So you’ve got your WordPress site up and running. Everything’s okay under the hood, but you need to make it look awesome on the outside too.
You don’t have any technical skills. So what’s next for you? Hire a designer to draw your layouts by code? Ask a developer to help you?
You’d better try to do it yourself. I mean, if you have at least a vision about how it is supposed to look, then it shouldn’t be a big issue to turn ideas into facts.
How? Well, there are many ways to design your own site without having to know too many things.
Use a theme builder
One of the solutions would be to take a theme builder. A theme builder offers you a large range of options you can use to arrange and rearrange stuff right from the front-end. They are easy to use and don’t require anything… but money, to be honest.
There are some good free theme builders on the market too. Make, Layers or Unyson Framework work great. Give them a try. Install them on your WordPress site and test them.
If you need something more advanced, Headway or Thesis might be what you need.
Theme builders let you create your site’s design from scratch. On the front-end, drag-and-drop options included.
But drag-and-drop builders won’t bring you the same complexity and flexibility a ready-made theme will.
Use a ready-made theme
If you don’t care too much about creating your own theme, there are lots of awesome free and premium ones that you can choose from. Each comes with its own design, so you can pick the one that’s closest to how you want your site to look.
Then, you can customize it and add other separate stuff, to your preferences and tastes. The difference between a ready-made theme and a theme builder is that you won’t have to waste time with the first. The design is there, you just have to customize it and to add new improvements.
Design means visuals
Picking the theme is just the first step in your way to designing your site and making it look great. Themes don’t always provide everything you need, that’s why you have to open the magic box of tools.
When I talk about design I don’t mean only the layout format or structure, but also the visuals used there.
For me, visuals matter a lot. And any marketer will tell you the same thing anytime. What do I mean by visuals?
Visuals are everything that’s not text. They include: images, graphics, tables, fonts, infographics, colors, animations, effects, videos. Now, it’s not that you use them, but it’s more about how you use them.
Everybody needs images. But not everybody is a photographer. So where do I take my images from? There are lots of sites that put free image resources at your disposal. And I’m talking about high-quality images that you can use freely on your website, without having to care about their copyright.
Of course, there are also paid images that you can buy anytime from professional photographers, if you really need something unique.
Images are also important for original featured images that you can use for your blog posts. You can use them as they are or create your own with an editor. Images are important for ads, banners, posts, backgrounds etc.
I can give you a couple of sources where you can borrow free high-quality images from: Unsplash, MyStockPhotos, Gratisography, Pexels. There are also free videos, if you’re a video person.
Sliders also give your site a more elegant note and make it look more beautiful.
How to add sliders to your site? With plugins.
Some of the most popular WordPress plugins for sliders are Soliloquy (there’s also a free version of this plugin), Slider Revolution, Meteor Slides, LayerSlider, and Slidedeck.
Sliders really change your site’s aspect. Use them with trust.
For me, fonts are essential. They make all the difference on a site. Or maybe it’s just me. I think fonts are like a personal signature.
I often stay longer on a site just because I like the fonts. If I find the fonts interesting, I may also read the article too.
Don’t use regular fonts, be different. Sometimes, a theme comes with its own fonts. And sometimes you need to use some tools that will provide you custom fonts.
You don’t need to exaggerate, though. Use simple, elegant, and intelligible ones. Simple can be unique too.
Font Awesome brings you a great pack of fonts and CSS toolkit that can be used on your WordPress site. And FontReach scans all the sites from across the web and finds all the fonts in the world. Type a font or see the top of the most used. But watch out, the scrolling never ends!
Icons are also catchy. Try to use icons that differentiate you from the others. Use them with a purpose. They need to fit your site’s topic. For instance, if you’re selling Christmas stuff, a nice idea would be to use icons that are related to Christmas, snow etc.
All these small details may seem insignificant, but they make a big difference and change the appearance of a site completely. And I’m not talking from an expert’s point of view, but from a regular user’s.
There are icons for everything: food, weather, clothes, landmarks, hospitals, sports, music, Easter. Well, you got the point.
IconStore offers all these for free. Depending on your area, you can pick the package you need and bring your site a new fresh vibe. Icons do make a difference.
Use clever color schemes. Don’t make abuse of colors because having tons of shades on your site won’t make it look better. Colors change everything substantially, so it’s important to use them wisely. Depending on your site’s purpose, the overall design and the amount of content, it’s better to stick to 2 or 3 colors that somehow match.
I personally prefer subtle and light colors. I’m one of those “the simpler the better” persons.
If you ever asked yourself about a place containing all the colors in this whole world, BrandColors is the answer. It also gives you the codes for all color schemes used by the most popular companies on the planet.
Get ready to spend some precious time with this tool. There are too many colors, just too many.
Great design tools to improve your WordPress site’s design
Canva is an awesome tool that designs any kind of stuff. You just need to free your imagination and start building layouts, backgrounds, featured images, banners, ads etc.
The tool also provides tons of free and paid images that you can use for your designs. You just have to search for them in its internal stash.
Canva also comes with lots of other design elements, such as lines, illustrations, frames, charts, icons, shapes etc. But you can upload your own as well.
Be careful, it’s very friendly and addictive!
Speaking of images, Pixlr is a smaller Photoshop that edits photos online. It comes with a strong features package. So, if Photoshop is not your best friend, you could try this tool. It comes with pretty complex settings too, don’t expect something minimalist.
Do you love infographics and need to use them on your site? Easel.ly eases your job by creating ready-made templates and designs. You just have to fill your information and numbers and customize the design. Everything is very intuitive, you’ll handle it very well. You can bring your own resources into play as well.
The tools I shared here are not enough for you? Graphic Burger is a site that provides some of the best design resources and trends. So give it a scroll and maybe you’ll find something even more interesting. Icons, UI kits, text effects, backgrounds, mock-ups… it’s all there.
Makes your pictures more lightweight while keeping their quality untouched. Your site won’t be affected by their large dimensions anymore and will load faster. This is an easy and simple image compressor that saves your disk space and bandwidth.
I think ImageOptim is indispensable.
And last but not least.
They are plenty. Thousands.
Plugins are made to improve your WordPress site’s look. Just go to the official directory, type a keyword, and a list with all the free plugins related to your search will show up right away.
There are lots of premium plugins as well. Just look for them and you’ll find something for every goal and purpose.
You can make a site look awesome by simply having a great vision of its design and using the right tools. It may take time and cost money but I assure you that, at the end of the day, it’s worth it. Design is not only for experts, it’s more about the way you see things.
Are there any other great design tools that made you happy?
Author Bio: Adelina Tuca is a writer and WordPress blogger at ThemeIsle and CodeinWP. I also write content on JustFreeThemes.com and on my personal blog. Apart from writing, I have three big hobbies: sports, hiking, and metal concerts.