Tips from a Web Designer: On Widgets, Themes, and Essential Tools

Internet and advertising designer Matt Sweeny builds web sites on for a spread of purchasers, together with a landscape and design service, a cheese company at vacation markets, a public relations firm for toy producers and retailers, and an indie folk band.

Right here, Matt shares a bit about how — and why — he makes use of, providing fast suggestions on constructing a homepage, discovering a theme, and utilizing widgets.

What, to you, are the important components of a homepage?

A homepage ought to have:

  • a kick-ass design
  • a title or branding logo to determine the web site instantly
  • textual content that describes the aim of the web site (which is essential so the positioning exhibits up in search outcomes)
  • a spot for guests to search the site’s content
  • a menu or navigation to different pages on the positioning (together with hyperlinks to phrases and privateness if it’s a industrial web site)
  • a type the place guests can enter their electronic mail to subscribe to the positioning’s e-newsletter — or, within the case of, a subscription form or follow button so customers can get updates by electronic mail

The website of Baked Cheese Haus.

The web site of Baked Cheese Haus.

A homepage also needs to have imagery or video content material, which supplies guests with context, an space the place guests can discover the site’s social profiles, and a way to contact the site owner. Typically a “name to motion” is suitable, too.

And I’m all the time proud to characteristic a variation of the “Powered by” credit line in the footer, in addition to a copyright discover.

The footer of the KidStuff Public Relations website.

The footer of the KidStuff Public Relations web site.

You’ve used the Gateway, Nowell, Prosperity, and Singl themes on a few of your purchasers’ web sites. What recommendation do you’ve gotten for somebody who’s deciding on the proper look?

Within the theme showcase, you may browse themes. One of the simplest ways to preview a theme earlier than committing to and activating it’s by “test-driving” it on its reside demo web site, which you’ll be able to entry as you scroll by the themes. My favourite themes to test-drive embrace the demos of Cubic, Sapor, Harmonic, and Obsidian.

When in search of a theme, use the filters on the high or search for key phrases on the high proper to slim your choices within the theme showcase.

Browse and try hundreds of themes in the theme showcase.

Browse and take a look at a whole bunch of themes within the theme showcase.

What are your favourite three widgets?

The Links (Blogroll) Widget is my favourite. A blogroll appears “old-fashioned,” however when used together with the widget’s visibility settings, the Hyperlinks Widget supplies other ways to show content material utilizing hyperlink classes. For instance, within the footer of this travel blog, I show “Promotional Companions” and “Discover Lodging” hyperlinks.

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-4-58-27-pmThe Text Widget is one other favourite, because it provides me a freeform space to create something to my coronary heart’s delight (wanting JavaScript code which, in fact, is stripped out). The highest widget on the proper sidebar of this KidStuff Public Relations page makes use of picture, textual content, and easy HTML to create a “Return to…” navigation hyperlink.

My third-favorite widget will not be one widget however the highly effective group of social media widgets. These embrace the Social Media Icons Widget, the Instagram Widget, the Twitter Timeline Widget, and Facebook Page Plugin, a few of which you’ll be able to see in motion within the sidebar and footer of Glacier View Landscape & Design, Inc.

A row of icons made with the Social Media Icons Widget.

A row of icons made with the Social Media Icons Widget.

Why do you utilize to construct your purchasers’ web sites?

Safety. I really like utilizing as a result of it’s one of the crucial safe web site publishing instruments out there. A part of managing an internet site is ensuring it’s safe from hackers and spammers. I really feel protected recommending to my purchasers contacts, figuring out it’s arrange utilizing a worldwide community of mirrored servers to guard in opposition to DDOS assaults. I additionally love the uptime of 100% with and the velocity of my web sites.

I really like all of the instruments which are constructed into, like shortcodes, put up varieties, contact varieties, galleries, social sharing and Publicize instruments, stats, web optimization, and Akismet — all of which I don’t must administer and keep with updates to plugins. On, I by no means have to run backups of my web site earlier than operating model updates.

I additionally love the concepts behind Automattic, in addition to supporting WordPress, an Open Supply challenge that’s made by a various world neighborhood of contributors.

Matt Sweeny is a blogger and net and advertising designer, whose consumer web sites embrace Glacier View Landscape & Design, Inc., Baked Cheese Haus, KidStuff Public Relations, and Katie Burns Music.

Filed beneath: Community, Widgets,