CHOOSING A WORDPRESS THEME & BRANDING YOUR WEBSITE
PART 2: Designing the Look & Feel of Your Website
This is part 2 of our 'How to Create a Website' course to help podcasters to create a home for their show.
And remember, this isn't just any old home for your show. We're building a website that's tailored for podcasting, including all the tools and techniques you need to grow a huge audience. By the end of this 3 part series, you'll have a website that attracts new listeners, and converts existing listeners into fanatical fans, or even customers.
This Part 2 is all about making your site look good, and customising the look to suit your brand. Here's what we're going to cover:
- Choose a template or theme for your website
- Installing a new theme on your site
- Working with widgets to add new functions to your site
- Branding your website with colours, logos and images
- Installing plugins to expand what your site can do
This Part of the course assumes you already have a site set up. If you've yet to buy hosting and set up your WordPress website, go back to Part 1: Setting up Your Website.
About Our Links
I'll be talking about a lot of different resources in this course, from hosting providers to WordPress plugins. I'll be using Affiliate links for nearly all of these, which means that, if you buy, we get a small commission on the purchase. It wont cost you any extra though, and I only recommend products that we've used and love. If you use the links, it helps support this free content we put out there to help you and others. We appreciate it!
1: CHOOSING A WORDPRESS THEME
Find a Free Website Design, or Enjoy a Premium WordPress Template
In this part we're looking at web design - otherwise known as 'making your site look pretty!'
There are a lot of reasons to have a good looking site, including trust, credibility & branding. These all help to promote your podcast and turn brief visitors into loyal listeners. So, it's important to explore this aspect of creating your business space.
The top-end option is to have a real, live web designer create a custom built website for you, but that costs a fair amount of money. Luckily there are far cheaper and easier options in the early days.
The option we're looking at here is templating: using WordPress templates or themes to help us create an attractive, effective website.
Let's have a look!
Introducing Themes or Templates
Is Web Design Affordable?
Web design is an established profession, and there are legions of designers out there that will create you a great looking website for a fee. In some cases this is well worth it. For your money you’ll get a sleek, professional and, most importantly, unique design for your site. For many big businesses and established companies, no less than this will do.
But, there is an alternative. These same designers have another outlet for their skills, and it’s called templating. Templates are your route to a great looking website, for little to no cost.
What Are WordPress Templates?
WordPress templates come about when designers create great looking website designs and, instead of selling them just to one individual for a large fee, they’re released as templates available to the whole world.
Templates cost a fraction of the amount a custom website design would, but you sacrifice a little bit of individuality. This is because there may be other sites out there using the same one. Luckily, though, many quality templates come with a large amount of customisation options so you can still inject your own branding, colour scheme and other options to create a mostly unique and highly attractive site.
What Do Templates Cost?
The best thing about templates is that many come completely free of charge! Designers often release free versions of templates, hoping that you’ll upgrade to ‘Pro’ versions in future. Or designers may release free templates to increase their exposure, hoping to earn more work.
Whatever the reason for their release, there are a huge range of free, quality templates out there, ready to use. Have a look here for at least one directory: Smashing Mag WP Themes.
To pay for a template, you'll generally pay between £10 and £100, most often on the lower end of that scale. If you're serious about your site it's definitely worth buying a professional template, and I'll look at why later on in this unit.
The Normal Web Design Route
Web Design is very similar to anything - you can start out with free or low cost templates to test the waters in the early days. Then, once your site is established, you might buy a high-quality template, with much more customisation options. Then, finally, once you have a large audience, it'll be worth spending a lot more money on a fully customised design.
The Benefits of Buying a Premium Template
Free or Premium WordPress Templates?
While it’s perfectly possible to find great free templates, spending just a little extra on a premium template is well worth it. A little extra often means very little - premium templates can be had for anything from £6/$10 upwards.
Premium templates tend to be a large step up in terms of professionalism, boasting a far more polished design. They also tend to feature many more customisation options, allowing you more control over colours, appearance and how your logo is integrated.
Most importantly, they tend to be much better supported. This is key because you don't want to have to swap templates at some point in the future before you're ready. This happens often when the template developer decides to stop supporting a theme, leaving it to become out-of-date and un-secure.
Finally, that support means that you can ask the developers for help if you can't figure out how to do something. With a free template, you have little chance of getting help.
How to find a WordPress Template
The most quick and easy way to find free WordPress themes is via the internal WordPress theme search. Just to to Appearance > Themes and then Add New. You can see how to do that in the video later on this page.
