How to choose a site design or theme for your website

by Nate Hoffelder

After a decade of running The Digital Reader, Nate is a veteran web publisher with experience in design, maintenance, recovery, and troubleshooting. What little he doesn't know, he can learn.

May 13, 2016

The design of your website can be either as generic as the school uniform issued to kids, or as personal as the tailored outfit a movie star put on this morning.

The one thing it does not have to be is ridiculously expensive, and that’s a lesson I learned from the field of interior design.

This might be hard to imagine, but the interior decoration of a home is a lot like a website template or theme. Both are governed by certain aesthetics, both are highly personal choices, and they can both cost you a lot of money if you’re not careful.

A smart interior designer saves their clients money by having those clients clip photos from magazines which contain a color, design, fabric, or another element the client likes. All those clippings give the designer a better idea of what the client wants, making it easier to choose the decorations of a home.

The same general principle applies when it comes to picking a website theme.

There are two general ways to pick a new theme; one requires an investment of time, and the other drains your pocketbook.

Your first option is to spend a lot of money having a theme made from scratch, and then modified to suit your whim. This can take weeks and cost you thousands of dollars (seriously), putting it outside the reach of most bloggers.

I know I can’t afford it; fortunately, there are cheaper options.

The second and better way to pick a theme is to spend some time browsing themes, and then choose one that almost fits your needs. Once chosen, you might just use the theme as is, or you can hire an expert such as myself to modify the theme so it looks exactly the way you want.

If you like the theme the way it is, good.

But if you want the theme to be modified, I can give you a few tips on how you can save yourself some money.

Each time you try a site theme, ask yourself what you like and dislike about the theme. Take careful notes about the details, and try to be specific. This will help you better understand what you like and it will make it easier for you to explain your preferences to whoever is working with you to modify the theme.

Allow me to give you an example.

I choose the theme for this site, and I modified it myself, but it was not really so simple as that.  I installed over two dozen different themes on this site before I settled on this theme, and each time I looked at a theme I asked myself what it was missing, what I liked, and what I thought was ugly.

This gave me a better understanding of what I wanted this site to look like, and I was able to use that insight to modify this theme so it looked just the way I wanted.

If you take good notes then that will help me modify your theme to your satisfaction.

image by Wicker Paradise

Hi, I'm Nate.

I build and fix websites for authors, and I am also a tech VA. I can build you a website that looks great and turns visitors into fans, and I can also fix your tech when it breaks. Let me fight with tech support so you don’t have to.

My blog has everything you need to know about websites and online services. Don’t see what you need. or want personalized help? Reach out.

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