15 Platforms to Publish and Sell Online Courses (and Counting)

As I argue in Leading the Learning Revolution, it’s  a whole new world out there if you are an individual subject matter expert or a training/education organization looking to sell online courses.

It used to be that you had to master an authoring tool, license a learning management system (LMS) – or come up with a workaround –  figure out hosting and e-commerce, and then somehow deal with end user support. These days, you can get across the finish line with little more than a Web cam and an Internet connection.

In this post I take a quick look at some of the options that are out there for helping you distribute and sell online courses and instructional videos on the Web.

Sell Online Courses: The Options

The first part of this list options that may be particularly good for individual experts (speakers, consultants, trainers)  – some of them even have public marketplaces for helping you find customers.

The second part veers toward somewhat more sophisticated LMS and/or content creation features (with a correspondingly higher price tag, in most cases). These options still make it easy to sell online courses, but leave more (or all) of the responsibility for promotion of your courses with you. All of platforms mentioned here are offered on a SaaS (Software as a Service) basis.

Learning-Revolution-CoverIf you’re trying to build a profitable business selling online courses, make sure you have the #1 guide for helping you do it successfully – Leading the Learning Revolution: The Expert’s Guide to Capitalizing on the Exploding Market for Lifelong Learning.  Get your copy today!

Academy of Mine

I’ll admit a bit of bias in putting the Academy of Mine folks at the top of this list: they are doing an excellent job using many of the very tactics I encourage in Leading the Learning Revolution to grow their own learning business, including a very active blog, podcasts, and Webinars that provide value to their audience.  Basically, they are going for relationships – not just transactions. And, of course, they’ve got a platform that makes it easy to get a courses up and running and ready for sale. Pricing starts at $199 a month.

Link: http://www.academyofmine.com

Digital Chalk

DIgital Chalk offers a variety of plans for getting courses online as well as production services to help you do it. If you’ve got the expertise, but don’t want to have to deal with the nuts and bolts of producing a course, this is a choice to consider. The company charges a $399 set up fee and then $4.95 per registration for a basic course. The platform appears to be chock full of great features.

Link: http://www.digitalchalk.com

Ruzuku

The fact that Ruzuku’s home page reads like a section out of Leading the Learning Revolution and the company is (at least partially) located here in my own Carrboro, NC earns the company a high spot on this list. If you are looking for an easy-to -se platform combined with a soup-to-nuts approach to helping you be successful with it, look no further – I’d recommend signing up for their full-year plan (4 additional months free) and getting to it.

Link: http://ruzuku.com/

Pathwright

I had the pleasure of interviewing Pathwright co-founder Paul Johnson on the Learning Revolution podcast, and he also connected me with Jason Blumer, who is using the Pathwright platform with great success. There’s a free Pathwright 101 course that gives a good overview of the platform and using Pathwright is completely free up until the point you start selling. (The company makes money off of taking a percentage of sales once you do start selling.)

Link: http://www.pathwright.com/

SkyPrep

“Don’t let building courses intimidate you,” say the folks at SkyPrep. The company focuses on providing easy tools for getting a course online and delivering it globally. You can license the platform to use as you like, or you can elect to just sell your courses through the SkyPrep marketplace – in which case the company charges a $9 monthly e-commerce fee and takes a 10% commission on sales.

Link: http://skyprep.com/

ProProfs

ProProfs give you tools to add media, quizzes, and certificates to your existing documents, videos & presentations – and then put them into a market place that the company claims reaches more than a million users. Monthly packages start at just under $75 ($60 if you commit to a year) and the company takes 9.5% off of sales through its marketplace.

Link: http://www.proprofs.com

Udemy

The folks at Udemy say “Our goal is to disrupt and democratize education by enabling anyone to learn from the world’s experts.” From what I can tell, they have been doing a pretty good job making waves lately. The Udemy platform gives subject matter experts a simple, straightforward way to assemble content like PowerPoint slides, PDF documents, and YouTube videos into a coherent course experience.You can then publish into the Udemy marketplace and use a variety of tools to promote your masterpieces. Udemy is free for instructors – the company makes it’s money through a 50/50 split whatever you sell. Apparently, as ThinkTraffic reports, some some instructors have been having quite a bit of success.

Link: http://www.udemy.com/teach

MindBites

If video is your thing, MindBites is a great option. The site provides tools and guidance to help you create and publish how-to videos. These can be promoted in the broader MindBites marketplace, but the company also provides the option for you to set up your own customized storefront that you can link to off of your main Website or blog. A free plan is available, and paid plans start at $14 per month.

Link: http://www.mindbites.com/sell

WizIQ

For experts who want to deliver live and on-demand Webinars, WizIQ is an old standby. The company provides a platform through which you can easily offer a live Webinar session – with slides, desktop sharing, audio, and video – that can also be recorded for on-demand access by learners. Courses can be published and sold in WizIQ’s online marketplace. There’s a free 30-day trial, and then paid plans start at $19 a month. It’s unclear from the Web site whether the company also takes a percentage of course sales.

Link: http://www.wiziq.com/

Learning Cart

As the name suggests, Learning Cart is all about hooking e-commerce up to your online courses. The platform can be used to sell just about any kind of online content, and I like the fact that it also has an integrated blog engine to help you with your content marketing and SEO. It also has a number of nice integration – with GoToWebinar and Google Analytics for example. All in all, it is quite sophisticated for $149 per month.

Link: http://www.learningcart.com

OpenSesame

OpenSesame is the first out of this group (as far as I can tell) that allows you to upload courses that you have created using a standards-based (SCORM, AICC)  course authoring package like Articulate Presenter. If you happen to be an expert, or manage experts (e.g., if you represent a training firm or association) that is developing offerings at this level of sophistication, it might be the first place you want to check out. You can also upload video, and the company claims that courses published in its system can be accessed by any learning management system (LMS). So, for example, if you know there are businesses out there that would want your content, but are going to want it on their own LMS, this could be a very powerful option. The company takes 40% of any sales you make through its platform.

Link: https://www.opensesame.com/sell-online-elearning-training-courses

Mindflash

Mindflash aims to give you a simple, straightforward approach to creating and managing courses for a targeted audience (e.g., employees, members) while also having the ability to publish into their public marketplace and make some money from sales there. As might be expected, you can use PPTs, video, and various document types to put together courses, and the system also has a quiz/survey authoring tool. Plans start at $49 per month is you want to train a private audience, but if you just want to publish and sell in the public marketplace, the platform is free. The company takes 15% of your sales. (Note: See the comments section below. It appears Mindflash will close its public marketplace on December 12, 2012.)

Link: http://www.mindflash.com/marketplace/sell-online-courses/

Coggno

With Coggno, you can create courses or upload existing content – including SCORM files. You also have the option to deliver these courses privately or to distribute them through the Coggno marketplace. Coggno also provides the useful twist of enabling organizations to use a branded instance of the Coggno platform for free to offer courses to their target audience (e.g., employees, members) – thus providing yet another distribution option for your content. Organizations that use the LMS in this way pay only for the content they use. For course developers looking to sell their content, pricing starts at $24.95 per month plus 10% of sales.

Link: http://coggno.com/lms/sell-courses

 

Litmos

Litmos offers a relatively full-featured LMS with built-in e-commerce options for selling your content (including SCORM courses). If you don’t care about having a marketplace for your content, and are looking for good flexibility for offering both live and on-demand training as well as integrating with other platforms (like, for example, Salesforce), it’s definitely worth a look. There’s a 14-day free trial followed by monthly pricing staring at $49 per month for the Starter edition.

