5 Tips For Creating A Beautiful WordPress Site

The appearance of a website matters, greatly.

As a designer, I’m biased. However, during the first milliseconds of viewing a site, if the logo, fonts, colors or imagery make my eyes bleed — I won’t proceed to the content. For myself and other professionals, design equals credibility.

While an Organic Theme will provide a huge head start towards creating a beautiful site, there are still potential poor design choices that can be made on the path to completion. Here are a few tips for staying on the path to creating a beautiful WordPress site.

1. Great Images

Images will make or break the appearance of your site. Poor image choice is the most common mistake I encounter in new websites. If you plan to use images, don’t cheap out — it will reflect poorly on your brand.

Good images are going to cost you a few bucks. Great images are going to cost you more than a few bucks. If you don’t have the budget for quality photography, there are a few options for finding good free imagery.

Paid Photo Resources
  • istockphoto.com — Good, affordable images. They also offer one free image per week.
  • shutterstock.com — Similar to iStock in terms of pricing and quality.
  • veer.com — Similar to iStock in terms of pricing, maybe slightly higher quality. They also have great artwork and fonts available.
  • gettyimages.com — Cream of the crop editorial images. They are fantastic. They are not cheap.
Free Photo Resources
  • Use Instagram — A great way to get your own good looking images for free.
  • Flickr Creative Commons — You can find great images here. The usage conditions vary, but you generally need to give credit to the photographer.
  • stock.xchng — An excellent free resource. You may have to do some digging on the site for quality images.
  • Wikipedia Commons — You’re free to use any images or media on Wikipedia.
  • Ask permission — It doesn’t hurt to ask your favorite photographers. You’ll have more luck with this if you provide credit and have site traffic.

2. Font Choices

Once upon a time, in my youth, I thought Papyrus was a great font. Then I became a designer, and realized it’s not. Making great font choices is very important to the design, professionalism and above all else, the legibility of your site. If you want people to read your content — make it easy for them.

When in doubt, use Helvetica, Arial or Georgia. They are widely recognized as legible fonts online — and they should work across all browsers without any coding trickery. If you’re not a professional designer, and a font looks “boring“, that’s probably the easiest way to recognize it as being a good font.

Seen a great font, but don’t know what it is? Try WhatTheFont from MyFonts.

Using fonts on the web isn’t like choosing a font in Microsoft Word. By default, there are only a handful of core fonts that can be viewed universally on the web. This problem has haunted web typography for years. Very difficult workarounds evolved using images, Flash or Cufon. It wasn’t until relatively recently that great solutions began to emerge.

Web Font Solutions
  • Google Fonts — Free and good, most of them anyway.
  • Typekit — Basically a premium version of Google Fonts, offering high quality fonts on your site for a price.
  • Fontdeck — Similar to Typekit, but with different pricing options.
  • @font-face — My personal favorite method, but it requires a little more effort and font ownership.
Font Sources
  • myfonts.com — If you’re looking for a specific font, you can probably find it here.
  • exljbris Font Foundry — They have a collection of free quality fonts.
  • veer.com — Veer offers some great fonts for design.
  • dafont.com — A huge collection of free fonts. Use carefully, because most of them are pretty horrid.
WordPress Font Plugins

3. Colors

Unless you are well versed in color theory, getting too creative with the color scheme on your site may be a disaster. It might look like a chimpanzee finger painting.

If color isn’t your cup of tea, a great rule of thumb is to use 2 neutral, contrasting colors (preferably shades of black and white) with the sparse use of 1 highlight color throughout your site.

If you’re feeling more ambitious, try implementing a palette from ColourLovers. Remember to make wise color choices that match your brand.

We create our themes to provide basic color changing options for the links, buttons, highlights and background. We have tried to keep the options minimal to reduce the risk of a color disaster.

4. Your Logo

Not so long ago, I was a logo designer. A logo is more than just an icon at the top of your site — it’s the face of your company. There is a reason why companies like Citibank pay millions of dollars for a logo re-branding from Pentagram. Those companies understand the value of a logo, and the importance of their brand.

You don’t need a million dollars for a great logo, but you do need more than $20. I’d estimate a starting rate for a great logo concept at around $300, depending on the designer. The price will likely increase considerably based on the number of concepts and revisions desired.

Logopond is a great resource for finding excellent and affordable logo designers.

If you can’t afford a logo designer, there’s always Helvetica. Use a great typeface, purchase an icon from iStockPhoto for $20, or even use your signature if it’s a personal site or brand. Keep it as simple as possible if you absolutely have to create your own logo without experience.

Just please don’t ask your secretary or nephew to design a logo if you value the appearance of your site. It won’t be pretty.

5. Avoid Clutter

More is not always more. When a site contains too much clutter — the focus of the content is lost.

By clutter, I’m referring to:

  • Excessive Advertising
  • Pop-Up Newsletter Forms
  • Absurd Amounts of Social Media Buttons
  • Unexpected Animations
  • Auto-playing Music or Video
  • Any Other Annoying Distractions

While advertising might be a necessity for creating a profitable site, filling it with Google AdSense on every post and sidebar is not going to result in more money. Place ads wisely, and only if your site is generating enough traffic to warrant the use of advertisements. If you’re just getting started, the focus should be on the content. There’s no such thing as an overnight success, even on the web.

A beautiful site is peaceful, not a bombardment of all senses.

Remember, anything that distracts the viewer from the content is bad. If you don’t need it, don’t use it.

Following these tips will result in a stronger brand and more interest in your site. The appearance of a professional brand is essential to any business, and we want your business to look great.

18 Comments on “5 Tips For Creating A Beautiful WordPress Site

  1. Cool blog! Is your thеmе cuѕtom made or dіd yоu downloаd it from somewherе?
    A thеme like yours wіth a feω sіmple tweeks would reallу mаke my blog shіne.
    Please let me know wheгe you got your ԁesіgn.
    Thank yοu

  2. You are so right about Number 1. I always decide I don’t like a theme directly after installing it because it looked so great with the images on the theme demo!

  3. GREAT READ. I’m not the best designer… but I started using my designer friends to help me deliver higher quality sites for my clients.

  4. Good, solid tips. I agree with each and every one.

    Never come across your themes before btw. They definitely look great!


  5. Good day! I just wish to offer you a big thumbs up for the great
    info you have got right here on this post. I will be returning to your web site for more soon.

  6. I think your point about avoiding clutter is paramount. So many websites look really messy and would be a lot better with half the content.

  7. Hello! Someone in my Myspace group shared this site with us
    so I came to take a look. I’m definitely enjoying the information. I’m book-marking and will be
    tweeting this to my followers! Outstanding blog and outstanding design
    and style.

  8. Great tips and I do agree with you about the fact: keep it simple, focus on the content, you will gain more credibility. Don’t jump straight to the conclusion.

    And a quick note to thank you about developping great theme, I have been using one of your theme for a year now and I still received great feedback about the style, design of the theme :)

  9. Magnificent website. A lot of helpful information here.
    I am sending it to a few friends ans also sharing in delicious.
    And naturally, thank you in your sweat!

  10. Great post. I’m wondering if you have any recommendations for where to have logos designed on the web? I’m looking for something affordable, attractive, and professional that can really set the tone for my real estate listings website. Open to any and all suggestions!

  11. @ Teri – Have a look at (99designs dot com) if you’re interested in an inexpensive logo. It’s a crowd-sourcing platform that will help you run a logo design contest and receive designs from dozens of different designers. I’d highly recommend it.

    - Rob

  12. Greetings! Very helpful advice in this particular post! It is the little changes
    that produce the most important changes. Thanks
    a lot for sharing!

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