What do the TechRepublic and CNN and websites have in common? Well, you’re right if you guessed great news stories. But they also share a common publishing platform–WordPress. That’s right, these and 20% of all websites on the Internet run on the WordPress platform. Other popular blogs that use the WordPress platform include the MTV Newsroom, the PlayStation Blog, People Magazine, University websites… the list is endless.

What makes the WordPress platform so attractive?  While most people still think of WordPress as a blog platform, it has since evolved into a fully capable CMS platform that is no longer limited to a specific use. For small businesses, this is one of the best platforms out there to manage your content. It’s not only free but it’s simple and easy to use. As a small business owner, you don’t want to be bogged down with learning how to set up a CMS system, secure it and update it regularly. WordPress does all this for you using the countless plugins that have been created for it.

But what if you already have a website and would love to move it to a more easy-to-manage platform like WordPress? Again, this is fairly easy. WordPress uses themes that allow you to customize the look and feel of your website. Turning an existing web template into a WordPress theme is fairly easy as you are going to see.

1.  Create a folder with your theme name. Inside this folder, you will create the file “style.css”.

Open the “style.css” file and copy info below (adding your specific information as needed.


Theme Name:

Theme URI:


Version: 1.0

Author URI:


The above information is important to help WordPress identify your new theme. Always remember that this goes at the very top of your  “style.css” file.

2.  Create another new file, “index.php” inside the theme folder and copy and paste the PHP code below into this file:

<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" xml:lang="en" lang="en">
<head profile="http://gmpg.org/xfn/11">
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="<?php bloginfo('html_type'); ?>; charset=<?php bloginfo('charset'); ?>"
wp_title(''); ?> <?php if ( !(is_404()) && (is_single()) or (is_page()) or (is_archive()) ) { ?> at <?php } ?>
<meta name="generator" content="WordPress <?php bloginfo('version'); ?>" /> <!-- leave this for stats -->
<link rel="stylesheet" href="<?php bloginfo('stylesheet_url'); ?>" type="text/css" media="screen" />
<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="RSS 2.0" href="<?php bloginfo('rss2_url'); ?>" />
<link rel="alternate" type="text/xml" title="RSS .92" href="<?php bloginfo('rss_url'); ?>" />
<link rel="alternate" type="application/atom+xml" title="Atom 0.3" href="<?php bloginfo('atom_url'); ?>" />
<link rel="pingback" href="<?php bloginfo('pingback_url'); ?>" />
<?php wp_get_archives('type=monthly&format=link'); ?>
<?php wp_head(); ?>

3.   Create a div inside the “index.php” file and insert the Loop PHP function code below:

<?php if ( have_posts() ) : ?>
<?php while ( have_posts() ) : the_post(); ?>
  <div id="post-<?php the_ID(); ?>" <?php post_class(); ?>>
    <div class="post-header">
        <div class="date"><?php the_time( 'M j y' ); ?></div>
        <h2><a href="<?php the_permalink(); ?>" rel="bookmark" title="Permanent Link to <?php the_title_attribute(); ?>"><?php the_title(); ?></a></h2>
        <div class="author"><?php the_author(); ?></div>
    </div><!--end post header-->
    <div class="entry clear">
        <?php if ( function_exists( 'add_theme_support' ) ) the_post_thumbnail(); ?>
        <?php the_content(); ?>
        <?php edit_post_link(); ?>
        <?php wp_link_pages(); ?>
    </div><!--end entry-->
    <div class="post-footer">
        <div class="comments"><?php comments_popup_link( 'Leave a Comment', '1 Comment', '% Comments' ); ?></div>
    </div><!--end post footer-->
  </div><!--end post-->
<?php endwhile; /* rewind or continue if all posts have been fetched */ ?>
  <div class="navigation index">
    <div class="alignleft"><?php next_posts_link( 'Older Entries' ); ?></div>
    <div class="alignright"><?php previous_posts_link( 'Newer Entries' ); ?></div>
  </div><!--end navigation-->
<?php else : ?>
<?php endif; ?>

The code makes your website posts and comments visible.

4.  Create another file, “header.php”, in the theme folder. Open your old “index.html” file and copy the code between the <head> tags of that file. Copy that code into the new “header.php” file you just created. Save and close.

5.  Create two more files inside the theme folder, “sidebar.php” and “footer.php.” Copy the appropriate code sections from your old files and into the new files as we have done with “index.php” and “header.php”.

You should now have your old “index.html” file chopped into four different PHP files. We now need to put all these files back together.

6.  Open the new “index.php” you created and add the line below at the very top of the file:

<?php get_header(); ?> ?>

7.   Scroll to the bottom of the file and add the code below as well:

<?php get_sidebar(); ?>
<?php get_footer(); ?>

The theme as it is now, is ready to go live.

You can customize your theme further by adding “Template Tags” and “Template Files” if you so desire. The wide variety of plugins available allows small businesses the option of choosing what they need and upgrade as the business expands.