Link: http://www.litmos.com/learning-management-system/sell-online-courses/

Educadium

With its CampusPay LMS services Educadium offers a way to add a simple e-commerce solution to its EasyCampus platform. EasyCampus is, indeed, an easy platform on which to get up and running, but is nonetheless a relatively feature-rich LMS with a range of options for adding on features and services that fit your needs. Pricing for the platform starts at $39 per month and e-commerce fees range from 6.5% to 10% of sales, depending on which subscription package you choose.
http://www.educadium.com/campuspay

Inquisiq

Inquisiq steps up the game quite a bit by offering features like multiple branded site instances (e.g., so that you can set up branded training portals for your business-to-business course sales) and a variety of discount code options for purchasers. Like Litmos, it also provides for issuing certificates to users who complete/pass courses. If you sell primarily to business (as opposed to individual) buyers, you want to be sure to check out this option. There’s a free trial available (for an unspecified period of time), then pricing starts at $200 per month.

Link: http://www.inquisiqr3.com/solutions/sell-your-courses-online/

EZLCMS

While most of the options above have some level of content authoring capabilities, EZLCMS aims to take things a step further with its Adaptive Course Authoring PowerPoint Plug-In. The company says the plug-in ‘will convert your presentation into a mobile-friendly HTML based courseware product that can be delivered on computers and mobile devices.” If you happen to be delivering serious assessments as part of your offerings, EZLCMS also offers item analysis as part of its reporting capabilities. There’s a free 15 day trial and after that pricing starts at $199 per month.

Link: http://www.ezlcms.com/index.php/e-commerce/

If you have used/had success with any of these, or have others you would like to see on the list, please comment and share.

Bonus Option: CourseMerchant

If you happen to have already gone down the Moodle path (widely used open source LMS) for your course delivery needs, then you may want to check out CourseMerchant. While Moodle itself provides a very basic e-commerce option, CourseMerchant helps you take things to a much more sophisticated level – including the ability to bundle courses, offer discounts, and sell multi-seat licenses that allow for the seats to be easily allocated to learners. The CourseMerchant folks are also behind CourseIndex.com, a network that enables you to promote your courses through affiliate marketers.

Link: http://www.coursemerchant.com/
Link: http://www.courseindex.com/

Ultimate Guide To Setting Up Your First Online Shop

E-commerce is the most popular business trend in our futuristic society, as most modern cities have Internet equipped and it’s such a simple process to send payments anywhere in the world via Internet connection. Along with these technologies have risen hundreds of thousands of new digital web stores which sell both physical and digital products to one global marketplace.

setup online shop
(Image Source: Fotolia)

Business means trade, and trade means transaction. For Internet buyer, what they really care about is probably the security, as there are overwhelming fraud issues happening all around the world nowadays. So setting up web store is not like your regular Blogger blog, it requires careful planning and guided installation with hardened security in mind.

But hard doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to do it yourself. For any aspiring webmasters hoping to get into the e-commerce game, this post will serve as the guide mentioned above, to ease the transition a bit with full of helpful tips and recommended service, so don’t wonder anymore, let’s get down to business!

The Process of Building

Before even considering to launch your website it is crucial to spend some time away from the computer and build your idea. What kind of products will you be selling? Are there any competitors in this niche? Ideally how should your website’s user interface look?

building idea
(Image Source: Fotolia)

These are all very important topics of discussion which you should consider deeply. It will also help a lot to build a brand name in these early stages of development. You can purchase the matching domain name ahead of time to secure your company name and logo.

If you’re a businessman and interested in working online you may also wish to set up some profiles. A new Google account can help on multiple levels for a new corporation. With Google you’ll gain a brand new email account under Gmail and access to each of Google’s apps. This includes Google Docs and Google Analytics for tracking your web page traffic. YouTube accounts also tie into Google via OAuth, so it’s possible to market your store with video media too.

Registering a Domain

Once you have a rough idea of how your shop will work it’s time to make some bold steps. Registering a domain name and finding a web host aren’t very difficult tasks. Yet they are monumentally important steps in the overall launch process.

namesilo

Spend a lot of time considering your domain before purchase. Once you buy one it’s usually set for 1 year (or more if you choose), so you’re stuck with it! Personally I am a fan of NameSilo for registering new domains. Their user accounts let you set up portfolios and organize your domain names into different structures. Their domain search is also quick and produces to-the-point results.

Choosing the Web Hosting Service

When it comes to hosting things get a bit more difficult. You’ll want to consider the backend language which your online shop will run, and to choose the proper server settings. If you don’t have any preference or just don’t care I recommend sticking with PHP. It’s open source and supported in mostly 99% of server environments. But just ensure that any hosting account you purchase will support PHP and MySQL databases.

hostgator

Some companies Hostgator and Bluehost offer some incredible solutions for first-time webmasters. The average cost is $100-$150/year for unlimited storage and bandwidth. Now some web hosts do cap their storage and bandwidth limit. But for even the cheapest solutions you’ll generally be using well under their rules.

For more precise guidance, follow our post to help you choose the best web hosting service based on 10 essential factors, and consumer guide on understanding the very truth about web hosting and tips to avoid some annoying hosting troubles.

Choosing your E-Commerce Package

There are two main categories to choose from for building an online shop. Hosted solutions are companies which provide you with everything you need on the backend and host the e-commerce script on their servers. This means you won’t need to perform any programming or file uploads of any kind. You will however still need a domain name to redirect and give your shop a distinct URL.

yahoo merchant solution

Now you can also work with licensed scripts, both paid and open source. These kinds of e-commerce systems are easily customized and make up the majority of online web stores. Even if you aren’t a programmer at heart it’s a very simple process to download and re-upload script files onto your hosting server and follow some installation instructions.

But when you are working with money and payments online there are many security risks to consider. If you feel uncomfortable taking on that much responsibility it may be wise to choose a hosted solution. Many times you can talk with company representatives to figure out site security without any stress. The customer’s overall experience and safety should be held in regard to your bottom-line decision.

Hosted E-Commerce Solutions

Many of the hosted solutions can provide an amazing experience to your visitors with very little work on your end. The administration panel is also uniform to all other scripts, which should provide you an easy interface to upload photos and add catalogue entries.

There are so many choices out there it’s hard to pick just one. But I’ve included 3 below which stand out among the rest. They’re viable options for the average webmaster who isn’t interested in messing around with FTP and programming IDE’s. You do lose a lot of opportunity for customizations, but you are gaining added security and personal staff support.

Shopify

You can check out Shopify for yourself to see this amazing service in action. Their website is designed beautifully and contains some wonderful demos. If you are on the edge with choosing any company, Shopify may possibly be the best option. Their features include a personal app store, SSL security, unlimited server bandwidth, a custom mobile template and a whole lot more!

shopify

This is one script which offers a lot more user customizations than others. In the admin backend panel you may choose between dozens of themes to implement onto your live website. If you understand HTML/CSS it’s possible to edit the raw website design online. The editor is similar to WordPress theme‘s editor and offers a very simple UI for beginners.

Shopify also includes live chat and contacts 24/7 for any support. Check out their huge examples page if you’d like to see a few Shopify-powered stores. By looking at some templates it’s difficult to even tell what script they’re running.

Pricing can range from very cheap to very expensive over the course of their 5 plans. Compare details and see if any would stack up to your credentials. Ideally I would recommend Shopify if you have some standard knowledge of HTML and are looking for a fully-accountable staff to back up your new launch.

Yahoo! Merchant Solution

For small businesses Yahoo! Merchant Solution may also catch your attention. The layout for your standard Y!MS account is fairly straightforward and easy to customize. They provide custom traffic analytics and split testing right from your admin panel. The most popular payment gateways are supported, including PayPal, money orders, checks, and credit cards.

yahoo merchant solution

Yahoo! is a great company to partner with if you’re choosing to go the hosted route. They spur large bouts of traffic through organic search and ad clicks, quite honestly only rivalled by Google. You can set up a small marketing account and help spread the word of your new store. Additionally if you’re looking to work with a skilled web designer or developer the small business network includes these features. Yahoo! can practically manage your entire store deployment and launch.

