How You Can Improve Your WordPress Design Without Breaking The Bank

One of the most underrated aspects of our blogs is design. Creating great content is one thing, but if it looks unappealing - who is going to want to read it? Let’s face it, when you come across a good looking blog, it instantly builds authority with you. 

One of the most underrated aspects of our blogs is design. Creating great content is one thing, but if it looks unappealing – who is going to want to read it? Let’s face it, when you come across a good looking blog, it instantly builds authority with you. 

You get that feeling that this person has really invested in their blog and treats it professionally. But the dirty secret to design is that it’s not that difficult or expensive. Yes it takes a little bit of time and money, but not as much as you’d think, and the results can literally be night and day.

Although bloggers don’t tend to spend much time on good design, the few that do really stand out, and I believe the overall standards for design are becoming more rigorous, so getting on board early is highly recommended. Here are some quick and cost effective ways you can improve your design today.

Custom Featured Posts

If you judge a book by its cover, you judge a post by its featured image. Standard practice is to grab a pseudo-related image. However more and more bloggers are creating custom images, which literally can be done in 10 minutes or less. 

Here’s an example from Anna Hoffman’s Traffic Generation Cafe:


Simple but effective, including:

  • A custom font and color
  • Putting the title in the image itself (works great for social media promotion)
  • An image that draws attention to the title. 

Anna has an in depth tutorial here, and replicating the above is probably about 10 extra minutes of work. After spending hours writing an article, don’t you think it’s worth the effort?

OptinMonster For Landing Pages and Lead Forms

If you want someone to hand over their email you’re going to have to do a lot more than set up a simple web form that you can make from an autoresponder like Aweber.

You need a top notch designed pop up plugin like OptinMonster:


OptinMonster is a premium plugin for wordpress that costs as low as $49. You could make this yourself, no doubt, but it will take a lot more time and effort, and you won’t have access to the templates, split testing, and user retention technology that OptinMonster brings to the table.

Thrive Content Builder

Thrive is new to the table, but without a doubt it is the single most impressive plugin I have seen for design. The results are literally night and day and the possibilities are quite endless. 

Here’s a nice example of a landing page my buddy Doug at NicheSiteProject has made using Thrive (and this is just the tip of the iceberg).


Adam from BloggingWizard has a phenomenal tutorial discussing Thrive in depth. It’s definitely worth the investment if you want to drastically improve the visual content of your blog such as buttons, quotes, FAQs, and way way more. 

Getting A Custom Logo and Theme

A lot of people are intimidated by a custom logo, but actually they are quite easy to come by. The simplest option is to head over to Fiverr and for $5 you can get several mock ups made. It will be ready in a few days, and you can review the artists’ work apriori.

Another option, albeit it more expensive, but arguably more professional, is to head over to 99Designs. And what’s a custom logo without a custom theme? Consider your niche and if there are certain themes which are built especially to serve it, such as this list on the best themes for hotels.

If you’re still not sure, Jean has a fantastic resource summarizing a lot of the top themes available here.


Investing in design should not be seen as an extravagant waste. It is an investment. It’s pay off is in higher conversions and better user metrics.

The key to design is really to keep things simple, which means that less is more, but also making sure that the less that is there looks sharp and effectively supports the copywriting.

For less than $150 you can easily turn your ho-hum blog into a professional looking website and without a doubt you will stand out as being in one of the top 1% of designed blogs!

David Schneider
David Schneider
David can be found at and He was the cofounder of NinjaOutreach, an innovative Blogger Outreach software for marketers, and wrote about business and entrepreneurship at SelfMadeBusinessman. Update - Dave no longer runs these websites, but can be found at and

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6 Responses

  1. Can’t help but agree, David – simple visual details like strong featured images take no time to make (and the learning curve is quite simple), are mostly free, yet make all the difference in the world.

    Thanks so much for the shout; glad you enjoy posts/images at Traffic Generation Café.

  2. David! As the lucky fella that was privileged to write that guest post for Ana’s site, I am flattered and pleased that you referred to it. I can’t take credit for the image; that’s Ana’s touch. She is a consummate professional at everything I have seen her do… Seeing that nice image kind of made me think that I need to step up the game at Shoestring101 as well.

    Good design tips here. I will try that OptinMonster, please let me know if that’s an affiliate link. Please ping me also about NinjaOutreach.

    Keep Stepping,


  3. Hi David

    Great post indeed.

    Mostly it is taken like a rocket science to do several free and easy to make customization of one’s blog. Just a little concentration is required and one can even get several resources free of cost.

    I much appreciate your mentioning several very useful resources to help the readers customize as much as possible in minimum cost.

    Thanks a lot for sharing.

  4. Hi Dave,

    Design plays a major role in conversion and retains the visitor for a long time, there are so many tools available at the lowest price which helps us designing our blog without breaking the bank.

    I do use Thrive content builder which has 3 features like the content builder, landing page builder and light box for lead generation.

    This article is very helpful to improve WordPress design at affordable price, thanks for sharing the information, see you soon with another article.

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