In part 4 I talked about content management systems and recommended using WordPress over the other available options for anything that isn’t completely e-commerce based.
One of the cool things with WordPress is that there are hundreds of different themes, or website templates, to choose from.
But, which theme is right for you?
There are a few major types of website designs that most of the Internet uses. However, the most common styles that you’ll see are:
A blogging style theme is theme is the most simplistic. There's no special homepage design you need to worry too much about as the homepage will update every time you publish a new post.
Two major pros to this style of design is that you don't need to spends hours designing that perfect homepage and you get fresh homepage content whenever you write something. They aren't very fancy, but they can still look good.
Some WordPress blog themes let you choose how you want your home page posts to appear. You can either have the entire post available on your homepage. Or, you can choose to only show a small exert of each post.
A good example in my opinion of this type of rolling blog style site is another digital marketer's site I really like: www.matthewwoodward.co.uk
He's pinned a very popular post to the top, but the posts underneath update every time he publishes a new one, kicking the post at the very bottom to page 2.
If you like the look and feel of his WordPress theme, as many do, he even made it available for purchase here.
There are a lot of other nice WordPress themes and plugins available on MyThemeShop as well, even free ones. And, if you plan on making more than one site, their extended membership is awesome.
A static homepage is basically the exact opposite of a blog style page. It might scroll a little from top to bottom, but the content on the page is always the same.
Many WordPress business themes use this format, as businesses are not always updating content. Instead, they want to highlight what makes their products or services worth your time and money as a customer.
I actually use a static homepage.
A lot of businesses prefer this style because that can keep a uniform message to all website visitors. Also, they can use their home page as a landing page to try and get readers to take some sort of action like filling out a contact form or making a purchase.
WordPress magazine themes are a bit like blogging themes, but they tend to be a bit more visual and they also give more weight or importance to newer posts. These are very popular with news or current events sites.
The BBC’s page is an example of a magazine theme: http://www.bbc.com/
These can be great for regular blogs too, because they still allow you to constantly update the homepage with new content.
Get your on-page SEO right each and every time you write a new blog post, product review, or anything you publish on your website.
Being a very specialized theme, the portfolio style isn’t nearly as popular as the other three. That being said, for any type of visual artist they are almost a must have.
When your website content is more graphics than words, it only makes sense to use a theme that supports that.
Here's an example: FineArtPhotoBlog.com
Aside from the very obvious fact that there’s way more images than words on that homepage, there isn’t a whole heck of a lot to talk about.
Now that you have hopefully picked the most logical option for what type of website you plan to build and rank, you need to decide how much you’re willing to fork out to get the look you want.
Another cool thing about using WordPress as your content management system is that they offer a lot of free themes.
When installing a CMS on your hosting you should an option allowing to choose a free theme or just use the free stock theme which gets updated once a year.
But, after the install is when you really see all of your options. At the time of writing this post, I can see a total of 1987 themes available for free in the WordPress gallery.
They aren’t all amazing, but if you want to get your hands a little dirty before dropping some cold hard cash, it’s a great way to play around with the CMS for a couple of days.
But, once you have a basic idea of what you want to do, most premium themes offer many more features and more often than not look a whole heck of a lot more professional.
When you spend a few dollars on an upgraded theme, you’ll be amazed at just how professional they look. There are a few places I go to for a theme.
StudioPress - StudioPress makes a series of themes based on their Genesis framework. What that means is they have a very vanilla mother theme and then a bunch of stylized child themes that run off of it.
The two major pros to using this setup is that you can easily swap out child themes without the need to go through setting up certain parts of your site again should you want to change themes, and it’s also highly customizable.
Their support boards are great too, which is something that comes in very handy at times.
ThemeForest - ThemeForest is part of the Envanto Market. They have some of the best WordPress themes you can find.
I’ve actually witnessed first hand a business hire a full-time UX/UI developer and had him work with and outsourced WordPress developer to come up with something that looked slightly worse than and had fewer features than a $50 ThemeForest theme.
If you don’t want to invest in a whole suite like Genesis and only want a one-off theme, ThemeForest has plenty of great ones to choose from.
MyThemeShop - MyThemeShop, which I mentioned earlier, also offers a lot of great one-off themes. Their membership program also lets you access all of their themes.
For anyone working on multiple sites that wants to have a variety of different themes to choose from, it's hard to not take a good hard look at this option.
When you include all of the plugins on top of the themes, it's almost like stealing!
Thrive Themes - This very site is actually built on a Thrive theme. I chose it because I really like their content builder, which gives you more of a drag and drop functionality than your standard WordPress content builder.
They don't have as many themes currently as some other options, but what they do offer are extremely well designed. They specifically built their products with both SEO and conversion optimization in mind.
They also offer some member's only design elements and very solid support.
After wisely going with WordPress instead of something else, you still need to make a few choices.
Choosing the right style site for your needs as well as a quality theme will help both your SEO efforts and your website users’ experience.
The great thing though is that even if you don’t get it quite right the first time, WordPress makes it easy enough to swap things around until you do get exactly what you want.