BigCommerce

The BigCommerce shop software could be compared to Shopify with trimmed features. They offer a clean user interface which clears up a lot of confusion in the signup process. It’s a breeze to add in new features, products, users, and take payments online in just a few minutes.

bigcommerce

Granted if you are a developer the team has spent time building an online API. Check out the integration and API settings on their website for details about page plugins. You may include details from many accounts around the web such as Facebook, eBay, 2Checkout, MasterCard, and PayPal. The staffs offer plenty of template customizations to choose from so you’ll never be worried about branding.

To see a few stores in action check out their live stores showcase, updated regularly and spurring some of the finest e-commerce designs in modern Internet layouts. There are a lot of features to go through when you’re first working with BigCommerce. Consider e-mailing the developers or get in touch with somebody at the company to answer questions you may have. I have only heard very positive reviews about their customer service and support for clients.

Custom-Owned Scripts

On the flip side to pre-hosted solutions it may be easier for developers to work within their own boundaries. Of the many scripts online to choose from there are only a handful worthy of testing. Although I’ve included 4 of my personal favorites here, check Google and do a bit of research if nothing suits you, alternatively check out our featured open source e-commerce shopping carts.

magento.

Each website launch is unique and will require unique conditions which another e-commerce solution may provide. In popularity these 4 scripts rank very high, so I’m sure you’ll find most things you need.

Zen Cart

Possibly one of the best known brands for e-commerce scripts on the web, Zen Cart is written in PHP and supports mostly all hosting environments. It’s free to download and install on as many websites as you’d like. The only retributions which they require is leaving the “Powered by Zen Cart” link open in the footer area.

zen cart

Working with Zen Cart provides connections into other services. Some of these are included as modules and it’s possible to download them from their website. Others are simply companies which have tied into the Zen Cart software. Check out their personal recommended services list to see if anything jumps out.

If you know API development yourself there’s a simple XHTML templating system applied onto each website. It is incredibly easy for your standard web developer to create a custom theme.

Additionally the support community is alive and constantly buzzing. Zen Cart has personally sponsored an entire wiki devoted to the script and common topics. Their support forums are also often active with helpful members. You can ask questions ranging from setup and installation all the way to custom module controls.

Magento

Magento has developed a very fine script for e-commerce websites. Their whole script is written on PHP and includes plenty of details for getting started. If you’re familiar with active development and FTP deployments check out the current SVN. It’s updated frequently and gives you a great way to access raw PHP files.

magento.

Certainly it’s possible for non-programmers to work with the Magento suite. But I would recommend checking out another option if you aren’t at least well-versed in HTML/CSS. Truly those looking to customize an amazing store with brilliant functionality should check out their product features and weigh the options. It won’t be a simple task to learn the Magento backend, however if you are familiar with PHP or a similar programming language you should be very comfortable within 2-3 weeks.

This is one company which provides a lot of support for users. Aside from the free edition there are many alternative options which you can pay per licence. Enterprise and Professional edition stand out as the two best-featured scripts. If you’re torn check their charts on the comparison page and choose what you think is best suited for your business need.

To get started with your learning spend a bit of time learning about their system, which includes screencast videos and some technical documentation. One area the Magento system isn’t lacking is in documentation.

WordPress eShop

Classic WordPress CMS has stood among many challengers in its day. Yet today there are millions of websites powered by WordPress, both static content and live blogs. So it only makes sense that over time a team of developers would create one spectacular e-commerce solution tied into WordPress. I believe WordPress eShop provides everything an e-commerce site would need, from orders to shipping to discount codes, all running within the WordPress admin.

eshop

If you’re a bit confused browse through a few of their tabs. The developer has provided amazing documentation and examples. Their installation process is also very simple, yet an elegant way of handling such a complex task. They have included a brief FAQ tab demonstrating some of their finer features.

With this method you will have to concern yourself with security and updates. It is of the utmost importance that your website stays secure and hack-free. SQL injections are all too common, and in this day personal user information and credit card numbers are much too important to lose. If you’re looking for a place to start on this, WordPress hosts support forums with many related topics. Try out their search feature to see if anybody has asked similar questions before.

Interspire Shopping Cart

Interspire is an Australia-based web development company. They create custom scripts with administrator backend support and CSS3 templates. These products include a general CMS, email marketing software, and a powerful shopping cart featured here. They do charge a hefty fee for their software out of the box ($295 per license), but you’re given amazing possibilities for customization.

interspire

Interesting enough the software which powers Interspire Shopping Cart is the same which powers BigCommerce discussed earlier. The only difference with them is a paid hosting account and you don’t have any access to editing the server files. But Interspire is such a complex system it may be a lot easier this way. For developers, Interspire is a goldmine of creativity.

They have released some brand new features in version 6 which will blow you away. They have hundreds of modules and templates to choose from. And their list of accepted payment gateways is enormous in comparison to many other scripts.

If possible try out their demo install, both frontend and administrator panel. You’ll fall in love with the features immediately and recognize if this is truly the best option for you. Your ideas will change depending on the needs of your shop, but for the average web developer the Interspire Cart is easily the best solution.

Taking Merchant Payments Online

Credit card payments are possibly the largest out of any other style. Many digital sources like Google and PayPal have started to corner the market, but credit card companies are still raking in the profits. And it’s obvious as credit cards provide a simple solution for your customers and you to pay online.

network solutions

You’ll probably want to sign up for two different accounts and include your new business name on file. An Internet merchant account is used to receive funds over the web for goods or services. Similarly a payment gateway or payment provider is a service which connects your store with your merchant account. This means you’ll be able to accept instant payments via credit card whenever your customers buy something.

To sign up for a merchant account you may try checking your local bank. Banks offer a signup process to credit your website and create an Internet-based merchant account. But if this isn’t an option try a merchant account provider. These 3rd parties work as the middle man transferring payments from your site to the bank of your choice. There are a few merchants to choose from. I’ve listed the most popular companies below:

After you have successfully created a merchant account you’ll have to choose a gateway. These are companies which securely transfer the data your customers input into your merchant account.

Sometimes banks will provide you with the gateway, although there are plenty of options to choose from otherwise. The most credible company for those based in the United States is Authorize. Their website includes some standard information and forms which should help clear up any questions you have regarding their services. Additionally eWAY is a new launch targeting the international audience.

Alternative Payment Methods

If you won’t be taking such direct payments from clients, it may be easier to work in the short term. Digital payment methods have become a lot easier to work within the past decade. PayPal is the obvious leader among the pack and can be featured on almost all of the most popular e-commerce empires, with strong assisting guides laying everywhere, even from Hongkiat. Amazon and eBay are another two best known for this feature.

paypal

Many of the runner-up services work just as well as PayPal but haven’t gained enough attention. Specifically Google Checkout offers a very secure and speedy transaction process. If you’re already using Gmail or have a Google Account it’s simple to tie into a new Google Checkout account. Their backend supports widgets which you can add onto your page for a nicer design.

Both PayPal and Google Checkout support solutions for invoicing. This can be useful if you’re planning on purchasing modules or further domains. Try staying with a single account and use this for all your business transactions online. It’s a lot quicker than waiting for payments or working through shady non-secured payment pages.

