How to find a website template for an independent film, particularly Wordpress?
December 6, 2011 9:28 AM   Subscribe

No no no, help ME pick a Wordpress Theme! For a documentary movie website.

There have been several posts about this, which were quite helpful, but I find my questions not answered just yet. I want to rebuild the website for my independent documentary so that it looks less like it was made in iWeb (which, I admit, it was). But more importantly, so that it can have more content. I need submenus, better social media integration, better multimedia embedding, more complicated forms, some small commerce to sell DVDs and other things, and for it look OK on mobile devices. I think (but am not sure) that Wordpress is the best platform to make something that looks professional but is easy to design.

I'm excited about the idea of making a decent website without too much investment of time or money, using the collective asset of open source development. I'm not sure the internet is quite ready to provide this service yet.

While I have not built a site from scratch since the internet got fancy, I am not entirely afraid of code, I'm OK in photoshop/adobe programs, but I am low on time (and money). I know that once I start fiddling with CSS, I will just spend a million hours fixing details, so I'd like to stay out from under the hood as much as possible. What's the least amount of money I can throw at this problem to make it easy on myself to build the site? I don't see any themes "out of the box" that are exactly right. I'd like to spend my time structuring the content well rather than worrying about the site looking shoddy or performing poorly. I want to get the best bang for my timedollar and dollardollar.

I'm having a hard time parsing the difference between the various themes, since the demos provide exactly one data point for each, and they show a final product rather than the interface. I'm not even sure what features I'm looking at to compare the themes against each other. Google has been most unhelpful.

This is my wish list: (essential stuff with asterisk)
*-Something that will look designy and clean, with classy font(s?) and colors, as I don't have flashy graphics to cover up bad design
*-Good video embedding
*-Something that I can build nice forms in(!)
*-Something where the basic page and multimedia stuff will look reasonable on mobile devices (or give me the option/platform to design separately for mobile)
*-Good integration of all that social networking junk
*-Can integrate a page for selling DVDs and some basic merchandise. (If this is going to severely limit my options or force me to buy a much more expensive "commerce" theme, I could use a free service like Big Cartel, but it seems preferable to keep people on my site).
-Variable width option (not crucial, but seems preferable)
-Works reliably on major browsers
-A cute little calendar, maybe even interactive? Would that be a "widget?"

Here are the options I'm looking at now (feel free to suggest others):
-Studio by OrganicThemes
-Structure by OrganicThemes
-Headway 3.0 without a "Theme" (too expensive with "Theme")
-Basic Maths
-Canvas by WooThemes
-Just using what comes with Wordpress and modifying it
-Everyone says good things about Atahulpa. Or is that for people with more time and savvy?
-Socialite seems very to have some good options, although even the demo managed to fail in Safari.
-Alternately, I'd consider the cheapest Squarespace account, although it's a recurring cost, but I can't tell if it's really adequate for what I want to do, or what the design process is actually like. Thoughts?

What is the theme for me? Why is this so confusing (don't these developers want my money)? Am I barking up the wrong tree altogether in trying to use Wordpress? Help!
posted by mtgoldma to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I watched a conference video with the guy from Press 75 and he said his niche was video themes. Looks like he's expanded a bit from there, but it might still be worth looking.

Personally I like Theme Hybrid, so maybe check out the themes there. The themes are free, but support is $25/year (but awesome).

If you're doing a lot of work with forms, check out the Gravity Forms plugin. Again, not free, but awesome. Contact Form 7 is free and okay if you're not expecting a ton of entries, and only have one or two forms to work with.

A lot of what you want can be had with the right plugin, so you might be better off concentrating on a decent form, and then handling things like social media interaction and the like with plugins.
posted by backwards guitar at 9:44 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

I developed a from-scratch theme for Hello Lonesome and I'd be happy to share information about it if you'd like.
posted by artlung at 9:53 AM on December 6, 2011

I can reco Press 75. Very well-built themes with great support and documentation.

Gravity Forms is great for easy forms.
posted by dripdripdrop at 10:35 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seconding Press 75. Elegant Themes also gets good reviews, they have a few ecommerce themes and a plugin to make older themes responsive (better viewing on mobile devices) but I haven't checked that out.
posted by humph at 12:17 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

so you might be better off concentrating on a decent form

That should be THEME not FORM. Sorry.
posted by backwards guitar at 12:23 PM on December 6, 2011

Response by poster: Very interesting...

Can all themes utilize plugins from the wordpress site? Is plugin compatibility (or embeddability, if that were a word) something I should be looking out for, or is it just elementary?
posted by mtgoldma at 3:16 PM on December 6, 2011

Most plugins will work on most themes - check the compatibility with your version of Wordpress (e.g. 3.2) and look too at the star rating in the right hand column of each plugin page in the directory. You can usually contact the plugin author. Failing that, a question in the forums should get you an answer.

I try and avoid having too many plugins, if I can find a way of doing it myself, I will. Then again I'm back to WordPress after leaving it at 2.lownumber so I might be overly cautious.
posted by humph at 3:25 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

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