The newer WordPress themes that used content blocks for layout of the overall site, as well as the content of individual pages and posts, open up more possibilities but also change some of the details of how you accomplish basic tasks like editing the site menu.
As initial documentation, here’s the announcement of the new Twenty Twenty Three TM theme that uses this approach.
A new and much more customizable website design (WordPress theme) is now available on Toastmost.org and can be downloaded for use on other websites. This video covers the essential differences.
You may find this theme perfectly useful “out of the box,” but it will particularly appeal to those who would like the freedom to change the basic layout of their website. Don’t feel the obligation to go crazy with all the available options, but it’s good to know they’re there if you want them.
The standard way of editing the Primary Menu displayed at the top of a website has been the WordPress Customizer tool, which you access by clicking Customize on the black admin menu displayed at the top of the screen when you are logged in as an administrator. See alternate instructions for the Twenty Twenty Two TM and Twenty Twenty Three TM themes. For most Toastmost themes, follow the instructions below.
To add a page to the main menu, click on Menus and then Primary Menu.
To add an item, scroll through the list of pages and click on the + sign to add one to the end of the menu. You can also type in the title of a new page and click Add to add a new (blank) page that you can fill in later. Or you can add custom links, blog posts, or blog categories that you want to provide easy access to.
Drag and drop menu items up and down the list to change the menu order. You can also create a submenu (drop-down menu) by indenting one or more items under another. In the example above, Club Rules would appear under Members.
New Standard for 2022
The version of WordPress released at the beginning of 2022 introduces a new Full Site Editing capability that provides an alternative to the Customizer. Themes that take advantage of this feature typically do not use the Customizer. However, the Customizer is still more standard.
See the demo site for the Twenty Twenty-Two TM theme, which uses the site editor rather than the Customizer, for details on how to edit the menu with the site editor.
Many of the basic design choices for a WordPress website are determined by your choice of a theme. For example, a theme will determine the fonts, font sizes, and color scheme of the website. Themes also allow you to customize some of those details. Choose a theme that provides you with a good starting point and then tailor it to your needs.
The themes that are available to you are listed on the Themes screen of the administrator’s Dashboard under appearance. You can switch to a new theme by hovering your mouse over it and clicking the Activate button. If a Live Preview button is displayed, you can get a sneak peek at how your content would work within this layout before making a change.
If your club uses the Toastmost service, you are limited to the themes already installed (and approved for Toastmasters brand compliance). On an independent website, you can add other themes from the WordPress directory of free themes or by purchasing a commercial theme.
Toastmost Theme Options
Here are the Toastmost theme options as of February 2022.
One of the virtues of WordPress is that a lot of its built in features, such as the ability to add blog posts, tend to boost search engine rankings while also providing content for social media posts. Search engines such as Google index a lot of WordPress sites and know how to index them efficiently.
You can further enhance how your content is indexed for search and viewed on social media using techniques described in this article. WordPress for Toastmasters project founder David F. Carr, DTM, gives examples from his work on the Online Presenters club website, including how to use the Yoast SEO plugin.
Search engine optimization and social media integration are huge topics in their own right, but there are a many optional WordPress plugins that will help you achieve the basics.
The two I recommend are:
Jetpack, a bundle of optional features from the makers of the WordPress software (and the operators of WordPress.com). Jetpack offers a number of features to help speed up and secure your website. In addition, you can turn on an option for displaying social sharing buttons for Twitter, Facebook and other social sites. You want to make it as easy as possible for website visitors to share your content.
Yoast SEO, one of the most popular search engine optimization plugins. Yoast also includes features for optimizing how your content is seen on social media. It will show you a preview of how your content will be displayed in search results and social media. You can alter that default presentation to include a different image, headline, or text snippet than each service would use by default.
Note that Jetpack and Yoast SEO are both offered as free plugins, but with an upgrade path to paid enhancements. Particularly for a volunteer, nonprofit website, my advice is to see what you can do with the free versions before you even think about paying for extra bells and whistles.
You can add links to text within paragraphs, headlines, and captions. You can also add links to your images (as discussed in the section on images).
