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  • #968264
    wordmistress
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    Hi all

    I know some of you who are experts on WordPress but I thought I’d post here so all comments can be in one place.

    I’m looking to start a blog asap. It has to be a bit prettier than one I would use for copywriting as it’s about food. It has to be visually compelling (and I’m no good at that), and have some nice functionality to it so I can create pages, categories etc, but I guess that’s all pretty standard stuff.

    Would LOVE for it to have a forum.

    Someone recommended templatemonster to me and while it’s all very nice, most of the templates say software such as Photoshop is required. I’ll show you the templates I’m interested in below. What I need to know is, since I don’t have Photoshop or any other design software that comes standard with a laptop, what would I NOT be able to do?

    Obviously I’d like to add a logo and tagline, and perhaps customise the colour scheme a LITTLE, but that’s not entirely necessary. My main concern is being able to change a header so it incorporates the logo and tagline.

    Other than that, what am I really missing out on by not having design software? In other words, will these templates be suitable for my needs if I don’t have the software or will I be totally floundering?

    Oh, and I don’t really care if it doesn’t have all the Flash bells and whistles.

    My budget is basically zero (intentionally; don’t want to spend money on this, at least for now) so I need suggestions other than hiring someone, buying software or similar. I do have to pay the $50-60 to purchase the template, I’m aware.

    Content is easy for me. Knowing my way around adding the content is also fine. But the visuals and not having the software to change them … will this be an issue?

    Here are the templates I’m looking at:
    http://www.templatemonster.com/wordpress-themes/13852.html
    http://www.templatemonster.com/wordpress-themes/22313.html
    http://www.templatemonster.com/wordpress-themes/23051.html
    http://osc.templatemonster.com/wordpress_11380/
    http://osc2.template-help.com/wordpress_13228/

    And one more thing. Will I be able to add square ad spaces down one side in the future?

    And that is all lol. Looking forward to your responses :).

    #1032010
    Chris Bates
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    You only need PS if you want to alter the template. This generally comes down to inserting your own logo/tagline.

    You don’t NEED photoshop though – if you already have your logo done, you can normally just replace the image inside the template (on wordpress).

    If you did want to play with the design, GIMP might be a good alternative to spending a few thousand dollars on Photoshop :P

    As or Ad’s, it looks like all of those templates are widgetised. Meaning you can add ‘widgets’ to the sidebar. Meaning, yes… you can put ad’s on there :P

    #1032011
    wordmistress
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    Ooh, thanks, Chris! It gets tastier and tastier as I learn. I’ll check out GIMP. Yeah, the ad thing will be a way away but good to know for when the time comes.

    Thanks!!

    #1032012
    Jemma
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    Hi Gina,

    These days good wordpress themes make it pretty easy to customise the colours and upload your own logo without needing to use photoshop or anything like that (except to make the logo).

    I know you mentioned some themes you were looking at above, but if you’re interested in having a look at some more I would highly recommmend themeforest.com. They have some great themes in there that make great websites without too much work at all.

    Good luck with it!

    Jemma

    #1032013
    aussites
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    • Total posts: 3
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    Hi Gina,
    I design websites, and use WordPress as a platform / CMS almost exclusively for websites and blogs such as the one you describe. It’s extremely versatile, and the modular nature of its plugins and widgets makes it ideal for adding features and pages as needed. The added beauty of WordPress is that you can have a website and a blog all rolled into one, complete with forums, image galleries, video galleries, and of course you don’t need to keep waiting for your web designer to get around to updating your site and content for you. You just log in to the dashboard and make the changes yourself, hit Publish, and you’re done!

    If you would like to learn more about how WordPress can become your best friend, please email me, and I’ll be glad to share some information with you. No obligation to use my services of course, but I would be more than happy to design a custom theme / template for you and show you how to use it.

    Best Regards,
    Marty Owens
    http://www.aussites.com
    email: info@aussites.com

    #1032014
    LukeMoulton
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    • Total posts: 35
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    Gina, there are so many really well designed WordPress themes out there, both free and paid. Most are usually easily customizable and provide good support. Before you buy something from Template monster, take a look at the following professional theme libraries, I’ve used most of them and can vouch for their quality and support:

    #1032015
    wordmistress
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    Thank you so much Jemma, Marty and Luke! The more suggestions I receive, the more overwhelmed I am by it all lol. I really appreciate your responses. I need to just bite the bullet and set aside half a day to get stuck into it.

    My web designer (http://www.netninjas.com.au) is very accommodating and usually turns around a request in mere hours, and I do update my own content.

    But for my food blog, I want to try doing it all myself so I can get my head around WordPress once and for all. Everyone is so into it that I hate to be left behind. Still, it’ll be great to take baby steps and ask other soloists for help when things go wrong.

