Richard Spencer Davies is author of Petite Bourgeoisie a beautifully designed site, which is no wonder because he also has a strong web design portfolio. For those of us who are struggling with WordPress(.org), finding themes, tweaking CSS, tweaking PHP, finding themes (notice a theme here)… this article will help you sort out what options you have, because, as difficult as it is getting your blog running on WordPress, it’s also one of the most flexible platforms out there.
Fashion Blog Design – The Options
originally posted on Petite Bourgeoisie
There are a lot of fashion blogs out there, and a great design can often set you apart from the others. A large majority of blogs use the default theme, and you owe it to your content to have it shown in the best way possible.
There are many options when it comes to blogging platforms, but this post is going to focus on WordPress. I feel it’s the best open source platform available at the moment, with the amount of plugins, support and designs available.
1. Free Themes
There has been a huge growth in the numbers of free themes available out there. Blogs like Upstart Blogger have revolutionized the free theme marketplace by upping the bar of the quality available. Smashing Magazine often give away great themes, and compile lists of the best the web has to offer.
I find the best way is a simple Google search, something like ‘Wordpress Magazine Theme’ will normally give great results.
Free themes to check out:
- Mimbo (Magazine style theme)
- Hemingway Reloaded (Minimal theme)
- Modicus (Minimal theme by Upstart Blogger)
- Agregado (Theme with a lifestream by Smashing Magazine)
2. Paid Themes
There has been a huge growth in paid themes in recent months. Most of the paid themes have advanced features you won’t find in many of the free themes, like changing the theme options from within the WordPress backend. This makes them a more attractive purchase for bloggers who don’t have HTML/PHP skills.
It’s worth having a look at the different purchasing options, and taking a look at the licenses. It could be worth purchasing a paid theme as a group.
I feel the best one suited to a fashion blog would be the Revolution Lifestyle magazine blog, and is a bargain at $99.
There are plenty more though, and two to watch:
- WooThemes (A WordPress theme club)
- ThemeForest (A new template marketplace by Collis T’aeed)
3. PSD to WordPress
If you have Photoshop experience, using a PSD to WordPress service could be the best way of updating your blog design. You will have complete control over the design, and the coding should be bulletproof. If you are willing to wait 5/7 days for the site to be produced you can get a real bargain.
If you don’t feel comfortable with HTML/PHP it is worth noting any changes to the design might be a bit difficult, but using a service like this is a great alternative to using a free theme.
The 2 providers I recommend at the moment are:
- PSD 2 HTML (approx $354)
- WP Coder (approx $300)
4. Design the site yourself
If you have HTML/PHP/CSS skills, the best route is designing/coding the site yourself. This will allow you to add and remove elements when necessary, and see your design as an evolving piece of work, instead of having to start again each time.
There are plenty of resources on the net for WordPress theme developers, my personal favorite is WPCandy. There are also some good books available, but having looked at most of them, it’s probably better to stick to web resources. One book that will be well worth getting when it is released is ‘How to be a Rockstar WordPress Designer‘.
If you do go down this route, I can also recommend Elliot Jay Stocks ‘Starkers‘ WordPress theme. It’s a bare-bones template, so you can start designing from a blank canvas.
5. Employ a web designer
The last option is to employ a web designer. When you hire a designer it can incorporate any of the options above. Your designer could modify a free or paid theme, design a photoshop mockup, or build the site.
Finding a good designer isn’t easy, but there are a few options.
If you are using a theme at the moment you could get in touch with the designer. If you see a really nice blog design you could email the owner and ask what designer they used, or check the CSS files (not too easy for non-techies).
There is always the option of using a service like oDesk, where you can outsource to designers and programmers predomiately from India and Russia.
Probably the best way however, and how I get most of my design work, is word of mouth. Because of this I have been lucky enough to build up a varied portfolio, working with different technologies. Posting on forums (like the Independent Fashion Bloggers), you will often find someone who has had a good experience.
I am currently in the process of designing a free theme designed specifically for fashion bloggers. I will be releasing it sometime in January, completely free. Join the RSS to be kept up to date. I will be looking for feedback at every stage, so feel free to join in the discussion. If you would like help, or a quote for custom design work feel free to check out my portfolio, or get in touch here.