Part II-Theme Parks
This is the second of a five-part series for newbies to WordPress. Be sure to join me each Monday for the next three weeks to learn how to set up a WordPress site.
*See Definition of Technical Terms
Well, WordPress.org boasts about a famous 5-minute install, and about how setting up WordPress for the first time is simple. Seriously? Perhaps my mistake was trying to install it from their site, rather than through my host, but whatever the issue I can’t say it was “simple” for me. After a couple of failed attempts I contacted my host provider and they downloaded it to their server for me. If all else fails, do as I did, but hopefully you won’t have those same problems.
Next came the decision on what type of theme* I wanted to use to best represent my website. Wow. There are so many choices you can make. You can go to the WordPress.com site and explore the many options available. Many are free, but some premium themes have a one-time cost of $30-$100.
*Theme-A template with built-in coding and a pre-configured design for your website
There are also many third-party themes that are built for WordPress; this is the option I finally chose. With so many to pick from, you ask, where do you start? Think about what type of website you are trying to design and work from there. How much do you plan to write? Do you want to include lots of photographs? Do you need a site that will support e-commerce? After looking at several options, I created a list of design features I might like in my theme. They included:
- Responsive design – allows the design to adapt in size to whatever device it’s being viewed upon. Hey I don’t have an iPad (yet!!), but know many people that do have mobile devices, and a responsive design allows them to view your website on these devices without “chopping off” parts of the design.
- Built-in slider. And no, we are not talking about baseball. A slider allows you to input photos, content, videos and more to an eye-catching, animated area of your website.
- Custom fonts. Some themes already have these built-in, in others they can be added later.
- Search bar. Again sometimes built-in, but can otherwise be added later via a plug-in*.
- Different types of post formats. Ability for your posts, or written articles, to be formatted in different ways. Looked especially at those that could be posted in the “quote” format, to see how they looked. Some I liked, some not so much.
- Video and/or audio. I knew at some point in time I definitely wanted to add video.
- Galleries. Look at the theme’s different ways to view photos. Again I knew that for some posts I might want to include a group of photos, and needed to know how the theme I chose would handle that display
- Logo. Since I do have a business, I wanted a theme that would easily allow for input of my company logo.
- E-Commerce. Did the theme have any type of e-commerce program built-in?
*Plug-in-A unique feature that can be added to your website via installation, where all the coding has already been done for you. (Ex., a contact form).
With my list in hand, I was actually able to narrow down my search of preferred themes pretty quickly. Whether on WordPress or through a third-party, all sites let you see examples of how their themes work. And of all the items on my list, I decided having a responsive theme was the most important thing for me, with the second thing being the formatting of photos/video. The theme I finally decided on was from a third-party vendor, so I made my purchase and got it downloaded to my host’s server. It was not until after I spent some time setting things up with WordPress, that I discovered my theme had problems. I tried to contact the company I purchased from, only to find that they did not support their themes; they were all sold via individual contributors, and it turns out that my theme’s author only viewed his email about once every two weeks! That was certainly not going to work for me, so I reluctantly went on a new theme search, being sure to verify the support of the company that sold the theme before my next purchase.
Ta-da! I can highly recommend any themes purchased from Themify. I purchased one theme for $35.00, and received an extra theme free. The theme I use is Elemin. This company has GREAT support. You can post an issue through their forum, and typically receive a response in 24-48 hours. Sometimes even other Themify members will respond to your queries. They will also supply the coding you sometimes need, tell you where to paste it into your theme, and…wonder of wonders…it works! So, with great support from both IX Web Hosting and Themify, I have truly been able to develop a website that serves my needs.
Next week we’ll pick up with technical info about setting up your website/theme. More fun to come!