How to Choose a WordPress Theme

While this articles talks about the choosing a template with the right style and features for your site, keep in mind the #1 priority when selecting a theme is SECURITY and SUPPORT!  We will write another article on this topic soon!

When choosing a theme for your blog or website, think what type of style you’d like your site to have and content that will be on your site.

Style

The first thing people notice when they reach your site are visual aspects – things like colors and shapes.  Do you want your site to look corporate, clean, fun, bubbly, bold, _____?  You want to choose a theme that fits the style and personality of your business or blog.  To do this, scroll through the list of themes that we have and see which ones jump out at you first.

Then go back and open up the demos.  The demo sites contain various pages to show you all the options that a theme has.  Some themes have several color options built in.  Look for a “Colors” tab at the top to see if this is an option. If so you can click on the different colors and see a preview of the site in the color you selected.

Consider where the navigation bars are placed, where the logo is placed, how the sidebar looks, the spacing, the font style – does it fit with the image you have for your site?

Content

Next you want to think about making the theme yours!  Picture your logo, your text and your pictures on the site.  Think about how much content (text and photos) you have and how it would fit into the theme.

Keep in mind that many of the themes have Widgetized home page layouts.  This means that the home page is structured for you into widget areas.  There may be 3, 4 or 5 widget areas on your home page template.  This limits you to the layout that has been devised for the theme, and gives you the opportunity to add the functionality of a widget, like a slideshow.  You do not have to use all of the widget areas that come with a theme.  You can use as many or as few as you’d like.

Customizing

Some things are fairly easy to change on a theme; some things are harder.  Think about whether you’re doing to build the site on your own or hire a developer to help you put everything together. If you are going to DIY, then you will want a theme that already has exactly what you want, or had a easy to use interface so that you don’t have to do any coding.

In general, and this varies from theme to theme – here are some items to look at:

Easy

  • Colors: If the theme you’re choosing has Color options, you can easily switch between one color or another in the Theme Settings.
  • Background: Most themes let you upload a background image and/or set a background color for your site.
  • Header: Most themes let you choose between displaying text in the “logo” area and uploading a graphic for your logo.
  • Default Layout: You can select a default page for your theme – one, two or no sidebars.  You can also select a different layout for specific pages on your site.  Keep in mind that not all themes have all layout options, so if you need double sidebars, make sure to check the Layout tab on the demo to see if your theme has this option.
  • Navigation Menus: Themes may have one or two spaces to place your navigation bar.  You don’t have to use both – in fact you don’t have to use either.  You can also add your navigation menu to the site via a widget area.
  • Blog Page Layout: Choose how many posts appear on your blog feed, whether to display the full post or just an excerpt, and choose if and where you’d like your featured image for each post to appear.

Harder

  • Changing colors via CSS: If your theme only has a few set color options, then any other changes you want to make you would need to write some CSS code for.
  • Layout Changes: Say you want to move your menu bar above your header, or add an extra footer widget.  This will require changes to the HTML and CSS code.

Our Favorites

We use either ElegantThemes or StudioPress.com for 99% of our projects.

      • Divi by ElegantThemes is great for DIY, beginners and saving time!  It offers a lot of no-coding layout and color options and the page builder comes with a lot built in features for designing your page.

The 

Genesis Framework

    themes are clean and professional looking and offer developers a many “hooks” that allow you to quickly modify any of their themes or create a new theme with a completely custom design from scratch, without the scratch.  Instead you build on the framework they’ve provided which allows you to focus 100% on your design and leave all the standard WordPress functionality up to the framework, saving both time and money!

Free vs. Premium WordPress Themes

Weigh your options on Free versus Premium WordPress themesTo buy or not to buy a WordPress theme. That is the question.

Or: why buy a Premium (Commercial) theme when there are so many free WordPress themes out there on the ’net?

And with all those choices out there, what’s the best way to pick a theme, free or otherwise?

When setting up your website with a self-hosted theme via WordPress.org, you can go to the Free WordPress Themes directory for over 2,000 free themes. There are also free themes from a multitude of companies and independent coders — a quick search online and you have an overwhelming number of free choices to sort through. All you need to do is make a choice, click Download, activate your new theme and you’re all set to start building your website.

Sounds simple, right? But there are more elements to consider before you click that Download button. [Read more…]

How to Configure the Genesis Responsive Slider

How to use the Genesis Responsive Slider and its various settings:

This slideshow plugin from StudioPress allows you to create a simple responsive slider that displays the featured image from a WordPress page or post (along with the title and an excerpt of the content if you choose to include text). [Read more…]

Visual Editor changes in WordPress 3.9 & the TinyMCE Advanced Plugin

If you recently logged in to make a new blog post, clicked on Posts > Add New, and went to use your Visual Editor options, you may have found yourself muttering, “Where did my underline button go? Where did my Paste from Word option go? Why did they change things? Why did they take away my favorite stuff??”

This is the place to find out what happened, what you get with the upgraded version and how to put your favorite editing option buttons back on the toolbar. [Read more…]

How to Choose Good Keywords

What are Keywords?

Keywords are the words or phrases you type into the search box when you do a search.  When someone types ‘blue widgets’ into the search box, the search engines look for sites that include the words ‘blue widgets’, and returns those as search results. 

So, are your keywords showing?

[Read more…]

Intro to WordPress

What is WordPress

WordPress is a free, open source CMS (Content Management System) that allows you to create and edit a website or blog with no knowledge of programming languages like HTML or CSS.

What is a WordPress Theme

A WordPress Theme is basically a design package for your website containing the layout and style for your site.  Since the designs are packaged, it’s very easy to switch your entire site from one design to another.

Click here for a list of Themes that we offer.

What is a Plugin?

Adding a plugin to your WordPress site is similar to adding an appliance to your kitchen, like a coffee maker.  Plugins allows you to automate tasks and add functionality to your site.

Click here for a list of Plugins that we offer.

Adding a top level menu item that doesn’t link

WordPress menu with no link
Click for a larger view.

Often, when creating menu in WordPress that has a drop down menu beneath it, you don’t want the top menu item linked.

To create a menu item that doesn’t link, you want to to add a Link instead of a Page, from the left hand side of the Menus page.

Where it asks you to type in the Link URL, you need to replace the “http://” that has been pre-filled in the form with a “#” (no quotes!).

Too much space between lines

Are you trying to move your cursor down one line space in the WordPress editor, but it keeps adding two spaces?

There’s a reason for this!  The page is coded in HTML and there is one tag for a line breaks (one space) and another tag for a paragraph (two spaces).

  • Use Shift+Enter for a single line break
  • Use Enter to create a new paragraph

Keep Your WordPress Site Secure!

The #1 rule of WordPress security is to keep your WordPress core files, your plugins and your theme updated.  The fine programmers at WordPress work tirelessly to update WordPress to bring you new functionality – and to close any security holes that are found.

The WordPress core and your plugins need to be updated on a regular basis.  Your theme will probably need to be updated at some point too.  If you don’t keep your files updated, your site will be vulnerable to hackers [Read more…]