Although I stopped offering web development services and blog consulting awhile ago, I still continue to receive email inquiries from bloggers about new designs. I hate not being able to help– especially if someone is stuck on Blogger and wanting to make the switch to self-hosted WordPress. (If I could migrate the world from Blogger to WordPress, I’d be the happiest geek in the world!)
The beauty of WordPress is that with a little research and work, it’s totally possible to have a gorgeous blog without spending an exorbitant amount of money.
Setting up a WordPress blog really only takes 3 basic steps:
1) Buy a domain. I use Godaddy, and they often have promo codes for discounted urls.
2) Purchase hosting and install WordPress. Bluehost is one of the most affordable options that offers easy one-click WP installation with all of their hosting packages. My blog is hosted by Flywheel which is a (slightly more expensive) managed WordPress host with amazing customer service and less downtime than shared servers (like Bluehost).
3) Find a theme (free or premium) and install it on your new WordPress site.
When it comes to finding the perfect WordPress theme, the search can be overwhelming. WordPress is an open-source platform, meaning that there are thousands of developers working on themes and plugins for it. With my blogger clients, I always tried to steer them towards minimal, clean themes that would really highlight their photography and content.
I started using WordPress back in 2004 when I was a freshman in college. (Yes, I’m old) Several years and countless themes later, I finally settled on my favorite framework… Genesis by StudioPress. Working at an internet marketing agency and working on SEO for clients led me to discover Genesis, which is known for being the most search-engine friendly parent theme. It’s now the only framework I recommend and use for my own blog.
Why Should You Use the Genesis Framework?
- Supports Schema.org code, which allows you to output microdata in your site’s code
- Built on HTML 5 making site compatible with future changes to the web
- Consistently updated to reflect best practices for coding
- Developers ensure that it is always compatible with the latest version of WordPress
- Incredibly secure: Genesis’ security was actually analyzed and improved by senior WordPress developer Mark Jaquith
- Fully widgetized layouts and display options to make customization easier
- Logical navigation & category layout that lets your readers get to what they want quickly
- Large suite of Genesis-specific plugins to extend the functionality of your site
Benefits of Genesis aside, the challenge with using any WordPress framework is that the styling is plain or non-existent. They are meant only to be used as a skeleton/template, and you use child themes to add styling and other functionality. When Genesis first became popular, the child themes were very business-focused or too plain for fashion blogs. Luckily, because it’s become the preferred framework for many developers, the variety of Genesis child themes has increased recently.
I’ve tested many of these child themes, and have a few favorites I thought I’d share in case anyone who happens upon my site is currently looking for a new design.
Don’t get too caught up in the bells & whistles of other WordPress themes. The most important factor for SEO, user experience, and conversions is to keep the focus on your quality content.
The WordPress theme is nothing more than a pleasing frame. It should go largely unnoticed.
The frame can protect the content, display the content, be largely supportive of the content, but not at any time harbour pretentions of being the content. The frame is not the content.” (Genesis Club)
These minimalist Genesis themes will help make sure that both Google and your visitors can find exactly what they’re looking for on your site. Happy blogging!