WordPress powers millions upon millions of blogs throughout the interwebs. It’s the most user friendly, flexible and intuitive blogging platform around. The problem is that there are a lot of really talented bloggers that completely miss the design boat and actually lose readership because of it.
Think for a second- how many times have you clicked on a link to an article; only to be taken to a website where the font’s too small, there’s a million ads, the colors hurt your eyes, etc. etc. You get the point.
I want to clear up something right up front. Great designs don’t cost a lot of money. You can build a great looking website on even the smallest of budgets.
You just need to know what to look for.
In subsequent articles, I’ll get more in depth looking at specific examples of tweaking your WordPress theme… But we need to pick a theme to tweak.
Picking a Theme
There are tens of thousands of places, if not more, to find WordPress themes on the internet. Feel free to use whichever you prefer, but I’ll recommend my two favorite:
WordPress.org - At this writing, there are 1,465 free themes available. If you’re just getting started out on blogging and you don’t want to spend money yet, this is the perfect place to start.
Themeforest.net (Affiliate Link) – This is going to sound like a sales pitch, but it’s really not. Themeforest has a great selection of professional-quality WordPress themes. I personally used them for the design that I use for this blog (with some changes, of course). Prices are extremely reasonable.
What You’ll Need
Adobe Photoshop or GIMP - If you don’t already have Photoshop, or have the means to get a copy, GIMP is a free and reasonable alternative.
FileZilla - This one isn’t required but if you prefer to do your work outside of the WordPress dashboard you’ll need an FTP client.
Look through WordPress themes and see if there are any that you’re fond of. As you look, try and look at the layout of the theme. Don’t be concerned with colors, minor layout changes, widgets or fonts. Instead, look at the layout elements and decide what you like best:
- Full width (like CNN.com) or fixed width?
- Two columns or three (or more)?
- Do I need dropdown menus?
- Do I need multiple page layouts?
Full Disclosure: If you use my affiliate link to Themeforest.net, I get 30% of your initial deposit (so make it a good one, :)).