by Kristal Reagan | Featured Contributor
Ready to create a professional looking website that is easy to customize? You can create a website without a designer and without spending lots of money on a premium theme. This is a great non-technical alternative for those just starting out with a low budget. All you need are the right tools from the right sources.
I’m going to share with you tools for your browser, some great online tools, a free WordPress theme that I use on my own website and some nifty plugins that are gonna make you say, “What?”
Let’s start with the browser extensions. These types of extensions can be found for Chrome and Firefox. Those are the only two browsers I personally use so I can’t say yes or no about any other browser.
Browser Extensions to install
- Eyedropper– This can also be called a color picker and if you see a color anywhere on the web that you like and want to use you’ll just use this awesome tool and get the color numbers so that you can use it too.
- WhatFont– You can find out what font a site is using as well as what size and color. This will only work for fonts that are not in an image. For instance if you want to know the font of a menu or the main text, sidebar, etc you’ll be able to find out using this extension.
- Resize Window– You can use this to determine what your website will look like on different sized screens like mobile, tablets, and smaller computers.
- com– This is a web based editor and allows you to create or edit Photoshop (PSD) files. You can create from scratch or edit something you’ve bought or been given. This is more like a Photoshop Lite, which is called Photoshop Elements, but for free and online. So you get some elements of Photoshop and it’s a great place to create fully custom website headers and other graphics.
- JotForm– No reason to buy a premium plugin, you can use this online tool to create robust forms of any kind for your site and business. Plus you have complete control over the design of the form which comes in handy if you want it to stand out more on the page. There is a free version for those just getting started and don’t have a lot of submissions yet.
- Coolors– No, that’s not a typo. This is awesome for helping you find a color scheme for your website. This is also free and I use it all the time to help find coordinating colors I might not think about.
A free theme called “Basic” created by Themify. I have used two premium themes and tried other themes that were free and since I found this one I just don’t look anywhere else. I love all of Themify themes but I tend to fall back on this one frequently. In fact, I use this theme on my own website. This theme is easy to learn as well which makes it the perfect option for my website school. Between this theme and the Page Builder plugin mentioned in the next section my possibilities are almost endless.
Download the theme here.
- Page Builder by SiteOrigin– Build responsive page layouts using the widgets you know and love using this simple drag and drop page builder.
- Custom 404– If getting technical scares you, this is a great plugin to quickly create a 404 page for your site. Easily use any page you created in your WordPress dashboard as your 404 error page.
- Black Studio TinyMCE Widget– this sweet plugin will add a Visual Editor widget and allows you to format text you add to your sidebar as well as media objects. This means you no longer need html knowledge to make your sidebar widgets looks pretty.
- WP Edit– This will add more buttons to your content editor giving you more control over formatting your text when creating your pages and posts just like using a document creator.
- SiteOrigin Widgets Bundle- This gives you a collection of widgets that you can use and customize. Once you enable the widget you’ll be able to use it anywhere you can use a standard widget like your sidebar. These come in handy when using the Page builder mentioned above to create super awesome custom pages. You get widgets like Google maps, button, image widget, call to action, price table, post carousel, and features.
- Soliloquy Lite- Easily create a responsive slider for your website.
I use many of these tools myself and certainly tell my students to use these tools. It makes the website creation process so much easier and less technical. It saves so much time and for most businesses this will work to give you the functions you need.
All of these tools have great online support and documentation as well making it hard to get completely stuck. So if you are a DIYer and want to create a new website or revamp the one you have now get started with these great tools and when you have questions come find me.
What great tools do you use that help you customize your site? Share with us in the comments.