When it comes to setting up a new website for your organization, you can get started very quickly by taking advantage of pre-existing templates or themes built by professional developers. Most content management systems (CMS) have a library of pre-made website templates that can give you a cohesive look and structure across your site.
Many of these themes are inexpensive to use, or even free, but this also means plenty of other small business owners or entrepreneurs are using them, too. Without taking the time to utilize the customization tools of your theme and CMS to make your website your own, it can easily be lost in a sea of similarly designed sites.
Customizing your website theme, especially in a CMS like HubSpot with drag-and-drop editors, can be done without coding or development experience. Here are five ways you can make a free website theme unique.
1. Change Up The Layout
With a website theme or page template, there’s probably a default layout for a few different kinds of pages, like a home page, product page, and landing page. Rearrange some of the sections on the page to make your site different from the standard.
All the elements or modules included in your theme are meant to work together, so shuffling up the layout shouldn’t hurt the overall design. Additionally, when your editor has a drag-and-drop feature, adding, arranging, and removing modules from your pages is easy. You can also create draft pages (not live website pages) and view them in preview mode to see how they’ll look and function before you hit publish.
2. Determine Your Color Palette
If you don’t already have an established color palette for your business, the website building process is a great time to pick out or update your colors. The colors associated with your brand are a big part of how your brand is perceived by others, so it’s important to pick colors that match the personality and tone you want to convey.
For example, many brands use shades of blue in the color palettes because this evokes trust and loyalty. Brands who use green hues often have a connection to natural materials or committed to the environment. And lastly, brands who use reds may want to be associated with excitement and playfulness. If you don’t have an established color palette, you can use a color palette generator to help you decide.
By using a cohesive, balanced color palette that differs from the standard colors in your website theme, your site will stand out from others with the same theme and evoke the right connection with your visitors for your brand.
3. Optimize Your Logo Appearance
The logo is the center of your company’s branding. More than having a “good” or “bad” logo, having the right, high-quality image files for your logo is the difference between an established, professional-looking website and one quickly thrown together.
Here’s a short checklist for your logo to make sure it appears crisp and neat on your website:
- If possible, use a vector file of your logo (.svg is used for web-based images) to reduce image distortion
- If you can’t use or acquire a vector file, use .png (portable network graphic) files saved in multiple sizes and resolutions for the different areas where you plan to use your logo on your site
- Make sure your logo file has a transparent background to avoid white or black boxes around your logo when placed on contrasting colors
- Have a solid white version of your logo for use on dark backgrounds
Additionally, make your website stand out by ensuring you have your logo added as the favicon for your website. The favicon appears in the browser tab with the title of your website page. This small touch adds another layer of professionalism to your site. Favicons are very small, so you may need to simplify your logo or only use a part of it for a clear favicon.
4. Use Custom Images or Graphics
You’ll really make a website theme your own when you use custom images or graphics. When you use stock photos on your website, you run the risk of your visitors recognizing the image from other places.
Custom images don’t need to be complicated. Many smartphones have excellent cameras to take photos of your workplace or team to use on your website. The most important part of using images, whether they are your own or stock photos, is to make sure they’re sized appropriately. Many images taken with smartphones and other cameras have large file sizes, and uploading these directly to your website can drastically slow down your website’s page load times.
If you don’t have a graphic designer, you can still customize stock graphics to make them your own. Adding your color palette to stock graphics will help them fit with the feel of your website.
5. Link to Your Social Media Profiles
Make sure your theme has the ability to use social media links—and make sure the social media icons are current. Your social media channels are another source of information for your customers, and they’re a great way to keep potential customers engaged before they’re ready to make a purchase. If a visitor comes to your site and decides they’re interested but not ready to buy, easy access to follow you on social media is an opportunity to keep your brand in their mind while they continue looking.
While social media platforms don’t change their logo often, it does happen from time to time. Make sure the icons on your website are the most recent iteration of each platform’s logo. Outdated logos (like the brown camera that was originally used by Instagram) to link to your social profiles appear out-of-touch and indicate the site may not have been updated recently.
Advice from Website Experts
Don’t let minimal web development experience stop you from making your website your own! Customizable website themes give you the opportunity to have a beautiful, professional website, and you can still make it unique to your brand so you can stand out among your competition.
Looking for a website theme to call your own? Our expert web developers created website themes for the HubSpot CMS, and they’re available now on the HubSpot Marketplace. Do you need help to get the most bang for your buck from your other HubSpot tools? Our team can help you implement CRMs, set up automations, run inbound marketing campaigns, create customer and partner portals, build custom website modules and features, and more... (of course!).