Add Content and Products

After you’ve got a domain, hosting, and you can view your script live online then you’ve really made it far! Moving past this process you’re merely required to perform some maintenance and building of website structures. Not too bad for a first e-commerce setup.

add content and products

Familiarize yourself with the administrator panel and how to work with product pages. It’s important for your viewers to receive the best user experience on your website and hopefully land the sale. If you notice any image size limits or set proportions consider spending some time pre-cropping your product images. Or at the very least standardize the image size so your products will display evenly in rows/columns.

Along with product listings you’ll want to begin working on your page copy. Written content on your website is vitally important to get your message across and land sales. Visitors will be interested to hear about your company and many will hope to get in contact with you. These are just a few base pages to consider building, but you may focus on a few more as time goes on. For example a privacy policy page is very important concerning how you’ll handle user information.

Marketing and Beyond

After this point your first shop should be online and full of new content. Congratulations! It’s a difficult process to build and launch a full-scale e-commerce solution. But now the fun really picks up as you start taking orders and marketing.

google analytics

Nobody is going to find your website without some form of marketing. If you haven’t signed up for a Google account yet I highly recommend creating one for Google Analytics. They provide completely free tracking software which boasts some incredible features you can’t find anywhere else! With their tools you can find your most trafficked pages and biggest referring websites. Alternatively you can also try out some worthy analytic tools to find the one which best suits you.

If you feel that a professional marketing strategy would provide some prosperous results I recommend joining with a few publishing agencies. Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo! are the top 3 contextual ad publishers in the whole Internet. Google AdWords is obviously very well known and trusted amongst hundreds of marketers – and for good reason! Google AdWords provides large traffic numbers and laser-targeted click results for whatever products you’re selling.

Additionally Microsoft’s AdCenter and Yahoo! Advertising Solutions have really taken off the ground in recent months. These are viable options for smaller online stores with a much smaller marketing budget. You’ll be able to afford a lot more ad clicks and garner attention from a wide audience. Once you’ve run a few successful marketing campaigns your traffic numbers will slowly raise and you are sure to grow success in your online e-commerce shop.

Conclusion

This guide provides a conclusive walkthrough of the major steps to creating your first e-commerce store. It’s not an easy process to complete start-to-finish. Even professional web designers struggle when sitting down to create new e-commerce stores. But once you’ve gone through this a few times things seem a lot more efficient and will flow easier.

The solutions offered here are just some of the many opportunities for e-commerce developers. In addition if you have tips or strategies for launching an online store please share them in the discussion section below, we do appreciate them!

For more, visit; http://www.hongkiat.com

 

40+ Beautiful & Free Responsive WordPress Themes to Build Awesome Websites 2015

WordPress is indisputably the most preferred CMS platform on the web. Due to the popularity and development of WordPress CMS, themes that are specially made for sites powered by WordPress also gained considerable fame in the market. Users love WordPress themes because it is painless to set up and can be used to create a website like blog, personal, corporate and portfolio site. However, quality free WordPress themes are not easy to find that is why I decided to gather some of the finest free WordPress themes on hand. Most of these themes include astonishing features that will certainly blow your mind. So, here’s the list of the best free WordPress themes that you can use for your next project:

Zerif Lite

zerif lite - corporate theme

Zerif Lite is a clean and modern one page WordPress theme well suited for web agencies, digital studios, corporate, product showcase, personal and business portfolio. Zerif Lite is optimized to support many popular WordPress plugins such as WooCommerce for eCommerce and WPML plugin to create multilingual WordPress website. This theme is SEO friendly, optimized for all mobile devices and features a clean W3C validated markup.

More info / Download Demo

Sparkling

Sparkling - Free WordPress theme

Let your website sparkle with sophistication with Sparkling free WordPress theme. This modern and flat theme is designed based on the latest bootstrap technology. Sparkling looks amazing on any mobile devices due to its sharp design and fluid layout. This WordPress theme also includes heaps of great features that you can find in premium WordPress themes. It boasts its full-screen slider that allows you to lay greater emphasis on your splendid photos and other creative content. It supports powerful plugins such as Contact Form 7, Gravity Forms, SEO by Yoast, W3 Total Cache and many more. Sparkling is a blend of beauty and efficiency.

More info / Download Demo

Dazzling

Dazzling - Free Business WordPress theme

Dazzling is a stunning Free WordPress theme based on Bootstrap 3, which pride itself on its unrivaled responsiveness and mobile-friendliness. The theme comes with an optional full-screen featured slider, which is very serviceable in building striking business or creative websites. If you are fond of flat design with mint green accent colors, then you should really check this out! What’s more, Dazzling includes added optimization for several popular plugins WordPress SEO, Jetpack, Contact Form 7 and more.

More info / Download Demo

Travelify

Travelify - Free Travel theme

Travelify is a free theme that generously provide premium functionality and excellent support. It is a sleek, trendy and responsive WordPress travel theme that can to contend against first rate premium WordPress themes. This theme is bristled with pixel perfect design, incredible featured slider, custom page and blog templates and lots of other great features. It also includes countless theme options to alter different theme aspects. The best thing about this theme is that you can use it free of charge for your personal travel blog or company website.

More info / Download Demo

Unite

Unite - Free wedding theme

Unite is a clean and stylish free WordPress theme that comes with fully responsive flat design. It is created using the latest Bootstrap 3 and designed to provide a minimalist and user-friendly framework for your site. With Unite, you are able to customize some aspects of your theme such as footer, navigation menu and fonts with ease. This elegant theme is not only suitable for wedding websites/blogs but can also look wonderful on other creative sites that gives more focus on images.

More info / Download Demo

Constructzine Lite

Constructzine WordPress theme

Constructzine Lite is a beautiful and fully responsive WordPress theme well suited for corporate websites. This theme features pixel-perfect design that will look awesome on smartphones, tablets and desktop. Theme settings can be tweaked via simple yet powerful options panel. Constructzine Lit theme has social menu, footer and sidebar widget areas and clean blog template. Its is designed and developed to be used for business websites but it can be used for blogs, portfolio, hobby or any other websites.

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The SSMAG

ssmag portfolio theme

The SSMAG Theme is a grid based layout theme, it’s super easy to use just plug and play. This theme was made for content creators wanting to go viral. SSMAG as a big empathise on social sharing and the design layout is also optimize to keep readers exploring your site further.

Like most themes created in 2015, SSMAG is responsive so your site will look good on all devices. Not only that but you also get, custom widgets and optimize ad placement built in. This theme also comes with social menu icons to further promote your Twitter, Facebook profiles etc. The SSMAG theme support embedded video which you can use instead of a featured image on a post page.

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BookRev Lite

bookrev - book review theme

BookRev Lite is unique and well crafted WordPress theme designed for book reviews. It will allow you to review any book and allow users to leave their feedback about these books as well and your can monetize all your efforts through affiliate links and sell books from Amazon or other online book stores. With some tweaking and design changed you might as well review other affiliate products such as gadgets, online services or other digital products. BookRev Lite theme features simple yet powerful theme options to tweak this theme functionality without your own code. Theme is SEO friendly, allowing you to make most out of your book or other product reviews.

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Simple Theme

Simple - WordPress Theme

The Simple theme is an eye-grabbing business/corporate WordPress theme. Gracefully responsive and built on Bootstrap’s v3.x front-end framework, the Simple theme looks fantastic on the smallest mobile phone and the largest desktop monitor. A powerful theme options panel provides you with the ability to fully manage the look and feel of your website. Choose from over a hundred fonts that can be further refined using weight, color, and style options. The frontpage template provides the option to display a Parallax-style or static banner along with featured pages, page content, and a custom post layout. If you’re looking for a professional, modern WordPress theme, then the Simple theme is a must-see!

