As you may know, WordPress is the most widely used content management system (CMS), with about 60 million sites. Many hosting services feature an easy WordPress install option. It’s free and open source. WordPress features easy to install themes and a vast array of plugins that will often provide inexpensive solutions to your needs. WordPress.org is a great starting place to learn more about WordPress.
For WordPress users the vast number of well designed themes are why they chose it. Many themes will have 80%, if not all, of the features you need right out of the box. Themes allow you to change the appearance of your site without directly affecting the site content. Installation is very easy and will let you switch themes with just a few clicks of a mouse. A theme is part look and feel, and part mini program that uses the WordPress engine. Often they are categorized into general groups like personal, business, magazine, media, portfolio, ecommerce, and so on. Some are built for a specific industries like restaurants, real estate, hotels, salons, and many more. And some themes have specific functionality like forums, member management, ecommerce, social networking, and more. The specific function you’re looking for can also be found as a plugin and can be applied to general or industry theme, so a restaurant can use a plugin to add a shopping cart.
Buying a Theme
Theme marketplaces like ThemeForest.net and MojoThemes.com have a large selection of themes. Many are less than $50, and you can demo the theme before you buy. There are several companies that develop themes at an affordable price. I am listing a few; there are many more:
- WooThemes – great framework and one of the best e-commerce plugins (WooCommerce)
- Templatic.com – a selection of industry specific templates (real estate, hotel booking, legal, and so on)
- ElegantThemes.com – a large selection at a great price
- StudioPress.com – another solid developer
Many plugins really make WordPress shine. A plugin allows you to add new features to your existing theme. You can search and activate plugins right from the plugins control panel. They have features like e-commerce, forums, google maps, SEO, website analytics, and more than 20,000 others. While some are paid premium plugins, the majority of them are free. Some plugins like JetPack and WooDojo are meta plugins that contain a gallery of one-click plugins.
My top five plugin recommendations:
- JetPack – a series of great free plugins to super charge your site – Free
- WooCommerce – a great e-commerce solution – Free
- Gravityforms – Makes form creation easy and powerful
- BackupBuddy – the name says it all
- WordPress SEO by Yoast – A great SEO tool – Free