WordPress ThemesWhether you’re already using WordPress or you want to start afresh on the platform, there’s a high-quality, customizable theme for everyone. This theme by Thimpress on ThemeForest is geared towards schools, academies, and vocational centers. Eduma is particularly useful for education communities because it comes equipped with a course page, events calendar, image gallery, news section, portfolio page, a blog, and more. Basically, the strategy here was to include every tool and page element you could possibly need and let you discard what you don’t want later. Visually, Eduma is easy to navigate thanks to its horizontal navigation bar with bold, all-caps text. The hero image at the top of the homepage draws focus to the large text in the center. And while the design isn’t exactly minimalist, the screen-wide modules intuitively guide the reader’s eye down the page one element at a time. Community websites that aren’t geared toward education can still make this theme work, but it’ll take a bit more tweaking on the design front. Median from TemplateMonster is a sleek theme inspired by the publishing platform Medium that’s ideal for communities built through blog writing and forums. Just like with Medium, users love this theme for its timeless, minimalist design which boils your site down to only the most essential elements. You can easily add or cut pages, but the main focus of the template is sharing information through blog posts. These don’t have to be long-form articles – they are also a way to share updates, photos, and videos. Median allows your community members to log in and write content directly on your site, interact with articles others have posted, and share them on Facebook and Twitter with the theme’s built-in share buttons. So if a blog is what you’re after, this theme requires few-to-no modifications. Many communities would benefit from a contact form and a members-only area, though, so keep in mind that you may need to install a plugin to add those to your page. The star of the show on Elegant Themes is Divi, the self-proclaimed “most popular WordPress theme in the world.” But don’t worry about your site looking the same as everyone else’s – Divi comes in 189 highly adaptable layout packs, many of which are suitable for community and education sites. Many people love Divi for its user-friendly visual builder, drag-and-drop editor, and inline text editing. You can easily add CTAs, forms, sliders, blogs, galleries, testimonials, and more. The layout pack above is aimed at daycare centers, with appropriate visuals. Or, you could go with this layout pack aimed at charities and nonprofits: This charity landing page features an impressive screen-wide video – an important tool for organizations keen to express their values and mission right away. It also gets right down to business with a donation button at the very top. From an aesthetic perspective, what Divi does well is leave plenty of blank space throughout the site so that the design is never visually overwhelming. Each layout pack also has a limited but memorable color palette, which helps build a strong identity for your community. No matter which layout pack you go with, Divi allows you to tell your story in a natural and engaging way right from your homepage. It also finishes strong with a CTA and a contact form at the bottom of the site.
Website Builder Templates
If you haven’t already started creating your site in WordPress, you might find that using a website builder template is a better option. Despite its popularity, WordPress isn’t for everyone – it can be confusing to navigate, as it uses more technical language and isn’t as visually intuitive.
For example, in WordPress you build using a form editor, which is text-heavy and doesn’t reflect what your site will look like to visitors. Site builders like Wix or Squarespace, on the other hand, have drag-and-drop editors that allow you to easily move elements around your page and visualize the results in real time. This makes them more easily customizable than WordPress themes, because you don’t need to have any coding skills to make tweaks to the template design.
I tried out hundreds of website builder templates and picked the ones that work best for community and education groups, based on their features, design, and level of customizability.
Charity Scavenger Hunt: Most Visually EngagingCharity Scavenger Hunt from Wix is the most visually modern template on this list. It offers animated illustrations, a unique, bold font, and consistent, eye-catching elements (like the underlined section headers) which help to orient readers as they scroll through the page. The template is ideal for any type of community event. It includes:
- An alluring, memorable design that will make people want to take part in your event or movement
- Visuals that make all the important details pop: time, place, schedule, etc.
- An embedded Instagram feed to give visitors a picture of what the organization is all about and encourage them to connect
- Vision and team pages so you can clearly state who you are and what you do
- A blog page to help you share your expertise
- A donate button for nonprofits (Premium plan required)
- The sections are ordered in a very logical way, ending with a screen-wide map that shows your organization’s location
- Everything about it is customizable, allowing you to intuitively move around elements like images and text boxes
- It automatically adapts to mobile and other devices, which is great if you know lots of people will be visiting your site on their phones
How to Get a Custom Template for a Great Price
If none of these templates feel right to you, or if you think you’ll be too pressed for time to play around with a template yourself, you can always hire a designer to create one from scratch for you. Having a bespoke template means your site won’t look like anyone else’s, which helps you stand out from the crowd and build a strong brand identity.
Hiring an experienced designer also guarantees that you’ll get a template with all the features you want right out of the box.
I’ve found that the best place to get a good designer is Fiverr. The platform has thousands of skilled designers that set tasks at just five bucks (hence the name), and rather than just filtering them by category, you can also search specific keywords to find one that fits your aesthetic and budget.
User mydesignbd designs eye-catching templates in Photoshop for WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, and other website builders. This site, for example, has a very consistent look and feel across several pages:
Another highly rated designer, farhanrahman, makes ultra-sleek, minimalist themes specifically for WordPress.
This designer offers to build in contact forms, newsletter subscriptions, pop-ups, parallax scrolling, sliding images… anything that would delight your site visitors.
The Right Template Should Draw Attention to Your Community WebsiteFirst impressions count, and you want your community website to start off on the right foot. A tacky theme can push people away from your message, but don’t worry: the themes I’ve presented here are well-designed, easy to use, and equipped with all (or most) of the features you’ll need. If you’re not set on WordPress, you might want to consider a website builder instead. Wix lets you customize your site to your heart’s content, while Squarespace has some of the best-looking templates out there. Or, if you want a truly unique feel for your site, you can turn to Fiverr to find a professional designer who’ll create a gorgeous custom template for you at an affordable rate.
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