How many times have we changed our site template?
I’ve tried Posterous, Blogger, Squarespace, WordPress, Squarespace, WordPress, Squarespace.
It may even get changed before you have a chance to see the template in the screenshot above!
After spending hours and hours and hours this week, I finally have a template that I think I can live with for a while and perhaps even grow with over time.
Want some of my lessons learned?
Tip #1 – Stick to your requirements!
There are so many awesome designs out there. It is easy to get caught up in the different options available. But, just like buying a house or a car, it is important to keep a list of the functionality you know you need next to you while you search. Otherwise it is easy to leave out something that you at first thought was highly important. The mind can’t handle too much information at once. So, don’t make it memorize. (Note: when I bought my condo, it was late at night. I forgot to check to see if it had a deck. It doesn’t. Big miss.)
No need for anything fancy. Just write your requirements down.
Create a checklist.
I even put mine on my desktop sticky note.
Tip #2 – Experiment with content, categories, and tags
Sometimes you can’t see the full capabilities that a template has available because you are testing with no content. If possible, import some content into a test account and start previewing templates. I’ve discarded many a template only to come back and test it with content and happily found out that the template did have the functionality that I needed.
Note – some of the newer templates available for free are starting to have the “less is more” or “white space” approach to design. That is ok, but be sure you check out widget/gadget options in templates to make sure that they are enabled for those particular templates. It may be too simplified for what you are trying to accomplish.
Tip #3 – WordPress is popular – which one are you using?
WordPress is really popular. Make sure that you know the difference between wordpress.org and wordpress.com. WordPress.com is completely online and allows you to use FREE templates or purchased templates without downloading the site to your own computer. WordPress.org allows you to download a WordPress site to your computer and there are a lot of companies that build templates for this option. However, you’ve gotta know some stuff to attempt this option. Or, you need to get someone to take care of your web presence for you.
I purchased Elegant Themes (awesome site by the way) last year only to find out that it supported the wordpress.org site and I have wordpress.com
Tip #4 – Try a few FREE options before you buy
You may be anxious to have the most awesome site out there, but design can be a bit finicky. Oh, and so can you! Most templates cost substantially over $20. So, why not spend some time leveraging free templates before you break out the pocket book.
It’s easy to switch out free templates as much as you want, but what if you fall out of love with your current purchased template after a month?
Best to use a few free options until you are sure what kind of look and feel and functionality you really need.
Good luck! Let’s see how long our new free template from WordPress lasts!