Wordpress - how do YOU make it look like a site and not a blog?

by 59 comments
I'm soon going to start a new niche site via Wordpress, and unlike one of my other sites that looks very much like a blog still, I want to use the flexibility and versatility of Wordpress to make it look like a professional site. I'd really appreciate it if some of you Wordpress experts could share some tips, advice and links whether they be for plugins, themes or anything else helpful to me and others reading
#internet marketing #blog #make #site #wordpress
  • Profile picture of the author dawei888
    I understand what you're going after here. First of all use pages and not posts. Then, in the Widgits section just include your pages. I use the flexi-pages plugin. That will get rid of all the other blog-like junk that comes up in the sidebar.
    • Profile picture of the author Liam Hamer
      Originally Posted by dawei888 View Post

      I understand what you're going after here. First of all use pages and not posts. Then, in the Widgits section just include your pages. I use the flexi-pages plugin. That will get rid of all the other blog-like junk that comes up in the sidebar.
      Thanks I was under the impression that search engines mainly cache the front/homepage and therefore having posts rather than pages is better for SEO. I think I actually read this here, is it true?
  • Profile picture of the author Yogini
    I think one of the issues I've read is that the wordpress rss feed puts in posts and not pages. There may be however a plug-in that will do this (not sure). I've heard that is why posts may be better for seo than pages so you can take advantage of the rss exposure.

    Debbie
  • Profile picture of the author Mohsin Rasool
    Originally Posted by Crubalo View Post

    I'm soon going to start a new niche site via Wordpress, and unlike one of my other sites that looks very much like a blog still, I want to use the flexibility and versatility of Wordpress to make it look like a professional site. I'd really appreciate it if some of you Wordpress experts could share some tips, advice and links whether they be for plugins, themes or anything else helpful to me and others reading
    Wow this is my favorite!
    I mean to use Wordpress for Niche sites instead of just blogs.

    Well you have to do many small tweaks to make it look like Pro site:

    1. First of all you may focus only Pages, and no posts...
    this way you can control what aprears at what page.

    So if you have 10 pages site, about page, contact page, products, services...
    everything will be just at its on page...

    2. Create a page and set it as Static homepage, from wordpress admin panel,
    this way you will have nicely crafted homepage, it can be your salesletter...

    3. Also remove any stuff in sidebar, and just keep Pages and Recent Pages widgets.

    > Also change their titles from "Pages" to "Site Menu" (or something like that!)
    also change title of "Recent Pages" to "Recently Updated" (or something like that!)

    4. You also need to get a theme which compliment your Niche site style and
    just do not make it look like a blog.

    To make a general theme not look like a blog...you can do this:

    a. Remove all dates, and written by stuff from the home.php, single.php,
    archive.php and category.php pages of theme

    b. You may also remove Comments Form section

    c. You may also remove code related to Post Meta stuff, where it says, this
    post was posted when and filed in what category and so on...


    In short you by tweaking your theme, you can remove all blog related stuff,
    and make it look like a Site....

    let me know if you have any specific question in this regard, I will try to answer that..

    Regards,
    Mohsin
  • Profile picture of the author Preben Frenning
    1. Change the permalink title to "custom" and write: %postname%

    2. Use pages, like everyone else have said.
    3. Find a good theme. - I purchased a professional theme for my business site, and it really looks like a static site, but it has a blog as well. You can see it at Gratisweb.No (It's in Norwegian, and not a self-promo:p)

    The theme is called "Wp remix" and costs $75.

    4. The plugin to include your pages in the rss feed is called "RSS Includes Pages"

    I hope that helps
    - Preben
    • Profile picture of the author tandren544
      I use Atahualpa. It's without a doubt the most customizable WordPress theme out there - and it's not that difficult to get a pro-blog or professional site look with it if you know some basic CSS and HTML.

      Check it out!
    • Profile picture of the author Phil
      Originally Posted by Preben Frenning View Post

      1. Change the permalink title to "custom" and write: %postname%
      - Preben

      - better still, change the permalink to /%category%/%postname%.html
      and you enforce your keyword rich category name and an html file ending.

      If you also add the 'Enforce www' plugin you get a site with urls which act
      like an html website, not a blog.

      Phil
  • Profile picture of the author Darek
    When you use pages they don't automatically appear in the RSS feed.

    Use this plugin to have your pages appear in the RSS feed:

    RSS Includes Pages
  • Profile picture of the author Keith Kogane
    Lots of good advice here, and I do this all the time. I use a dateless theme and a static magazine style front page.

