Pretty Wordpress Sites

I'm seeing some simply amazing looking Wordpress websites and I'm at a loss for how everyone is doing it?

I know some people are paying for actual hosting and such, so they have a plethora of options available to them that paid Wordpress users and free Wordpress users don't. I'm strictly concerned with free users. Is there a secret template hiding somewhere? Am I being the fat guy that wants to know your diet secret and you're about to disappoint me when you tell me you got on the treadmill of learning how to code your own sites?

In my own research it seems that self hosting is the biggest key, cause your options with wordpress hosting are limited. I don't much pay attention to the themes, and colors. But some of the shinier features are actually impossible unless you self host, and can change the code.

But also little touches count, images, accents, and such, I really like wuxiaworld's theme. But I'm not a stickler for all the different details, as long as its not offending my eyes, or distracting me from the reading its all good.

Paid hosting unlocks a lot more options and a lot more versatility. From Winter's Ashes website is made 90% possible through the use of the Divi Builder plugin and support thereof, which makes the design and development of the site much easier.

The rest is just photoshop and patience, and having a good eye for what makes modern, browser-responsive sites work.

Absolutely, paid hosting offers up more options, as I said in the original post.

However, I also said I was strictly concerned with free options. I've seen plenty of the standard domains that look much better than what I've managed and I was looking for more insight on that front. Paid hosting is the end goal, but right now this is less than a hobby for me and I can't justify that expense.

Also, "Yeah, it's definitely paid hosting, that's the answer" is akin to "Yeah, your web serial is decent and I know you asked for a critique, so I'll just skip to the meat of it and tell you the real money is in being a doctor." from my perspective.

As a free WordPress user, I simply shopped themes and their color options until I found one I liked. Went minimalist.

Any examples of sites you like?

Depends what you're looking for, but honestly I love free Wordpress. It works best if you keep your site simple. But honestly, even if you go the paid Wordpress route, I'd suggest making your website as simple as possible.

Web serial readers want to get caught up in a story. How many widgets can accentuate the immersion for them, y'know?

Just make sure your template has a good font w/ legible lettering. Put it against a background that isn't too distracting. Make sure your menu/navigation is clear, then you're off to the races!

Wild bow's various sites are fantastic, Nippoten.

It's moot anyway. I was pretty sure the answer was "Learn to fucking code" when I posted this and I'm not really writing anymore anyway, so it's irrelevant.

Sorry, OP. For me it was just weeks of hard work and learning a new skill.

I'm pretty sure Wildbow uses free Wordpress.

I'm free WordPress but I'm guessing I'm not one of the pretty ones. ;) I do recall asking for advice here a year or so ago, check for the thread "Optimizing Serial Site" or something like that... things that I never thought were a huge deal like colour schemes are make-or-break for some people. And I don't know how to code... well, okay, I DO know some basic HTML (allows me to embed tables for navigation) but that's in the webpage itself, not on the site. I can't site code. I picked a somewhat random template.

Also, hey, don't sell yourself short - there is relevance if you think there is. For instance, maybe if you're not writing that's a perfect time to learn some design. Part of my problem is I'm ALWAYS writing, which leaves little time for actual marketing and stuff. :P Plus, alas, the only way to learn is usually by making mistakes.

@mathtans - Your site's always been tricky for me to navigate. I'm a phone reader primarily, so maybe that's part of it, but whenever I've settled into your serial, it takes click after click after click just to figure out where the heck the first chapter is. :P So I wouldn't say it's not pretty, but there are a lot of links everywhere!

Trust me, it's much less hassle to stick with the free themes. Start building your own, and you can look forward to long hours of code tweaking, followed by the realisation that your site doesn't quite work in a specific browser or resolution. Cue many more hours of code tweaking.

@Tartra: Okay, that many clicks is peculiar. The chapter lists are under the main "Menu", with "Story Catalogue" and then whichever story index you want - that's every episode, starting with the first. Should I give it a different name than "Catalogue"? I admit that if you go into the individual posts, the "Index" takes you to the one for the current book, but each are their own story. I admit that I don't use a phone, but I've seen the image for phones, and don't see how this is a problem? Unless the menu's not showing up?