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Opulus Theme

Opulus WP Theme

The Opulus theme is a super versatile portfolio and business WordPress theme designed for creatives, small businesses, and professionals. Opulus is fully responsive and built on the Bootstrap front-end framework using valid HTML5. This responsiveness ensures that your website will look amazing on the smallest mobile device and the largest desktop monitor. Take advantage of the built-in portfolio to show off your work, and choose from six portfolio layout options. The powerful theme options panel will enable you to modify your website’s look and feel by choosing from more than 100 fonts and infinite color combinations.

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Esteem

esteem - minimal & flat corporate theme

Esteem is a simple and easy to use website template that you can use for your blogging, showcasing a portfolio or blogging. You can set this theme into boxed or wide layout. It offer users unlimited theme color options to help them change the look of their website and set their brand apart from the competition. This theme includes 2 custom templates: the first one is custom-built to display your content or products, while the other one is created as your contact page. Esteem supports custom logo and site title, to supplement the changes that you made in the color scheme of your theme. By taking advantage of its custom logo and title, you are able to attract the attention of your target audience and establish brand recognition.

Esteem theme has a completely customizable header image that lets you display contents or images that could boost user engagement in your website. Esteem supports WordPress custom background feature and custom CSS. It has a full screen slider right at the homepage of your website. This theme also offers 3 different blog options, 5 custom widgets and Contact Form 7 ready. This theme has implemented the breadcrumb trail, an alternative navigation scheme that arranges your website in a hierarchical manner. This theme is translation ready, perfect for individuals, agencies or businesses that are targeting local market. Lastly, they offer brilliant support to assist their users in building and managing their website.

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Ample

ample - fullscreen business theme

Ample is a free multipurpose theme developed to help you achieve an eye-catching and professional looking website. It is feature-rich and comes with tons of customization options that helps you build the site that you want. You can set this theme into boxed or wide layout. Personalize and make your website easier to remember by adding logo and header text to your website, with the themes incredible logo and header text options. This free theme offer users a primary color option, which you can use for changing the color scheme of the theme to suit your website design as well as online branding needs.

Ample theme comes with awesome slider that helps you present your website in an elegant way with slide effects and splendid transitions. It includes 4 custom widgets that are carefully designed to provide you a presentable business template. Ample has 2 custom menus, one on the primary header and the other on the footer. It also supports the WordPress custom background feature that you can take advantage of if you opt to use the boxed layout option. It comes with custom css to help you tweak the look and design of your website. This theme is translation ready, just create language files and use it in your own language. In case you encounter technical problems in the installation of your website, just leave your inquiries on their support forum.

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Accelerate

accelerate - minimal portfolio theme

Accelerate is an attractive and super flexible theme created to provide you a theme with premium look that you can use free of charge. This theme is crafted to make your content stand out and send a clear message to your target audience. It is suitable for portfolio, business, blog, personal, travel, corporate, business services or any other kinds of sites. It has a fluid and flexible layout that enables you to create a portfolio or corporate website, where you can showcase your previous works or display your products. It has a flat and straight forward design that blends perfectly with any types of content that you would like to publish in your website. Moreover, its fully responsive theme makes certain that your website runs smoothly on different type of mobile devices and retina ready to give your audience an optimal viewing experience.

Accelerate theme is designed to flaunt the strengths of your website and let your brand leave a good impression to your target audience. This theme comes with an extensive homepage slider where you can place eye-catching featured images that will certainly grab the attention of your visitors. This theme also support multiple post formats, which means you are able to display different types of content such as images, videos, quotes, links, audio, and short snippets called “asides” to your site. Manage the overall appearance of your portfolio using its theme options pages. Customize your theme by modifying the custom header image or setting the background image or color that represents your trade name. It also allows you to integrate a contact form to your website to help you build a network and help your prospective clients contact you directly.

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Inkness

Inkness photography theme

If you’re look for a stylish yet functional framework for your web design, Inkness could be the one for you. This exquisite free WordPress Theme is built with the most recent Twitter Bootstrap frontend framework and integrated with countless features. It is fully responsive and offers an adaptable layout design that let your site fit on any types of mobile devices. Its minimalist design gives more space for highlighting your content. The theme include handy features that offers great customization options such as responsive slider, 4 page layouts, immense theme options, tons of font options, terrific CSS transition effects and clean HTML5 design structure for better SEO. With a right choice of images and suitable theme customization, Inkness can serve as a wonderful theme for any kind of blog.

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Fullby

fullby - free template

Perhaps, Fullby theme seems familiar to you. Well, I guess that is because its creation was inspired by Twenty Fourteen. You’ll love the layout design of this fine theme even at first glance. Its framework was based on latest Bootstrap framework, fully responsive and features a grid style. This lightweight theme includes two customizable images. It also offer assorted column layouts and provides a good platform for your content. If you prefer to include your most recent post in the featured section, you can just check the “featured’ option in your post. This marvelous theme also incorporates gallery and video support that you can make use of in building a stunning website.

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Arcade Basic

Arcade - free full-screen theme

Arcade Basic is a lightweight yet fully responsive HTML5 WordPress theme. It features an extensive and high-flying header image that can instantly capture the interest of anyone who comes to your website. Its amazing theme customizer let you modify your page layout, header image, site width, etc. It also includes JetPack to your site that can be useful in impressing your site visitors with your eye-catching galleries on a tile view and jQuery carousel. Arcade Basic supports bbPress & BuddyPress plugin that could help you set up an interactive forum within your site. The theme’s framework is also built based on Bootstrap 3, SASS and Compass. Arcade Basic provides a wide range of font options to perk up the typeface readability.

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StanleyWP

StanleyWP - Free blog theme

Stanley is one of the most remarkable free WordPress theme brought to us by BlackTie. Stanley employs the best Twitter Bootstrap technology with minimal integration of color in its framework. Stanley proved free stuff isn’t always substandard and could provide first-class functionality. This meek free WordPress theme is overloaded with great built-in features such as user-friendly theme options panel, drag and drop homepage builder, three page templates, Font Awesome 4.0.3, fluid layout design and portfolio post types. This theme is specially designed to help you showcase you stunning success in a simple way.

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Romangie

romangie - blog theme

Romangie is a chic and minimalist free WordPress theme. Each aspect of this theme is retina-ready and built based on Bootstrap Framework to guarantee wonderful browsing experience, regardless of what device your website visitor prefers to use. Romangie choose modest and simple design to give more attention to your site’s speed and let your content take center-stage. It may look plain from the outside but it is actually teeming with incredible features such as Twitter embedding, categories, nice navigation menus, galleries, commenting and a calendar.

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Flat Theme

Flat Theme For Business

Flat Theme is deemed as the finest free WordPress theme built with twitter Bootstrap 3.0. Its highly developed theme option with shortcodes generator is beyond compare. This simple theme allows you to customize the logo and favicon to go well with your website’s brand. It provides several color and font customization features that could help you give your website a major revamp. It also comes with various theme options such as contact page settings, change admin logo, google analytics and so on.

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Lawyeria Lite

lawyeria - free WordPress lawyer theme

If you are looking for free WordPress lawyer theme then Lawyeria Lite is the best choice. It is designed specially for primate attorneys and law firms but it can be used for any consulting or regular business website. Developer have made this theme SEO friendly which means that it will help you get more visitors from search engines such as Google and Bing. Thanks to its clean code base this theme loads incredibly fast and that is going to help to improve user experience and what can be even more important? Lawyeria theme has everything to take your business to the next level, so the choice is yours if you want it or not.

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Metro Creative X

metrox - free blog theme

Metro Creative X is a beautiful and fully responsive metro style WordPress blog theme. This theme is based on Masonry grid which makes it fully responsive and optimized for all devices. This theme features a clean code base and valid HTML5 and CSS3. This theme doesn’t have many advanced functions but this also works as an advantage because it loads faster than many other themes on this theme collection. This is the right theme if you are looking for simple and SEO friendly blog theme.

