So I've just taken over a WordPress site for a client which is currently quite broken (not formatted correctly, bits going all over the place, etc).

I've coded a couple of websites before using HTML, CSS and JavaScript but have not used WordPress before so have been watching tutorials, which all involve using themes. It seemed straightforward and more simple than coding from scratch.

However, I think this website has been coded without a theme, and I am pretty confused as to where to even begin with this site. For instance, I expected the code for the home page to be in the Pages section, but the Home page code is empty. And I can't find the code for the Nav bar. There are no posts either.

Any ideas of where to start with an unthemed site, and where the code will be? She wants me to do a few simple (sounding) things like add another link icon for her other social media beside the current ones, align the images, add a contact form etc.

I almost want to start it over and make it using a theme...

This is where I expected the code to be... there's a link to the site in this ss if anyone wanted to have a look at it and give me an idea of what's going on.

Any help would be greatly, greatly appreciated..!

  • 1
    WordPress requires a theme to work. You can get around it by creating a "headless" install and only using the REST API to use the data in it, then displaying it somewhere totally different, but that's unlikely in your case. As sims says it looks like you just don't have Administrator-level access and you need to obtain that level of access. You also need to obtain FTP/SFTP access to be able to make theme changes safely, and read up on Child Themes - normally you do not want to edit a theme directly, you create a child so when the theme is updated your changes aren't overwritten.
    – WebElaine
    Commented Jun 26, 2018 at 15:50
  • If the client has a host with a CPanel or something similar (a hosting control panel) and they are willing to give you access to it, that should allow you to find or create FTP credentials and also access the database directly if you need to. I would suggest staying out of the database at first though and using wp-admin (wp-admin is the admin area, but users of many different roles - not just Admins but Editors etc. - can access it) to make changes so you don't accidentally make a larger change than you intend to. Welcome to the world of WordPress - it takes a bit to pick up but it's worth it!
    – WebElaine
    Commented Jun 26, 2018 at 15:52
  • Ah, thanks for clearing the wp-admin issue up - I’m using that but must have lower level access than an admin. I’m not really sure what FTP access is but will read up on it, thanks. On second look I think the site does have a theme, but it’s just locked for my current login as I don’t have access to Appearance/Plug-ins. Thank you! :-)
    – Matt
    Commented Jun 26, 2018 at 17:17

1 Answer 1


Looks like you don't have an admin account from the looks of it. You should have the Appearance tab which will show what themes are currently installed.

  • Hey, thanks for the answer. Sorry for the dumb questions but, how would I know if I'm in an admin account? The extension is wp-admin
    – Matt
    Commented Jun 26, 2018 at 14:25
  • No question is dumb when you're starting out. Do you have FTP access to the site? Or can you access the database of the site? As far as I know, I could be wrong but I don't think a standard user can see the role they are in. Unless the WordPress admin area has been updated to show the role in profile.
    – sims
    Commented Jun 26, 2018 at 14:48
  • Not sure about the FTP access, and I don't think I can access the database. Would I just need to get the admin login details for WP, then, and I'm good to go?
    – Matt
    Commented Jun 26, 2018 at 15:21
  • If you can get the admin login details, it should shed a bit more light on what is happening within the site. If you get the details and still need assistance just comment back and I'll do my best to assist.
    – sims
    Commented Jun 26, 2018 at 15:27

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