Documentation for Zion WordPress Theme for Churches
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If you are familiar with WordPress and you are comfortable with the process of installing it on your site you can skip down to the theme-specific documentation below. Because many people who use our themes have little or no experience with WordPress we start off by showing how easy it is to get WordPress set up. Follow the video below to get a domain name registered, web hosting set up, and WordPress installed in a matter of just a few minutes.
General WordPress Documentation:
This part of the documentation for our free WordPress themes assumes that you already have WordPress installed on your server or hosting account. If you haven’t yet installed WordPress, please see the video on this page for instructions.
There are a few WordPress settings that we recommend changing or at least checking to make sure they are accurate.
From the WordPress dashboard (which will be located at http://yoursite.com/wp-admin/) click on “Settings” in the left sidebar.
Under the “General Settings” you can enter your church’s name in the “Site Title” field, and if you’d like you can enter a tagline in the “Tagline” field.
Lower on the same page (General Settings) you can set your time zone. It’s usually easiest to select a city in your timezone.
When you are done making changes, click on the “Save Changes” button at the bottom.
Another change that we recommend is for the permalink settings. (Click on “Permalinks” under “Settings” in the left sidebar of the WordPress dashboard.) The permalink is the URL of a page or post created on your site. By default WordPress will give your page a permalink like http://yoursite.com/?=p123. That is not ideal for search engine rankings or for being helpful for your visitors. We recommend checking the box for “Post name”. This will give your pages URLs like http://yoursite.com/about-us/. That is much better for both search engines and human visitors.
Click the “Save Changes” button when you are done editing the permalinks settings.
You’ll also want to make sure that your site will be accessible to search engine users. From the WordPress dashboard click on “Settings” and “Privacy” in the left sidebar. Then make sure the box is checked to allow the site to be visible to everyone.
Click the “Save Changes” button when you are done editing the visibility settings.
WordPress themes use things called widgets to allow users to control certain, including the contents of a sidebar. Some of our themes use widgets and some don’t. When you first install WordPress it comes with a default theme, and the sidebar will look something like this:
All you have to do to change the widgets is go to “Appearance” in left sidebar of the WordPress dashboard, and then click on “widgets”.
If you look to the right side of the screen you’ll see a list of widgets under “Main Sidebar”. To remove any of the widgets, move you mouse over one of the listed widgets, left click (and hold the left mouse button) and drag the widget to somewhere in the middle of the screen, then release the mouse button.
Also please see:
Documentation for the Zion Theme:
This documentation will take you through the steps of setting up your site using the Zion WordPress theme for churches.
Setting Up the Pages
From the WordPress dashboard click on “pages” in the left sidebar.
Then click on “add new”.
Title the page “Home” and under “Page Attributes” select “Home” as the template. You don’t need to enter any text. Then click “publish” when you are done.
Then click “add new” again and add a page title “Events” and select the “Events” template. No content/text needs to be added to this page. Click publish when you are done.
Then click “add new” again and add another page titled “Media” and select the “Media” template. No content/text need to be added to this page. Click publish when you are done.
Then click “add new” again and add another page titled “Staff” and select the “Staff” template. No content/text need to be added to this page. Click publish when you are done.
Then click on “pages” in the left sidebar again. This will list the pages that you have created plus a sample page that comes by default with your WordPress installation. Since you don’t need the sample page, click “trash” under the title (you will need to hover your mouse over the title to bring up the “trash” link).
Now we want to set the “Home” page to be displayed when someone visits yoursite.com (your own domain name, of course). Click on “Settings” in the left sidebar and then click on “Reading”.
Then check the radio button to display a static page as your front page, and select “Home” from the dropdown. Then click “save changes”.
If you’d like to have a blog on your site you can create a page called “Blog” (or whatever you want to call it). It doesn’t need to include any text other than the title, and then publish it. Follow the steps mentioned previously in Section 4 for creating the page. After it’s published, go back to the “Reading” settings and select your “Blog” page from the dropdown next to “posts page”.
You can also add whatever additional pages you like. All you have to do is click on “add new page” under “Pages” in the left sidebar, and then title your page and add content.
Choosing the Color Scheme
This theme gives you the option to choose from 4 color schemes. From the dashboad click on “Theme Options” in the left sidebar, and then click on “General Settings”.
You’ll then have the option to choose the color scheme from a dropdown menu.
Customizing the Logo
Of course, you’ll want your website to feature your own logo. If you have a logo file ready (we recommend .png format) you can easily upload it through the theme options dashboard and it will be applied to the header of all pages on your site. The logo file should be no larger than 400 pixels wide and 110 pixels high. Larger sizes will cause issues with the layout.