    One cool thing you can do with a static site built on Wordpress though is take advantage of the RSS and pinging capabilities. Once you're set up with a dateless theme and have set your permalinks to not have dates, use a plugin called "Old Post Promoter" and you can have what appears to be a static site actually have a very dynamic RSS feed, so that your site seems to have constantly updated content for RSS aggregators to grab.

    You could even go nuts and make your excerpts have randomizing elements with something like Random Stray Quotes plugin, so that it would actually appear to be a different little snippet each time.

    Damn, I should actually try that out on a few sites. I bet it would work killer.

    Anyway, hope that helps.
    • Profile picture of the author khughey
      I've only recently been turned onto WP for non blog sites, but I'm loving the flexibility now.

      I also have used a product designed to help build custom WP Themes. It's called Artisteer.com . Two sites I've built using this are Snellville Dentist | Gwinnett County GA Dentist 30078| Oak Road Dentistry and Georgia Trackers Alliance . Now I decided to have a blog as part of a non blog site....so I've included a navigation tab just for the blogging portion. This of course is optional and I could have simply not included any blogging "type" capability. It's good for dynamic content and SEO considerations.

      I've been real happy with that product. But, you don't need to buy a tool like this to accomplish the goal. Free WP templates abound, and I also use the Atahualpa WP Theme, but only as a blog.

      There are plugins that also allow you to not show pages in the navigation, so for example, you may have a thank you page after opting in and you don't want people to navigate directly there. The options continue to expand....

      You would be surprised at just how many sites are powered by WP, but you would have no idea. Sometimes for fun, I'll add the wp-admin to the url just to see. Surprise....

      Cheers,
      Ken
  • Profile picture of the author InternetMarketingIQ
    #1 Tip: Take the time to find a Template that is designed to be used as a CMS.
    • Profile picture of the author BeauFla
      Originally Posted by InternetMarketingIQ View Post

      #1 Tip: Take the time to find a Template that is designed to be used as a CMS.

      If what you are after is to use WP as a CMS then this is definitely the best advice. Using WP as a CMS has really started to take traction.

      You really have to use the right theme though. Otherwise you will be doing a lot of config changes and if you are not very familiar with PHP, HTNL and CSS then you are going to cause yourself more problems than it may be worth. There is a revolution theme that is perfect. I think it is Revolution Pro. and maybe one other. Been a long time.
  • Profile picture of the author Melody
    you can actually leave your side bar widgets in and still use a graphical background for the side by using the graphic as the background, and html links over it. That way you still have the ability to use the additional functions that widgets can provide.

    The optin box on the top right uses this technique but you can make it as long as you want to accommodate a full menu:
    http://clickhereforgrantsforwomen.com/

    WP is so flexible - you can do almost anything with it! just keep an untouched copy of your theme files - that way anytime you screw up the code - you just upload the 'clean' file and start over:-)

    Very important when you are working with a premium theme!

    melody
  • Profile picture of the author drewjones
    go get a theme and redesign it.

    Add pages not posts.

    get a plugins to help with seo structure.

    write write write.
    • Profile picture of the author Marian
      I customize almost all the themes I use. Recently Thesis, Flexibility and UBD. You can do wonders with the themes and you'll find lots of stuff on youtube as well.

      If you're in a learning mode - just search the warrior forum - there are lots of cool ideas :-) What I can tell you that with WordPress almost anything is possible. ;-)

      Marian
  • Profile picture of the author The Pension Guy
    www and .html will never make a site less blog-like. It is the design (theme) that you use.
    - www is not really necessary on any site because technically i is obsolete;
    - there are millions of site made in .php, .asp, .cfm, yet they are not blogs.

    The www at the beginning and the file extension shouldn't define what kind of site you have. It is defined by the functionality, structure and design.

    The rest is just myth and misconception.
    • Profile picture of the author adarwish
      I'm trying to do the same with a site that I just launched, too.

      I love the theme I'm using because I'd like to focus most on the content and it's very SEO-friendly (it's called minimalism).

      The only widgets I have are the "search" and "pages" ones on the right. I figured I could also take advantage of the blog feature, I added a "page" that houses the posts.

      In the Settings -> Reading, you can specify the "Home" page and the "posts" page.

      Some plugin's I've found that I'd recommend:

      - All in One SEO (does plenty of neat things, like automatically putting the page title in front of the website name in the title, allowing you to edit meta info, etc)
      - AddThis (I like how other social bookmarking plugins look more, BUT addthis let's you track where people are sharing your site)
      - Google Analytics
      - Contact Form 7 (you can see the contact page on my website, I did that with a click of a button using this plugin)
      - My Page Order (absolutely essential so you can order the pages as you want, not by alphabetical order. When you implement it, make sure you goto the widgets page, edit the pages widget, and specify that the pages be ordered by the order, not alphabetically or by ID)

      Good luck, and I'd love to see how your site comes out!
  • Profile picture of the author Quentin
    I Use Artisteer so I can create any blog theme I want rather than hunting and tweaking free themes.

