I remember a time where getting a free WordPress theme meant having “to make do” with the limitations that it begins.
However, since I’ve recently started a new project and wanted to do it completely for free, I have been looking and testing some free WordPress themes and I am happy to say that some of the free themes out today are even better than the premium themes I used to use 2 to 3 years ago.
It is amazing how far free themes has come with regards to functionality, design and for user experience.
Now, that does not mean that the premium themes haven’t gotten better either, but with a free theme you can do so much more than you would’ve been able to in the past.
Today, I want to talk about some wordpress design tips, more importantly how to get the most out of a free theme (if you are using one).
If you’re on a premium theme at the moment, this may be useful to you as well since I will also be talking about some tools that can give all types of WordPress themes a bit of a boost in the right direction.
If, on the other hand, you are running on free theme, then this is a must read for you and I am sure you’re going to find a lot of useful information in this post today.
As always, if you have any questions, be sure to let me know in the comment section below. I’m here to help so type away.
Let’s get into this:
WordPress Design Tips: How To Get The Most Out Of A Free Theme
Make Sure Your Theme Is Mobile Optimised
Most of the modern free themes are all mobile optimised, which is why I am always surprised to see blogs that are still not responsive on mobile.
If you have a free theme that is recent, then you do not have to worry about this as I am sure it is mobile optimized (it doesn’t hurt to give it a try though just to make sure).
If your free theme doesn’t support mobile. Then we need to do something about it and you have two options for that:
Either get rid of the theme and look for another one, which I would suggest you do seeing as there are many free ones that look great on mobile,
Install a plugin that will make it responsive.
I do not suggest this as I do not like to have a lot of unnecessary plugins on my website since it slows it down (more on this later), however; if you really like the theme you are using right now and you’re not up for changing it, then get this plugin and it should make it look much better on mobile.
Here’s also a list of the best 5 plugins for mobile optimization.
Create Your Designs On Canva
Web design is all about coding, but that does not mean that if you do not know how to code, you can’t make your blog visually attractive.
Everything you see on my site is not done through code, but rather, by using Canva to design all the things that I need.
The slider bar; for the most part, I used Canva, the top and bottom banner; Canva as well (although your theme has to allow banners).
Even for my blog posts I only use Canva. I have written about Cnava many times in the past and that is because I really am convinced that it is one of the best tools any blogger can use.
You can see my full Canva review here. Let me know what you think of it.
Test The Speed Of Your Site
When you have a free theme and you try to load it up with a lot of plugins, widgets and features, you are running the risk of it becoming slow for the end user.
Now this is a tricky once since you will never know that your site is slow because your browser loads it up from memory, but for anybody coming into your site for the first time (without them ever having loaded up your site), it will be incredibly slow to use.
This is horrible and with time being such a big thing online, waiting any more than 5 seconds for a site to load up will surely result in a visitor leaving and probably never coming back.
Now we do not want that of course. I always talk about how traffic is important to have so once you’re getting it, make sure that you are not losing it before they ever see a word you’ve written.
To check your speed site, there are many, many tools you can use but the best I have found so far is the Google Insights tool where all you have to do is copy/paste your URL in there and Google will tell you how fast (and responsive) your site is on desktop and on mobile.
Go ahead give it a go here.
Please note that it doesn’t have to be 100 over 100 for it to be ok, but if your scores are in the red, then it is something you should be worrying about.
However, if this happens, Google will also give you some tips on how to fix the issues that are slowing your site down so once you know what is causing the slowness, you can easily manage it and get it fixed in no time.
Focus On The Content
A huge mistake I often see is that people load up their theme will a lot of unnecessary “bells and whistles”.
For example stuff like the following should never happen:
- Large image files (stick to less than 200KB)
- Music autoplaying when you open a page (awful)
- Confusing flashing banners everywhere (it slows it all down and it’s not great to look at)
- Confusing patterns in the background (keep it simple and go with a solid color, ideally light).
- Too much bolded text (this just gives me a headache tbh).
Your main focus with your free theme (or premium theme for that matter) is YOUR CONTENT!
If your content is easy to read and follow without being bombarded and distracted from it by other useless things, then you are good to go.
I know this is not necessarily a “WordPress design tip” but I had to put this in as the amount of blogs I see that are just a mess to look at is getting too damn high!
I hope this quick post served you well and I hope these few design tips have shown you how to fully utilize your theme, even if it’s just a free one you downloaded.
As always, getting a premium theme is always recommend, the amazing features you will see on a premium WordPress theme are honestly futuristic and it is amazing how far they’ve come.
WordPress has also come far since it’s humble beginnings. Nowadays, it’s very hard to tell if a website was coded by an experienced graphic designer or simply running a theme downloaded online.
Thank you very much for reading. I hope you’re well. Feel free to subscribe to my email newsletter list so I can send you my free ebook + some other free goodies.
Till next time.