It all starts with the Theme
2012 was the year that I really started embracing WordPress as a platform to develop web sites. Once considered something only useful for blogging sites and bloggers, WordPress’s popularity has allowed it to morph into so much more. From basic web design, to content management and responsive sites that adjust accordingly for mobile devices, there is a lot you can do with it. And Customers seem to love it! It is easy to show them how they can manage parts of their web site all by themself with no coding knowledge at all. If they can use Microsoft Word, they can update their own web site.
When I first started using wordpress it was all about the Theme. Think of the Theme like a template that gives you a baseline for the look and feel of your site and allows you to grow or customize it from there as much as you like. Very simple changes can be made by beginners with items such as widgets, to more complex customization for advanced folks who can edit and write code. Finding the right theme saves you a bunch of development time when creating your site because the closer it is to your ultimate design and functionality means less work for you. And less work for you means less money for the customer, and that is what they really like!
There are many free themes that are available and I tend to like the ones offered on the actual WordPress site because you can get support for them from the forums. Other themes will cost you some money, but don’t necessarily think they will be better. Many times they are flashier and may have some graphics worth using, but getting support can be difficult as well. Be careful when choosing free themes outside of the WordPress site, because they may contain spammy links in the footer, or worse yet malicious code. The first theme I started working with looked cool and simple enough for me to get some experience customizing, but it also included a link in the footer that said “laptop”. When you clicked it you went to a site selling discounted laptops. It was impossible for me to get rid of this link too, at least with the limited knowledge I had at the time.
When WordPress is installed it loads a default theme but it can be changed easily in the WordPress admin. But go ahead and load one, two or even more themes and see how they look. That is the cool thing about WordPress Themes, they can easily be changed, giving your site a new look without losing any of your pages, posts or data. I would recommend however that you do a little research and first read the reviews and support forums before installing a theme, just to make sure it is a generally trouble free experience for other users. Use this link to browse or search for themes on the WordPress site. There are over 1,600 to choose from, so chances are there is one waiting for you!