Designs I find attractive may not seem so to you, and designs you’re a fan of may make me click away from your site prematurely. Similarly, I can’t exactly suggest just one colour or blog style, as it may not appeal to the niche you’re writing in, the type of content you’re sharing and how often you’re sharing it.
The good thing about designing WordPress blogs in particular is that you don’t really need to know any code and you don’t have to be proficient in software like Photoshop. Everything can either be outsourced and purchased for a fee, or found around the web for free.
When it comes to the base of your design, I’m a big fan the following three premium websites:
A simple Google search for “free wordpress themes” will return a large number of results and they’re perfect if you’re on a budget. The good thing about some themes having a price is that they’re likely to be used by far less people than attractive free themes. These premium resources also mean that you don’t have to sift through a lot of bad designs to get to some gems.
I recommend finding a theme which has widgets enabled so that – if you’re a beginner, especially – you can customise the design with ease. To edit the widgets (sections of your theme) simply go to Appearance >> Widgets on the left panel of your WordPress admin area. Widgets enable you to edit sidebar, footer and header content on most websites.
Andrea’s blog design was found on ElegantThemes and then customised to incorporate the key design elements I’ve covered on the previous page. Don’t forget to incorporate them as well after you’ve decided on a theme for your site.
How to Install a Theme
There are two ways to install a blog theme once you’ve purchased / found one you like and they’re both simple, though one is more technical than the other. The first option is to log into your WordPress admin panel (yourdomain.com/wp-admin/ — substituting yourdomain.com) and click on the Appearance tab on the left navigation bar. Then select ‘Themes’ and on the new window that appears, select the ‘Install Themes’ tab. You’ll then be able to upload the .zip file your theme is in.
Alternatively, you can access your website via FTP using a program like FileZilla. Make sure you ask whichever blog host you’re using for your ‘FTP details’. Once you’ve connected to your server, navigate to public_html >> wp-content >> themes >> and then upload your unzipped theme folder by dragging and dropping it to that location. You’ll then able to activate the theme from the backend of your WordPress admin panel.
Logo & Design Resources
Though learning how to tweak your own designs can be time consuming, I highly recommend that you do take some time in these next two weeks before the next update to start looking into HTML and CSS editing. It’s actually far easier than it looks and being able to edit websites is a great skill to have. A good place to start learning is HTMLDog. To edit the actual code behind your theme head on over to your admin panel and navigate to Appearance (left navigation bar) >> Editor.
Your homepage is likely called ‘index.php’ with your sidebar being ‘sidebar.php’ and your footer – you guessed it – being ‘footer.php’. Along with ‘header.php’ for the top contents of your website and ‘single.php’ for editing the design of individual blog post pages, these five are the most common that you’ll want to tweak.
For logo and other graphic editing the two free tools I recommend are Pixlr (online) and Photoscape which was recommended by Andrea, though do note that it’s Windows only. If you have the cash to spend on Adobe Photoshop then being able to edit graphics, even basic ones, is another good skill to have in your arsenal down the road.
If you’re looking for custom work for a fee when it comes to blog and logo design then two contacts I highly recommend are Craig Abbott and Dean Martin. Two people that I’ve worked with personally and they both offer freelance design services. Their email addresses are firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com respectively.
As mentioned above, learning HTML & CSS can be scary, but knowing how to edit the design of websites is a great skill to have. There are actually only a few key elements that you need to be aware of in most cases, which I’ve outlined below.
To insert a link into a post or widget, you can use the following code:
<a href="http://linklocation.com">Link Text</a>
Link location should be substituted for the URL that you want to take people, and Link text is the clickable text that will display on your website.
To add an image to your site use the code:
<img src="http://imageurl.net/image.jpg" alt="Describe the picture">
Obviously substituting the URL inside the quotes for whichever image you want to show.
To add a line break in your text use the code:
To set specific line break widths you could also style a paragraph tag:
<p style="padding:20px 0 0 0;">Text Goes here</p>
Changing 20px depending on the size of the gap you want to make.
Share the Love & The Next Update
I know there was a lot to cover in this update but hopefully you have a few directions you can start taking when it comes to getting your dream design in place. Putting this whole resource site together for free takes a lot of work, so we would appreciate you sharing it with your friends, family and social networks if you think they would enjoy what we’re doing here.
In the next update we’ll be helping you set-up site related services (such as Feedburner which lets you track your blog subscribers) and the various plugins I recommend that you use on your WordPress blog to get the most out of the time visitors are spending on your site. I think you’ll get a lot out of it…