Good websites link to other good websites, making the web as a whole a richer place. Adding appropriate links can help your search engine optimization by showing the connection between your website and related websites with greater authority (like the connection between your club and Toastmasters International). Add links that will be helpful to readers. For example, a blog post on effective use of PowerPoint might link to other tutorials and resources such as books on the topic.
The trade off is that readers may click on links that lead away from your website. When marketers create “landing pages” to promote a specific offer, they typically place them on a page that includes few if any links that might take a visitor away from the form the marketer wants them to fill out. A blog post or event post for a club open house probably should minimize the use of links that might distract from your purpose of convincing a website visitor to become an in-person visitor.
On the other hand, one of the most powerful ways of building engagement with a website visitor is by presenting links to other relevant content on your own website.
At the same time, don’t be too greedy about keeping visitors on your website. If you make a strong enough impression, they will come back. You can also use the “Open in New Tab” technique explained below so that even as they follow the link, your website will remain open in the browser.
How to Add a Link
Highlight the word or phrase you wish to add a link to and click the chain link icon.
Type or paste in the link. Hit ENTER or click the Apply button.
Alternative for Adding Internal Links
Begin typing the title (or key words from the title) of a page or post from your site.
WordPress searches the content on your site, displaying possible matches in a drop-down list.
Click the one you want, and the link address will be added automatically.
Open in New Tab
The Open in New Tab option is displayed and hidden using the up and down arrows at the end of the link entry / link editing control. Toggle this option on or off, depending on whether you want the link to open in a separate browser tab.
Editing or Removing a Link
Once you have added a link, you can select the linked content and click on the pencil icon to edit it.
To remove a link, select the linked content and click on the broken chain (Unlink) icon.
Another way of adding a link is to select a word or phrase, and click CTRL-K (Windows) or Command-K (Mac). This has the same effect as clicking the chain link icon. This has the advantage of being a shortcut that WordPress has in common with Microsoft Word and other software.
As a rule, numbered lists make sense for procedures that should be performed in a specific order. Bullet lists are appropriate for presenting a list of points or options that are not inherently sequential.
Add a Bullet List
Do one of the following:
Add the List block. A bullet list is the default. Begin typing your list of bullet points.
Add an * followed by a space on a blank line. WordPress interprets that as you starting a bullet list.
Highlight one or more paragraphs you want to turn into a list. Use the Transform option and pick List.
When you are done adding bullet points, hit ENTER twice to go back to paragraph editing mode.
Add a Numbered List
The procedure is similar to the one outlined above. To make it a numbered list, rather than a bullet list, do one of the following:
Use the button bar that appears when you hover your mouse over the list block to switch from bullet list to numbered list.
On a blank line, enter “1.” (including the period), followed by a space. WordPress interprets that as a signal that you’re starting a numbered list.
Indenting List Items
You can increase and decrease the indenting of individual list items to create more elaborate outlines of posts.
Long posts and pages should include headings, or subheadings, to organize your text and allow readers to scan and skip ahead to the parts they are most interested in.
Google and other search engines also analyze your headings and subheadings to understand the structured and emphasis of your content. Well organized content is likely to rank higher in search results and be displayed with more meaningful content previews.
How to Add a Heading
Do one of the following:
Add a Heading block
Use the Transform option of a paragraph block to turn it into as Heading block.
Choose the heading level. H1 is normally reserved for the top headline of your page or post. H2 is a major heading, while H3, H4 might be subhead levels within an H2 topic.
Example: How to Add a Heading is an H3 subhead under the “Break Up Text with Headings” H2 heading.
Another special effect to consider is embedding social media content: public Facebook posts or Twitter tweets. This can be a way of quoting from famous social media feeds, or displaying a testimonial about your club that originally appeared on social media. Or it could be an image originally shared on Instagram.
The procedure is the essentially the same as for embedding a video:
Use one of the blocks provided for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other services. Paste in the web address and click Embed.
Paste the web address of the social media post on a blank line, and WordPress will infer that you’re trying to embed that content.
* This software is offered "for Toastmasters" but not is provided by or endorsed by Toastmasters International. The use of Toastmasters brand assets (with proper disclaimers) in website designs has been reviewed by the Toastmasters International brand compliance team.