June 04, 2015
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One of the great features of WordPress is the ability to pick and choose themes. There are hundreds to choose from and each one has a different purpose depending on your needs. There are a variety on offer from blog and editorial categories to retail and ecommerce. Another great feature in themes is many offer page builders, which include build it shortcodes, making it easier to create your desired website.
A great site to look at if you want to find the perfect theme is called Themeforest. It allows you to search for specific categories such as blogs, ecommerce or even wedding sites.
Another useful feature of WordPress is that you can monitor the activity you get on your site. If you have recently posted an article or blog post it will appear in this list and you’ll be able to navigate quickly and easily to it. You will also be able to see a summary of the amount of posts and pages you have. As well as any comments that have been made on them.
If you install a plugin called Google Analytics (mentioned below) this will also appear in your activity dashboard, allowing you to see the amount of traffic you are receiving on your website.
There are a wide variety of plugins to help with all aspects of the site. If there’s something that your chosen theme doesn’t offer, such as a countdown timer or a revolution slider. You can simply type in the tool you would like to add and search for the right plugin for you. If there are multiple options, make sure you choose one that has the highest stars, the most active installs (as this shows people are still using it) and that has been recently updated. When you see plugins that say they were last updated over a year ago, it usually means the developer is no longer working on it. So if there are any problems or bugs, they will never be fixed.
They also have plugins that can optimize and enhance your site, which will help gain presence on search engine sites. One of the most popular plugin packs that optimize your site is called the ‘All in one SEO pack’.
Another very popular plugin to use on websites is Google analytics. This plugin monitors your website to see how many people are viewing your site and gives you a report. It can show you very useful information and data to let you know the amount of traffic pages are receiving. This is a great function as it allows you to see the pages/posts that need more optimizing or editing in order to drive more people to them.
One crucial feature is responsiveness. WordPress themes are often responsive, meaning your site changes to adapt for various screen sizes between tablets, smartphones and laptop/pc browsing. This is extremely useful as Google have recently changed their algorithm to give prominence to mobile-friendly sites in search results.
Another useful function is that all mobiles can access your WordPress site. This means not only is mobile friendly, but it also allows you to login and edit your site right from your smartphone.
Although themes offer you many options and you can download plugins for anything they don’t offer, they can make things extremely difficult if your goal is to create a unique tailored site. This can create a problem if you want to add bespoke elements to the site such as a ‘Contact us’ map. All themes are made up of coding, but when you edit one thing it can then potentially stop another feature from working. It’s possible to create ‘Child Themes’ but these are very time consuming and you would need to be an experienced developer to create and edit one.
As with most programs, WordPress is a complex and difficult software to learn. The main reason for this is that each theme is different. Each one offers its own elements and options. For example one theme might offer an ecommerce option, where as another might be more suited towards a blog site. Different elements can intertwine with existing components to create one big confusing mess. But don’t let it put you off too much.
If you’re going to have a nice, simple website, then WordPress is still one of the best options to go for. The basic elements of the software such as writing blog posts and making portfolio pages aren’t too difficult. An added bonus is that many themes come with the option to add pre-made pages (just incase you see one from the preview site you like).
If you would like to edit elements such as adding a border or changing rollover functions, you need to have a certain amount of website developer knowledge to do this. Most things can be changed in the theme options. But if you want to change other elements, for example layout or swapping items around, you need to add the code into the custom css function. This will then override the original coding and make the changes you want.
Please be aware that if you install a software update, which are regularly released, you can potentially lose any custom css you have created! So make sure you keep a backup/copy of the coding before you go through with any updates.
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