WordPress theme design basics
So far I have published a number of articles and tutorials regarding WordPress and the available options to extend its default functionality. Now it is time to take a loot at the design in terms of layout, colour combinations and element positioning. In the following complete tutorial I will provide the leading WordPress theme design practices.
Website logo and contacts – the right place
Let’s start with website logo. According to the latest research based on close revision of 50 top websites, the logo is placed on the top left corner of the page. This is because that part of the page is perhaps to most important and the visitors usually look there to find information or remember the website. In 100% of the cases, the logo is there.
Website contacts and their place on your page. This is another important communication channel. Based on the same research, the contacts button or option is on the top right corner. It could be a link to inner page or just pop-up with more details. In over 63% of the cases, that feature is placed exactly there.
Navigation menu – think carefully
Main navigation menu – that element is extremely important for the overall performance of your website. I see that majority of the cases, over 80% of the reviewed websites, the menu is placed at the header. The location is usually between the logo and contacts. The orientation is horizontal with up to 8 clickable options. Drop-down options still exist in some cases, but I personally find them as a bit outdated. Of course this applies for standard blogs or websites. Some large e-commerce websites need strong hierarchy, thus migration to implied menu is almost impossible.
WordPress theme home page – the first impression
Home page – depending on the type of the website, the first page could be based on slide show. There are a number of themes, both free and paid that offer such feature. When it comes to design practices, there are a number of potential problems that should be considered before proceeding with slide show. The main one is, of course the speed. Large images with high quality added to a home page slide would definitely slow down the website, so if you decided to go this way, then you will need a better hosting with come caching. This would give positive effect over the performance and speed of your website.
Search option on your website. Yes, that is important too. Depending on the complexity of your website and the information it provides, you will have to carefully choose the position of your search option. My study shows that usually WordPress designers put it under the menu or on the right, but always on the top. Placing it at the bottom decreases the visibility and usability of the feature. In 12% the search field is placed at the bottom, but I personally do not find it OK.
Social media button – these connections to the social medias are also important part of the layout. Nowadays, a number of visitors use websites such as FaceBook, Twitter and so on in order to share information, so helping in that direction by placing one click share options would give positive results on social media signals.
Be flexible and fresh
Responsive design – in 100% of the websites I reviewed, the design was responsive, meaning fit for all screens and device resolutions. There is absolutely no reason to start website without this feature. The easiest way to come up with solution is to use Bootstrap of some other well known frame work. Building WordPress website with responsive design requires dev skill, thus this may not be the easiest thing to achieve.
WordPress theme colours – choosing colours is another important part of the design. According to my research, the colour combinations usually include up to 4 colours. One base colour for 60-70% of the page, two secondary colours for separators, menus or elements and one for the sections you want to point the visitors attention to. Using flat colours or duotones is matter of personal choice. At the moment both of these are trendy. Looking at the colour wheel might also be helpful. In fact the initial colour research should be based on the basic colour theory and wheel.