Alternatively, if you’d like to upgrade to a premium theme, there are a number of quality clubs and retailers.
We use one Theme creator almost exclusively for our Podcast websites, and it actually provides the theme for this very website: The Podcast Host. That theme creator is Elegant Themes.
Elegant Themes is a 'theme club' - this means you pay a monthly or annual fee to get full access to a large range of themes, and great support alongside. Elegant themes have a great range of templates, and excellent support.
The trump card from Elegant Themes is their hugely popular Divi theme. There aren't many options that can match it's combination of power and simplicity, and that's why we use it for nearly all of our websites.
You can start out with Divi in quite a simple form, customise it a little and then develop it over time to meet your needs. We have a guide below to show how to build your own site in Divi, and it shows an example of one Podcast website we've built using it.
2: THEME CASE STUDY – SETTING UP A WEBSITE WITH DIVI
Demonstrating One Choice of Theme
Since there are so many themes out there on the market, it's impossible for me to give you a generic guide to customising one. But, I can walk you through how we created one podcast website in particular, using our favourite theme: Divi from Elegant Themes.
A Case Study to Follow
To help you get started, I'll show you how to find and buy the Divi theme, and then how to set up an entire podcast website using it. Divi allows you to customise it in so many ways, and I'll take you through how to make it reflect your brand or your show.
First, that means getting your logo in there, and next, creating a great front page to showcase what you do. Divi has a range of tools to create titles, video blocks, buttons, email optins and much more. It also has a really easy to use layout system so you can set up columns and row in any layout you wish.
The end result is a great landing page with a good solid set of calls to action on there. For podcasting, this call to action will often be 'Subscribe' to the show, or it may be subscribe to the mailing list, if that's where you want listeners to end up. If you have other aims, though, you can create your own sections further down the page.
Of course, we think Divi works great for a podcasting site, but there are many other themes out there that will do the job too. It's up to you to choose based on your needs.
Follow this case study through to learn how you might customise a theme, and the things to think about. Then you can choose whether Divi might work for you, or whether you need to look elsewhere.
Getting the Divi Theme
This video shows how and where to buy the Divi theme. Just pop over to Elegant Themes to do so. You'll get the theme, plus 1 year's worth of updates for $89.
You'll also hear a little about why we use Divi in this video. The main reasons, for us, including how quickly you can create a great looking page, and the range of tools and modules they offer, from blog post listings, to call to action boxes.
How to Install a new Theme/Template on WordPress
This video takes you through the process of installing Divi on your website. This would work for any theme, whether you buy it, or find it free on the web. You can also install free themes from the WordPress theme directory, and that's also shown in this video.
How to Create a Great Podcast Website Front Page or Landing Page
In this video, I take you through the landing page we created for Hostile Worlds, our space exploration podcast. It's simple but effective, and includes the following elements:
- Banner Image for impact
- Description to explain the show concept and who it's for
- Video trailer to draw people in
- Subscribe buttons for 3 main platforms
- Recent episode listings
- Email optin section
- Embedded reviews which auto update
You'll see why we set it up this way, and how to create it yourself.
Setting WordPress to Show Your Static Front Page
Once you've created your static front page, you'll need to tell WordPress to use this as the default front page for the website. This video shows how to do that.
How to Add Your Logo to the Website
Here's how to apply your logo to the Divi theme in a couple of simple steps.
How to Add a Favicon to Your Website
And finally, how to add a Favicon to your website for a last little sparkle of branding.
Today your task is to choose a theme and set up your front page. By all means, go ahead and get Divi from Elegant themes, if you want to start out with something more unique and powerful. If that's the case, you can use my guide above to get yourself set up.
Or, start out with a free theme which can often be totally adequate, and still allow a good degree of customisation.
- Install Divi (or your chosen theme) on your website, and activate it. Watch the 'installation' video (earlier on this page) to see how.
- Create a new front page, using our Hostile Worlds landing page as an example if you wish.
- Upload your logo and favicon to the site, for that final bit of branding.
The next section covers: Setting up your podcasting tools.
Now that our site is set up, and it’s looking good, how do we set up the Podcast itself?
How do we start publishing episodes on the site, displaying an audio player and creating an RSS feed to send to Apple Podcasts/iTunes?
This comes down to a select set of tools and plugins that we use for just about any Podcasting website we create. In the next section, we’ll take you through them all.
Move on to Part 3: Podcast Setup & Tools, to continue creating your own great podcast website!