I often work off WordPress templates and then tweak them to create a “almost custom cost effective” website. The benefits of using a premade template:
- Templates are cost effective and don’t require paying for a graphic designer to come up.
- Templates give a lot of functionality that can take time to build into a custom template.
- Typography (different headings, lists with icons, highlighting, tables, quotes)
- Widget/Module variations
- Nice menu systems
- Hiring someone to tweak the template to get a custom look can be very cost effective.
Some of my favorite places to shop for WordPress themes in no particular order:
- Themeforest Be selective not all templates are created equally here. I read reviews and pay attention to sales/ratings.)
- Mojo themes Have not purchased from here yet, but they have an interesting selection.
- Headway theme for drag & drop, design customization, for a classic type site
Looking for a theme and identifying what you need:
- Think of your colors and logo
- Look/Tone (modern, classic, artsy, etc.)
- White with darker text or Dark with whiter text
- Do you like fixed or dynamic (fixed is a constant width and dynamic spreads out as window is made larger.)
- Templates are classified into a few categories: Blog, Portfolio, CMS/Business Focus on the category to narrow the selection to look at.
With a template, sometimes its hard to determine what your site will look like with your content and logo.
- The look/tone is set with the theme.
- Try look for a theme in the general color categories. Its easier to tweak a blue to the right color blue plus the accents of the template usually go with the main color.
- The menu items will change but the general look of the menu will stay the same. In the template, look at the horizontal menu and make sure you like the look and feel. Try also to find what a vertical menu will look like. Its definitely harder to change the look of a menu.
- If the template doesn’t have room for your header/logo, this is usually a pretty small change.
- Graphics as the background are small change and usually pretty easy.
- Fonts are easy to swap/change.
- Look at the titles of the blocks as well as what the blocks look like. Are they outlined? Do you like the titles & the graphics.
- Look at the typography, module variations, positions that things can go. A good template will include most if not all.
- Some templates offer multiple color styles. Make sure you check them all out.
- Sometimes templates have a lot going on. Many templates have a bunch of positions to put content/stuff. With most templates, if you don’t put something in a position is compresses/disappears.
- Functionality. WordPress makes it easy to add functionality (such as slideshow) so don’t get too hung on functionality. But if the functionality you want is a portfolio showcasing your work, definitely look for a wordpress theme with that functionality.
I tried out the Simple Facebook Connect WordPress plugin and am quite pleased with how it works and intregates your WordPress blog with Facebook.
There are a few steps to get it setup to work correctly and I covered them here:
- Obviously, step 1 is to install the Simple Facebook Connect WordPress plugin on your wordpress installation.
You may have to change some things in your comments.php to allow the facebook login in comments to work correctly. The plugin’s FAQ covers this quite well.
I am using it for the following functionalities and it is nice to have one plugin take care of it all for me:
- Publisher functionality –> automatically posting Facebook messages to your Facebook Page Wall.
- Comment functionality –> Comments on the above post, come back to your wordpress blog comments.
- Users have ability to login with facebook and comment with their facebook acct.
Once you have entered your Facebook app id & secret key, then enter in the ID of your fan page. This can be found by visiting your fan page and finding the long number that occurs after your name.
You will know it is working correctly if underneath the Facebook ID & Secret it will give you the link to your applications wall.
Click on that link and visit your applications plugin. On their click “Add to my Page” and select your Facebook Page.
Once they are verified and added the app to our facebook page, you can enable the plugins you wish to do with SFC:
Enable the ones you want and click Save Changes.
You will be presented with more options.
To enable it to post your page, you need to grant access. Scroll to Publish settings and enable the Automatic Publishing.
Then click on Grant SFC Permissions and allow the tool to publish your posts to facebook.
You will know its working if you get successful Token Check messages that publishing and fan page publishing is ready to go.
Doing a test with Facebook Connect
On the net you will find a multiple and lengthy discussions on picking a CMS tool for building websites. After working with several CMS’s on multiple sites. I have come to a few conclusions of my own.
I like choosing WordPress (although not a true CMS) for simple sites. I like the fact that I can quickly create a small website in a matter of moments. WordPress tools and plugins allow for non-technical editors to edit their pages. Its provides tools that make sure your site get SEO’ed well. I don’t recommend picking this tool for your website if you start wanting features – like extensive galleries, user only access, etc. While there can be tools to provide one or more of these functions, you probably should be looking for a more comprehensive CMS for your site if you want many features.
Another great choice is Joomla. Joomla has its pro’s & con’s. Its going to take a few days to get your site configured with pages & menus to your liking. It provides a lot more tools to get the features you might need. The problem I have with Joomla is lack of interaction between components you add. You might want a gallery and a social media tool and these 2 components (unless designed for) probably won’t interact. So my suggestion is pick Joomla if you want a website with more pages and one or two substantial features.
The last choice is Drupal. Drupal comes with a learning curve but its well worth it in creating a site. This is more building block approach to creating websites. You can take this feature (project/module in Drupal) and combine it with others to create an unique website with feature rich functionality. With that said building a Drupal site is going to take longer than WordPress or Joomla site but for a feature-rich website it is well worth it.
Of course, there are more CMS’s out there but that’s my 2 cents on choosing a CMS tool for your site.