    It is especially useful when creating business sites and creating customer sites.

    It is a one time cost and you can then make as many themes as you like in pretty well any combination, color theme etc.

    Artisteer 2 the new way to design Wordpress Themes | The Internet Marketers Club

    Quentin
  • Profile picture of the author Netcel
    Great thread, cheers guys.

    Can anyone recommend a free Wordpress theme that is well suited to being used a CMS?

    Also, does anyone know of a plugin to enable drop down menus?

    Thanks again
  • Profile picture of the author Superior
    @Netcel
    Just got these themes from Google. I hope you will find them useful.
    9 Free WordPress CMS Theme (Free Wordpress Magazine Theme) | Dobeweb
    Also if you are using any advance theme, free or paid there is no need of any plugin. Dropdown menus are already available in most of themes. So you have not to worry about any plugin.
  • Profile picture of the author Preben Frenning
    Paid ones also often have ready-made page templates that looks great.

    They also quite often give a more "professional feel" to the entire site.
    They are usually CSS optimized, more colours to choose from, more sidebars, theme functions,easier to customize, and in general easier to get good response with etc.

    However, it's also possible to customize a free one as well, to make it look more professional. But if you're new to wordpress and webdesign, you should stick to a premium one.
  • Profile picture of the author Armchair General
    I wonder if there has been any studies done on whether this issue is even relevant to the majority of users? Some of the crappiest looking websites still do fantastic - it seems more true for blogs, which I guess is a format that people expect it to look amateurish. After many years of being online and always seeking to craft the perfect website, I'm beginning to think that a lot of time I could do just as well with a white sheet with black text on the screen - as long as the content is of interest.

    I use myself as my sample set though. When I see an amateurish looking site, or a site which clearly uses a template, I usually bail out because I can't take them seriously.
    • Profile picture of the author Preben Frenning
      Originally Posted by Armchair General View Post

      I wonder if there has been any studies done on whether this issue is even relevant to the majority of users? Some of the crappiest looking websites still do fantastic - it seems more true for blogs, which I guess is a format that people expect it to look amateurish. After many years of being online and always seeking to craft the perfect website, I'm beginning to think that a lot of time I could do just as well with a white sheet with black text on the screen - as long as the content is of interest.

      I use myself as my sample set though. When I see an amateurish looking site, or a site which clearly uses a template, I usually bail out because I can't take them seriously.
      I totally agree with you. But it also depends on what purpose the website serves. If it's only information, it doesn't matter. If it's an electronic product, it doesn't matter as much, since it might have a good copy, and everything might be working great.

      But if it's a business website, it has to look professional. If not, I might judge the company, thinking they are smaller than they are, or maybe not serious.

      I put a lot into having a good-looking, functional website. It makes me feel good, and I feel it's necessary, to show my potential customers I'm a professional, and that I'm serious about what I do.

      It also make it easier to "showcase" my sites, as I'm proud of them. I would't do that with a website I wasn't that satisfied with.
  • Profile picture of the author AdInventive
    There's something to be said for using premium themes. If you can then take it and mess around with the styling and change it up to be your own unique sort of looking site, you're good to go.

    Think of wordpress themes in general as a framework. You can infinitely expand on it to fit your vision. The difference with a premium theme though is that they give you more tools out of the box to work with. For example, most if not all premium themes have their own options page built in that lets you control specific elements.

    As far as making a blog look like a regular site, a lot of this will have to do with the theme that you use to start with. You should use pages instead of posts, and keep posts for the 'blog' portion of your site (which I think all sites should have for a variety of reasons).

    You may want to check out themeforest.net . They have a lot of CMS looking themes that are fairly inexpensive but look great. I warn you though if you're a novice with wordpress, while most if not all of these themes come with their own set up instructions, they can seem overwhelming at first.

    As far as free themes, check out where sites such as smashingmagazine.com have to offer. Another great place is weblogtoolscollection.com - there you will find a lot of free themes posted every few days. Some look like crap of course, but sometimes you will find a real gem.

    For premium themes you can check out premiumwp.com (a ridiculously awesome affiliate site I have to say) which lists all the major premium themes as they come out. There is also WordPress › Free WordPress Themes which lists all of the GPL premium theme providers.

