Your design does matter! It takes 3 to 7 seconds for your first time visitors to make a snap judgement about your website based on what they see (i.e. your blog design).
So there’s actually no dilemma if you should or shouldn’t give your WordPress blog a cool unique design. The only question here would be “How to design WordPress blog if I’m not a web designer?“.
And that’s what I’m going to help you with in this article.
The Crossroads of Blog Design. Not.
So let’s see what are your options in terms of designing your WordPress blog and why there’s a straight road where the crossroads should be:
- Free Template – this solution is actually a part of the aforementioned “minimum viable product” strategy.You’ve just setup your blog and obviously you don’t want to stick with the default WordPress theme.Go find some “free wordpress themes” in Google and pick the one you like. In just 10 to 15 minutes you will get your WordPress blog a nice new look.But the chances are, hundreds of other blogs might be using the very same free WordPress theme that you’ve picked for yourself, so I wouldn’t recommend you to stick with this option for too long;
- Premium Template – in case you’re starting to get more serious about your blog, you can browse ThemeForest for some premium WordPress themes.The advantages of premium themes over free ones are of course: customer support, much better looks and enormous choice.So my advice would be to switch to a premium solution right at the time you see that your blog is starting to gain popularity;
- Custom Design – this can really cost you a buck. So don’t even think of hiring pros to design your blog till you’re 100% sure of what you’re looking for. Otherwise you’ll just lose money.Yet custom design is the last milestone of your blog design evolution. If you’ve got to this point I guess you can call yourself a pro blogger.
But of course there’s more to it than that… Let’s get into some more detail:
Free WordPress Themes
Lots of productivity gurus will advice you to do the first steps as fast as you can. Otherwise you risk to never get the ball rolling.
That’s why there’s no point for you to mess with your blog design for too long when you’re only starting out. Just go with the free WordPress themes option – it’s fast and easy.
The best thing about free design templates is that you can actually download as many of them as you want and try them all on your blog.
And the reason I’m mentioning it is because the majority of the design templates will look differently once installed.
There may be some glitches like:
- WordPress version incompatibility;
- WordPress plugins not displaying correctly;
- your logo doesn’t fit;
- your images do not look well, etc..
Installing a template will quickly give you a clue if it suits your blog or not.
But like I said, you should only use a free design template in your first months of blogging, for later on it’ll look unprofessional.
Another downside of using free templates was explained in detail in this cool blog post:
Quck recap of the article: free templates may contain viruses, harmful codes and hidden links to unwanted sites. If you’re experienced enough you’ll be able to overcome all those obstacles and have a clean template, but for newbies it can be a nightmare experience.
So how to find quality free templates for your Worpress blog?
You may of course Google for “free wordpress templates” or “free wordpress themes”, but this way you will most likely end up on some spammy sites with nothing but garbage.
The workaround here would be to use free templates released by trusted vendors. Like Woothemes for example. These guys won’t let their products contain anything harmful.
And this is exactly how I found my first design template for this blog when I was just starting out (by now BloggerJet has nice custom design).
Premium WordPress Templates
Like I said, once things start to get serious you just can’t let your blog use the free design template.
Tweet this! If you were able to find an awesome free design, the chances are, hundreds of other bloggers found it as well. And my guess is that you want to differentiate yourself from the rest of the crowd.
This is when you should invest a little bit of money into your blog. After all, premium WordPress themes don’t cost that much.
The most popular provider of premium design templates is ThemeForest.
They have a huge collection of design templates to pick from. And the chances for some other blogger to purchase the very same template are actually vague.
But the most awesome part is that you can always ask for support once anything goes wrong with your blog design.
Custom Blog Design
I mean the vast majority of guys that design web templates only think about looks, while we (bloggers) dig much deeper:
- lead generation;
- social media buttons placement;
- showcasing best articles;
- showcasing products/services;
- user-friendly comments section, etc.
And after blogging for a while and learning tons of stuff on how to run a blog properly you get a clear vision of what your blog should look like.
At this point you need to hire a professional designer to design exactly what you need.
And don’t be greedy. Tweet this! You won’t get a decent design for your WordPress blog for less than $300. Anything below that price means you’re dealing with an amateur designer.
2. Web Design Agency
As an alternative you may try to get in touch with “web design agencies”. They will surely bill you ten times more, but at the same time a whole team of experienced professionals will take care of your blog design:
- They might have a SEO guy in their team who will polish your template before it meets Google.
- They might also have a usability specialist that will ensure your website structure is convenient and all the features are easy to understand.
- And finally they should have some professional web developers which guarantees that your blog will be working smoothly in every web browser you might think of.
Yet the best way in my opinion would be to hire someone that a trusted person will recommend.
Though in most cases I’m on the other side of the fence. Which means I’m the guy who usually recommends good web designers / web developers to others.
Your Custom Design Is Never Finished
It would be a very big mistake to think that once you have your custom design up and running you can just lay on your back and relax.
In fact this is just the starting point of the never-ending process of perfecting your blog.
Tweet this! The purpose of your blog design is to generate leads and make people stick (more on this in my future posts). If your design is not doing this – it should be revised.
And the very last thing I want to talk about here…
DIY WordPress Theme Design
Why don’t you learn to make a WordPress theme from the scratch?
I’ve got a very cool step-by-step tutorial to guide you through:
I’ve used it to learn this stuff myself.
In case you need more, here you go:
- 950+ Photoshop Tutorials To Keep Your Skillset Up to Date
- 10 Fantastic Photoshop Tutorials on YouTube
But why on earth would you want to learn all that?
You see, quite often it happens that you need to make really small changes here and there in your blog and there’s no way for a freelance developer to charge you for such a tiny thing, so he will just pretend he’s not getting your emails.
And anyway, new knowledge is always good right?
I’d like to finish this article saying that it’s not obligatory that you follow “the road” exactly as I’ve suggested above.
You can always take shortcuts if this makes sense for you:
- You may start your blog with a premium template if you have some extra money to invest.
- You may start with a free option and go for the custom design right after, if you’re absolutely sure you need it.
- Or you might as well take a free template and use your web development skills to customize it and make it unique.
It’s really up to you.
In any case, I really hope this post was helpful to you, no matter what kind of blog design you currently have.
And feel free to share this post with your friends, cause that’s the reason I wrote it ;)