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Growing tired of your WordPress theme? Make your blog look more like a site with a few alterations.
With all due respect, WordPress is an excellent CMS—but some of us don’t want our site or blog to convey that “brought-to-you-by-WordPress” look. If fact, I’d be willing to bet that a lot of you don’t want your site to look like a WordPress blog at all.
A number of content publishers like ourselves would prefer their sites abandon the whole bloggy, WP look and this can only be achieved by ridding your site of a number of tell-tale WordPress fixtures.
If you’re a beginner WordPress developer and you’re trying to code a website theme that doesn’t just resemble another WordPress blog hybrid, there are some steps you can take for a more original, tailor-made approach. Here ya go:
Ok, I admit that this first one will seem sacrilegious to a modern content marketer, so we’ll get it out of the way first:
Disable Your Comment Fields
When you disable your comment fields your site becomes a whole new species.
Most would advise against this, but if you really want to disassociate with the WP blog image, disabling your comments is a very effective way to do so. If your goal is to look like an established, customized, independent website instead of another blog: this should be one of your first steps.
If you’re not so sure you want to do this, just remember that you can always give it a test run. Nothing is set in stone. Disabling the Post a Comment Section can be achieved by going to Settings and Discussion.
Just remember this: If you are trying to market a product or company online, content marketers might warn that disabling a comment field on your site is bad for marketing your business. Comment fields allow users to start a discourse about your product or services—sometimes the feedback is good, other times bad. In any case, consumer feedback is usually a good thing—and users appreciate the chance to contribute whether your site for business or not.
Comment areas are also an impressive SEO tool that might drive some industry marketers to your site, so keep that in mind too. Content marketers are set on getting inbound links, and comment fields are a great way to do so. It all depends on your vision, if you want those industry link builders lurking about and your purpose is set on communicating with the public, you might want to let those fields stick around.
Just keep in mind the future of your site as you’re deciding whether or not to disable your comment fields—it all really boils down to the purpose you have in mind for your site’s function. However, disabling comments can be done, and your site will instantly look authentic, especially if you don’t want to resemble another piece of WordPress Real Estate.
Change the Wording on Your Sidebar
If you know your websites you’d be able to pick a WordPress baby out of a line up any day. There are so many revealing characteristics of sites and blogs that carry over their WordPress themes. Don’t get me wrong, WordPress is an excellent way to independently build a site without the help of a web designer and developer, but once you’re past that phase you’re going to want to have a more original look (especially since WordPress sites are dominating the market).
It’s a fact: to get an original look, you’ve got to rid your site of most of the standard WordPress defaults. Part of that involves getting rid of the built-in titles on your theme and creating your own custom versions. Make note that it’s a good rule of thumb to keep the sidebar the same on each page of your site.
If you’re going to get your own look, you might as well put some thought into it too. Changing the wording on your site really helps you shed that WordPress skin, but you don’t want to just adopt different titles that are common on other CMS and websites; don’t just exchange one common look for another. Plus, here’s your chance to get really creative: Depending on the nature of your site–or purpose (whether it be business, personal, etc.)–you could come up with some pretty engaging, unique or outlandish titles for your sidebar. Be thoughtful about it, and again: keep your site’s future in mind.
Once you’ve decided on some appealing replacements for your sidebar text, go ahead and go into your theme’s directory and edit the sidebar.php file.
Resist Tagging Your Posts
Alright, here’s another touchy subject: Just as some would advise against deleting comment fields, some very well may say that not tagging your posts is a big no-no. Well, it just so happens doing so is an extremely effective way to shake that WordPress image.
People are going tag crazy-and that’s ok-but let’s be realistic: you don’t want to be another tagging zombie whose tagging text is more wordy than the posts on your site. If you plan to keep on tagging along with the crowd by tagging your posts—ok I’ll stop writing tagging now—you should try to take it easy. If you’re looking to set yourself apart from the WP crowd, think about doing away with it.
As you’re weighing your options, just know this: When you tag—categorize, taxonomize, label, classify, whatever—you’re giving search engines a clue as to what sort of content is on that specific page. Thus, tagging is a great way to garner your SEO results for intended keywords. Tagging your posts also groups related post together, giving your users a nice tool to find more of what they’re looking for.
That being said, not using tags can be a way to clean up the WordPress bloginess that will hinder the custom look of your website.
But Wait, There’s More
There are more many more ways to clean up your dirty, WordPress image, but this post is for beginning developers that are just getting their feet wet. If you’re in a more advanced stage of coding your own WP theme, look into some more involved ways of customizing your site. You might want to check out:
- Enabling custom urls
- Cleaning up your permalinks
- Custom-coding your metadata
- and more
The above methods might be bit beyond this WordPress beginner post, but hopefully budding WP developers have learned a little something about establishing their own one-of-a-kind site image in order to fly out of the WordPress nest and spread their wings.