Dec
05

Customizing Your Blog…

By

…and by blog I mean WordPress website.

WordPress Themes

There are probably hundreds of thousands of WordPress themes in the wild, and a LOT of them have the standard BLOG format.  “The Blog Format” is slightly difficult to get away from but it’s an easy-to-navigate layout.  Header, Content, Sidebar, Footer.  Some themes will pull featured or other specific content.  That is one of the beautiful things about WordPress, it’s an excellent content management system (CMS).  It can be as robust as you can imagine, but as you start to really imagine, you have to add modules you may not understand in order to add certain functionality.  There is a way create custom fields on the back end so that WordPress Content actually becomes more of a “plug” form.  Picture here, price here, check this, check that and you have a very versatile website.

That is not really the customization I was wanting to talk about though.

Brand Your Site in the Header

I want to talk about some of the most BASIC ways to customize your site to brand it to your company.  The first and foremost way is to have a header graphic designed.  You can try to do it yourself, but I recommend against it. There are hundreds, probably thousands of people on fiverr.com or craigslist.com that will be more than eager attempt to design a header for you.

I am not adverse to cheap labor, but I believe you get what you pay for.  $5 for a design? It might look better if you let your 5 year old nephew whip something up in crayon. I recommend trying to find a local freelance designer. Agencies will usually be too big and too expensive with their time to actually want to work with you, but a freelancer might be willing to do a few quick designs for $20 or $30 bucks.

Before you head off in search of a designer, you need to think about what you want the header to convey.  Who is your audience?  What do they expect to see as far as how you represent yourself? If you’re selling a product, should images of the product be in the header? Is your face/name the brand? Do you have an actual logo?  A slogan or hook can also appear up here.

Another important element to think about is your colors.  Your header and theme colors should work together, not against each other.  For this reason, it’s important to either know how to use CSS or get a theme where you can actually adjust some of these options.  Remember, the more options a theme has, the harder it is going to be to use and interact with different plugins.  I have been recommending Weaver 2 lately, since it does give you a good control over colors and such, but don’t fall in love with it or take it as gospel, it may not be the easiest to work with if you really want to change layout elements. I have found it difficult to work with on a few projects since it does have so many options, it can take away some of the things you want to do.

That said, if you plan to upgrade the theme when upgrades come along, then DO NOT CUSTOMIZE—or let any web people customize—any of the code of the theme.  That includes html, php, or stylesheet of the theme.  It will break at the upgrade.  That is not to say you can’t use the theme options, just do not go and alter the code.

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Categories : web design

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