As I launch my first business blog with the help of my staff (and my own research), I am creating a beginner’s guide to explain to non-technical people exactly how to start and maintain a successful blog . In my first Boss Blog Series post, I explained how to select the best domain name for your blog.
This post assumes you have selected and purchased your domain name, and that you are now ready to begin deciding which format, or “theme” is right for you. Since WordPress has become the industry standard for bloggers as well as the easiest/fastest way to get a professional looking blog up and running , in this post we will be learning how to select the best WordPress theme for your blog.
First, begin by writing an outline for your content (think term paper), complete with top level and sub categories. The simplicity or complexity of your blog, combined with the field you are addressing, and whether it’s a business blog or a hobby blog, are all important factors in your theme selection.
A business blog should always have a stated goal. For instance, promoting yourself as a trusted expert in your industry, promoting awareness of a specific product or service you or your firm offers, or providing targeted content that will drive niche ad revenue to your blog are three prominent examples of viable goals for business blogs.
Once you’ve identified your primary objective and completed your blog outline, it’s time to do some research. Start by doing a Google search and critiquing several blogs that are similar in content to the one that you want to launch. Take some time to look around and get a feel for the kind of blog format that makes sense for your content/area of expertise. Cull out your top three or four choices, bearing in mind that you may like different elements of each blog you have selected.
Now it’s time to find the WordPress blog theme that best supports your primary blog objective, your field, your specific outline, and your individual style. If you’ve done your homework you should now have a clear idea of what elements you need and be ready to pick your theme.
Follow these steps to select the right theme for your blog:
- This link has 45 of some of the most popular free WordPress themes. There are many more sites that have both free and higher end blog themes. Surf around until you find the theme you want, either from this site or another one. There are hundreds to pick from. Make sure to try out each theme that catches your eye by demoing it to ensure that it will meet your requirements. For example, you may need the ability to change logo files, backgrounds and/or color schemes, you may need galleries for images, or headers that rotate or can be edited. You will also need a specific kind of navigation that best suits your parameters.
- Pick at least one theme that is close to what you have in mind, and which requires little or no customization. Unless you are a Web developer or programmer by trade, you will most likely need to hire a professional to do most of your customization. Your budget and timeline will determine how many custom features you can afford.
- Check out how your most workable themes look in different browsers. Some WordPress blogs look awful on some browsers so you really have to do your home work here. Eliminate any themes that don’t look good across all browsers. You can either download all of the most popular browsers or, if you do need customization, you can ask your developer to check this for you, and be prepared with an alternate theme in case your top choice doesn’t pass the browser compatability test. It’s fast and easy to download browsers to your own computer, but it depends on how much time and money you have. A developer should, as part of his blog customization service, include cross browser compatablilty testing.
- If, after comparing the “out of the box” theme that will most closely fit your needs with a more customizable selection, you’re certain that you will need customization, then it’s time to select the right professional to help you to quickly and cost-effectively get your blog up and running. If you’re not already working with another firm, NuRelm does blog customization for a reasonable hourly rate. We have 13 years of experience as Web developers and programmers, as well as extensive experience with WordPress. That said, so do lots of other firms. Just make sure you check them out and you get what you pay for. Mention this post for a 10% discount on our blog customization services.
Once you’ve made your theme selection, it’s now time to move on to the next step – plugins. We will address plugins for your new WordPress blog in Part III of the Boss Blog series, which will be coming out in a couple weeks.