So you want to design the slickest, most original and interactive blog out there. But your budget is pretty much on par with zero. That means you can’t spare the funds to invest in the coolest tools, and you can’t devote too much development time of your own. What to do? The answer lies in one concept: not reinventing the wheel. Using tools and features that have already been developed will allow you to focus your budget and your time on the more creative aspects of design that are more fun to develop anyway.
WordPress is your friend
WordPress is a powerful platform to use as a CMS. If you’re comfortable working with templates, WordPress has a vibrant range of offerings for just about every type of site out there. Each one is fully customizable, with widgets that can handle everything from displaying a calendar to connecting with social media. If you really want to get your hands dirty, it’s easy to edit a theme’s style sheet in an html editor. Using WordPress means having all the basic building blocks there for you both in the design phase, and afterward, when it’s time to manage or further alter the system. While you’ll have to pay more for higher quality features and designs, it’s a pittance next to the cost in billable hours you would have lost developing those features yourself.
Stock images = creativity
If you’re looking for a little creative inspiration on the cheap stock images are a great way to go. While there are many stock photo cliches to be avoided, browsing past the first page of popular results will lead you to many unseen gems. Experiment with different types of photos, using human photos to engender a sense of identity and empathy, or abstract photos to attract interest and to express a clear voice or tone.
While you’re at it, give stock vectors a try. Each element has already been meticulously designed so they’re in great shape and ready to go. Stock vectors are easy to edit, whether you’d like to add a little color or shading, or you’d like to photoshop that vector onto something silly and unpredictable. Vectors can be used on their own, or when combined with other vectors to highlight a point or to animate a site in an entirely unique manner. Don’t let the word “stock” fool you. These images are what you make of them, and you can get them at far less of a price than you would going directly through a photographer.
Let Facebook do the work
Integrating Facebook, Google and Twitter with your site is an easy way to enable commenting without having to develop a system of your own. If you’re using WordPress, this is most simply done by using a plugin. You can also manually integrate any of these social media sites onto yours. Doing so directly rather than using apps like Disqus or IntenseDebate streamlines the process on the user end, allowing them to make comments without having to sign up for an extra app. Since most users are already signed into a social media site anyway, this will greatly up the chance they will participate without you having to put in the development time to get them to do so. It’s a win for them and a win for you.
Developing a site with all of the features you seek doesn’t have to break the bank or consume all of your energies. Using the tools that are already there, you can actually be more creative than if you were starting from scratch.
Author Bio:- Rob Toledo loves all things CSS3, no longer supports IE7, and loves a good browser debate. He can be reached on Twitter @stentontoledo. He recommends using stock photography and stock footage for designing websites.