Is Your Site in its Underwear?

Picture this.

You’re backstage prepping for a speech. The audience: your site’s visitors. They eagerly await you, ready to absorb your message.

view of crowd from on stage

Would you give the speech in your underwear?

Only in a nightmare.

You’d dress professionally because you want to look your best. You know your image affects your message, and people make judgments.

So it should be obvious your site needs to look its best. You see, your site gives speeches too. It delivers your words with your voice to your visitors, all day every day. Now here’s the thing…

Visitors make snap judgments about your site too. They won’t listen to a word if it doesn’t look trustworthy and appealing. Even worse, they can hit the “back button” in a second.

So how do you keep their attention and earn your standing ovation?

Hold your applause

The principles I’m about to reveal are used to design sites your visitors will love.

There’s good news and bad news. Bad news first:

If you’re not a web developer, you won’t be able to change your site with this information. Now for the good news:

There’s an easy and free way for non-developers to take advantage of these principles. But more on that in just a moment.

Drumroll, please

As a theme developer, my role is to present your content. I know people don’t visit your site to see what it looks like — they want to hear what you have to say.

Over the last few years, I’ve come up with three principles to better serve your content. A theme that follows these principles is the best way to capture attention and get people to listen.

Combined, I call them “content first design”.

Here’s principle #1.

The theme developer’s little secret

Most theme designers change their demo content as they make a theme. This may not seem like a problem because the finished theme looks great. In fact, you might see this theme and think, “Hey, that looks great!”

But then you install it on your site…

Your post titles are too long, your logo looks weird, and the images don’t fit. Why doesn’t it look right on your site? Because the theme is designed for a demo, not a real site.

The trick? Start with real content and make the aesthetic match the content, not the other way around. The result is a versatile design that works well on real sites.

Principle #1: Design with real content.

The David Copperfield factor

Looking good matters, but what you say matters more. The best thing your theme can do is disappear.

Minimalist design removes all the clutter and leaves only the essentials.

Why make visitors look at frills and decorations when they could be reading your content?

Principle #2: Remove non-essential elements.

*Smashes phone on ground

Can you believe it’s 2018 and so many websites are still awful on your phone?

You’re losing up to 50% of your potential readers if your site looks bad or doesn’t work well on mobile devices.

It’s critical your site looks amazing and performs wonderfully on all devices. That means on laptops, tablets, phones, heck it should look good on your fridge if it’s got a screen.

Principle #3: Design for all devices.

Same work, better results

When you combine all three principles you get a theme designed to serve content. That means an attractive site that puts visitor attention on your work and looks great on all devices.

In other words, stage presence.

man presenting confidently

And how do you take advantage of this? Simple.

Switch to a content first theme. Your site keeps giving its speeches, now more people listen.

Get ready world!

To truly appreciate content first design, you have to see it for yourself. Here’s my pitch:

Visit the theme collection, pick out a theme you like and install it on your site (it’s free). Load the site on your phone, really check it out and see what you think.

If this is your first time creating a WordPress site, start by following our step-by-step tutorial to create a WordPress site. You’ll learn how to get your site online, install any theme, and customize your site to perfection.

And one more thing, all of our themes are free! If you find a theme you like, use it on as many sites as you want for as long as you want.

Browse themes →

If you have any questions or reservations you can reach me, Ben, at . I’ll be happy to help any way I can.


Ben Sibley, Founder
Compete Themes