Themes – Making your site pretty
What your website looks like is controlled by what is called a theme. Wordpress allows you to install different themes and change the look of a site very easily.
There’s two ways to get a theme. The first is to get someone to build a custom theme, but i’m not sure why anyone would do that unless they had a real branding need like Coke or Nike. The reason I say that is because there is an entire market place that has sprung up with people building WordPress Themes and you can buy very professional and stunning themes for less than $50 (often they’re about $35). Not only are they cheaper, but they’re tested by being used by lots of other people. This gets rid of many of the bugs and security issues a theme may have. A word of warning, you can get free themes, but in my experience they have been clunky and problematic. Your paying for more than the look, your also paying for the functionality and the support that paid themes provide. Remember, this guide is about making a professional site, so don’t skimp on this part.
But if you use a pre-made theme will it look like everyone elses? Probably not. Every theme allows you to customise a wide range of features. Some (not all) allow you to change colours and all of them use the underlying WordPress framework which allows you to add widgets (Think of a widget as a small piece of content like an image on a side bar, or a row of social media icons). On top of this, your content is going to be different. You’re going to have a different logo and different project images, different menues, and so on.
I’ve purchased themes from two different companies, both of which were good experiences, but they each sell themes in a slightly different way.
A couple good places to get themes
Themeforest is an online market place with literally 1000’s of different types of themes, many of them being for WordPress. The way I find themes best suited to project based industries like architecture is to search the site using words like portfolio, project or gallery. When the search results pop up you should also use the filter on the right hand side under categories and select WordPress. This will get rid of themes you can’t use. Nothing worse than buying a theme and realising it’s for another platform! A typical theme on Themeforest will cost anywhere from $30 to $45. When you click on a theme, make sure you follow through and click on the live preview. This will allow you to test the theme in action.
Elegant Themes has a different model to Themeforest. Rather than buying individual themes you pay $39 to become a member of the site. This gives you access to 79 themes which you can download at any point during your 1 year subscription period. If all your after is a single theme then having an extra 78 alternatives isn’t all that useful, but I guess if your a developer or if you want to play with several different themes then this may be a smart way to go. I have used Elegant themes and it was really only because they had a theme I wanted, so membership or not membership I purchased it. All the other themes just became a bit of a bonus really. Anyway, its an alternative worth checking out.