@mathtans I've visited your site in the past, and it's definitely very busy. There's so much stuff to look at, especially at the banner and sidebar. I kind of get it, since there's probably a lot of information you want to be readily available, but having so much stuff crammed into one space as soon as one loads the site, it might be detrimental.

Hm, well, thanks for visiting nippoten. The things one learns by randomly posting to a thread.

I removed "characters" from the menu, as well as "archives", "recent posts" and "tags" from the sidebar. Should I remove my sidebar link to the full episode lists? Seems like Tartra either couldn't find them, or they added to the confusion; I'd forgotten I put them in at the top. And does anyone else out there use the "recent comments" widget? That thing never updates for months at a time anyway (though it did yesterday, hi Tartra). I guess I'll leave them there temporarily... thanks for feedback.

Wait for meeee! :(

So @mathtans, here's my mobile experience, taking into account that I'm by and large a lazy moron.

Head to

See a list of all posts.

Think, "Oh, okay. Just gotta find the landing page."

Click 'Menu', and in the drop-down menu, click 'Home'.

See a list of all posts.

Think, "Oh, I must not've clicked it."

Repeat this twice.

Realize, "Oh, the landing page is the archive! Ohhhhh. Okay."

Go to 'Story Catalogue'.

Go to 'Awareness Index'.

Click on the clickable picture that says 'Time & Tied'.

Recieve a bigger picture that says 'Time & Tied'.

Click back, then click 'Timely Discovery'.


I want to compare this to the user experience I made for that lazy, moron self on my site:

Head to the

Click 'Double Dipping'.

Think, 'Yep, that's the story I came here to read'.

Click 'here'.


And even that's two clicks and one thought process too many.

Your actual serial listing? Peachy keen, 'cause it goes right to the first post without any muss or fuss. But again, the second I click off that path and hit 'Index', I get a bunch of links that are not the index, scroll, scroll, scroll, oh there it is. :P

So just to be clear, my deal was NOT about yanking things from the menu. Characters and tags - that's all perfectly fine! They were in their own space. My problem was that it takes a teeny bit too long to find the page I want, and then when I do find the page, it takes too long to find the specific info I'm after on it.

@Tartra: I didn't think your problem was too many items (that was nippoten). But the piece at the sidebar top that says "First Time Here?" with a link to the index is obviously NOT doing it's job if you didn't notice it, and so might as well be scrapped. Also, apparently "Home" should have it's own static page?? Alright, not something I'd considered. (I suppose when I never fail to miss an update, there's no point having the latest update be the first thing anyone sees on the site... people can follow the Twitter link...)

So why did you click the "Awareness" index, rather than simply clicking the "Part 1" link directly below? ... IIIt's because the Part 1 link isn't directly below on a phone, isn't it. It displays the right justified thumbnail image below instead, huh? A thumbnail that you thought linked out somewhere useful. Well, that explains how I got a record 30 page views yesterday.

Tip to everyone: Y'know what's ten times more important than never missing a weekly update after more than two years and 175 posts? Being able to have a "Pretty Wordpress Site" on multiple platforms, seriously. Those of you who have friends who read your stuff, make sure to get their opinions. ^_^;

@mathtans - Did you just make a couple of tweaks to the site? Because everything got way easier to navigate. Heres's where I'm at (with a bit of effort put in to pretend like I'm brand new):

Head to

Click 'Awareness'.

Scroll, scroll, scroll.

Click 'Part 1'.


Honestly, your landing page makes having that 'Awareness' link redundant, because it's just going to take me to another page where I'd have to scroll to get the same list of chapters/parts/arcs. My two cents - literally just a suggestion if you feel like catering to the laziest of us - is that you can move that or emphasize it as a big page to tell you more about the story (links to characters, story summaries, art, WFG and TWF links - all the bonuses) instead of what it seems to be now, which is a repeat of the archive I already get when I click 'Home'. As a reader, it'd give me one unique page dedicated to the archive (i.e., your easy-to-find landing page), and one entirely separate experience offering more to explore about T&T.

Hot damn, mathtans. That site's looking spiffy. :)

That Time and Tied index is just confusing. Is Book One Part One actually the beginning? Because there's a whole other index before that, under "Awareness", which itself is comprised of numbered parts...