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Ward

Ward - customizable theme

Ward is a lightweight and fully responsive WordPress theme created by Bavotasan.com. This theme would be an ideal framework for any types of blog, portfolio or business site. The theme is built with Twitter Bootstrap, which includes tons of great design elements. This unique theme offers heaps of font options that improve your website’s readability. It exhibits an exceptional layout and provides support for post formats. The entire framework of this theme is easy to modify, thanks to its built-in customizer. Lastly, Ward allows you to install a forum in your site since it supports both bbPress & BuddyPress.

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Customizr

Customizr - Free business wp theme

Customizr is a clean and responsive WordPress theme that offers tons of fantastic features that can be found on premium website template. This free theme makes building a unique and attractive website a child’s play. The theme has been designed to give fully functional theme options, so everyone could manage it with ease. Moreover, it built with clean HTML5 and CSS3 (from the Twitter Bootstrap) and cross-browser tested. Customizr is also translation ready and gives strong support for WooCommerce and bbPress. This fully responsive free website theme is perfect for creating portfolios, blogs, small businesses, landing pages and corporate sites.

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MERIS

Meris - free WordPress theme

Meris is a new free WordPress Theme suitable for any types of businesses. It is retina-ready and offers a responsive layout in order to fit with the recent trends in web design. This theme is built with Bootstrap 3 to function impeccably on different mobile device. It also provides a striking design, packed with useful widgets, full-screen sliders and portfolios to give your site an outstanding design. Meris is an ideal theme for travel, food, sports, portfolios and business websites.

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Virtue

Virtue - free multipurpose theme

The Virtue theme is overloaded with amazing customization options for your website. This simple yet well-designed theme is built with clean HTML5 and CSS3. It also adapts a responsive framework from Bootstrap to help your website become fully responsive and mobile friendly. It provides support for WooCommerce that is essential in building an online store. Virtue’s flexible framework goes well with any kind of businesses, online store and portfolio.

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Tracks

tracks portfolio WP theme

Tracks is a bold and beautiful free WordPress theme that comes with inimitable design. This theme uses panoramic featured images to convey a unique visual effect to website visitors. The homepage presents recent posts and a brief description for each full-size and bold images alternating down the page. If you are searching for a simple and easy to customize theme, Tracks is the one for you. It offers great built-in customization options that help you create a website in a flash. You can upload a logo image, set the navigation menu, insert site title and tagline and opt for a static front page. Tracks is 100% responsive.

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Make

Make - free business theme

Make is a responsive and retina-ready theme fit for building corporate, agency, nonprofit, freelancer or general business website. This theme is built with Bootstrap technology and well coded. It’s easy to build and customize, you can modify layout, styling, colors directly from the website’s backend. Make also comes with powerful Shortcode Generator that provides a convenient interface for creating pages. The theme includes lots of customization options that help you to easily modify the background, layouts, fonts, colors, and logo of your site. Moreover, Make incorporates a functional page builder. This versatile free WordPress theme also supports cool plugins such as Woo Commerce, Gravity Forms and Jetpack.

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Responsive

responsive - most popular free theme

Responsive theme is offers an intuitive foundation with a smooth grid system that spontaneously adjust the framework of your website to any mobile devices to give you an excellent user experience. This theme includes 9 Page Templates, 11 Widget Areas, 6 Template Layouts and 4 Menu Positions that you can use in organizing the main structure of your theme. It also provides simple yet fantastic theme options for full CMS control with easy logo upload, social media integration, incredible webmaster tools and many more. Responsive is also WooCommerce to help to establish your own online shop without much effort. Other great features of this amazing theme include Multilingual Ready (WPML), RTL-Language Support, Retina-Ready, Search Engine Friendly, W3C Markup Validated and currently translated into 45 languages. Responsive is by far the most popular free WordPress themes with over 1 million downloads and counting.

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Spacious

Spacious - free WP template

Spacious WordPress Theme is a versatile template that can be used for blog, portfolio or business website. It offers vast customization options given its multiple page layouts that provide utmost flexibility as well as six different page templates, and 13 widget areas. It also includes five custom widgets suitable for creating business-oriented sites. Its features such as slider, a boxed and a wide layout, a light and a dark color skin, and a color scheme option that you can use in designing a decent website for your business or portfolio. To finish, the theme is designed proficiently to run with precision on different mobile devices.

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Vantage

Vantage - free app showcase theme

Use Vantage theme to your advantage! By far, Vantage is the most innovative free theme that you can exploit for different purposes. This modern theme is overloaded with nice features that can also be found on premium WordPress themes. It has a page builder integration that makes building a professional website a piece of cake. Vantage also features a MetaSlider, an incredible free slider plugin that lets you effortlessly manage and tidy up your sliders. You should make best use of this feature to show your visitors what you’ve got. Last but not least, Vantage supports WooCommerce that can be serviceable to you in building an online store within your website.

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Semicolon

Semicolon - free magazine theme

Semicolon is a super clean and fabulously designed magazine-type WordPress theme. This is one of the most sophisticated and organized magazine theme that you can use for free. Semicolon is on the Underscores starter theme and features a responsive design. With its exceptional grid layout, legible typography, social profiles menu and widget areas, this theme manages to stands out from the crowd in an elegant way. You can customize the theme by adding your preferred background image or changing the background color using WordPress customizer. Semicolon also supports two menus: a primary navigation menu and a social menu that utilizes the Genericons vector icon webfont.

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Hueman

Hueman - Free Magazine theme

Hueman is a responsive WordPress magazine theme that comes with oodles of modern features. It’s a rare chance to find a proficiently designed, super flexible and user-friendly theme that you can use at no cost. Its vast styling options and adjustable layout settings allow users to incorporate personal touch to their website. Moreover, Hueman is designed to adapt on any screen sizes. This trendy magazine theme also supports 10 post formats, has unlimited widget areas, built-in social buttons and a lot more!

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Interface

Interface - free business theme

If you want to build a simple business site and you want to incorporate the flat-style mint green design trend, then choose Interface WordPress theme. This theme comes with a responsive layout and retina-ready. It is also compatible with both BuddyPress and bbPress, so you can set up a forum to your site with no trouble. With its built-in theme option, you can easily change the appearance of your website to suit your business needs. This theme also includes many different building blocks for customizing your business site such as homepage Featured slider, various layout options, diverse page templates and many more. It also supports popular plugins like Breadcrumb NavXT, WP-PageNavi and Contact Form 7. Without a doubt, Interface is the ultimate free WordPress theme for your business website!

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Radiate

radiate - free parallax theme

Radiate is a clean, creative blogging free responsive WordPress theme. This theme supports a fancy parallax header image. It integrates primary color option in the theme customizer page that allows you to manage all links and icons in your site. Let your creativity and ingenuity radiate by flaunting amazing photographs in your WordPress Gallery. Change the overall design of your theme with ease using custom CSS. Other features include: custom background, front page featured section, widget area etc.

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Adventurous

Adventurous - portfolio theme

Adventurous is an eye-catching free WordPress theme brought to us by Catch Themes. It offers a flexible framework that can be used for corporate, photography and blog sites. This theme features a minimal and clean layout design to give more focus on your content. Adventurous is built with HTML5, CSS3 and is very easy to use. This versatile theme is packed with fantastic features and options to help you create an outstanding online presence with this theme. It also includes a powerful theme options that makes theme customization so easy. Adventurous comes with other incredible features such as post slider, custom widgets, page templates, dropdown menu, shortcodes, custom CSS, localized for translations, etc.

