Being a professional web designer I surf the web on a regular basis. I come across a number of different sites in different niches. I can pretty much tell if your site is WordPress or not. If I think it is a WordPress site I usually have a pretty good guess on what theme you are using. To check myself and see if I am right I use this website whatwpthemeisthat.com, which is just one of a lot that you can tell what theme someone is using. That site also revels the plugins that a particular site is using as well. Seeing a number of different sites on a daily basis, I end up shaking my head and spitting coffee on my screen at how bad a lot of these sites are. If you made your own site, then you might have a crappy site.
WordPress for Beginners
I understand if you are new to WordPress and are learning, but there is no excuse to put out a site that is as bad as some of the sites I have seen. Look, I have designed some shitty sites to, but not the shittest of my sites would compare to what I have seen. Don’t even get me started on color combinations that make Kayne West’s “Jeezy” clothing line look like Louis Vuitton. There is a place and a time to design a site. If you are doing something that is going to be worth anything, please use your my best judgement. Famous C+ list celeb Adam Carolla (Hey, Man Show!) has a great Saying “Don’t do your best, do my best.” This is exactly how I feel when it comes to websites.
So the whole point of this article is to vent on shitty WordPress web sites educate you on some things that you can do to improve the look of a site you may be designing.
Premium WordPress Themes
First off, do yourself a favor and get a premium theme, don’t start complaining (you probably haven’t even used a paid theme if you have). Do go all cheap ass on your site, its going to take a lot more to get that site where you want it then if you were just to get a paid theme. I made a video about a good blog theme you can use with google adsense. Anyways, get a premium theme and customize it, don’t be a panzi, believe me, this is much easier than “franskensiting” one of those free themes.
How Should My Homepage Look?
All websites need content. Your website is no different. Content (aka Copy) is the whole reason you have a site, it’s your voice and if you don’t have content, you don’t have a site. You know the famous saying (insert blah, blah, blah here) “Content is King.” Ok, I’m becoming to general. If you are doing a site for a profession (dentist, doctor, auto repair) please make sure that you have more than just their ugly logo on the home page.
A good start would be a wide layout with a slider. Not one of those 1/3 of a page ones, nope, it should be full width (1920 pixels wide). A slider brings a sense of “Oh Wow, this guy is professional” feeling. If you don’t want a slider, fine, just do something that looks good. Besides images, though, get yourself a mission statement and a few paragraphs about your business. Make some calls to actions with some icons and buttons. This is just a quick little graphic I made here…
Disclaimer: I’m not going to show any examples of shitty sites because I will probably get killed on social media by the far leaning lefties (who have a shitty website). How I shouldn’t bash someone’s “hard” work or how it’s a piece of “art.” Shut Up. You know what sites are crappy. Go to just about any web forum and look for a “review my website” post.
Your Logo is Causing Problems
I’m going to transition to another thing that I have seen way to much of. Unnecessary space in the header. It starts with keeping your logo tight. Don’t leave a lot of space around the edges when creating a logo in Photoshop. That is, if you are making the logo. If you inherited a low resolution jpeg, good luck getting a high quality one. Throw that thing in Photoshop and say a prayer that you can take some space away from the edges, or even use it without a white background. So once you get your logo straight, make sure there isn’t a ton of padding or margin around the logo or menu. If there is, use some simple CSS to take it out.
Since we are talking about logos, lets make sure your color scheme matches. Don’t do some header with a tree bark background, unless it fits your brand. Keep it to a minimum, less is more. Don’t go bat shit crazy on this, keep your site to two or three complementary colors. Make sure they are consistent to your brand. I’ve made a number of sites that are completely ruined by stupid clients that want image backgrounds. When I do this I think that the client will see that their idea was stupid. Nope, not at all. I don’t even put these sites in my portfolio because I don’t want a potential client to think I’m retarded mentally challenged.
Clients Suck, Most of the Time
I recently remade a website for a client that currently has a site that was built in 2002. You can imagine what this looked like. I resigned the site in WordPress, using the Divi theme (she only paid like $600, she has bee a client for a while). I did a really nice homepage. I remade her “logo” that was only text. I didn’t have to do this, was just going above and beyond. So she had an updated logo, full width slider with her images, 3 calls to action with images she provided. I cut out a nice picture of her and put her bio next to her. The site looked 1000% better than what she had.
What was her response? We need another set of eyes on the website. This is not what we wanted. Oh really? What did you want? Something like my current site. Uh, your current site is 15 years old. This site looks much better and up to today’s standards, whats wrong with it? The images you used. The yellow color of that text (logo). You mean the images you gave me to use on the site? The ones that you took yourself? And that yellow color is the same exact color that your “logo” is now. She went on forever with this stupid bullshit.
Do You Have Client’s Disease?
Look, I can go on and on. This is how websites are destroyed. Listen to the wrong people, which can include yourself and your site will just be another crappy site on the internet. So what is “Client’s Disease?” I am still trying to come up with a solid definition. It could be described as commissioning an artist for a piece of work. Look at the artist painting a picture you requested, tell the artist they should use ::insert crappy color scheme:: and they should ::insert crappy idea::, instead of the original beautiful idea they laid out for you for this painting. After they are finished you should probably bitch at them and tell it’s not what you wanted. You paid way to much and they should burn that painting.
That covers most of the header in a nutshell. I’m not going to get into the menu right now. Just know that it should be inline with your logo or the logo should be centered with the menu underneath. I’ll expand on other parts of the website in later posts.