The cost of a hand-built website can be prohibitive for a small business.
You wouldn’t design a house or a new car from scratch, and there’s no need to build a website from scratch either.
I recommend using WordPress, it’s a website content management system for website building, for blogging, for e-commerce, for everything. It’s totally free to download, robust and extremely customisable. There are thousands of additional styling themes and plugins, most of them are free. WordPress powers more than 30% of the websites on earth (and that’s a lot!).
WordPress is the bare bones of the system, it allows us to add pages, content, images, products etc.
To build your website…
1. I install WordPress on the server.
2. To enhance the functionality of WordPress I add and install various plugins on top of the base. A plugin can be something as simple as a contact form or as complex as an online reservation and booking system.
3. To make the site look nice I then install a theme, the theme is the look and feel of the site, the positions of things, the style.
4. To personalise the theme, I then add your logo, text and images, change some colours and if needed tweak the theme design to your specifications.
I won’t hand-code anything extra, this means that the site we build can be managed and maintained by me, by you, or the next person who comes along. Time and time again, I have been asked to take over the running of a website where something bespoke was added, which then became outdated. The original developer has moved on and the bespoke code becomes useless as it cannot be easily updated.
Wordpress is free to download. I simply download, install it and set it up. The set up that I perform includes adding a suite of essential plugins, all of these are free, all enhance the site. These plugins include security, page speed, search engine optimisation, image compression etc.
There are thousands of free WordPress themes, one of these may be perfect for you.
Next up are Freemium themes, these are free themes with limitations. SomeThemeName-lite (as the theme name) tells you that there is a pro version which has some added features. If you really like the lite theme but need a few more features, we may have to upgrade and buy their ‘pro’ version.
If none of these themes are right, then there are premium themes, these are more refined and have added features pre-installed. A premium theme might be something like an estate agent theme, which would have the ability to add properties with images, floorplans, prices, maps etc. or a restaurant theme that allows us to easily add a menu or take bookings. All of this extra functionality is in the theme so we don’t have to look for a plugin to do the same job.
WordPress Themes in the WordPress repository
These are all free (some are Freemium generally the name is labelled ‘SomeThemeName-Lite’). Ignore all the themes that say twenty-something, these are WordPress pre-installed themes.
When you click on a theme to have a better look, look to the right and then click THEME HOMEPAGE–>. This will take you to the theme developer’s site where you can see the demo version they want to show off, which will show you all the good stuff they have designed.
WordPress Premium Themes from Theme Forest
We should always try to choose a theme with lots of downloads of good reviews, these are invariably the best/easiest to use.
I have created many great websites using free themes and have also created rich and beautiful websites using premium themes. I have used free and premium plugins to add additional features and functionality to lots of themes. At the end of the day, we would always recommend the most cost-effective option. It’s all based on your needs, which in any instance can be met.
I have installed WordPress for many clients (as time has gone by, I now use nothing else) and in almost all cases, I have performed professional theme customisation to the chosen theme, to suit their businesses needs. Professional WordPress theme customisation means that I add content sensitively, creating graphics, logos, layouts correctly sized and formatted for the best display across all devices.
If you want to DIY
I have also installed the basic WordPress software and then handed over control to the client immediately. From that point onwards, the client then does everything themselves. Some clients ask us to set up the basics so that editing becomes more straightforward.
It’s easier to edit a page than build it from scratch. Most clients let me build the whole site professionally to completion, then we make the site live. The client can then choose to edit the completed site themselves or ask me to do it for them. All possibilities are available.
If you would like to know exactly what we did for each site, please contact me.
When building a WordPress site look at the information below to help.
WordPress Free Themes
- These are easy (relatively quick) to set up
- they don’t have many options generally (some do)
- if one looks perfect, go for it
If there’s anything that’s not right, look for another theme, there are so many, one will be right.
Always choose a theme that has a high number of downloads and a good review score, this usually means that we won’t get stuck halfway along the build process with something that the theme cannot do. If the theme is new and you really like it, we may have to take a chance, because new themes have neither many downloads or reviews.
WordPress Premium Themes
- These generally are much better
- they have many options & features
- they have premium plugin(s) pre-installed for free
- they take longer to build which may cost more
With options & features comes additional work, more work equals more time to set up the site.
https://themeforest.net/popular_item/by_category?category=wordpress (use the search option to refine the big list)
ALWAYS look for a theme that has lots of downloads, and lots of good reviews, these are generally better.
It’s imperative that you decide on the theme you like the look of because it’s the base of everything we do.
Below are a few themes that I have used to make sites for clients.
The idea of this list is to show you what the original them looked like, and then what we made.
BRIDGE – premium
BUILDPRESS – premium
so you can see the template becomes something similar, but different.
So, based upon this, you (we) need to look at the WordPress and ThemeForest websites, to find the theme you like.