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Use a Clean WordPress Theme – Be Frugal

Keller Hawthorne | June 4, 2009 | 11 Comments
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Use a Clean WordPress Theme – Be FrugalIf you’ve ever looked at my web design portfolio or the design of FresheVenture.com, you’ll notice I’m a BIG fan of CLEAN web designs. I like a little white space between elements and (due to my OCD nature) well organized layouts. If a web design is too busy, I get flustered.

Your web design is meant to compliment your services/products/content, not overshadow them. But it’s easy, especially with WordPress, to go way overboard with colors, fonts, widgets, pictures, etc.

Honestly, a website’s design holds a lot of influence over my reaction to the company. If it’s crowded, unorganized and hard to read, I’m out of there. If it’s clean, well laid out and easy to navigate, I’ll stay a while to see what the website is all about. Yes, I am a web design SNOB!

Your web design will NEVER be as important as your content, but it does play a huge role in your conversions. You want to ensure your visitors can EASILY purchase a product, find your contact information, sign up for your newsletter or view testimonials. As for WordPress, you want to ensure your readers can quickly find posts they have an interest in, leave comments and locate your social network profiles.

There are thousands of WordPress themes available online, from free to premium, but the majority simply don’t do the job. They’re either too busy or disorganized.

Go frugal with Your WP Theme

I am always on the hunt for awesome WordPress themes and I found one of the best online today! It’s appropriately called frugal – the name says it all. It’s one of the cleanest and most “easy on the eyes” themes I’ve ever seen. Let’s take a little tour of this new design from Eric Hamm…

1. Clean Design Gives You More Power

The frugal theme is very basic in design and layout. It’s EXTREMELY easy to navigate and doesn’t overwhelm you. This means you have great wiggle room when it comes to customizing it.

If you want to make your headlines stand out with a different color or use gorgeous pictures within your posts, you can do so without concern for cluttering up your design. The color scheme is gray and white, so any additions you make to the theme won’t have to compete with the theme’s existing structure and design!

2. Your Content Becomes King

The clean and organized layout of frugal helps make your CONTENT stand out. Eric specifically coded this theme for that purpose. He wanted to help ensure the design supported and complimented your content.

If you blog for income, you know it’s crucial that your visitors READ through your content so they can familiarize themselves with you, click through your affiliate links, or sign up for your RSS. If your design distracts them from these tasks, your blog will lose money.

Many existing WP designs do a great job of distracting readers. Whether it’s because of the millions of ads displayed, hard to find navigation or surplus of colors, these designs hurt blogs.

Think of it like gift-wrapping. Have you ever noticed how the high end department stores gift-wrap their products? They usually use a very simple box or wrapping paper and place a little ribbon or bow on the top. They DON’T grab the biggest and most colorful gift bag they can find, stuff it to the top with tissue and tie some balloons to it. Again, they keep it simple, classy and clean.

3. Clean Design Speeds Up Your Blog

Not only does frugal pass XHTML validation, Eric went the extra mile by including built-in ad widgets, custom avatars and custom favicons. This means less plugins for you to have to install. Less plugins equals faster loading. And with fast loading comes happy readers!

Eric did NOT include images in the structure’s design. This also speeds up loading and allows you to make more choices for customizing your theme!

4. Even More Features

Here’s a quick list of the awesome features frugal offers:

  • A Free How-to-Customize eBook Guide
  • Ability to Upload Custom Logo
  • Ability to Customize Avatars
  • Custom Favicon
  • Threaded Comments
  • Two 468×60 Ad/Feature Widgets.
  • Custom Blockquotes.
  • Cool Social Buttons Included
  • Images WILL Center
UPDATE June 23, 2009:

New Color Customization With NO CODING! You can customize everything from text to your background with a built in color picker! Check out Eric’s video for more info:

The Cost of Cleanliness (Or Lack of Cost)

Eric offers the frugal theme for FREE, if you’re willing to keep the footer credits intact. Here’s a screenshot of the free version:

The Free Version of frugal

The Free Version of frugal

Of course, I always recommend upgrading to the premium version of themes. This usually gives you more control over the customization and allows you to remove footer credits. Here’s a screenshot of the premium version:

The Premium Version of frugal

The Premium Version of frugal

With the premium version, you get a lot more options such as:

  • Alternate frugal Stylesheet
  • Dual Sidebar Layout Under Main Sidebar
  • Use of Custom Logo:
  • Use FULL Custom Logo (full header width)
  • Use Category Navbar (adds additional nav bar under main navigation)
  • Use Featured Top Section (adds three featured widget spots under navigation)
  • Easily Exclude Pages from Navbar
  • Use Custom RSS Feed
  • Follow Me Ability
  • Google Analytics
  • Static Home Page Option

What If I Don’t Use frugal?

