Most people will tell you to never use a premade theme if you want your site to stand out or look professional. However, we know all too well what it is like when you are starting out. Your budget may not be massive, and you may not have web design experience. You don’t care about spending hours and hours personalizing your website. You just want something simple that works.
For these reasons, some people will go for a free premade theme. If this is you, we wanted to show you a few ways you can rock that premade theme (paid or not) and make it look almost as professional (if not more) than a custom built site.
Here are 10 ways to add professionalism to your premade theme:
1. Use a great site builder.
Whichever site builder you use, play around with it a bit to make sure it’s a good fit. There are tons of videos online for different site builders that can help you if you are looking to accomplish something specific. At Vivio, we offer a premade site builder called Kopage. We’ve only had it for a few months, but so far our clients have raved about it. I personally built a site on Kopage and have never been so impressed with a site builder. I love the drag-n-drop content editing and customization options. It’s extremely straightforward and simple to use, requiring no coding at all. I found it even simpler to use than WordPress free templates.
2. Choose a theme that reflects your products/services.
If you are a new bakery, you’re probably not going to want a theme with images reflecting a toy store or a daycare center. Use a theme that makes sense for the products and services that you offer. Feel free to change the background image if you’re looking for something specific. You want your clients to be able to look at your site, and know exactly what products/services you offer. If it’s not clear within the first few seconds, they may leave and not return.
3. Keep it clean.
Be a minimalist when designing your site, even with a premade theme. Try to give as much information in as few words as possible. Think about what your client will want to know. Use an active voice in write-ups. Keep the graphics and copy relevant. The more straightforward the site is, the more likely people will be to browse it and request more information. The goal here? Eliminate clutter and refrain from info-dumping. If you don’t need it, don’t use it. Note: If you feel like your clients might have questions, you can also set up a FAQ page.
4. Design an opt-in offer.
Encourage your clients to sign up for your newsletter. Create a free e-book, research document or tool they will receive in exchange for signing up for your newsletter. This is a great way to build an audience.
5. Position your call-to-actions based on eye-scanning patterns.
While everyone reads differently, there are some common rules of thumb for eye-scanning. When people look at a website, they typically read in an F-shaped pattern (i.e. upper left corner to upper middle of the website). Our article, How to Design a Website That Actually Gets Views, has some further information on eye-scanning that might help you as you’re deciding where to place content.
6. Set up a social media plugin.
There’s nothing more valuable than social proof or word of mouth. Include a social media plugin to give your clients easy access to your online profiles. They’ll be able to see other people are following, trusting, and using your services too. This will make them far more likely to participate. Our article, 9 WordPress Plugins Every Business Needs, highlights some other popular plugins.
7. Include valid contact information.
One of the biggest things missing on websites is valid contact information. Determine how you want your potential clients or followers to be able to contact you (phone, email, mail, etc.). After you decide, include the contact information that is relevant. Note: If you only want to be contacted by email, there is no need to leave a phone number. If clients can’t visit you in person, there’s no need to leave an address. You get the idea.
8. Choose colors strategically.
Every color evokes some kind of feeling. Decide what emotion you are trying to bring out of your audience, and use color to help them act on that emotion. Our article, What Colors Inspire Visitors to Click On Your Link?, shows what feelings are tied with colors. Depending on which feeling you are trying to go with, use colors to complement that, and your clients will feel safer with you. In addition to the colors, use positive words that evoke emotion in your write-ups. This will help the feelings complement one another so your site is consistent.
9. Show client testimonials.
Going back to the social proof idea, people want to know other people are using your services. Include testimonials on your site to make it even more professional. If you’re just starting out, the more the better. Put the testimonials somewhere people can see them easily.
10. Upload your own images.
Premade themes are usually recognizable. To set yourself apart, avoid stock photos, and get your own custom photos. Whether you pay a photographer for your own stock photo collection or take pictures on your own, this is a great way to separate your site from others. While the premade theme will most likely be heavily used by others, you’ll be fortunate to know no one else will have the same images.
We hope this list helps you!
Do you know any other design tips for premade sites? Share them in the comments below. We would love to hear them!