent your post. For more information, check out: How do I add a Featured Image?
- Laurel also allows you to assign a specific image to represent the post in the featured area slider, separate from your post's Featured Image. To assign an alternate featured slider image, navigate to your post's create/edit screen and look in the meta box titled "Post Settings". Here, you can choose your "Custom Slider Image" which will only appear in the featured area slider to represent your post.
CHOOSING YOUR FEATURED AREA SLIDER'S POSTS:
Within Appearance > Customize > Featured Area Settings, you have 3 options for choosing which posts appear in your featured area:
- All latest posts: By default, the area will display your latest published posts. Leave it on the "-Select-" option.
- Posts from specific category: From the drop-down menu titled "Select Featured Category", you can also choose a particular post category to display in your featured area slider.
- Specific posts/pages: In the box beneath the title "Select featured post/page IDs", you can determine exact posts and/or pages to display in the featured area. To learn how to identify a post or page's ID, check out: How to determine a post, page, or category ID
SETTING UP YOUR PROMO BOXES
The 3 boxes below the featured area slider on Laurel's demo site are called Promo Boxes. These boxes allow you to draw special attention to any post, page, or general URL you'd like.
To set up your promo boxes, navigate to Appearance > Customize > Promo Box Settings.
Here, you can enable/disable the promo boxes and input your various promo box preferences.
For each of the 3 promo boxes, you have the option to enter a title, select an image, and input the URL you'd like that specific promo box to link to.
SETTING UP YOUR PROMO BOX WIDGETS
Laurel offers a special widget called "Laurel: Promo Box" to be used in your Sidebar area.
This widget is similar to the regular Promo Box feature (explained in the section above) in that this widget can be given any image, any title, and hyperlink of your choosing as an eye-catching, beautiful way to link to posts, pages, or even external URLs. Insert the promo box widget into your sidebar area as a stand-alone widget, or, stack them high!
To set up your promo box widget, navigate to WP Dashboard > Appearance > Widgets > and drag & drop the "Laurel: Promo Box" widget into the sidebar area.
Give the widget a height, link in an image from your WP Media Library, insert a hyperlink, and add a title if you'd like. The widget also allows you to set how much spacing will be applied beneath the widget itself in case you'd like to stack several widgets close together or space them further apart. Try stacking multiple promo box widgets with varying heights!
SETTING UP YOUR NEWSLETTER WIDGET
Laurel includes custom stylings for the "MailChimp for WordPress" plugin which allows you to display a beautiful newsletter sign-up form. You can insert this form within the Sidebar area.
For steps on setting your newsletter form up, please check out this article: How to setup Laurel's newsletter widget
SETTING UP YOUR SIDEBAR
A sidebar is a vertical content area that displays to the right of your main content/post area. You customize your sidebar by stacking up different widgets that display a variety of things.
ENABLING/DISABLING THE SIDEBAR:
To enable/disable the sidebar on your homepage and/or your archive pages (category pages, tag pages, etc.) navigate to WP Dashboard > Appearance > Customize > General Settings.
Here, you can check or un-check the boxes next to "Disable Sidebar on Homepage" and "Disable Sidebar on Archive Pages".
To enable or disable the sidebar on your Posts, you can do so from within the post's create/edit screen. This allows you to enable the sidebar on your singular post page on a post-by-post basis. Within the post's create/edit screen, scroll down to the "Post Settings" box. There will be a section titled "Post Layout" which lets you choose a layout with or without sidebar by clicking on the layout image you prefer.
To enable or disable the sidebar on your static Pages (pages created within WP Dashboard > Pages) you can do so within the page's create/edit screen using the "Templates" drop-down menu on the right side.
ADDING WIDGETS TO YOUR SIDEBAR:
To add, remove, or edit your sidebar widgets, navigate to WP Dashboard > Appearance > Widgets.
On the left, you will see a list of the available widgets to choose from.
On the right, you will see the 2 widget areas in the theme.
To add a widget to your sidebar, simply drag & drop a widget on the left into the widget area titled "Sidebar".
EDIT WIDGETS IN YOUR SIDEBAR:
Once you've dropped a widget into the Sidebar widget area, click on its heading. A drop-down will appear and you can make any necessary adjustments to the widget's settings. From this widget setting drop-down, you can also delete the widget.
To position widgets within the sidebar, drag and drop them above or below each other.
SETTING UP THE FOOTER AREA
The footer area is the lower portion of the theme that will appear on all pages of your site. It can include:
- Instagram footer area
- Social icon area
- Copyright text area
INSTAGRAM FOOTER AREA: Similar to the section above regarding "Setting up your Sidebar", the footer has a widget area titled "Instagram Footer" where you can add in a widget to display your Instagram images in a full-width section. The widget is simply called "Instagram" and is made available after installing & activating the plugin called WP Instagram Widget.
To add the Instagram widget, navigate to WP Dashboard > Appearance > Widgets. On the right, you'll see the theme's different widget areas. One of which is the widget area titled "Instagram Footer".
Drag the "Instagram" widget from the left of this screen into the "Instagram Footer" widget area. To edit the widget's settings, click on the widget's heading once it's been placed in a widget area. A drop-down area will appear.
To have your Instagram footer display like the Laurel demo site's, set the "Number of photos" option to be "6". Set the "Photo Size" to "Large" and give the widget a "Title" if you'd like the white text box overlay to appear on top of the images.
Please ensure that your Instagram account is set to be "Public" and not "Private".
SOCIAL ICON AREA:
The footer's social icon area is directly connected with Laurel's top-bar social icon area. To choose which social icons you'd like to appear, enter your username for each social network platform within Appearance > Customize > Social Media Settings.
For more information, please reference the section above titled "Adding Social Icons".
COPYRIGHT TEXT AREA:
At the very bottom of the theme is a bar which features a text area to include copyright or disclaimer text. You are not required to include a copyright or disclaimer statement. In fact, you can type whatever you'd like in this area!
To edit the footer text area, look within
WP Dashboard > Appearance > Customize > Footer Settings.
For help troubleshooting issues in Laurel or to see some fun customization tutorials, check out all of Laurel's FAQ Articles here! Laurel Articles
And, as always, if you have any theme-related questions you can't find the solution to in our FAQ article database, you're always welcome to open up a new support ticket.