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Nictitate

Nictitate - Free Business theme

Nictitate is an elegant business WordPress theme that you can download for free. Its flexible and responsive layout is perfect for building portfolios and corporate sites. The theme is built based on KOPATHEME layout manager, which allows you select layout of any pages within your site easily. This feature is very helpful in creating an effective visual hierarchy in your site. You can also define unlimited sidebar for widget areas. With its powerful custom widgets, Nictitate gives you greater flexibility and accessibility to the main framework of your site. With Nictitate, you do not have to give up sophistication only to save money.

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Minamaze

Minamaze - App Showcase theme

Take advantage of the free version of Minamaze multi-purpose professional WordPress theme. This theme offers a great template for business or general blog site. The theme is built with responsive layout and HD retina-ready to adapt and function marvelously on different mobile devices. The theme also includes a dynamic theme options panel that allows you to do tremendous changes within your theme without composing a single line of code. You can use built-in homepage layout to add a logo to your site and build a fine-looking homepage. The theme also comes with a full width easy to use slider that you can utilize in promoting your work or product.

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EvoLve

evolve - multipurpose theme

EvoLve is an excellent and flexible One Page WordPress Theme. It is a free theme packed with incredible features that you can use in building an outstanding website. It is fully responsive and runs faultlessly on different modern devices. This theme gives you an option to employ single or grid homepage layout to your website. It was built using Bootstrap with latest HTML5 and CSS3 standards. Google fonts, Parallax slider and theme panel options are just some of the more important features that you can utilize in building a unique website that truly stands out.

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Mystile

Mystile - WooCommerce theme

Mystile is a free eCommerce WordPress theme professionally designed by WooThemes. This clean and flexible WooCommerce theme is designed as a canvas which you can use as-is. You can also this theme to create a unique website design that matches your products or brand. It also provides an amazing support for WooCommerce plugin. It also works smoothly in all browsers and devices, thanks to its responsive layout. Moreover, Mystile is bundled with great features such as custom homepage, several color schemes, custom page templates, threaded comments and custom widgets.

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Artificer

Artificer - free WordPress thtme

Artificer is a free responsive eCommerce WordPress theme tailor made for people selling arts & crafts. Its agnostic design and responsive layout makes it a perfect platform to showcase your hand made products. It was designed to work properly any device and adjust fittingly to any screen size. It is packed with features serviceable to an online store. Moreover, Artificer supports WooCommerce plugin could help you set up an online shop in an instant! This responsive WordPress theme is best suitable for any online product store, online shop or any eCommerce website.

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Serene

Serene WP blog theme

Serene is a simple yet stylish free WordPress theme created by Elegant Themes. Serene is designed for sophistication. It features a very clean and straightforward navigation and rounded social icons. Serene supports unlimited color options that you can mix and match to get the best look that you want for your website. The best part of this responsive theme is its extensive post format support. With Serene, you can effortlessly show off a dynamic feed of articles, videos, audio files, quotes, galleries and links in the most elegant way possible. Other amazing features include WordPress 3.6+ compatibility, a widgetized footer, comment support and more.

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MH Magazine lite

Mh - Free Magazine Theme

MH Magazine lite is an elegant free WordPress theme from MH Themes. This theme is perfect for magazines, portals and online news websites. If you want to make sure that your content gets a significant attention from your site visitors, then this is a theme that you will like for sure. This free theme offers great features such as FlexSlider 2 with touch swipe functionality, dynamic theme options, custom menus, 12 widget areas, built in author box to feature your authors, 404 page, supports featured images and much more. Furthermore, this theme is optimized for speed and major search engines like Google.

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Flat

Flat Blog Theme

Flat is a free WordPress theme that exudes a charm and sophistication. Its minimalist design makes your website look attractive and accentuates your content. It includes Bootstrap 3, HTML5 and LESS that makes the site more responsive and more impressive. It boasts its flat design and other astounding features such as responsive layout, retina ready, an off canvas sidebar, custom background and sidebar color, customizable logo, favicon sidebar and background. If you want to give greater focus on your content without spending a single dollar, Flat is the best choice for you.

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Hemingway

Hemingway - Free personal blog theme

Hemingway displays a very neat and responsive two-column theme for bloggers. With its beautiful colors, legible typography and prominent images you are able to create a unique blog or website. This clean theme is crammed with cool features like responsive design, retina-ready assets, full-width header image with parallax scrolling effect, custom accent color, custom logo upload, custom widgets (video, Flickr and Dribbble), page templates and translation-ready code. Hemingway also provides an excellent post format support.

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The New Rules of Branding Your Business Online

Mastering branding online takes a lot more than a cool logo and catchy slogan. Experts play by a fresh new set of rules.

adaIt’s no longer enough to have a sleek website, social-media presence, and consistent brand aesthetic online. The new rules of branding your business on the Web have a lot less to do with presentation, and a lot more to do with interaction. In order to bring you up to speed, Inc.com has compiled nine of the most innovative and ingenious tips from articles, guides, and interviews in Inc. and Inc.com over the past year. These are the new rules of branding online.

1. Don’t just start the conversation.
Be an integral and evolving part of it. “Social media has one very important perspective to share with brand management—the conversation. Like branding, social media is all about the conversation and building effective relationships. They are perfectly suited to one another,” says Ed Roach, founder of The Brand Experts, a brand management consultancy in West Leamington, Ontario, the author of The Reluctant Salesperson, a free e-book available at http://www.thebrandingexperts.ca. The rules for brand messaging through new media versus traditional channels haven’t changed, but “the game sure got better and more interesting,” says Roach. It’s not enough to have a Facebook page or a Twitter account, you must participate in the conversation by making regular posts and replying to direct messages from your customers. Ron Smith, president and founder of S&A’s Cherokee, a public relations and marketing firm in Cary, North Carolina, agrees, adding that you’ll want to stay on top of what people are saying about you and your brand online. “Monitoring social media is a must for all companies. Social media has shortened the time frame for company responses to complaints or accusations. These days, companies need to acknowledge any issues and control the messaging in a matter of minutes instead of hours or days,” says Smith. Read more.

2. Either keep your personal brand out of it…
So you have 10,000 Twitter followers. Does it matter to your customers? Tim Ferriss, the entrepreneur behind the sports nutritional supplements company BrainQUICKEN and author of The 4-Hour Workweek, told Inc.com contributor John Warrillow: “Unless you’re in one of a handful of businesses like public speaking, I think managing and growing a personal brand can be a huge distraction for company founders. I see all of these entrepreneurs trying to collect Twitter followers, and it reminds me of a matador waving a red flag in front of a bull. In this case, the founders are the bull. The bullfighter moves the flag away, and the bull comes up with nothing but air. Steve Jobs has a personal brand, but it is Apple’s product design that makes it such a valuable company. He isn’t jumping on Foursquare to develop his ‘personal brand.'” Read more.

3. …or dive in and make all the headlines you can.
Appearing in the media as a source of expertise can go a long way toward building your brand, Inc.’s April Joyner reports. To gain press, identify media outlets that are most applicable to your particular areas of expertise and send them targeted pitches. If you want to be a talking head on radio or television, it also helps to give producers a preview of your personality by referring them to video clips on your site. As with print, the Web has also democratized the world of radio. Through venues such as BlogTalkRadio, anyone can host her or his own broadcasts—or find a show on which to appear. After you have honed an area of expertise, you will find that there are plenty of opportunities to take your message on the road. Becoming active in professional organizations and attending conferences offer valuable opportunities for networking. As you become more familiar within a certain field, more and more people will call on you to share your expertise. Making an appearance as a vendor at an event can also offer long-term personal branding benefits. Read more.

