There’s a lot of very good versatile premium WordPress themes out there at the moment. Theme makers are certainly in healthy competition at the moment which is ensuring the continued development of a number of modern themes with an excellent array of design/layout customisation options and features. The only downside is that some can be a bit overwhelming to start with.
Avada is the top selling theme on Theme Forest but I’m not a fan, so I’ve not included it below nor the similar uDesign, but these are also good themes and may suit a more traditional type of corporate website.
At the time of writing, these themes will typically set you back about $59-69. So here’s a quick round up.
This is a great intuitive theme, and integrates well with the included Visual Composer, for excellent aesthetics.
Theme Forest Rating: 4.83 after more than 3000 ratings and over 37,000 sales.
The flagship theme from Elegant Themes, Divi continues to improve and is becoming a really excellent theme, incorporating the Divi page builder, and an excellent choice of design and layout settings.
Available from Elegant Themes – not available on Theme Forest.
It’s almost a year since my last round up of free WordPress themes, and there are certainly some great new themes out there, most now with a full screen look.
As ever, I’ve not tested all the themes, though all the themes look like they are from genuine trusted sources. Where themes have a pro version, I’ve had a look to see that the free versions are still worthwhile but it’s worth comparing free and pro versions to see what the difference is. Often the free version will have more limited colour, typography and page layout options, no slider or limited slides, less widgets or widget areas, and a new trend seems to be to offer WooCommerce compatibiltiy for the pro but not free version.
I have linked themes to their WordPress depository page if they are in it, but for themes that are not in the WordPress depository you may want to check them with the Theme Authenticity Checker Plugin or check the theme files at VirusTotal. So let’s get started:
Nirvana is one of the most impressive free themes around at the moment.
‘a framework of over 200 settings in a user-friendly interface, a very effective responsive design, easy to use typography equipped with Google fonts, all post formats, 8 page templates (magazine and blog layouts included), 12 widget areas and a presentation page complete with an editable slider and columns’.
Good contemporary theme from WooThemes.
‘Storefront is an intuitive & flexible, free WordPress theme offering deep integration with WooCommerce’.
Continue Reading for Themes 3-25
If you do not have Photoshop and have wondered what is the best way to extract assets and style information without it, then a great new free tool from Adobe called Extract should interest you (and even if you do have Photoshop, this tool may well be of use).
Extract is available as part of Adobe’s Creative Cloud Files, a cloud storage service which offers 2GB of free storage to share files, folders and collaborate — all accessible from your desktop, smartphone or tablet.
Extract is certainly a valuable new tool for web designers and front end developers, and Adobe’s own Creative Cloud blog succinctly describes what Extract does:
‘The new feature in Creative Cloud Files enables Web designers and developers, who work with PSD files, to easily create code-based design from Photoshop CC compositions. That means extracting style information and image assets, copying text and CSS, grabbing color, gradient and font information, measuring distances between elements, and saving optimized image assets for production—with a drag, a drop, and a click of the mouse. From a single PSD file. Directly in Creative Cloud Files.
And the best news: Anyone with a free or paid Creative Cloud account can upload a PSD file to Creative Cloud Files and use Extract. Not only that, but once an Extract link has been shared, the recipient doesn’t need to be logged-in to a Creative Cloud account to pull assets and measurements from the file.’
It’s great to be able to do this simply and effectively in the browser, and it’s extremely intuitive to use. You can try Extract now to get a taster, or take a look at the Extract for PSD to Web Workflows document or the YouTube video.
The halfway point of the year seems a good time for another round up of the latest free WordPress themes. As usual I have steered clear of ‘free’ themes that are so limited that you really to need upgrade to premium to make any use of them. I’ve not tested all the themes, though all the themes look like they are from genuine sources. For themes that are not in the WordPress depository you may want to check them with the Theme Authenticity Checker Plugin or check the theme files at VirusTotal. So here goes:
Limo is an impressive modern free full screen theme from CodexCoder with a good range of features and options that you often only find in premium themes. ‘Limo is a beautiful HTML5 template Designed and Developed by CodexCoder. This template is validated by W3C and we attached lots of Features. Its awesome outlook and effects can easily attract visitors’.
‘Isis is a Simple, Clean and Responsive Retina Ready WordPress Theme which adapts automatically to your tablets and mobile devices. theme with 2 home page layouts,2 header style,10 social icons,4 widget ,Slider,3 page templates – Full width page, 4 google fonts, font-awesome service icon,Upload logo option ….. Isis is suitable for any types of website – corporate, portfolio, business, blog.’ Continue Reading for Themes 3-30
Really like this web page which shows you just how much activity takes place on the net and how quickly across a leading selection of the most popular sites – likes, posts, searches, uploads etc. Go to the page and watch how quickly the stats accumulate.
Click the image to open the interactive version (via pennystocks.la).
It’s been a while since I posted anything on WordPress so here’s a few top WordPress plugins that have caught my eye recently.
Shortcodes Ultimate – there are lots of shortcode plugins out there for buttons, accordions, columns etc but this has to be one of the best and most extensive with 30+ shortcodes. Simple to use and responsive too.
