Below are my favorite web design resources — what I use for making a website and designing graphics. Many of the links are affiliate links, which means I get a commission if you follow them and make a purchase. But I only recommend products I’m familiar with and those I’m confident in. Feel free to use the contact form to ask me any questions you may have about any of the resources below.
InMotion Hosting — an employee-owned hosting company that’s committed to open source. They have US-based phone support 24/7/365, and they offer design services as well as a wide range of hosting plans. This is where I have my own websites hosted and my top recommendation for most of my clients.
Bluehost — one of the most well-respected of the hosts that offer budget-level hosting. They used to offer only one hosting plan, but they’ve recently diversified to add WordPress and WooCommerce hosting, and they also have an upgrade path to VPS and dedicated hosting, so you won’t out-grow them as you grow.
HostGator — may very well be the least expensive option due to their frequent sales. They also offer monthly billing, which many hosts don’t do for lower-end hosting plans.
SiteGround — an international hosting company with servers in the US, Europe and Asia. They have 24/7/365 phone support and offer special discounts to students and teachers. They are known for giving back to the WordPress community.
Weebly — one of a few quality hosts that offers truly free hosting as well as upgrades to premium plans. Weebly is very easy to use with their drag and drop interface.
Wix — another host that offers a completely free plan, Wix has specialized templates for many specific types of businesses and entrepreneurs, including musicians, event planners, photographers or those in the education field. This would be an especially good choice for those who have no idea what they want their website to look like.
Strikingly — a good choice if you want a long scrolling website that is very easy to build and has a free hosting option. It works very well as an online resumé or Curriculum Vitae.
Shopify — your choice if you need an online store or if you want to sell things from your Facebook page. There are other ways to have a store, but most of them are not nearly as easy as this one.
Elegant Themes is the maker of Divi, the theme I’ve used for this website, and 86 other WordPress themes. They also have several plug-ins, one of which is really a drag-and-drop sitebuilder. The good news is, these are great themes. The somewhat bad news is, they have a membership price plan. You could join just for one year, but then you won’t get updates after the year is up. It’s $69 a year for just the themes, and $89 a year for themes and plugins and also access to layered Photoshop files. Or you can pay $249 for Lifetime access.
My Theme Shop has more themes and more options. You can sign up for a Free Account, which lets you try out 24 free themes and plugins. Or you can buy one of their premium themes for $59, or get an extended membership for lifetime usage of all of their themes. They have a wide variety of helpful themes and a great support forum if you need help.
Cyber Chimps has 35 themes and plugins. You can by a single theme for $39 or join their membership for $67. They will also set up your WordPress install, theme (including a custom color scheme) and 3 plugins of your choice for $249.
7Theme has a large number of themes and plugins in a really wide variety of categories. Their themes range from $49.90 – $69.90 each, or you can buy bundles of various sizes for $199.90.
cssIgniter has a variety of pricing options. You can buy one theme for $39, or pay $49/year for a membership that gives you access to all of their themes. Their Developer membership, at $79/year, adds access to Photoshop files and HTML versions of the themes. Or you can get a lifetime membership to everything for $199.
Themeover is the maker of Microthemer, a powerful plugin that allows you to make customized design changes to any WordPress theme or plugin. You can try it free — the Lite version is actually free for as long as you want. Buy the full version to use on up to 3 websites for $45, or $90 for an unlimited number of sites. These prices include free upgrades for life, and customer support. There is a 30-day money back guarantee.
Some things to think about when purchasing themes
Choosing a theme is a hard decision, and buying a membership is even more difficult. Here are some things to think about:
- Themes are like bathing suits. You really can’t tell how one will look until you try it on. Even seeing it on another website, or on a demo, may not help you know for sure. Once you install it, you can see the options it allows you to change. Therefore, a free trial is always a good idea. Not all theme developers offer a free trial or even free themes, so you have to do some homework if they don’t.
- Plan for the future. This means two things:
- You will want to redesign your site at some point. The average is every two years, though it might be more or less frequent depending on a number of factors.
- Upgrades are essential. Often if you buy a single them, or even a lower-priced membership, you are only paying for upgrades for one year. After that, you can typically still use the theme but you won’t get new upgrades that come out. This can put your site’s security in jeopardy, so you need to plan for upgrades.
- Always use themes that are Mobile-responsive. This means the layout will re-arrange itself so that it looks good and is readable on any size device, from a 4-inch smartphone screen to a 32-inch desktop monitor or TV set. The majority of people surf the web on their phones at least some of the time, so you are losing potential visitors if your site can’t be easily read on a mobile device.
- Pay attention to what you get for your money. Do you get upgrades, and for how long? What about support? How many websites can you use the theme(s) on and does that make a difference to your business plan? Make sure you read the fine print.
- When evaluating a specific theme, pay attention to how much you’ll be able to customize it. Can you change the colors? The number of columns? Add your own logo and/or header image? How customizable are the menus?
- Is there a free trial or a money-back guarantee if you get something you don’t expect?
- Look for testimonials by users. Read reviews. Email people who use that theme on their website, if you happen to find any. Check out the support forums, if they are open to those who are not yet customers.
- A way to save money, especially if you are not in a big hurry: subscribe to the developer’s newsletter and/or sign up for a free membership, if they have one. Then they will market to you, and very likely they will send you special offers where you can save money compared to the regular price.
PicMonkey is an online image editor you can use to easily make graphics to share on social media or use in your blog or website. It works in your browser so it doesn’t matter what operating system you have.
Pixlr is an easy-to-use image editor that has several options. You can download the app to your smartphone or tablet (Android or iOS), or you can use the web app in your browser, or you can download a desktop program to your computer (Windows or Mac). Or all three, if you want. They are free.
If you want to buy fonts or photos or other graphics, here are some places you might try.
Might Deals has many fonts and other graphics.
DealJumbo. Sign up for their newsletter. They have good bundles, but every newsletter has at least one freebie and they have special deals that are only a few dollars, and a coupon every weekend (and often one during the week also). I always open their newsletter because I almost always find something good.
Creative Market is a place you can get many graphics. Sign up for their newsletter and get freebies every other week or so.
Fontbundles — bundles of fonts. What more can I say. Highly addictive.
Envato marketplace, including Theme Forest, a good place to buy individual WordPress themes.
Note: many of the links on this page are Affiliate links. That means that if you click on them and make a purchase, I will get a commission. This does not add to your cost. I have shared my honest opinion regarding these resources, most of which I use personally or have used for clients. Think of the commission as functioning like ads on TV: it pays for the content so you can access it for free. My personal policy is that I don’t sign up for affiliate programs if I don’t already have a positive opinion of the company or product. I then make an effort to learn more about the company or product so I can make clear recommendations to my clients and readers. I review the products honestly and my opinion is my own, not dictated by the company or influenced by the commission.