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 theme is what this website uses. Each time I publish a new post, it appears at the top of my homepage and pushes all the other posts down.
There’s noting particularly fancy about it, but it keeps my home page fresh with new content.
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 home page, much like the way my site is currently set up. Or, you can choose to only show a small exert of each post.
I can’t really give a good reason as to why I am showing whole posts other than this is a fairly new blog and I don’t have a lot written yet. The exert style let’s you showcase more than one post above the fold so that readers can pick from a variety of posts instead of just the newest one.
*Note: I have since changed to showing only a featured image and post exerts since writing this post.
A static home page 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.
WordPress’s own home page uses this static format: WordPress.com
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 submitting their email or make 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.
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 home page, 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 the 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 usually two places I go to foe 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 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 yo want to change themes, and it’s highly customizable.
Their support boards are great too, which is something that comes in very handy at times.
Check out what all the great Genesis WordPress theme through my StudioPress referral link.
ThemeForest – ThemeForest is part of the Envanto market. They have some of the best WordPress themes you can find.
I’ve actually witnessed 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, then definitely check out what ThemeForest has to offer through my ThemeForest referral link.
DIYThemes – DIYThemes makes Thesis, which uses skins to help you customize the look of your site.
I’ve honestly never used Thesis, but I have talked to some people who swear by it, so I thought it deserved an honorable mention.
If you think it’s the right choice for you, please check it out through my Thesis referral link.
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 tie, WordPress makes it easy enough to swap things around until you do get exactly what you want.