With its static front page option, the WordPress.org platform offers a boon for home based business owners: a website plus a blog and a whole content management system (CMS), either DIY or for a relatively modest setup cost.

My Des Walsh dot Com site as an example

Just the other week, with the aim of being able to communicate more effectively about my business focus and the services I offer, I used the static front page option to achieve a complete re-vamping of my Des Walsh dot Com site.

Des Walsh dot Com web siteIn other words, I changed the site structure, from the “blog-as-site” model in place since 2005, to make the front page more of a “portal” structure, with the blog as part of the overall site rather than as the front page.

In terms of basic WordPress functionality, that change was quite easy to make and there is a three step process set out in the WordPress codex.

Getting the new structure to function well took longer, but I finally got there and am pleased to say that people have been so far quite positive about the outcome.

A practical, economical way to set up a web site with a blog

Many business owners, other than WordPress experts and other longer term users of WordPress, seem to be quite unaware that you can re-structure your site this way so as to get an integrated, composite outcome – a “traditional” static website, a content management system and a blog, all with this free software.

And even if you step the game up a notch or two, the costs are very manageable, even for a very small business.

There is a plethora of free WordPress “themes” available. On the WordPress directory alone there are currently 1,361 such free themes listed and there have been over 31.7 million downloads. I have tried many of them, with varying degrees of satisfaction and frustration.

My main frustration with the free themes has been that as a non-techie I was too reliant on the theme developers helping me fix problems that arose and as the theme was provided free of charge there was a limit to how much help I could expect.

Go for premium: it won’t break the bank

These days, for anyone wanting a good looking, well-functioning business site – and support – I would always recommend a “premium” (i.e. paid) service, such as the iThemes Builder theme, which comes with a number of child themes in an array of different designs.

ithemes wordpress premium themesTo give an idea of costs, a multi-use, one year license for the Builder theme (comes with an array of child themes and support) costs $97: you can use it on as many sites as you wish. We now use iThemes Builder for almost all of our sites, including this one.

The layout and style management tools give you a huge amount of scope for customization.

If you don’t want to do the setting up and customization yourself, there are third party providers who know the iThemes system and will do the installation and customization for you. The iThemes company itself provides a service I believe to be very competitive: site installation $100, customization $200. Then if you should want more customization they have a sliding scale of fees, based on a very reasonable $100 an hour.

Even if you choose another premium theme provider, those costs should give you a benchmark for what you might be willing to pay for themes and for setup and customization.

If you have any questions about all of this, I will do my best to answer.

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