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Starting a Website?
If you’re reading this, I’m assuming you have already made the decision to start a blog, purchased your domain name, set up your WordPress.org account through your host, and are just itching to get started spilling your ideas out for the world to see. Wait, what is a domain, what is a host, and what is WordPress? If you’re asking those questions, head on over to this post:
This post is for you if you:
- Have purchased your domain
- Have purchased a hosting plan
- Have set up a WordPress.org account
- Have linked your domain to your host
- Are ready to design your site
What is a Theme?
A theme holds special code that tells your website how it should look. A host is similar to a house, WordPress.org (your platform) is similar to the rooms in your house, and a theme is like decorating the rooms in your house. A theme improves the experience for your reader.
Most bloggers don’t have the technical background to write their own code, so they purchase a theme instead. The theme already has the code written and tells your website what the layout should look like, the colors that should be used, how your content is displayed, what fonts are used, etc. There’s more to finding a premium blog theme than just how pretty it is. It also needs to be engaging to readers and easy to navigate.
Themes take several different files that work together to create what readers see when they come to your site. You will find over time that some themes include a file that others do not. The only files required by every theme are a .php file and a .css file. It’s not important for you to know exactly what those files contain at this point. Just know that every theme is composed of different files that work together. You may, at some point, need to access these files to make the changes necessary to customize your site.
What to Look for When Choosing a Theme
In order to provide the best experience for your reader, there are some important things to keep in mind when searching for your perfect theme:
- Menu placement- Some people prefer their menu above their header and some prefer it below their header. Pay attention to where the theme places the menu. Sometimes the theme offers a secondary menu as well, so read the details carefully.
- It should be responsive- This means that no matter what type of technology a reader is using, smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer, the theme will adjust accordingly to provide the reader with the best experience. It should also be compatible with any browser. A browser is the software program you use to search for websites that contain the information you want or need. Some examples are Safari, Google Chrome, and Firefox.
- Customer support- Make sure the company you are purchasing your theme from offers support in case you have a question. This is important, especially if you’re not technically savvy. I remember needing some questions answered when I first began blogging. Instead of banging my head against my keyboard, I asked the fine folks at the company where I purchased my theme, and they set me back on track.
- SEO friendly- If you want your website to be seen, you need to make sure your theme is one that is optimized for SEO. Optimize means to make effective use of something. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Put the two together and your definition becomes making effective use of a search engine (such as Google). There is a difference between the use of something and the effective use of something. Sometimes themes are written in a way that inhibits the effectiveness of SEO. Something is telling me you’re not going to want that to happen if you want people to find your website and the content you worked so hard creating. Premium themes set you up for optimal SEO.
Can I Use a Free Theme?
While free is always exciting, it’s not always best. Using a free theme gives you a good opportunity to play around and get comfortable with using WordPress, but because they are not as customized, they don’t have the same capabilities without adding code to the theme files. You will spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to make it what you want. With paid themes, however, you can begin using them right away with just a few minor changes.
Unless you’re a coding genius, skip the headache, skip the time, and get started on the right foot with a paid theme. Trust me, it’s not worth exchanging your time and sanity just to save $50. You’re going to make that money up in a jiffy anyway, right?
Where do I find Premium Themes?
There are tons of themes from which to choose. I am going to share with you, three of my favorite sources for themes. If you don’t see a theme that you like from the options I share, a simple Google search will reveal other themes available. Again, just make sure they include those important things I just shared.
1. Pretty Darn Cute–
Pretty Darn Cute has several themes to choose from. For a small fee, they will also set it up for you. Their premium themes are reasonably priced and come with 20+ video tutorials with your purchase.
If you’re looking for something colorful, the Pretty Happy Theme is great! Keep in mind that even though you see certain colors used on themes, the code can still be rewritten to be customized to your liking. Pay attention mostly to the layout of the theme.
If you’re looking for something more sophisticated, check out Pretty Darn Cute Design’s Swank Theme.
Click button to access Pretty Darn Cute Themes
2. Restored 316
Restored 316 has some very elegant themes for women entrepreneurs. Kcompton.com is built with the Delightful Theme although many changes have been made since the website first began (more on that story at a later date).
Studiopress is an important resource because they offer the Genesis Framework. To run these themes I’ve shown you today, you’re also going to need to invest in the Genesis Framework through Studiopress.
Wait, what?! What is the Genesis Framework?
If WordPress is like a room in a house, Genesis, like a theme, is all the furniture and accessories within the room.
How is the Genesis Framework Different Than a Theme?
The Genesis Framework is considered a Parent Theme. It serves as the framework for your theme, similar to how the human body is framed by the skeletal system. A theme, then, referred to in this case as a child theme, is what you would edit to customize your site.
The reason for a Parent Framework and a Child Theme is to prevent changes from happening that would erase major building blocks of your site. When you have the Genesis Framework installed, it saves the framework of your site and prevents it from being deleted. What you do change, is the styling of your site or your child theme.
What is it Good For? Absolutely Something!
The Genesis Framework is used on over 300,000+ sites. Why do so many people like it? Here’s why:
- It’s optimized for SEO. We talked about this earlier! If you want your site to be seen, you want clean code that doesn’t bog your site down.
- It automatically updates- Just like your iPhone tells you to update the software periodically, WordPress does the same thing. Some hosts automatically update WordPress for you, but if your host doesn’t, the good thing about the Genesis Framework is that it automatically updates WordPress to the newest software. Trust me; you’re going to have enough to do without having to remember to update your software.
- It extends your site’s usability- Genesis allows you to customize to your heart’s content. Add widgets, plugins, move things – the sky really is the limit. You’re able to get your site to do exactly what you want it to do. It’s your business. You should be able to make it what you want!
- It’s cutting edge- The Genesis Framework was created by some pretty intelligent and dedicated individuals who are constantly debugging it and coming up with better versions. You can rest in knowing that they have your back.
- Lifetime support- Not only is it extremely affordable, but you have the added benefit of lifetime support. There is never a reason to smack your head on your keyboard in frustration when you have a team of people ready to answer any questions you might have.
Ready to purchase the Genesis Framework? It’ll be one of the best investments you’ll make for your business.
Studiopress has a large variety of child themes to choose from. Some of their themes are third party themes and some of them are by Studiopress. Here are some customer favorites:
This one is a third party theme, but super popular.
After reading this you may feel overwhelmed at the thought of choosing a theme. You may feel discouraged because you know you’re going to have to invest a little bit to make your site what you want it to be.
I know. I remember. You may already be feeling defeated. You may already be asking yourself questions like:
- Do I really have what it takes?
- Am I going to waste my money?
- Can I trust that this is really the way to go?
- What if I fail at this?
I’ve been there. I’ve sat at my desk knowing that I was walking into an unknown world, but one that I felt I was supposed to be walking toward. Then I realized if I was going to be serious about my blogging business, I needed to do it right from the very beginning.
There are tons and tons of WordPress sites out there. My goal for this was to take the guess work, the time, the frustration, and the doubt out of it and give you some resources I know, for a fact, are fabulous.
If you have any questions about the Genesis Framework, Child Themes, or any other questions you have about building the framework of your website, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Kelly is a veteran, former teacher, and blogging business owner who left her career in the corporate world to start a blog. Her research and time invested in blogging have developed into a passion for helping others realize their potential and successfully follow their passion of building a successful blog.