If you have been reading this column, you will have been convinced of the business benefits of opening up your own Blog. Like the vast majority of small business owners, you will no doubt be thinking about using a WordPress Blog. And once you have given some thought to what content you will present,you can down load your copy of WordPress and begin. Well it’s not quite that simple. Most business owners will want to spend some time customising the basic Word press site. At the very least to make the Word Press Blog follow the company branding style so that customers do not get confused when they move from your corporate website to your business Blog and vice versa. Then it is usual to add third party “plug ins” to give specific functionality, such as a Twitter Feed Window or Flikr Gallery to repeat the Tweets or photo Posts you have made. This is good to point, but perhaps the easiest way to really make your Blog look professional is to buy a whole third party WordPress Theme. But which should you choose and why?
WordPress Themes are relatively small programs that have been designed to work with the standard Word Press Blog and allow the enthusiastic amateur to change items such as background colour, font styles and to upload logos without knowing any code. Often they will come pre-loaded with Plug Ins and other specialist features depending on the Theme. And that is the point. All Themes are different and are themselves designed to appeal to a particular industry or to deliver a particular set of requirements. The good news is that Themes do not cost a great deal of money. Perhaps £35 and some quiet good ones are Free! And with care it is possible to swap between Themes if you do not like the results..
So for example, you might decide that you need a News Paper or Magazine Theme and you can search for this and find that many third party developers produce a Theme that lets the user generate and then customise a beautiful looking template. Variations on this might be delivered complete with a very modern or perhaps a vintage theme, or be designed to promote a local band, for example. The Theme will have a Control Panel that allows you to customise further. It is actually quite rewarding if you have time and you should allow couple of hours to get something looking right for your business.Other Themes are designed to allow creative companies and agencies to show off their work in a “Portfolio” effect. They include full multi media capability (Text, Images, Video and Audio) all embedded within the Theme. (Meaning that a customer does not leave your site to view a YouTube video). Other types of Theme allow you create Blogs that are basically web shops with some surprisingly good commerce features built in.
A really important Theme feature to look out for is, “Responsiveness”. A responsive Theme means that the Blog will automatically scale and look right on a PC, on a Mobile phone or on an iPad. That said, if your audience is never likely to look at your Blog on a mobile phone, choose a Fixed layout. It will load much faster and that can be useful in certain circumstances. (Especially, if you are trying to sell something)
The important thing to remember is that, all Word Press Themes are somewhat of a compromise. The compromise is the balance between Functionality, Cost and Quality. For example, if you decide to buy an eCommerce theme, it will likely be adequate for most small time activity, but it will not scale for all your worldwide shipping needs. In which case you will need to buy, or have built, a stand alone eCommerce facility.
In the end you do get what you pay for. If you want something truly unique, you will need to pay a web designer to code it for you!