4 Powerful WordPress Design Tips

Image of WordPress Logo

Click, click, click. Your ideal customer has eleven tabs open, and is flipping through them, trying to find some information.

Will he stop at your site? Or will he click and make it disappear?

What’s stopping him from ditching your site altogether?

He’ll make up his mind about the quality of your information before he’s even read it, and it will be based on his gut reaction to your website’s design.

If it doesn’t pass muster, he may never read your words. He’ll hover over that big X on the browser, click it, and make your site go away. How can you invite him in and keep him there?

Let’s find out …

The self-centered searcher

In that split second when your site visitor is deciding whether to stay or go, he’s only thinking about himself. What have you got for him? What can you do for him?

When he hits your home page, the first thing he’ll notice is your website’s overall design. For just a split-second, it’ll hit him before your headlines, your content or your images.

Today’s post is all about how you can use design your WordPress website to invite, entice, and engage your site visitor long enough for him to begin to interact with your words.

Because you know all that amazing content you’re generating? It doesn’t stand a chance if it’s presented with a design that makes your visitors click away from your site before they’ve read it.

1. Color your world

Are your website’s colors memorable?

You have the opportunity to invite people into a world of color when they hit your home page. And color functions on a subliminal level that speaks to your visitors beyond what words can say.

Great color sets a tone, and creates expectations. To use it well, remember these two rules:

  • Use a limited color palette. Choose and use two main colors in addition to black or dark grey text. Use these colors consistently throughout every page of your site.
  • Choose an accent color. If you use your two main colors consistently, you can occasionally draw attention with an accent color that stands out from this limited palette. Trot out your accent color when you want to draw attention to a special offer, a button you’d like visitors to click, or an important announcement.

2. Great fonts speak volumes

Setting up custom fonts on your site takes a little extra effort, but they’re worth it.

When you carefully choose fonts that reflect your brand’s personality, your site will look more believable. Plus, custom fonts help make your site stand out because you’re breaking free from the Arial-Times Roman-Verdana prison most sites are trapped in.

Custom fonts are served up to your WordPress site by a third-party site. You can either dip into your funds and pay for them with a service like Typekit, or use the free Google Font API.

3. Stock up on images to tell your story

It’s easier than ever to find great images to complement your words. There are free sources like Creative Commons images on Flickr, which you can search for using compfight.com. These must be used with attribution, so read the license carefully and give credit where it’s due.

There are plenty of inexpensive paid resources, too, like BigStockPhoto.com, iStockPhoto.com, and others.

And you don’t have to use the image you find as is. You can take it into a free online image editor like iPiccy.com and crop, combine and customize to your heart’s content (as long as your license permits it — some Creative Commons licenses don’t).

When adding images to your WordPress website, be sure to fine-tune them for the web by saving them at the size you plan to use them, and at the lowest resolution that still looks good. This will help your site load quickly.

Images draw your visitor in, capture their attention and communicate on a different level than words. Learn to use images to hold onto those eyeballs.

4. Format your words for attractive, readable pages

Don’t just spray a bunch of words on your page and leave them lying there. Organize them into subheads, short paragraphs, and bulleted lists.

Use the WordPress formatting bar to provide emphasis and interest. Make the first paragraphs of your pages inviting by keeping them short. Break up your text so you’re not presenting your visitor with big blocks of nonstop copy.

Give your visitor an easy way into your content, and they’ll stick around long enough to read it.

Invite them in and keep them there

Want to make your WordPress website enticing? Keep it simple, uncluttered and easy to read. Use colors and fonts to customize it. Add images that speak beyond your words. And spend some time formatting your pages to make them inviting.

Sure, it’s a little extra effort. But if it makes the difference between an engaged visitor and one who clicks away, it’s worth it, isn’t it?

About the Author: Pamela Wilson founded Big Brand System to help business owners combine the power of design and marketing to build recognizable brands. To learn more about using the power of design in your marketing, get her free Marketing Toolkit, which includes the 10-part Design 101 series.

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Comments

  1. In all this combinations, the site should tell a story at first glance. I believe this aspects of making a wordpress site attractive leads to a longer site stay by visitors.

  2. Great article. I’d like to add that a cluttered design (one filled with too many banners and images) can actually scare a lot of people. Keep it simple has worked for me and I seem to be more comfortable with designs that are NOT over-powering.

  3. So true Pamela. I recently began taking and uploading my own photos onto my blog. Pictures are a great way to add to a post, plus it can also be shared on Pinterest.

  4. Love that idea: the big plus behind generating your own images is that they’re uniquely yours, so you don’t have to worry about coming across the same image used elsewhere (which happens with stock images all the time).

  5. Great tips here Pamela! The subconscious effects of good (and bad) design are often overlooked. The use of white space is a design principle that is neglected too often. Just because the space is there doesn’t mean we have to fill it with images, text, banners, widgets, etc. Having only the essential elements on a page in an organized structure will force the reader’s eye to your important content instead of distracting them from it.

    • Well said, Stephen! People don’t always think of white space as helping to direct your visitors eyes to where you want them to go … but that’s exactly what it does.

  6. Great article. I have recently launched my blog and have tried to create a website that is easy on the eyes and is easy to navigate. I will take another look at my website through the lens of this article and tweak even further.

  7. Some great points here. I especially agree with the point about colours. So many people use too many colours on their website, but perhaps I never use enough too :)

    The colour scheme of your website should fit in with your brand too I think. There’s no point having one much of colours on your website and then a different bunch of colours on a business card that you hand to people. It’ll just confuse them.

    • Picking colors that tell a story about your brand is essential. And keeping your palette limited is the best way to communicate your color story clearly. Thanks for the comment, Joshua.

