Small business websites and WordPress
July 6, 2012 7:16 AM   Subscribe

After a fairly unsuccessful foray into getting someone else to design my business website (I hate it, and it looks amateur), I've decided to go for a pre-made WordPress theme. However, I feel like I'm a bit out of touch with websites these days and have a few questions.

I am not particularly good at this sort of thing, but I can certainly install and personalise WordPress themes and troubleshoot any issues which come up. All my hosting etc is already taken care of. What I'm wondering is:

Where are the best places to buy themes from in 2012, in your experience? (I'm wanting to pay for one, obviously.) I've found a few sites which look good, but I have no idea of how good they are.

Are there themes available for non-creative freelance types? I'm a translator. I've looked at several hundred themes so far and I can't seem to find anything that doesn't presume you're going to have a blog, Twitter feed, and a portfolio including lots of attractive photos. My website is mostly text; any photos I would include other than in the header would be fairly random and not really of interest to my potential clients. They want to know my background, experience and references, not see lots of photos.

Am I just hopelessly out of date, and this is what small business websites look like these days?

Sorry for the slew of questions. After dropping so much money on a customised WordPress theme, not to mention all the time and trouble, I'm reluctant to spend even another $50 without being certain that it's exactly what I want. However, I also want to be sure that "what I want" isn't something that would have looked more at home on GeoCities!
posted by rubbish bin night to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
I've bought a bunch from themeforest, they have thousands and the prices are reasonable. Just make sure to read the comments and make sure the documentation is adequate.

If you don't want to have a twitter feed or a blog or a portfolio then all you have to do for the most part is just leave them out or delete the widgets.

Just look at like a thousand of them, make a shortlist, and then narrow them down from there. Maybe make a top three and ask five people what they think. Let me know if you need some help.
posted by pwally at 7:44 AM on July 6, 2012

I'm not sure I'm the best person to answer this since I mainly do my own Wordpress themes, but I've heard very good things about Woo Themes.

Just looking quickly through their site, it seems like something like swatch(which is actually free) might be a good fit for you, keeping in mind that the portfolio slideshow doesn't have to be photos-- It am not exactly sure what the best thing for a translator could be, but it could easily just be text- either a translation sample, or a description of some of the work you've done, or a description of your services.

If not that, WooThemes has 27 business themes, and many of them seem more designed for static front pages than blogs.

You know what you don't want, but are there specific features you're looking for? Something optimized for SEO? Something responsive that scales to any size? Something optimized for mobile?
posted by matcha action at 7:49 AM on July 6, 2012

Slight modification of a previous answer of mine:

Themeforest has great options as does ThemeFuse-- my most recent site uses one of their themes and the support is awesome (answers within hours, not days). One thing I like about their framework is that you can click a button and import a whole sample site, which makes customization easier-- rather than starting from a blank slate, you just change what you want, add your own content, and delete their sample content. Much easier to see how HTML changes affect various parts of the site. Built-in SEO too. Fastest customization I've done so far (and I've done six different sites in WP). ThemeFuse themes are $49 each.

I was on the verge of getting a WooTheme too because they look sharp and the Tumblog framework is intriguing-- I might try one of those next.
posted by mireille at 7:58 AM on July 6, 2012

Personally, I'd stay away from ThemeForest. There are some good themes in there, but I've had to deal with some very poorly written themes on there as well.

I've been really happy with WooThemes support (and I'm not even a member - but watching how they handled some recent downtime really impressed me).

StudioPress is also worth considering.
posted by backwards guitar at 8:34 AM on July 6, 2012

Elegant Themes has some really well designed and nice looking themes.
posted by COD at 9:47 AM on July 6, 2012

StudioPress themes are great. I've been using them for several years. They have several that would probably work for you; just don't add the twitter/bloggy stuff & extra menus that you don't want.

Suggestions: Freelance, Metric, Executive, Enterprise, Agency
posted by belladonna at 11:04 AM on July 6, 2012

They want to know my background, experience and references, not see lots of photos.

Am I just hopelessly out of date, and this is what small business websites look like these days?

I don't think you're hopelessly out of date, but from the user's point of view, remember that big blocks of text are death. Some companies and freelancers use photos and graphics; but usability isn't just about photos; using headings, lists, and enough spacing will do the trick.

I was just going to recommend Woo--and the blog and Twitter feed are optional on all the sites!
posted by blazingunicorn at 11:23 AM on July 6, 2012
posted by yoyo_nyc at 5:02 PM on July 6, 2012

I am a big fan of Theme Foundry and I can't recommend them highly enough.

Duet may provide what you want. Don't get too caught up on the term 'blog' or blogging. The functionality inherent in the blog/post structure in wordpress is very useful for business websites that don't blog, per se.

Sometimes it's hard to understand what a theme can do for you when you see the demo version. Think about the features and flexibilities you want the most and choose a theme based on those rather than the colour/look etc.
posted by Kerasia at 5:53 PM on July 6, 2012

If you're not very familiar with Wordpress and can't customise a theme by yourself, I'd stay away from Themeforest. I personally love the site, but you need to get your themes from well regarded developers, read the comments, make sure the theme comes with documentation - and even then, support could be shoddy. I've grown to not expect support when I buy a theme from Themeforest.

I love WooThemes' support though.

But the way you sound, you might be better off getting someone to do this for you. Go to Themeforest, Theme Foundry, WooThemes, whatever you like, choose a theme and get someone to help you with customisation. Coz it can look pretty overwhelming to someone who's not familiar with Wordpress. I've worked with 40-something year olds who found the whole experience mind-numbing. They just want the website done without having to 'figure out' the Wordpress interface and it's totally understandable. Spare yourself the headache and the extra work and pay someone a small sum to customise the theme for you.
posted by mordecai at 5:53 AM on July 8, 2012

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