Designing a professional business website that you can edit and update yourself has never been easier! With new technology emerging on to the market at a rapid rate, new or existing business owners can easily take control of their website design and maintenance with little technical knowledge. If you can fill in the relevant fields, click toolbar buttons, type, and click the mouse – then you pretty much have all that you need.
So how do you do it you ask?
- Firstly you need to choose a content management platform that will run your website. We highly recommend a self-hosted WordPress site – www.wordpress.org.
- Then you need to choose your web address or domain, and set up a hosting account. For this we recommend Siteground Hosting – we’ve been using them for years and they offer high spec hosting for a great price, and provide an EXCELLENT level of customer service. You can also elect to install WordPress automatically on your web hosting as you go through their checkout process, just look for the ‘Content Management System Auto-Installer’ option and select it. How much easier can it get…?
- Once you’ve got WordPress installed it displays with the default theme. So to get it looking all whizz bang and branded for you business you’ll need to buy, install and customise a theme.
Outlined below our top tips for choosing the right theme and theme provider for your business, along with our pick of the best Theme Suppliers out there.
Choosing the Right Theme and Theme Provider
Here are some key considerations when choosing the right theme for your business:
- Look and Style – there’s no shortage of WordPress themes out there, you can find thousands. So take some time to have a good look around and try and find at least 5-10 that you like the look and style of.
- Built-in Features – Once you’ve found some you like, start to investigate the range of features that come with the theme. Many themes include a variety of options – these can include: multiple sliders, portfolios (to showcase projects), photo galleries, e-commerce facilities, blog layouts, custom widgets, multiple sidebars, page layout builders, responsive layouts, and more… the list is extensive. So the message is make sure you know what features you want/need from your web theme and check that your chosen theme styles have the ones you need. If this all sounds like a foreign language then most themes have a demo site you can browse to learn more about these built in features and what they do. So check that out thoroughly before buying.
- Extra Features – in addition to the above, most modern themes offer an array of ‘shortcodes’. These are cool extra features that allow you to create complex layouts and great looking features with no programming knowledge. They can include tabbed content, lightboxes, column layouts, buttons, boxes, google maps, styled lists… again the list extensive. So make sure you check these out too – they’re usually all showcased in the theme demo.
- Extent of Customisation – the extent to which WordPress themes can be customised and styled to match your own branding can vary dramatically, so if you’re planning to do this bit yourself… make sure you also check this out thoroughly before you buy. See if they offer a backend demo – so you can view the theme options and see how much you can vary the layouts and colours without any programming knowledge. If you’re planning to hire someone to do this bit for you, then you can ignore this step.
- Responsive Layout: for mobiles and tablets – the number of people browsing website from their phone or tablet/iPad is increasing all the time. If this is true for your target audience then we’d recommend making sure you choose a theme with a ‘Responsive Layout’.
- Where to Buy: Theme House or Marketplace – there are ‘Theme Houses’ who sell their own range of Premium Themes such as Elegant themes and AIT Themes (to name but a few), and also many marketplaces like ThemeForest. There are pros and cons to each. In our experience the Theme Houses tend to be slightly more expensive and have less variety, but better ongoing support. They often have many different themes to choose from, but because they tend to have a ‘house style’ they tend to be variations on a theme. They may look different, but once you start to browse their library you’ll likely see their common traits. This great if the house style suits what you’re looking for, but can be frustrating if you’re looking for something a bit different. On the plus side, because theme designing is their primary focus, they generally offer better after sales and ongoing support.Marketplaces, like ThemeForest, are a bit more like the ones on Amazon – they’re places for individual designers to market their themes. In our experience you tend to get a lot more variety, and a lot more features for your money, but the levels of after sales support are highly variable. So a little more research and diligence is wise before making a purchase. Things we suggest you check out are: Ratings and number of sales; the comments tab to get an idea of response to queries; the designers full portfolio – are they established on ThemeForest with a trusted reputation, or are they just starting out; when was the theme designed – stick to themes designed in the last year or two as WordPress is constantly being improved and updated – older themes may no longer work; also check the changelog to see the latest updates to the theme – is it being maintained.
Working through the steps outlined above will help you make the right choice for a theme, so check out the options and get researching!
WordPress Premium Theme Marketplace
If you go ahead and opt to design your website yourself then we recommend buying a premium WordPress theme. Our pick for feature rich WordPress themes is Themeforest…
Premium themes generally cost between $30 – $99.
Get in touch if you have any further questions: 0333 200 2612, or check out our Web Mentoring service if you’d like some support or guidance to get your website up and running.