    I’ve also been speaking to Ivan of http://www.lutrov.com and his system, Mint, seems amazing!

    Plenty of food for thought. Now … to start!

    #1032016
    FionaFell
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    • Total posts: 342
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    Gina,

    Feel free to give me a call if you get stuck with your new site, especially the DIY pieces. Happy to help.

    #1032017
    danb
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    Same here Gina, You know where to find me!

    #1032018
    CarolP
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    Hi Gina,

    Luke has recommended some great themes. I like the Woo Themes one. My favourite wordpress theme is thesis – it is a paid theme.

    Why is it good?

    It looks plain and simple but it is the most flexible and customizable theme to use.
    It has built in SEO features without installing additonal plugins (I recommend you dont install too many – as it is like chocolate – too much of a good thing is not good).
    It redirects affiliate links
    It has a awesome support forum so if you ever get stuck you will most definately get help.

    I use it on 90% of my websites because it is flexible and you don’t have to know much about code to get going.

    You can see it in action on my website in my signature links – the only caveat is that I photoshopped the header myself and haven’t got around to getting a proper designer to make my header prettier.

    Cheers
    Carol

    #1032019
    pdftb
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    Just a quick word of advice coming from someone who has done customisation jobs based of Template Monster themes in the past for clients, try avoid it. Their code can be very messy and a lot of the time does not follow best practices, which isn’t too bad if you know what you are doing, but for someone that isn’t all that comfortable with editing HTML / CSS it is an absolute nightmare.

    You only need photoshop if you want to edit any of the graphical elements of the website, although usually you can just swap out the logo.png file with your own without ever having to open up a graphics program.

    If you’re going to be spending around $60 I think your better off with something like Woo Themes (http://www.woothemes.com) as they are much better built.

    For example when inserting images they generally contain scripts that will resize and crop images on the fly for you without ever having to open up a graphics program – the main advantage of this is that your design will always look consistent and avoids that sloppy look with images that are different sizes or spill over the content area.

    They also have great theme options pages, which is like a mini admin inside of the wordpress admin itself which allows you to control things like ad sizing. Typically there is space for a number of sizes (MREC 300X250, 150×150 and 728×90).

    If you just want to customise things slighty you can do it via the CSS file which controls the overall style for the website (colours, spacing, positioning etc.) but this would require you to somehow know what Hexadecimal colour values you want to use. If you don’t have access to photoshop a great tool would be Adobe’s Kuler which is an online colour scheming tool – http://kuler.adobe.com/.

    Bottom line though: If you are happy with the look of a theme out of the box and only want to modify a few colours or fonts here and there, you are not going to suffer by not having a graphics program, however you can be limited depending on how graphic heavy the design is.

    Be sure to look for a few things when buying a theme:

    1. Does the theme come with support or updates? I’ve rarely found a theme that didn’t contain a bug or two, some places offer updates to the theme you purchase while others leave it up to you once you’ve laid out the cash.

    2. Does it contain a theme options page allowing you to customise key aspects of the site without having to touch the HTML / PHP? This includes things like social network links, ad space etc.

    3. Does the theme rely on third party plug-ins to run or is it all built in?

    Hope this helps.

    #1032020
    Bullet Web Studio
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    • Total posts: 22
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    Hey Gina,

    We exclusively use WordPress with the Thesis theme/platform and have been doing so for years. It’s an incredibly powerful combination.

    To get started with WP try a theme from Woothemes. When you’re more comfortable with basic customisations and enhancements you can scale up to Thesis. From there, you can do just about anything, and you’ll have a great support network of Thesis experts who can help out.

    Good luck,
    Andy

    #1032021
    wordmistress
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    Thank you so much to everyone for providing advice and suggestions! My blog is FINALLY up and running at http://www.mytastebuds.com.au. Thanks particularly to Michael Russell for offering to piggy-back on his woothemes membership and also to Michael Halligan of Engage Marketing who finally got me sorted!!

    Must be something about Michaels lol.

    Hope you’ll all skip along and see what I’ve come up with so far. It’s very obviously a work in progress, and some pages aren’t finished yet.

    I settled on a Notepad theme. Nothing special but for now, the content is what matters. As various people have said … just get it up there and start writing. Good advice, finally heeded.

    On with the fun!

    #1032022
    FionaFell
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    Well done, Gina. (Plus the Michaels’ too)

    #1032023
    Michael_R
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    Thanks for the thanks

    Now you need to get ‘guest posts’ on there from other parts of the country!! – if that is what you want to do ;)

    Good work for sure – 99% of the hard work is now done!!

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