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The Case for the WordPress Theme

The Case for the WordPress Theme | Shannon A. Miller

According to the StrengthsFinder test, one of my strengths is the Maximizer. What this means is that I “seek to transform something strong into something superb.” Basically I don’t like to mess around with things that are subpar and make them okay…I like to take things that are already working well and functioning and make them shine.

When I tell my clients that I recommend starting with a WordPress theme for their website project I get mixed responses. Some jump right on board, but others are a little hesitant.

While not every website project can start with a theme, most of the projects that walk through my door definitely can. And in fact, I highly encourage it. Here’s why…

  • Cost Effective – Who doesn’t love saving a little money? By cost effective I do not mean free. If you want a good theme you are going to need to pay a little. But it’s still a little and you get a lot…of features that is. Definitely a sweet bang for your buck.
  • Time Saver – Like huge time saver. If you were to build a custom theme it could take months to get it up and running. Using a theme you can get your site up in weeks, sometimes even in days!
  • Features – This may be my favorite part of starting with a theme. Many developers will specialize their theme for a particular purpose. There are real estate listing themes, agency-style themes, online magazine themes…you name it, most likely there is a theme for that. And this means that the hard work is already done for you, which again saves you time and money.
  • Development – Not only can you get a handful of great features, you can also get a site that is developed by a pro. You would have to spend really big bucks to get the quality of development that many (note: not all) of these themes bring to your fingertips. Responsive, SEO-friendly, tested repeatedly in different browsers and operating systems. Basically, themes can be very reliable.

But here’s the deal—not all themes are created equal.

When I have clients tell me they are hesitant to use a theme I’m pretty sure it’s because their only experience is with the themes WordPress shares on their site. I would be hesitant too if that is all I knew. Most of those themes are for the birds.

But there are several sites that have amazingly developed and designed themes to choose from, like themeforest. You just have to have the patience to sift through them.

At this point, I have worked with enough WordPress themes that I can spot a bad one from a mile away. I have a fine-tuned list of what I check out and look for when recommending a theme to a client.

Some themes are simple, some complex. Every theme is developed differently so there is always a learning curve. And if you’ve never worked with WordPress it can be a little confusing. (But that’s why you call me and I help you out!)

When deciding to use a theme for a new website these are the things I highly recommend:

  1. Pay for a theme, don’t use a free one.
  2. Research the theme developer—check out their portfolio, read their reviews, see how many times the theme has been downloaded, skim the comments, and find out how they handle development issues.
  3. Hire a professional to help you get the site up and running. It might cost a little more, but I guarantee it will pay off in the long run and save you any unnecessary headaches.
  4. Find a theme that fits your needs, not just one that looks nice. Need an online store? Find a theme with WooCommerce integrated already. Creating an online magazine? Start with a theme that was designed for this, it will have all the bells and whistles you are looking for and will encourage healthy interaction with your readers.
  5. Remember that the theme can be customized. Colors, fonts, images, layout…most themes come with options and if they don’t the person you hire should be able to help fine tune these things for you.
  6. Be sure to read the fine print of any theme you are using and respect the people who created it. For example, if you use a theme for more than one website, pay for more than one license.

The bottom line is that using WordPress themes makes so much sense to my Maximizer brain. Start with something good and make it great.


Ready to get started with a new website? Contact me today and let’s chat about how we can work together to create an online presence that gets you results.

Design: You’re My Favorite (free printable download)

You're My Favorite Green Download | SHANNONAMILLER.COM

Although I might be a little late to the Valentine’s parade, I had to wait to post this so I didn’t spoil the surprise for my own Valentine.

Valentine’s Day has always been one of my favorite holidays, and the funny thing is I spent most of these holidays without a significant other to share it with. I guess to me, this day was never about if I was in a romantic relationship or not, but it served as a perfect reminder about how loved and blessed I really am.

In fact, in college (regardless of if I was dating anyone) I always invited my close friends—guys & girls, single or taken—over to celebrate together. This usually involved me decorating my apartment with lots of hearts and serving an assortment of chocolate fondue. Looking back I’m not sure what they thought of this gesture, but I loved serving and celebrating my friends this way so I really didn’t care.

When the first Valentine’s Day rolled around with my now husband, we decided that we weren’t going to put too much pressure on celebrating this day. 1) His birthday happens to be the day before, and 2) do we really need to spend lots of money on gifts and wait for hours at a crowded restaurant to celebrate our love for each other?

So our game plan became simple and (possibly) homemade.

DSC_0886DSC_0888

We’ve been together for 5 Valentine’s Days and while I can’t remember all of the gifts I received from my husband, I do remember the first one. In fact, I look at it every day since it still sits proudly on my desk.

He gave me flowers that last “forever” and a homemade card…pretty sweet.

This year I decided to get a little crafty on the computer and created this little design for my husband. He really is my favorite.

youre-my-fav-frame

And I thought I would show you a little love and share the design with you as well. You can even pick between a few different colors—green, pink, and purple. Simply print them out, trim and put them in a frame….and it’s a perfect gift for Valentine’s or really any time for the favorite person in your life.

You're My Favorite Green Download | SHANNONAMILLER.COM You're My Favorite Pink Download | SHANNONAMILLER.COM You're My Favorite Purple Download | SHANNONAMILLER.COM

Click on an image above to download a PDF of the design.

Note to self: Let this be a reminder

Dreamcatcher

Since I can remember I have had dreams of starting my own business. I think it was something I thought I would do down the road, and I thought it would take form in many different shapes and sizes.

Then one day I realized “down the road” was now. So I jumped in.

I have been “working for myself” for over two years now. It’s not a monumental amount of time, but it feels like an accomplishment to me.

I have learned so much about myself through this journey. My resume has grown substantially with hand-on experiences. I acquired new skills, like learning Photoshop and conquering CSS. And I have pushed myself in ways I never thought possible.

I have had moments of intense insecurity, moments of panic, moments of pride, pure overwhelmment, and times of satisfaction.

It’s been a rollercoaster, but it’s been a ride I have really enjoyed.

Reflecting on 2013, I sat down at the beginning of the year and wrote some resolutions for 2014. A few of them even surprised me. Like the one about trying something new in my career…maybe even looking for a new job.

I look forward to seeing what new shapes and sizes this next year holds. And I am excited to build upon all of the things I have learned and accomplished already.

Font Love: Holiday Dingbats

font-love-holiday-dingbats

I have recently discovered how great dingbats are. In fact, I am going a little dingbat crazy this holiday season. So I thought I would share my crazies with you and present a list of 8 holiday-inspired dingbats to add to your own collection—all free for you to download.

These are great for web icons, Christmas cards, gift tags…you know, whatever your little heart desires. It was hard to pick just a couple dingbats from each collection to display so be sure to click on the links below to check out the entire set. But I highly recommend sipping some hot chocolate and listening to Christmas music while you do.

Happy Christmas!

JANDA CHRISTMAS DOODLES   /   VINTAGE CHRISTMAS   /   RHOMUS OMNILOTS   /   PEONI PATTERNS   /   CHRISTMAS NATIVITY TFB   /   MR. MOUSTACHE DINGBATS   /   SL CHRISTMAS SILHOUETTES   /   XMAS TFB CHRISTMAS

Font Love: Scripts

font-love-scripts

Here are 8 of my favorite script fonts…all free for you to download.

Because sometimes you need a little fancy in your life! 

League Script  /  Branboll  /  AkaDora  /  Lavanderia  /  Channel  /  Honey Script  /  Japan  /  Always In My Heart