Best WordPress Themes
Best WordPress Themes
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Do you need a BEAUTIFUL blog? Some people will tell you that’s what it takes to succeed as a blogger.
They suggest you spend lots of time and money to achieve the “perfect look.” The reality is, the look of your site is about number three or four on the list of things your site visitors will be considering when they visit your site.
The fact is, many of the new site designs are confusing to visitors and they don’t want to waste time looking for the information they are seeking.
And perfection? Forget it. It doesn’t exist. People who don’t know what they are doing seek perfection because it’s a distraction that keeps them from actually writing posts and launching a blogging business.
Vince Lombardi, the legendary American football coach, put perfectionism in a proper perspective. He said, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” To me, that’s the ideal attitude. Write and launch, then fix things later if needed.
A WordPress Theme is a Gateway
You want a pleasant looking site that loads fast, offers easy navigation, that works equally well on smartphones, tablets, and laptop and desktop computers.
A WordPress theme (sometimes called a template) is the fast-track to a simple, good-looking, functional blog. You pick one you like and install it with just a couple of clicks. It is as simple as that. You can have a great looking site with broad appeal in about two minutes. Really.
You can tweak it to look and perform as you wish. My advice is that don’t do anything for the first month or so. Get your site launched and make changes later. If you start fiddling with your theme in some crazed pursuit of perfection, then you will be the loser.
Your goal is to create a site that puts your blog posts on display in a positive and easy to navigate way. Avoid frills. And especially avoid too many advertisements or other visual features that will make your blog look spammy. Your blog posts should be easy to find and easy to read. Nothing about your site is more important than that.
The best thing is that all modern WordPress themes are good-looking and functional. The navigation is easily implemented. Most importantly, they are “Responsive” (always verify that when you select a theme), which means they automatically resize themselves to fit smartphones, tablets, and laptop and desktop computers.
When you install WordPress on your host, WordPress comes with a default theme. It’s basic but serviceable and responsive. You could start adding your posts immediately if you wish. Even if you decide to change your theme later, your content (posts) remains unchanged. A theme is an overlay, and it will not disturb other elements of your site.
There are thousands of free themes. I recommend only a few of them, however. The big problem is that they are not really free. They contain a link to the template-maker site, and that can lead to many potential problems.
One of the problems is that the template-maker link is an advertisement. As you’ll discover in Step 7, your job is to get money for your effort, and that includes links to advertisers and affiliates. Why would you want to give away a free ad? You don’t. You can purchase excellent themes for $50-$60. But by being forced to leave that link at the bottom of the page (it’s part of their Terms of Service), you are giving the template-maker an advertisement that could be worth thousands of dollars over time.
The worst part of the problem is that the link may be a portal for malware to enter your site. You never know where links might be redirected, so the virus problem is very real.
Never select a free theme from one of those sites that features thousands of them. Those places are often a parking lot for virus-filled themes. There is one possible exception, and that is the official WordPress theme directory found here. Still, be very careful if you select one of them.
Paid themes are different. They are commercial products, and even if they do have a link to the template-maker, you are allowed to remove it in almost all cases. If fact, I would go so far as to say that you should not buy a theme if the seller expects a free advertising link.
Where do you buy high-quality themes? You can purchase them in a large number of places, but you want a reliable vendor that offers a variety of different “looks.” One is sure to meet your needs.
Here are the well known, high quality, trustworthy Theme vendors that I recommend. One of the best reasons for paying for a theme is that you get support. That is very important. You may spend hours trying to figure out a feature on a free theme, but you get instant answers when you pay for a theme.
Elite Themes is one of the leading theme designers out there. That’s why over 350,000 WordPress bloggers use their themes. Their Divi theme is particularly appealing, and you should consider it. It looks great when you install it, but you have the option of customizing it.
When I create an affordable WordPress site blog platform for my clients, I use a particular custom theme that is chameleon-like. I can change this professional template to look and function in almost any way my blogging clients desire. It’s all in the configuration.
Configuring Your Theme
Once you have added the theme you like best to your WordPress installation (about 2 minutes as I mentioned before), you may want to configure it. That means you make changes to suit your purpose and your sensibilities. It is how you customize a theme.
The back-end of the template has places where you can add your menu choices, select colors, and of course, add posts and pages. Instructions come with each particular theme. They are all different in small ways, but they are required to conform to WordPress standards, so, quixotically, the options are mainly the same,
Again, this where people fall into the perfection trap. The waste a lot of time trying to get the “perfect” look by selecting various theme options. My advice is to use all the standard features “out of the box” and don’t try to do anything fancy. Don’t worry, it will look great to visitors.
Nevertheless, there are some things that matter, and I list them here:
Most themes allow you to add a graphic image at the top of your site. You must use the right-sized logo to brand your site. As important as this is, you will also have a text option. You can identify the name of your site using a font. That’s acceptable but not desirable.
This allows people to easily access the different parts of your site. Keep it to a minimum at the start, with maybe 3-4 options.
You can see the bottom menu of this site and the kind of information it offers. Yes, you can copy and paste those pages into your own site pages. Change my name and other details to your own. Also, remember that I do not offer legal advice or services and advise you to check with your personal attorney to make sure my “boilerplate” documents meet your particular needs in your state, province, or country.
You can get your WordPress site up and running on your hosting service in a relatively short time. If you want someone else to set up your website, so all you have to do is add your post content, then use the affordable service I offer here.
You can add all sorts of functionality to your site. A theme is primarily about “looks,” but functionality dictates the features of your website and how they work. Functionality is dictated by WordPress “plug-ins.” Please see Step 3 Bonus Content for details about plug-ins, how they can help you, and how to select and install them.
Theme Action Steps
1. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to create a perfect “beautiful” blogging site. Visitors simply don’t care. They want information, and too often, “bells and whistles” get in the way. Simplicity is the best policy.
2. Set aside an hour to pick a template you like. There are probably tens of thousands of them, and you could spend weeks or months finding the “perfect” one. Don’t do that. Consciously limit the amount of time you spend looking. Today, most themes can be configured in ways to make them look totally different. Or you can replace your present theme later. Don’t get bogged down seeking perfection.
3. Buy a theme from a reputable company. Use free templates at your own risk. There are viruses and other risks associated with free themes, even those available through the WordPress directory.
4. Do minimum configuration at the start. You can do more after your site has been up a few weeks or months. Your focus is to get a simple, serviceable site up, festooned with your posts as rapidly as possible. Content is King, not a fancy looking, complicated site.
Creating your own WordPress is not rocket science. Yes, there is a learning and frustration curve, but you can do it if you wish. If you have a budget and want to cut the hassle of creating it by yourself to zero, hire a professional who can have your blogging platform up and running in 72 hours or less.