Need a website? Going to do it yourself? I’ll bet you are spinning your wheels over which theme to use. This little case study of a site that my daughter and I put together the other night, will give you an easy way to get started and I hope will inspire you to get busy and build your website in a weekend.
Amanda, having left her job as a Brand Manager for a restaurant company, moved to Atlanta with her husband and baby to raise their child, closer to her extended family. Amanda is looking at corporate senior brand management positions, but in the meantime she’s consulting with some smaller restaurant companies.
Amanda has had her own website for many years but it needed an overhaul and she sent out a website 911 to me last week to give her the scoop on the fastest easiest way she could start over, changing her whole site for an updated look and feel and content that reflects her consulting business.
I’m going to give you the same advice I gave her to create her 48 hour website. Go to the website to see her new 48 hour website, and get the scoop on how she did it.
First of all, I explained to Amanda that she could can save herself a lot of headaches by not getting into a frantic search for the perfect theme and should instead choose from one of the over 60 child themes based on the StudioPress Genesis theme framework. This is a robust well-supported theme framework that allows beginners to create a great site, with minimal customizations by using a child theme out of the box.
Child themes are used to create new variations of a parent theme framework. Both the parent and the child are uploaded to your theme library. The child theme houses the customizations that are made to the parent theme which allows you to update the parent theme without overwriting your customizations.
Sure there are a lot of snazzy WordPress themes out there. You could spend hours and days going over the more than 11,000 themes on Theme Forest alone. But you really shouldn’t. Theme Forest doesn’t adhere to the GPL, open source licensing so it is out of compliance with WordPress. If that doesn’t stop you, then buyer beware since you don’t have any idea whether a theme you choose there is well built or will be supported.
Another common option is using a page builder plugin/framework such as Beaver Builder, Divi, or Visual Composer to design your site. But, starting with a blank slate or a theme that gives you the ability to create anything your heart desires- with the drag of your mouse or the push of a button, is too much power for most new website builders. Having too many choices can cause the site to take longer to build and easily leads to design disasters.
Since my recommendation was to use a Genesis child theme, I had to explain that the Home page designs are structured a little differently in that they use widgets areas to define the page and give you plenty of flexibility for adding your own content to the page.
People new to StudioPress can get frustrated and abandon StudioPress themes if they don’t know about this unusual use of widget areas and didn’t read and follow the set-up instructions. (I found this out from personal experience).
To get started, you simply choose the Child theme that is the closest to what you are imagining for the look and feel of your site as well as having the right configuration for the content you think you’ll need.
After carefully reading the theme set up instructions, add your copy and images to the homepage widget areas, install and configure a handful of basic, Genesis Theme plugins, and you’ll have a new nicely designed website – even as a beginner.
Here are the specific steps Amanda took the the plugins she used to build her sassy new website:
- Selected the Maker Pro StudioPress Child theme, after taking into account the following items:
- The look and feel of the site she was going for to attract and convert her target clients. She paid attention to the the fonts and style of copy and images need by the theme, since she did not want to do a lot of customizing.
- The number and configuration of the widget areas on the theme’s HOME page allowed the space for Amanda to attract her clients and tell her story.
- While following the theme setup instructions she used the WordPress, Customizer to:
- Upload a properly sized, .png file of her logo to the header.
- Change the theme’s colors, using the built-in options in the WordPress Customizer.
- Selected the widgets she would populate for her HOME page design. (the widgets you don’t need and don’t use will not appear on your page)
- Added her images and content to the various HOME page widget areas.
- Genesis Simple Edits is a free plugin Amanda used that allowed her to remove the existing StudioPress footer links that come with each theme and replace the links on her site with her own copyright information.
- Amanda used our Pop-Up Ally license to create her newsletter sign up form but she could have used the free plugin, Genesis eNews Extended to add a sign-up form to a widget area for people to subscribe to your mailing list to get site updates.
- Genesis Simple Share is a free plugin that let her easily add Social Follow buttons to a footer widget.
- Amanda used our license of Gravity Forms to add her contact form but she could have used the free, Contact Form 7 plugin to do the same.
- Amanda added content to two other interior pages Meet Amanda and About, and wrote a blog post to get the site started.
Voila! A 48 hour website, ready to go.