If you already have a WordPress theme you love, here are some tips for keeping it CLEAN:

1. Limit font families to 2-3.

2. Limit color scheme to 2-3.

3. Add padding and margins to elements to add white space to your layout.

4. Label widgets so readers can easily navigate between elements.

5. Keep your navigation tidy and easy to find (usually top of page).

6. Try to only add widgets/plugins/pictures/elements that benefit your readers. Don’t add things to your design just for the sake of adding things.

7. Make your headlines stand out by increasing their font size.

8. Make sure your links use a unique color (don’t make your text blue AND your links blue).

9. Don’t go overboard with ads!

10. Less is more. Some of the most popular blogs have the simplest themes. Your content is what counts. Make sure your content stands out rather than your theme.

Go check out the frugal demo to see exactly what a clean theme looks like!

Have You Used frugal? What Tips Do You Have for Keeping Your Theme Clean?

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  • ryanbiddulph

    I agree with this Keller. Ryan

  • vbcruiser

    Frugal's layout is exactly the same as the original Revolution layout. What's with that?

  • http://www.fresheventure.com Internet Business Blogger

    Hey vbcruiser – do you have a link or screenshot of the original Revolution theme so we can see?

    Even if the layout is similar (thousands of theme layouts are identical), I would say the colors, lack of images in the design and customization capabilities make frugal unique. It's a nice, clean canvas to work with.

  • vbcruiser

    http://www.revolutiontheme.com/demo/ I agree, I like the clean frugal theme look. The good news is that StudioPress might release the old Revolution series as GPL. That will make altering the theme and SELLING it, okay.

  • http://www.fresheventure.com Internet Business Blogger

    Thanks for the link vbcruiser! I like that theme a lot. It does have similar elements to frugal.

  • rimam1

    This looks similar to the Thesis theme that the guys at CopyBlogger promote.

    I'm wondering if you can use this theme for an ecommerce site? Ideally, I'd like to create a robust ecommerce site (similar to yours) with a blog component. My thinking is that if I post informative, relevant, and fun content, that will only help promote my entire site and lead people to click over to the ecommerce module.

    Does that make sense? Do you know of any good ways to do this?

    Thanks!
    Raza

  • http://www.fresheventure.com Keller Hawthorne

    You know, I'm not sure how to set up an ecommerce store with WordPress, but I'm pretty sure there are plugins for that.

    My stores are set up on Network Solutions Pro Ecommerce Packages. NS is the absolute BEST ecommerce host I've found. Years ago, I tried out Yahoo's stores, Homestead, eBay's pro stores, etc, but none of them could touch NS. I've been with them for 4 years now and don't plan on leaving.

    You can learn more about them here: http://www.fresheventure.com/recommends/network

    I think your plan is exactly on point! I tried to do that with my store Theme Bathroom (if you visit it, you should see a link in the nav for a blog), but I never kept up with it. Properly utilizing a blog could definitely make your store a success!

  • rimam1

    This looks similar to the Thesis theme that the guys at CopyBlogger promote.

    I'm wondering if you can use this theme for an ecommerce site? Ideally, I'd like to create a robust ecommerce site (similar to yours) with a blog component. My thinking is that if I post informative, relevant, and fun content, that will only help promote my entire site and lead people to click over to the ecommerce module.

    Does that make sense? Do you know of any good ways to do this?

    Thanks!
    Raza

  • http://www.fresheventure.com Keller Hawthorne

    You know, I'm not sure how to set up an ecommerce store with WordPress, but I'm pretty sure there are plugins for that.

    My stores are set up on Network Solutions Pro Ecommerce Packages. NS is the absolute BEST ecommerce host I've found. Years ago, I tried out Yahoo's stores, Homestead, eBay's pro stores, etc, but none of them could touch NS. I've been with them for 4 years now and don't plan on leaving.

    You can learn more about them here: http://www.fresheventure.com/recommends/network

    I think your plan is exactly on point! I tried to do that with my store Theme Bathroom (if you visit it, you should see a link in the nav for a blog), but I never kept up with it. Properly utilizing a blog could definitely make your store a success!

  • jan_queenofkaos

    Hi Keller, I am just switching my site over and LOVE it. It's very easy to use and very flexible, I can't think of much that can't be done with it. Eric is very helpful as well with a forum full of information for ideas and questions.

    You gave some really good tips on keeping it clean, I tried to follow them as well, I'm still working on it.

    I think it's really important that the design makes the content stand out. Something else along the same lines that I tried to do was design it so that the blog header and title (which you did mention) was the focus upon landing on the page as well. Header for branding and title to catch interest and hopefully be read.

    The design makes it quite easy to do if you are aware, your tips are very helpful. Coupled with the effort to get some fantastic pictures, it has the makings for some good stuff!

    I'm really happy with my choice to go with the frugal theme.

  • http://www.fresheventure.com Keller Hawthorne

    You did such an awesome job customizing yours Jan! I highly recommend you contact Eric and see if he will add you to his showcase.

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