If you’re new to the lifestyle blogging world, one of the tougher decisions to make is choosing a lifestyle blog template or theme. The template defines your site’s design and layout. At Living Charm, we’ve gone through a few iterations. To help our fellow lifestyle bloggers, we’re giving you essential tips on how to choose the best lifestyle blog template for your brand.
How to Choose a Lifestyle Blog Template
You have several options when it comes to choosing a lifestyle blog template. It can be custom made, which can be costly if you want a quality site. You can choose a free template, which may not have a lot of features but is obviously the most affordable. Lastly, you can buy a premium, pre-designed theme that lets you make small customizations. The one that is best for you depends on your knowledge of coding, what you want to get out of it, and what you can afford.
To Pay or Not to Pay
Ideally if you can afford a custom one, by all means do that. You’ll be the only one with that specific template, but you’ll pay for that uniqueness. If you decide to go this route and outsource the work internationally, since this tends to be cheaper, be careful of sending payment before the service is done. There are many freelancers that offer this, but the quality may not be there or it might be a scam.
As for the pre-made templates, you can choose a free one or purchase a premium one. There are tons of websites that have hundreds to choose from of both. It’s as simple as a download. If you get a free one, it’ll be no-frills. Premium versions often come with support and other nifty features that’ll help spruce up your website.
No matter which template you choose, make sure you love it since you’ll be spending a lot of time on it. And even if you’re getting a site custom made, you’ll still need to navigate certain decisions.
Here are our tried and true tips that’ll get you on your way to choosing the best lifestyle blog template for your website.
Tips for Picking a Website Theme Layout
To get started on the right track, do research and make a list of what you want in a site. As you do that, you can keep in mind these recommendations.
1. Competitor Research – Check out the competitor websites that you like. This will give you a baseline of what you like when you don’t know where to start. You’ll be able to take note of what works well, what users expect in your niche, what you like, and what you don’t like.
2. Simplicity – One of the fastest ways to create a poor user experience is if your is bloated with too many features. Even if a feature looks cool, it may not be impactful or will slow load time. Leave it out if that’s the case. Remember what Leonardo Da Vinci said; simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
3. Responsive Theme – There’s no excuse nowadays to pick a theme that isn’t compatible on all devices.
4. Maintain Quality – You don’t have to spend a ton for a quality theme, but it’s typical to spend something. Never sacrifice quality. This is especially true if you’re going to get your site custom designed from scratch.
5. Color Schemes – Make sure that your brand colors will look good on the website’s design and can be customized onto it.
6. Technical Support – If you purchase a theme from a company, look into what their support team is like. If there’s an issue with the theme, you’ll want them to be able to resolve it quickly. Unless you know how to code yourself, this can be an extremely frustrating situation otherwise.
7. Aligning Business Goals – What is your business’s objective? Define this from the start. Your template needs to support what you want the user to do. An eCommerce site is going to have a different layout than a Christian living site.
8. Plugin Capability – This is critical. Plugins are add-ons that give your website extra functionality. A large majority of our site features are generated by plugins. You’ll regret not being able to use them on your template. For example, if you want your social feeds or icons to populate in your blog, many times a plugin is required.
9. SEO Friendliness – SEO help functionality is incredibly effective. If your site doesn’t utilize SEO, no one is going to find your content. Many website templates will have SEO hacks built in to help you generate SEO friendly content.
10. Positive Reviews of the template is your main source of truth. You don’t want to waste money on a theme that seems to check all the boxes but actually ended up frustrating purchasers. Take the time to read the reviews.
11. Platform Integration – This is important to know. Most lifestyle bloggers use WordPress or Blogger. Don’t waste your time looking at templates for the wrong platform that you’ve selected.
Lifestyle Blog Specific Considerations
As we mentioned earlier, the layout needs to compliment the purpose of the website. For lifestyle blogs, the goal is to convey your life through blog articles, pictures, and your social pages. Here are tips that are specific to lifestyle blogs. We learned them the hard way, so now you don’t have to.
12. Social Integration – Of the tips that we mentioned above, integration of your social pages is key. It’s essential that you can promote website users to follow your social handles. Most importantly, your social icons should be prominent on the page.
13. Branding – The aesthetics of your site’s colors is important for any business, but especially for a lifestyle blog since that’s what will help set you apart from the thousands of other ones out there. Choose one primary theme color and two supporting colors. Keep things simple. Make sure that you can easily read text over the colors and that they compliment each other.
14. Content Display – As a blogger the way your recent posts are displayed on the screen is critical. Users have very limited attention spans, so making sure that it’s reader-friendly, shows quality images, and gives the reader a snippet of what’s written in the article is essential. Also making sure that the posts aren’t displayed in a cluttered fashion.
15. Homepage or Static Display – What do you want your landing page to be? Having the option is great if you’re not sure when you start. This affects how your recent blog posts are displayed, so play around with the two options. A static page doesn’t get updated with new content when you post. If you choose this option you would have your blog content on a separate page that sits in the menu options. Alternatively, a homepage will update with the most recent post.
17. Sidebars – When users land on your site you want them to navigate to other pages. Sidebars help promote or highlight certain articles or pages of your website. They draw readers into other aspects of your site that are hidden outside of the main landing page.
18. Ad Friendliness – If you want to monetize your blog, make sure your theme supports ads.
19. Defined Niche – This tip doesn’t really affect the template you choose, but it’s so important that it needs to be mentioned. Make sure your blog represents who you are. You are unique, with your own voice and opinions to tell the world. Carve a niche based on what you love or what you can contribute to the world. The people will follow.
The PipDig Venture Theme
The theme we’re using on our site now is the Venture theme by Pipdig. It was a pre-defined theme that we immediately fell in love with. They didn’t ask us to write this. Outside of the really cute lifestyle blog themes that they offer, their support is well above expectations. They answer email questions immediately and go above and beyond to help troubleshoot issues that correspond to the theme. Sometimes we feel bad bothering them, but as writers, these sites are our babies. Having solid technical support is valuable.
After we bought the Venture theme, we made a few customizations to make it more our own. Depending on how well you know CSS, you can get crazy with customization. We could have done more, but we chose to focus resources on content. Plus, we don’t know much coding or CSS. Luckily the Venture theme is great, so there wasn’t much that we wanted to change. In case you’re wondering how the Venture theme does against the checklist we recommended earlier, here are some of the the things that the template offered. At the time of this writing, most of the Pipdig themes offer the same features.
Hopefully these initial tips will help you start that lifestyle blog that you’ve been thinking about. There’s a lot of trial and error, but if you love what you write about, it’ll be worth it.