This is Part 4 in a series of posts about building a WordPress website using name.com’s products and account management features. Previously, we purchased a domain name, used RapidPress to create the website, and added a video page with a .TV domain.
The basic framework for bearglecorn.com is now in place, but the default WordPress template is really boring and really ugly:
Yikes. I could dress this up with some custom CSS, but I’d rather find a theme that has a few more bells and whistles. I had a short of a wishlist in mind for my theme:
- A featured post slider/carousel at the top of the page
- Options for a custom header image
- A horizontal main menu
- A flat design style
- Multiple options for page layout (sidebars, full-column pages, etc.)
- Free (Bearglecorn is cheap. He steals WiFi and borrows his girlfriend’s Netflix account.)
Before searching and testing themes, I created a few test posts so I could see how typical formatting options react to different themes. I also created a few basic pages and menus (About, Contact, links to social media profiles, etc.) for the same purpose. Check out this page for an example—it’s full of headings, lists, photos, photo captions, etc. I used a dummy text generator to fill out the paragraphs.
With my wishlist in mind and some sample posts ready to go, I started searching. There’s no shortage of articles with titles like “the 40 best WordPress themes” (it’s great SEO bait!), and I found this article and this website to be particularly useful. There are a ton of high-quality free themes out there.
Installing a WordPress theme is incredibly simple. When you download a theme it’ll come as a ZIP file. After downloading a theme, go to your WordPress dashboard and click on “Themes” in the “Appearance” menu. From there, click on the “Install themes” tab, and then click “Upload.”
Appearance » Themes » Install Themes » Upload
From there, use the “Choose file” button to navigate to the ZIP file and click “Install Now.” WordPress will install the theme (it usually takes just a few seconds), and then you’ll be given the option to preview the theme on your site (only you will see the changes), Activate the theme (everyone will see the changes), or return to your Themes page (where you can view all installed themes at once).
Theme No. 1: Leponto Mag
I started with the Leponto Mag theme from simplewpthemes.com. It had most of the elements I wanted, and after some simple tweaks to the CSS*, I had a website that was a bit more in line with the bearglecorn (name.com) style. But there was no option for a custom header, and I wanted to give a few more themes a try.
*If you’ve got some basic CSS skills, you can edit the theme’s style sheet by navigating to the “Appearance” menu in your WordPress dashboard and clicking “Editor.”
Theme No. 2: Response Theme
Next, I tried Responsive Theme from ThemeID. I liked the styling a bit more, but the featured content block was static (I want to be able to feature 3-4 posts at once), and I couldn’t quite get it to work the way I wanted. Removing that section made for an attractive enough blog, and using the Font Uploader plugin to add some name.com fonts made it look even better. But I decided to keep searching.
Theme No. 3: Traveller
The third theme I tested was Traveller from SMThemes. It seemed to have all the elements I wanted. I’m still tweaking the CSS to get things just right, but I think I’ll stick with this theme. Before and after screenshots:
The home page is looking pretty good, and so are individual blog posts. Click here to check out the site. Next week I’ll add a few plugins.