  8. This is a very useful tips on creating an effective web design.. Good job Pamela!:-)

  9. Great tips. I think nowadays images very important not just to make better looking and more informal posts, but because of social sharing they can bring free traffic, as well. Thanks for sharing http://ipiccy.com/. It is a good tool for image creation.

  10. I speak with so many people who call me after getting involved reading my WP blog. Yes, I work hard on it but the results are prospective clients who have been positively influenced reading my stuff, looking at my photos… often on their iPads while sitting at the airport.

    It is designed to be visually appealing to my readers.

    Using H3 headers provides a nice opportunity for the quick scanner to read an engaging topic… and “read more”.

  11. design is king and always will be. Great design allows you to deliver your message more efficiently as the reader will be more enticed to keep scrolling. Good article!

    • That’s a topic for discussion. Is design king, or is content king? I believe that a great design is necessary to attract viewers at a cursory glance, but I think content is king. No matter how attractive the website, bad content will drive viewers away in droves. What does everyone else think about this? Design or Content?

  12. I am perplexed with respect to your comments on fonts. I understood that you can use whatever don’t you want on your site. But if that font isnt installed on the visitors computer it will just render the default font that they do have. Am I wrong?

  13. Hi Nate,

    You can use services like the Google Font API and Typekit to “serve up” the custom fonts you choose to your visitors sites. Follow the links in the post for all the details.

  14. I love every point here except I’m now avoiding images. They can certainly help but I like the freedom from distrations having no images brings.

    • Sounds like an interesting experiment …

    • I think that point depends on your target audience. Being a designer, I’m more visual, and I’ve come to learn that I will open an article, see no images and back out of the page. Too much content and I feel overwhelmed. But, there are probably those who are the complete opposite of me, and like having the content without the distraction of images. So I can see the arguments for both ways, but it all depends on your target audience.

  15. Powerful and relevant topics and well researched content do a lot of impact as well. Take this post for example, it’s not even using any images, or fancy fonts and layout but yet I can tell it is getting a lot of traffic and clicks.

  16. The tips are pretty useful. The font used on the blog should match with niche your blog is targeting. If you use an highly customized font on a news related website, that obviously won’t look that good. You can’t afford too much experiments with such kind of blogs.

  17. All great points. If I may, for the home page, it’s important to remember the five second rule. What’s the five second rule? For the average visitor the design has five seconds to do three things: assure the visitor that they are in the right place, give them a good reason to stay, and communicate clearly what they should do next.

  18. Tahoma is a font which I recently tried at my blog and it is also a good option. Arial is also good but it looks cluttered in long paragraphs. Times New Roman, well I do not approve of the edges. Verdana is cool.

  19. I agree with these tips. I recently switched to a simpler theme on wordpress and it allowed the images and headlines to pop out without anything fighting for the viewer’s attention.

  20. Great WP design tips and I could not agree more. Often keeping it simple and having a great blog is better that having he best design and not so good of a blog.

  21. Images are a great addition. One lesser-known source for inexpensive images is DepositPhotos.com. I used to use iStock, but DP costs $.80 to $1 for small images. They have a huge selection. I use them daily.

  22. Excellent tips! One thing I’d add to the font tips is that also the font size is important. There are way too many sites up there with super tiny fonts that are so hard on the eye. Yes, you can zoom in from the browser bar, but why would you have to? Keep a default font size that is reasonably easy to read.

    I also agree completely with having at least an image per blog post to break up the text nicely. I’ve started to use photopin recently and I really like what I’ve found so far. Still, use moderation when adding images, too much can be distracting and defeat the purpose of sending a message to your readers through your blog ;)

    • I totally agree with you Delia. Now, as far as image is concerned, you want to make sure that you pick images that are related to your content. Often times, I’ve seen blogs where if you look at the image they used, you can’t even tell what the post is about. You want to use good quality image and that supports your point you’re trying to make.

      • Excellent point, Richard! I also like when blogs make me think a bit longer to figure out how the image relates to the post. Sometimes the image supports the post in a more subtle way – I think it’s wonderful when bloggers are able to find such images :)

  23. And once you perfect your site you can not sit back on it, you have to keep tinkering as other blogs and sites will be doing the same thing. :)

  24. There is always so much open space that looks so clean on Copy Blogger. I am not certain you are taking your own advice on this site about Colors .

    Thanks, Rick

  25. I’m going to try the customized fonts. Wish me luck :)

  26. Thank you for these tips. One tool I like to use to customize my images is PicMonkey.com. I’m able to do several things for which I would like to use photoshop (I switched to a Mac and my photoshop license is for a PC). PicMonkey is very easy to use and allows me to make edits quickly.

    I completely agree with the custom fonts. It’s an easy change to stand out.

    • I love picmonkey, Kevin! More recently I discovered pixlr and I am using it currently to customize images for my blog. Really easy to use and has lots of options!

  27. Hi Pamela,
    Choosing a perfect color is really a most important thing for WordPress blog design and using relevant images as well. Nice written on wordpress design.
    Thanks !

  28. When you are creating a design .. its not just the color or the layout that matters. Its how you use the power of design to get attention of readers at specific locations or part of design like subscribe box or ads. This matters too.

  29. Color and font are very effective for an attractive website design, I am agree with that I catching fonts can attract visitors to view the page. The 5 steps and other information is quite good for the beginners and for professionals also. Great Post

  30. I agree with Dinesh, It is the texts, color and designed. Mostly it is writing attenting grabbing headlines of articles that will get visitors focusing on a certain page

  31. Pamela thanks a lot for your advice. I am actually working on setting up my blog with WordPress and I am quite lost so I will definitely bear your tips in mind so hopefully my visitors enjoy the experience and stay longer.
    Thanks!