Step 4: Designing Your Blog to Look Attractive, Unique & Highly Functional
Okay, so now it’s time to consider the look and feel of your blog.
This step is crucial.
Your goal should be to design a website that visually appeals to the people you are targeting. Approach this step the same way you do when meeting someone for a business lunch or before attending a large social function—in these scenarios you normally want to present yourself in the best possible manner, right?
You know, take a shower, comb your hair, make sure nothing green is stuck between your teeth, choose an outfit that looks great on you, etc.
When it comes to selecting a design, just be yourself. Your truly best self.
If you are authentic in your blog design, this will help you succeed.
For example, if your target audience is a pretty relaxed, casual group of people, you don’t need to put a “suit and tie” on your blog. A clean, ironed, sharp looking “polo shirt” design that accentuates your eye color could be all you need.
Of course, I’m using fashion and grooming metaphors here…please don’t put a shirt on your computer monitor. 😉
When it comes to designing your blog, using a bland or cookie cutter type of blog design is like wearing cheap, wrinkled clothing to a first date with your blog audience. So, to help you do this (without any technical experience), let me introduce you to a fabulous tool I recommend called a WordPress theme.
What is a WordPress theme?
Taking my appearance metaphor a step further, a WordPress theme is like the “skin” of your blog (that’s how WordPress dot org describes it.) Only a WP theme is more than skin deep…themes include giving you control over the look and presentation of your blog content.
If I may get technical a moment, a WordPress theme is a group of files collaborating as one to provide a graphical interface that includes a tightly knit design for a blog. The files are known as template files. So each theme changes how a blog looks, while maintaining the functional software that runs a WordPress blog. Themes can include customized templates, images (.jpg, .gif), style sheets, custom pages, along with code files.
The power and control you gain over your website design is amazing. You can have a variety of different looking posts on your blog. Each category of posts can have a unique design to better help visitors know where to find specific information. You can be as creative as you want to be using WordPress themes.
2 Types of WordPress Themes to Consider
You can take one of two routes on this…both have their strong points and weak points. Here’s the rundown:
1. Premium WordPress Themes
These WordPress themes are typically just $49. They can range anywhere from $30 to $200 each, but most of the ones I recommend can be had for $49 (I’ll get to that in a second.) Some people will see this as a negative while others may see it as a positive. Aside from this, you must think about the other advantages and disadvantages before you decide… Advantages…
- Premium themes add value to your website. If you hope to one day sell your blog, this will help increase your profit
- You get a LOT more features for your website. Many provide complete control over color options, widths, fonts, and navigation menus
- Providers of premium themes have a vested interest in maintaining the product while providing customer support. A developer who offers a free theme may update the product, but typically takes their time since they have no paying customers pressuring them.
- You don’t get something called “credit links” automatically in your layout. These are links to the theme creator’s site (that alone seems fair), along with potentially unwanted links to other sites that can make you look unprofessional or worse, Google may punish your search ranking for being linked to spammy sites. Premium themes don’t have these links
Disadvantages to Premium Themes…
- You’ll need to spend some time on your design to look unique. There are so many premium themes to choose from (literally thousands) its really easy to have a unique looking website, which is great–it just takes a little bit of time and effort. The good news is the time invested is well worth the results.
- Having more features means more time learning and creating your theme. The good news is there will likely be video tutorials and support for you
How to install a premium Wordpress theme
This helpful video shows you how from start to finish:
Where Can I Get a Premium WordPress Theme?
Mojo Marketplace is like a giant open market filled with WordPress themes you could easily browse all day. They sell themes for all the commonly used CMS (Content Management System) and e-commerce platforms on the web, including premium WordPress themes, Tumblr themes and others.
The available themes range from basic to complex premium WordPress plugins. Whatever design you have in mind for your blog, chances are Mojo Marketplace has something right for you.
Here is the best reason of all why you should consider using WordPress Themes to design the look and feel of your blog or website: You can change the theme anytime.
Did you catch that?
If for some reason you don’t like the way your WordPress theme looks or you need something different for your website functionality, you can simply change the theme.
Doesn’t matter when or how often—you have the freedom to change anything you aren’t happy with.
Isn’t it good to know that once you implement a design, you’re not stuck with it for a year or whatever?
Starting out, be sure to give some thought to your branding and the “vibe” you want visitors to feel. Will your blog be fun or serious? Promote deep thoughts or silly cartoons? Offer technical information or silly sayings? No matter what you need, I’m sure you can find a great design using Mojo Marketplace. So why put it off? Check out Mojo Marketplace and pimp out your blog today.
2. Free WordPress Themes
Everybody likes free, right? You certainly can go this direction with your blog design. So aside from being free, what are some other advantages to choosing a free WP theme?
- These are easy to install. Usually with one click
- There are thousands of theme choices out there
- You can switch themes easily at any time without losing anything (like money and your blog content)
Now here are some disadvantages to consider:
- Your website looks like a million others. This hurts your branding and ability to stand out from the herd
- Lower amount of functionality. Keep in mind that themes are for your design and plugins are for your website functions. Free themes don’t provide many plugins to help your site perform well
- Free themes typically offer zero customer support to maybe a tiny bit. You’re also more likely to use a theme that the author (creator) doesn’t regularly update, which leads to the next negative
- Less security not only opens you up to more malware and spam, some theme developers intentionally put pernicious codes and spam links into their themes, giving you a bad user experience
How to install a free WordPress theme
If you do not include a Free WordPress theme in your blog setup, you will automatically end up with the default Twenty Fifteen theme. You can replace the default theme anytime with a free theme. This video shows you how to find free themes and change them with one click–all in your dashboard:
Here are a few places where you can find free WordPress themes:
B. Codexcoder offers this list of 101+ Best Free WordPress Themes 2015
C. WordPress.com has a list of 325 WordPress Themes that are naturally free.
Finishing Touch: Your Awesome Logo
One final piece to your blog design you should consider is a logo.
A logo helps your blog stick in the mind of those who visit your site. A well crafted logo will do this by capturing the essence of your personal brand. Your personal brand probably ties in closely to your blog branding, unless you already have a well branded business you are just now sharing online. In those cases, I would recommend your business logo represent your blog also.
If you can afford to invest in a high quality logo, then by means you should. If you have a limited budget, you can still put together a solid, quality logo by using a service called Fiverr. There’s a couple of helpful articles on my blog on how to best use this service. One is called How to Use Fiverr to Build Your Blog Business. The second article is my own story of using Fiverr for a logo and how you can avoid my mistakes. Check out Custom Logo Design Using Fiverr: Read My Story Before You Dive In.
Have you noticed my new images that are popping up all around this website? These well drawn caricatures of myself are drawn by a talented artist I found on Fiverr!
Ta-Da! Your Handsome Blog is Ready for the World
Pretty simple process, eh?
That’s why I’m such a big fan of WordPress. With the free blog services out there, your blog looks just like a million others. With WordPress, your blog looks like a million bucks.
Your ability to update, spruce up, pimp out and do a complete makeover on your blog’s appearance is limitless.
If you have any additional questions on your WordPress theme, you will want to send those to the person who created your theme. You can easily see who is behind each custom theme as you browse Mojo by clicking “Details” on each theme.
Otherwise, you can contact me.
When you’re done with your WordPress theme, I’d love to see it, so send me a link to your blog.
Now you’re ready to learn how to use WordPress!