Last weekend I was asked by someone to set up a WordPress blog that would integrate well with his existing site, familyinnewyork.com. I looked at the site and asked why he didn't just migrate his existing content into a blog, one with a professional design? He said no -- he wanted to keep his existing site.
When starting blogs, many people have the same dilemma. Typically, a person has crafted a traditional website with all the navigation buttons, colors, images, and other customizations they need. At some point they realize they want a blog too, but none of the blog themes look like their site. They can't discard their original site without throwing away hundreds of hours of work. And in many cases, the original site does a good job at what it was designed to do. The owner is only looking to add a blog for search engine optimization and reader interaction. He or she wants the blog to closely resemble the original site, so the reader will have a seamless navigation experience.
I told the Family-in-New-York person that I would try to make the blog look like his site. It turns out this is much easier than I anticipated. Because the original site is already designed, you don't have to spend time making design decisions. You just have to add WordPress template tags into the web structure that's already set up.
In the past when people approached me with the same question, I would recommend that they find a theme that already looks similar to their site, and I would tweak it to match the colors, font, spacing, and other details. However, with the blog for familyinnewyork, I fully ported over the original site into a seamless theme. The result is that the blog looks like part of the site. You can view the blog at http://familyinnewyork.com/blog.
Here are the general steps for creating custom WordPress blogs that integrate seamlessly with your non-blog website. The steps below aren't intended to be a full tutorial, and they assume you're already somewhat familiar with WordPress.
You're not totally done, because WordPress has a host of other template files that are called based on what the user clicks. If you don't already understand WordPress' template hierarchy, study the template hierarchy section of the Codex. In addition to WordPress' index.php file, there are about 7 other files:
This entire process isn't rocket science by any means. It only requires that you can recognize WordPress template tags and CSS style tags. When you can see and understand the difference, the project really only involves splicing the two together.
If you need me to add a blog to your existing website, let me know. I can usually turn this around in a weekend. For example, you might want to add a blog to your STC chapter's site for your newsletter. Or you could add a blog to increase your site's search engine rankings. Whatever your purposes, a blog only adds to your site's power. You'll interact more with your readers and enable your site to have fresh information published right when it's written. Best of all, you can implement a blog without revamping your original site.
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I'm a technical writer based in the San Francisco Bay area of California. Topics I write about on this blog include technical writing, authoring and publishing tools, API documentation, tech comm trends, visual communication, technical writing career advice, information architecture and findability, developer documentation, and more. If you're a professional or aspiring technical writer, be sure to subscribe to email updates using the form above. You can learn more about me here.