When it comes to creating your business website, setting up WordPress and selecting a theme is half the battle (so give yourself a pat on the back if you’ve gotten those two things done!). But the second half of this battle, the all-important task of tweaking your theme to fit your business, still remains.
You need to turn it into an amazing website that will allow you to reach your target market, and build a loyal following of fans, customers, and supporters. But where do you start?
Feeling your way around the new theme interface, while simultaneously wondering “What should I do with this to make it work for my business?”, can be quite overwhelming. And like groping around in the dark in a strange place, you need some light and a map to help you find your way.
Your Road Map Is Here
First things first: take advantage of all the tutorials, how-to manuals, and user forums included with your new theme, so you can learn your way around the interface. (You can also search Google and YouTube for additional tutorials for your theme). Once you have that down, just follow these steps to create a website that fits your business and resonates with your target audience:
1. Color it! Whether your theme came with ten colors, or an unlimited rainbow of options, select two or three main colors that are most appropriate for the type of business you’re in (or match them to your existing logo, if you have one). Your color choices will set the tone for your entire site, so choose wisely.
2. Take advantage of custom header, background, and other graphic options. Think of your header as the anchor of your site; it tells people who you are, what your business does, and perhaps even what they should expect as they peruse your site. And when you combine it with a matching background: Voila! Your theme takes on a totally unique appearance, just by changing those two elements.
3. Make your navigation menu work for you. Customize the menu as your theme allows, so that it matches your site’s style and colors. If you have a lot of pages, utilize drop menus; your site navigation will be much neater and easier to use that way, than if you try to cram all the links into the main menu.
4. Get rid of unused, or unnecessary, elements. It may have come with your theme, but there’s no point in letting it clutter up your site if it’s not serving any purpose. Maybe it’s an image slider that you really have no need for, or a built-in Twitter feed in the footer (that you’d rather have in the sidebar), or a “Latest News” list on the home page that you’ll likely never use; whatever it is, don’t hesitate to ditch it and fill that space with something much more important (like testimonials! Or a link to your latest project!).
5. Add your own opt-in and contact forms. If your theme’s default forms are lacking in style or function, there are plenty of better options available: style your own with CSS, check with your e-mail platform to see what forms they have for you to use, install a WordPress plugin such as Custom Contact Forms, or use a third-party service like WuFoo.com or 123ContactForm.com.
6. Ditch those generic social media/shopping cart buttons. The graphics on your site should look like they belong there, not like they were imported from [insert name of payment or social media platform], so bring in your own custom buttons if necessary (or have some made for you). This small fix will make your site look more polished and professional, and in the case of buy-it-now/subscribe buttons, can even increase your conversions.
7. Tie it all together! Ensure that the changes you make, and new graphics you bring in, are all working cohesively with your theme. By using consistent colors, shapes, and styles throughout, your website will look way more “put-together”, professional, and yes, ah-mazing – all of which give your site visitors a positive impression of your business, not to mention a pleasant viewing experience.
One final word of advice: When it comes time to finish off your new website, check it twice and test it in different web browsers and computers/smartphones. If you’re afraid you might miss something (typos, unfinished pages, oops-I-forgot-to-replace-the-template-email-with-my-email, or similar goofs), enlist your assistant or a friend or family member to be your second set of eyeballs. Even if you’re normally excellent with details, it’s a good idea to recruit a person or two to catch errors and suggest improvements.
NOW… go forth and make your business known to the world! What changes are you going to make to turn your theme into an amazing website? Share your ideas, plans, and insights in the comments below.