Step 4: Themes

Don't have web design in the budget when starting out? No problem. There are collections of amazing looking, professionally coded website templates called themes you can purchase. These are relatively inexpensive, especially if you compare them to a $2,500+ designer.

Recommended Theme Resources

Divi

Flagship Premium WordPress Theme by Elegant Themes

I've purchased so many WordPress themes over the years. I got to say one of my favorites is Divi by Elegant Themes (ET). Their products are intuitive and easy to use and their support is great.

I use Divi for my other website, BestofRoy.com. I have also used Divi for several client websites over the years. Plans start at $89/year.

Website Jolt used to use Minus by Thrive Themes (they don't sell it anymore) but now is fully converted over to Divi.

Visit Elegant Themes

Favor Smart Design and Device Trends

When thinking about the design of your website, and ultimately the theme you choose, go for function over sparkle. Don't worry too much about making things “pop” and do not include functions just because everyone else is adding them (like unnecessary sliders and scripts). Make sure your widgets, modules, and functions have a purpose. Try these minimalist design tips:

  • Don't be afraid to use white backgrounds. Minimal style design actually adds more to the design of your website than it originally sounds.
  • More and more people are web browsing with a mobile device. This is no longer an option. Take a mobile first approach by increasing font size and line height (to start).
  • More and more websites are displaying content without sidebars. This seems to be a trend. If you have a sidebar, it gets moved down below the content towards the bottom of the page before the footer. If you decide to have a sidebar, don't put anything critical to the navigation to your website. Try to keep the information, navigation, and/or ads minimal.
  • If you're interested in ads, a well designed website lends itself nicely to great ads. This is for both for manual and automatically inserted ads.
  • Make your homepage the directory of your website. You'll get traffic here but this will rarely be the first page your visitors come to so don't expect this page to rank. People will still go to it frequently, probably due to mobile design and the logo being tied to navigation. By directory, I'm referring to introduction/about information, your blogroll, and a few important sections that passersby should know about the solutions you provide.

Pick a Reputable Theme and Roll with it

Free themes are good for simple HTML websites but for other website builders like WordPress they can get a little tricky. Sure you can find some good looking, free WordPress solutions but they won't be as clean or professionally maintained as premium offerings. Even if you didn't pick WordPress as your website builder, still looking into a solid theme.

I started with Strappress (not recommended), then Catchbox Pro (good theme but there are better options), then X-Theme (the first theme I purchased that didn't require fixes or customizations to function as it should), then Divi (amazing progression), then Thrive Themes (their plugins are MUCH better than their themes), then StudioPress (great framework – Genesis).

Recommended solutions:

Premium Themes Are Worth It

Premium solutions save so much time, it's crazy.

ETs' membership quite possibly provides the best value per dollar in the business. You have access to Divi and Extra, plus 3 premium plugins for unlimited websites.

Note: they have 89 other Legacy themes but since they no longer support them (and will remove them from the membership at some point) I recommend you no longer use them or count them as part of the value.

And while we're on the topic of saving time, page builders are where it's at.

Free Resources to Help Style Your Themes

Your theme will not come with nice looking colors or photos. Check out the resources below to help get you started filling out the skeleton of your website:

Theme Related Posts

The last 3 theme related blog posts are below. To see the posts, head over to the blog page.

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