    Good luck, and try not to get overwhelmed!
  • Profile picture of the author AdInventive
    I feel the same way Preben, but it's important to keep in mind that it's true when they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

    People have lots of different aesthetic tastes. The most important part of a website is to make sure that content is displayed prominently and that the message you are trying to get across is delivered effectively. The rest is just eye candy.

    Professionalism in my opinion is more then just how a site looks.
    • Profile picture of the author PaulWilson
      I agree, it is great to have a professional looking site, but if the content is crap then what's the point.

      I use the flexibility theme, and although it's free, it seems pretty versatile, and you can pretty much customize every header/footer/sidebar etc.

      It will do me for now, I may look into a paid one in the future. Many people seem to use the flexx theme, but can't really see the benefits over the flexibility theme for the nearly $80 price tag...

      Paul
  • Profile picture of the author Preben Frenning
    Originally Posted by AdInventive View Post

    I feel the same way Preben, but it's important to keep in mind that it's true when they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

    People have lots of different aesthetic tastes. The most important part of a website is to make sure that content is displayed prominently and that the message you are trying to get across is delivered effectively. The rest is just eye candy.

    Professionalism in my opinion is more then just how a site looks.
    Well yeah, but I have a few examples...

    Take... Ryan Air for example... A HUGE company, selling for billions each year.(At least hundreds of millions) ryanair.com . That site looks quite 97'ish in my opinion. I was SCEPTICAL when I booked my flights there, but I still did it.

    On the other hand, we have stompernet. They have the "Design professionalism" I'm talking about.

    Everything they do looks extremely professional and appealing. They look BIG, in other words. (And they are, but still. Ryan air is bigger, yet looks "smaller")

    You get where I'm heading at?
    I think there are a few key design elements everyone will agree looks professional. They might not "love" the design themselves, but they are quickly able to tell if it's professional. Whether they like it or not.
    • Profile picture of the author AdInventive
      Oh I understand what you're saying. The ryanair people definately need to hire some user experience experts to get their site under control ick.

      The stompernet blog example isn't a really great one though imho, it's a completely unmodified stock studiopress theme. ..which is fine and serves it's purpose just great, but that's not really what I would consider design professionalism.

      At this point it's a matter of personal preference though. The reality is you need both but the point of professional design in my opinion is to be used to subtlety enhance the content you're offering.

      Originally Posted by Preben Frenning View Post

      Well yeah, but I have a few examples...

      Take... Ryan Air for example... A HUGE company, selling for billions each year.(At least hundreds of millions) ryanair.com . That site looks quite 97'ish in my opinion. I was SCEPTICAL when I booked my flights there, but I still did it.

      On the other hand, we have stompernet. They have the "Design professionalism" I'm talking about.

      Everything they do looks extremely professional and appealing. They look BIG, in other words. (And they are, but still. Ryan air is bigger, yet looks "smaller")

      You get where I'm heading at?
      I think there are a few key design elements everyone will agree looks professional. They might not "love" the design themselves, but they are quickly able to tell if it's professional. Whether they like it or not.
  • Profile picture of the author TheUltimatePublishing
    Originally Posted by Crubalo View Post

    I'm soon going to start a new niche site via Wordpress, and unlike one of my other sites that looks very much like a blog still, I want to use the flexibility and versatility of Wordpress to make it look like a professional site. I'd really appreciate it if some of you Wordpress experts could share some tips, advice and links whether they be for plugins, themes or anything else helpful to me and others reading
    Depends on what you want your wp site to look like, all my sites, including sales pages, squeeze pages, landing pages & even membership sites (across all my niches) are all wp.

    Use a professional looking free theme, which is quite easy to find, I tend to favor those with right sidebar or no sidebar.

    First, you want to remove those distracting links on the sidebar, you can do that by editing your widgets, not much html knowledge needed.

    Also, you want to remove all the dates so that it looks like a regular website. You can do that by editing the theme, it requires a bit of php knowledge. You might want to use 1 of your pages as your front page.

    If you're not sure how to do it, just pay someone to do that, since these tasks are simple, it's easy to find people who can do it & it won't cost much.

    Hope this helps, let me know if you have any question.
  • Profile picture of the author Preben Frenning
    Removing the date is also good for blogs if they rarely gets updated.

    @MacFreddie - I agree that every site could be done using wordpress. I'm going to convert my business website to WP very soon. And what you say about stompernet is right. I always use this principle when I build important websites. - Make it look "big", serious, and professional. It will give your visitors an instant credibility boost, and they are more likely to take any action.

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