Blue Studio Tiny MCE Widget – open up the possibilities of your widget areas by adding a WYIWYG visual editor widget. Great for clients.
WordPress Visual Slide-box Builder – Add cool hover effects to images or any other type of content. Impressive range of effects for a free plugin.
MailChimp for WordPress – Mailchimp is a great e-newsletter generation tool and this plugin integrates MailChimp subscribe lists with your WordPress site – an excellent combination!
Easy Digital Downloads – excellent free plugin to sell digital products, with add-ons also available.
Change of Name for Long Established Security Plugin
Better WP security has changed its name and look. It’s now known as iThemes Security, and is still a worthy addition to any site.
You’ll find all of the above and many more in my WordPress Plugins directory.
‘Help me get to No.1 on Google’ is a common refrain from new and old website owners. The art of getting a website on the first page of Google’s and other search engine’s search results is, as many of you will know, known as Search Engine Optimisation or SEO. There are many techniques and tactics to achieve this, but over the last couple of years in particular Google has taken on those that use the dark arts or black hat techniques to get their site ranked highly.
In many ways, this has made it more difficult to get to No.1 as it is harder technically to play the system, but in other ways, it has made things simpler – it is the quality of the content of your site that matters most together with the quality of the incoming links to your site.
Here’s the first round-up of new themes for 2014 including some big bold contemporary themes. It’s also good to see many of these themes offering WooCommerce compatibility. All themes are free and responsive.
This looks to be one of the more impressive free themes of late with a real premium look and feel about it. I look forward to giving Bearded from bonfirelab a try.
‘A responsive CSS3 and HTML5 blogging and portfolio theme. It supports all post formats and has layout, and color options built into the theme customizer. The theme also supports the Custom Content Portfolio plugin, giving artists and other creative people the ability to share their work’.
This is a great full screen theme from Themesmarts who are aiming to ‘to create free or open source WordPress themes using the best and free open source resources tools on the net’. This theme, packed with features and options, looks like their best one yet.
‘Simple wordpress themes goes by its name a simple wordpress theme with enough features and options to get your satisfaction a big boost. Simple WordPress theme supports multiple color schemes 5 to be exact and 2 primary color which is dark and white. Its homepage can be fully customized, using a set of shortcodes the homepage can be created uniquely.
Simple WordPress supports 3 types of page templates, Blog template which shows all the latest blog posts, portfolio template which shows the latest portfolio project and lastly is the homepage template which is used to create your homepage’.
Continue Reading for Themes 3-15
HTML Email Marketing
An email marketing campaign is an excellent way to reach more customers, or remind existing ones that you exist. Before you begin though, it really helps to be clear about the purpose of your email (e.g. to sell a product, promote a service, to provide information etc.), and this in turn should help determine who you would like to send it to. For this you will need to develop a targeted email distribution list.
Email Distribution Lists
If you’ve been busy collecting emails from your customers with their permission you have a good start. It’s certainly best if your email distribution list is permission based – that is a list of subscribers who have already giving their permission for you to contact them by email (e.g. by subscribing through your website or other sources). It’s worth putting in some effort to develop and maintain this list so do not miss opportunities to get people to subscribe to your emails.
If you do not have a good list of subscribers, you might be tempted to send out speculative emails. This can be quite contentious and for a good reason – to prevent spam. There are legal pointers to bear in mind (the US has quite stringent rules). However, in the UK and Europe at least, if you are marketing to other businesses (B2B marketing) then you should be OK. Email marketing company, Extravision, gives the following advice (see Legislation to consider when embarking on marketing via email for full article):
‘The good news for you if you are selling and marketing to other businesses is that you can continue to work on an ‘opt out’ basis. This means that you can contact those names you have on your database without needing to gain their permission first.
The legislation allows the member states to choose whether or not to include business emails in the ‘opt in’ rule. The UK government decided that common sense dictates that you shouldn’t need advance permission to contact a business. It also felt that corporations were well placed to protect their systems from unwanted emails.’
You should also make sure that you do not conceal your identity in your emails and provide a free of charge ability to opt out of future emails.
Note that email marketing to individuals, which for legal purposes, includes sole traders and partnerships, should be permission-based i.e. on an opt-in basis. Therefore if you want to market to personal email addresses the recipients must have opted in to receiving your emails.
In terms of security, an up to date WordPress site is fairly robust, but because WordPress is so popular, there are plenty out there looking to exploit any weakness in security. Before you know it, your site could be full of links to Viagra and dodgy pharmaceutical products, or worse. So what can you do to make your site more secure? Here’s a non-technical list of 10 things you can do.
1. Use a security plugin. There are two good free plugins available – Better WP Security and WordFence. Once activated, your site is immediately more secure, but the settings provide further enhancements which do not take very long to set up.
2. Don’t use admin as your user name – it gives half the game away! And ensure strong passwords – non-dictionary, with numbers and characters. This can help protect you against ‘brute force attacks’which aim to gain access to a site by trying passwords and usernames over and over again.
Continue Reading to View Steps 2-10