The logo options are located directly below the color scheme options in the general settings of the theme options.
Click on “Choose File” and find your logo file on your computer. Then click “Upload”, and then “Save Changes”. Your logo will now be shown on the header of all pages on the site.
The homepage template has a place for a short tagline or welcome message. Click on Theme Options > Homepage Options and enter the text in the “tagline” field.
The homepage of this theme features a slideshow that allows you to add your own images, and you can link each image to any page if you’d like. You can use this area to welcome visitors to your website, promote upcoming events, promote the current sermon series, highlight some of your ministries, or even to link to your page on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
To add items to the slideshow click on “Slides” in the left sidebar of the WordPress dashboard.
Click on “add new slide”.
Now a page will open for you to enter the slide. Give it a title (for admin purposes only, the title will not be visible on the site), and click on “set featured image” in the right sidebar.
This will open a window that allows you to insert your image for the slideshow. You can either upload the image from your hard drive by clicking “select files” or click on the “From URL” tab if the image is already online and you can enter the URL for the file.
The image you are uploading should be at least 950 pixels wide by 460 pixels high. If it is larger it will be re-sized and cropped automatically. You can use any image editor like Photoshop, or a free option like the online version of Photoshop to re-size and crop your images. If your image is smaller than 950 pixels by 460 pixels it won’t fill the area and will look awkward.
Select “full size” and then click “use as featured image”.
Then close out of the window or click “save changes”. When you are done click “publish”.
From the Theme Options you can also change the transition effect between slides if you’d like, or just leave it set to random. Then click “save all changes”.
You now have a working slideshow on your homepage!
The Navigation Menu
One of the most important elements of your website is the navigation menu because it has a big impact on the usability of the site and allowing visitors to find the content that they want. You have full control over the links that are included in your navigation menu (the same menu will be used on all pages of the site). Please note: This step is necessary in order to have a main navigation menu on your site.
From the WordPress dashboard click on “Appearance” and “Menus”.
Enter the name “Header” for your menu and click “Create Menu”.
Then select your “Header” menu in the dropdown for “Main Navigation Menu” (this step is needed in order to apply your custom menu to the site’s header).
Now move down a little lower on the page and you’ll see a list of all the pages that you have published. Check the box next to each page that you would like to add to the menu and click the “Add to Menu” button.
After clicking “Add to Menu” the pages that you have added will appear in a list at the center of your screen.
You can drag items up or down to change the order in which they are displayed (to drag, click and hold the mouse button while moving the mouse up or down). If you want to make certain links appear in a dropdown menu, move the item slightly to the right. For example, we want “Children’s Ministry” and “Youth Ministry” to be used in a drop down under “Ministries”, so we will move them slightly to the right under “Ministries”.
When you’re done click “Save Menu” and the changes will be applied. Now you can check your site and see the menu in action.
We’re also going to set up a second menu that will be used in the site’s footer. Back in the WordPress dashboard, click on the “+” sign to add a new menu.
You’ll go through the same process as with the header menu, except name it “Footer” and then select it in the dropdown for “Footer Menu”.
Then you’ll add and arrange your menu items for the footer just like you did for the header. The one difference is that the footer menu is not designed for dropdowns, so don’t add secondary pages to the main menu items.
You’ll then have a working menu in the footer of your site (will be on every page of the site).
You can add new content to your website any time you need to. We’ve already gone over the process of creating a few of the key pages, but you can create new pages at any time by clicking on “Pages” and “Add New Page”.
Give your page a title and enter the text for the page. You can save it as a draft if you’re not ready to publish it yet, or you can go ahead and publish it. You can give any page a parent page if applicable. An example would be pages that you create for specific ministries. You could create pages for children’s ministry, youth ministry, singles ministry, men’s ministry, women’s ministry, etc. and select “Ministries” from the dropdown as the parent. The parent page must already be created and published in order to be available for selection.
Please note that creating a new page in WordPress will not automatically add that page to your navigation menu. If you want to make the page accessible from the menu it must be added as shown in the previous section about editing the menu.
Adding Blog Posts
Your website can include a blog if you’d like. To create a blog post click on “Posts” and “Add New”.
Entering a blog post is very similar to entering the content of a page. You’ll give it a title and enter the text. In addition, you can also create categories to help organize your blog posts. In the right sidebar click on “Add New Category” and enter a category name.
