WordPress is by far the most popular website creation tool and content management system (CMS) in existence. As of December 2016, over 75 million websites used WordPress, and every day 500 new sites are being created with it.
Even though the platform is open source and free to use, the quality of what’s being created by some designers looks like a million bucks. Many people are surprised to find that some of today’s top websites were built off of WordPress. For instance, did you know The New Yorker, BBC America and the Walt Disney Company websites are all built on the WordPress platform?
None of those sites look anything alike, yet they were all created with WordPress.
Graphic design degrees are in demand, but you don’t have to get a higher education to create WordPress pages that look just as good as the examples above. Here are three ways just about everyone can create webpages with an attractive layout:
Take Advantage of Web Hosting Tools
One of the top resources a website owner can use is their web hosting service. Some services include additional drag and drop page builders that make designing webpages and content creation more intuitive. Drag and drop website builders allow you to easily try out different layouts without needing to know any code or special techniques. Point, click and drag sections into place until you’re happy with the flow.
Use a Customizable Template
There are thousands upon thousands of WordPress website templates (a.k.a. themes) available today. Virtually all of them can be customized, some more so than others. When you’re considering theme options pay careful attention to which design elements can be changed and how easy it is to customize.
Use a WordPress Plugin
One of the great things about WordPress being open source is that so many developers have been able to create awesome plugins. These plugins can significantly expand the design possibilities. Among the options are drag and drop page builders, layout grids, content styling tools and image editors.
Layout Tips to Keep in Mind
Start with your header. The header is what a user will see first when they visit the home page. One of the most important aspects is the navigation bar at the top. It’s not only a design element, the navigation bar helps users find the information they need. Pay attention to the tab titles, sizing, drop down displays and whether or not the nav bar will be static. Overall the header should give the user an idea of what the site is about and the general aesthetic.
The New Yorker is a great example of making a statement with the header. It highlights the branding, which is already well known, uses descriptive yet succinct tab titles and it’s tall enough to handle the subscription CTA without looking cluttered.
Make sure it translates to mobile. Today, more people use mobile devices than desktop computers. A website layout can look great when you’re designing it on the computer, but if it doesn’t translate to mobile then it won’t look good to most users. BBC America nailed the transition between desktop and mobile with their layout. With exception of the second section, the layout is almost identical across screens.
Poor mobile design could also hurt your search engine rankings now that Google is moving to mobile-first indexing. Using a responsive design theme is the simplest solution since it automatically adjusts to fit all screen sizes.
Always keep your end user in mind. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the beauty of a design and completely forget about functionality. Of course, there’s also the matter of personal preference. At the end of the day, your website is for the users. It should represent your brand, but it should be designed for the people who will visit it to learn about your company.
Make it easier on your users by keeping the design somewhat intuitive. For example, Disney keeps their logo/home page link in the top left hand corner of the header and the search tool in the top right hand corner. Both those choices are very common and therefore almost expected by users.