Step 4: 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. Later on, we’ll go over how to choose the best WordPress theme for your needs.
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Recommended Theme Resources
Divi is a flagship premium WordPress theme by Elegant Themes.
We’ve purchased so many WordPress themes over the years. One of our favorites is Divi by Elegant Themes (ET). Their products are intuitive and easy to use and their support is great.
We use Divi for our site, as well as most of our client sites. Plans start at $89/year.
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, We’re 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.
We originally started with Strappress (not recommended), then Catchbox Pro (good theme but there are better options), then X-Theme (the first theme we 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).
- ET (annual with lifetime option)
- StudioPress Pro Plus Package (onetime payment, option for WPEngine partnership)
- GeneratePress (annual with discount renewal)
- Astra (annual with lifetime option)
Premium Themes Are Worth It
Premium solutions save so much time, it’s crazy. Sticking with paid-for templates is really the only way to go.
When looking for a premium theme, here are a few things that should factor into your choice:
- Number of sales — Templates with a stacked purchase record will be backed by a more robust support system.
- Reviews — Much like if you were buying a physical product, you should check out reviews before purchasing a template.
- Mobile support — Never spring for a template if it doesn’t support mobile viewing. Mobile compatability is a must!
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) we 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.
- Divi Builder (included in Divi)
- Elementor (annual)
- BeaverBuilder (annual)
- Thrive Architect (annual)
Installing Your Premium Template
The installation process is a total breeze. Simply download your template file, load up your WordPress account and click “Appearance” on the left-hand side, then “Themes” from the extended menu.
Next, click “Add New”, followed by “Upload Theme”. Then, choose your template from its destination on your computer and select “Install Now”.
It may look a little broken at first, but that’s because you need to add some content and make it look like the real deal.
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:
- Adobe Color CC (colors)
- Coolors (colors)
- Pixabay (stock images)
- unsplash.com (free images)
- logoinstant.com (generic logos)
- placeholder.com (placeholder images)