This theme comes with a custom page template for a church staff page. We already created the staff page earlier, now we will add the staff profiles. Click on Staff > Add New Staff Member. Add a name, bio text, and a position.
Next, upload a photo using the featured image function like you used earlier for the slideshow.
Repeat this process for each staff member that you want to appear on the staff page. The page will display the staff members in the order that they are entered, with the most recent being on top. So you can take this into consideration as you are entering the staff members, or you can edit the publication dates of the staff members to arrange them however you want.
Every useful church website includes relevant information about upcoming events so church members and visitors can get all the necessary info right from the website. This WordPress theme includes functionality that allows you to easily manage your own list of upcoming events. The events page will display the upcoming events according to date. As the date of an event passes, it will be automatically removed from the list on the events page.
To enter a new event click on “Events” and “Add New Event”.
Enter the title of the event, a description with all the needed information, a venue, an address (will be a link to Google Maps for directions), event date, and time.
When you’re done and ready to publish it to the site, click the “publish” button.
If at any time you need to edit the details of an event, such as if the date or time is changed, click on “Events” in the WordPress dashboard and click on the title of the event that you want to edit.
Adding Sermon Audios and Videos
Another major section of this WordPress template is for posting audio and video files for your church’s sermons/messages. The Media page of the site will list the most recent media files so visitors can listen to them right from your site. Adding the media files is easy, but there are two ways that you can do it. Because audio files can be large, many people prefer to host them on a different server than the rest of their website (a service like Amazon S3 is a popular choice). But if your hosting account provides you with enough disk space and bandwidth you may prefer to just host the files on the same hosting account with your website. The following instructions will assume that you want to host the audio files on the same hosting account as your website.
To add a new audio file, from the WordPress dashboard click on “Media Items” and “Add New Media Item”.
Enter a title for the item, a description or info about the item, and click on the upload media icon.
If you are hosting the audio file on the same hosting account as the website you will want to click on “Select File”. If you are hosting the audio files with another service, like Amazon S3, you will click on “From URL” and enter the URL of the audio file as provided by Amazon S3.
You’ll then browse your computer and find the file that you want to upload. Once it is uploaded you will see a screen like the one shown below. It will include the URL for the audio file, which you will want to copy to your clipboard.
Once you have highlighted and copied the URL of the file, “x” out of the window.
In the right sidebar you’ll see a field that says “Link to the MP3 File”. Here you will paste the URL that you have copied. And above it enter the name of the speaker for the audio file.
If you have a video on YouTube or Vimeo for the sermon you can paste in the video link where you see “Link to video file”. And you can also enter tags for the sermon, which can help to organize and categorize the media files.
You can also change the date if you’d like. For example, on a Tuesday you may be uploading an audio file from a service the recorded the previous Sunday. When you go to publish it by default the date will be listed as Tuesday’s date. You can change it to the date the message was delivered by clicking on the “Edit” link next to the date.
When you are done click on the “Publish” button and the media file item will be added to the site. If you have both audio and video for the sermon you can enter links in both fields. If you only have audio or video, just enter whichever one you have.
Setting Up the Widget Areas
This theme makes use of WordPress’s widget functionality because it is an easy way to give you, the user, control over what content is displayed in certain sections of the site. For example, the homepage includes the slideshow that we have already covered, and below the slideshow is a 3 column area that gives you some choice about the content that you want to be shown on the homepage. The sidebars also include some widget areas, so we can move on to setting up these widgets now.
In the WordPress dashboard, click on Appearance > Widgets. We’ll start with the sidebar. You can drag and drop whichever widgets you want to use. For our demo we will include a list of recent sermons, a list of upcoming events, a site search, and a text widget that you can customize with whatever text you want.
You’ll then have some options with each of the widgets. For example, click on the little arrow by Upcoming Events and you can enter the title that you want to be shown above the list of events. So if you would rather use some other text instead of “Upcoming Events” you can enter it here. Do the same thing with the other widgets that you’re using.
The widgets that have been created for you to choose from are upcoming events (custom), recent sermons (custom), search, Flickr photos, recent posts, recent comments, and links.
Next, we’ll set up the homepage widgets. The homepage template includes space for three widgets. For our demo we will add recent sermons, upcoming events, and a text widget that we’ll use to welcome visitors.
Enter the Church Address
The last thing we’ll do to customize the theme is add the address in the Theme Options, which will add a button to the site header for directions. When visitors click on the button they’ll be led to a Google Maps page based on the address that you enter.
Go to Theme Options > Common Options and enter the address.
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