4. Don’t favor edge over consistency.
Chris Russo had a healthy business. The only thing holding it back, he thought, was its name. Three years after its launch in 2006, Fantasy Sports Ventures’s revenue was increasing 40 percent to 50 percent a year, a pace that surprised even Russo. But by the fall of 2009, he was uneasy. Despite the heady growth, Russo felt the company’s brand positioning was pigeonholing the business and would soon limit further expansion. “Fantasy Sports Ventures was not a long-term, sustainable, public-facing brand,” Ed O’Hara, of the branding firm SME, says. “It felt more like a holding company and was too heavily weighted on the fantasy side.” O’Hara and Russo tossed around lots of edgy names, like Fanarchy, Fantology, and Gutcheck, but weren’t sure. Rebranding was on the table, but the company didn’t want to alienate its huge readership and large fan base. The solution? When the company acquired another brand, The Big Lead, and was integrating it into the existing portfolio of sites, Russo realized he struck gold. The name was consistent with the sites’ goals, as well as its existing image.  Read more.

5. Be persistent in finding and targeting your niche.
ada2Even if you’re entering a flooded marketplace—and online is certainly a very crowded forum—you always have a chance to make your brand and company stand out. People used to think water was all the same; now stores carry half-a-dozen brands or more. “Marketers struggle with differentiation because they give up too soon,” says Derrick Daye, managing partner of The Blake Project. “They think that this can’t be differentiated, it can’t be unique.” Experts say the constantly shifting marketplace creates the need to be creative with your approach. The toothpaste market is one that professionals cite as a constantly changing product selection that requires vigilance on the part of brand managers. Additives like baking soda, breath freshener, or whitening strips are now taken for granted. Read more.

6. Excel at telling your customers “About Us.”
You may not be paying much attention to your About Us page, but visitors to your site are, writes Chana Garcia. And considering that your About Us page is where the world first clicks to learn about your company and the services you offer, it deserves a little more consideration and a lot more respect. Sure, you need to include all the basics. But a few simple tactics can make your About Us page a more exciting read and your company come across as more accessible, says Lorrie Thomas, aka The Marketing Therapist, a marketing strategist, educator, writer, web marketing expert and speaker. Avoid writing a soliloquy (too much text can be a turnoff) and focus on connecting with your site visitors. Thomas asked her employees to write their own bios for her company’s About Us page. Her only mandate was that in addition to providing a snapshot of their professional history, they include personal information, such as hobbies or their favorite activities. Some even set up links to their blogs and personal websites. This might also be a good place to include e-mail addresses for your staff. Readily available contact information shows customers that you want to hear from them and that you have nothing to hide. Read more.

7. Fully integrate social media into your site.
You’ll not only look savvy, but increase your connectivity, and gain traffic to you site from elsewhere. You don’t necessarily need to put out the next viral marketing video or hire an expensive marketing agency (although both would probably help) to achieve a high rate of traffic. All you need is a bit of elbow grease, a few tricks up your sleeve, and a commitment to making your site a quality destination for visitors. Add Facebook Like buttons, have a dynamic blog section, utilize SEO, and build your site heavy with links, for starters. More tips can be found in our guide to “How to Drive More Traffic to Your Website.” Read more.

8. Monitor your brand’s reputation, and be ready to respond.
Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp have become essential components of many companies’ online marketing strategies, but there are countless other sites on which customers rant and rave about their experiences. A question or complaint left unanswered on any of them has the potential to tarnish a company’s brand and scare away prospective customers. That’s why companies like Beachbody are using new tools to monitor what’s been said about them online. The most basic services, like Google Alerts, allow users to select keywords to track and to receive e-mail updates whenever they appear on the Web. Others, like Social Mention and HootSuite, specifically scour profiles on social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace for relevant comments. Nate Bagley, a social media expert at Mindshare Technologies, a Salt Lake City company that makes software that helps companies keep track of customer feedback, uses Google Alerts and Social Mention to keep track of references to his company, as well as news on its clients, competitors, and the industry at large. “It’s a good way to gather business intelligence,” he says. Some of these services, including Radian6 and Viralheat, detect whether a post is positive, negative, or neutral, so businesses can easily determine which mentions require the most attention. Those features have allowed companies to maintain greater control of their brands. Read more.

9. Showcase your best work.
In this new environment, a sturdy brand is all about trust and relationships. With that goal in mind, there’s no better way to build both than by posting testimonials or listing big-name clients you’ve partnered with. That will lend your business a good amount of credibility. You might consider incorporating your clients’ logos somewhere on your page as an added visual element. Mentioning awards and recognitions your company received, as well as community service work, green initiatives, and interesting facts, will also make your business more appealing. Additionally, timelines, company history, and major milestones are attention-grabbing.

Why not try these out and see for yourselves. You can always come back for more.

For more tips, you can visit http://www.inc.com/

How to get multiple streams of income through Affiliate Marketing

An image of many Coins on newspaper

An image of many Coins on newspaper
An image of many Coins on newspaper

Source: morguefile.com

Making Passive Income

They say you cannot get rich on the internet but some have become super rich and have made millions, they say you cannot make money yet some people make a living on line.Some say only peanuts and nothing else, i say knowledge innovation and dedication can earn you income. The income maybe residual, but consider earning about $150 in ten affiliate programs, simple addition comes to $1500 dollars a month. Affiliate payouts maybe small but combined can earn a steady income.

Many -streams of income

What do i mean by many streams of income it simply means making money from different sources at the same time. Many streams maybe penny based but they add up in the long run. Several top companies have carefully created affiliate programs to help webmasters and websites earn money. Some of the top websites are Yahoo.com the web/content/product marketing website another is Google.com the search engine giants others are Amazon.com, the number one book publishers and sellers and eBay best auction/bid website.These website run affiliate programs that help website owners monetize their websites.

Who is an affiliate

An affiliate is a link between an organization group or individual between another larger company for business purposes. The larger company as a rule takes care of the shipping payment receiving and paying affiliate members and also prepares the sales report. They support their affiliates through tutorials and customer/affiliate care services.They are fully interested and commuted in the success of an affiliate.

making money through Google Affiliate program

Google AdSense

Google affiliate program has the Google AdSense program. The company Google Inc is an internet based service/product provider and top search engine founded by Sergey Brian and Larry Page and the companion in 2012 earned a top revenue of $12.76 BILLION. They have several subsidiaries like you tube, Motorola mobility, double click and many more.

The Google Ad Sense is an easy revenue sharing program that helps websites monetize. Webmasters get paid through target advertisement that are displayed on the affiliates website customized to enhance and match the host websites outlook.. They also have the facility to track traffic which is the most important resource for a website.

The Google Ad Sense affiliate program is free like amazons associate and eBay affiliate programs.All the work is done by your huge companies. For a website to be consider it most have good content should devoid of obscenity and hate content. The traffic generated allows Google access the websites rating and type of advertisement placed on the websites, the more the traffic the better the chances of making good returns on your affiliate program.

Webmasters should use search engine optimized words to allow Google crawlers locate there websites more readily, combined with good content helps Google AdSense advertisements place user friendly competitive advertisements on your website.Website owners can also deploy the use of text to encourage visitors use the affiliate links.

Types of AdSense programs

Google For content

Google AdSense is not only about advertisements but has to do with the methodology web owners and visitors use to reach Google advertisements. Google AdSense for content are advertisement that has good content as a bedrock.,they can be text streaming videos and other media types. The user is given a choice to use either the multimedia or simple text or both.

AdSense for feeds

The AdSense for feeds target websites that have over 150 sign up user, they should be active subscribers before the website owner can sign up for this affiliate program. If the website owner has multiple sites Google places the advertisements on each site according to its content. Your earning are then channeled to one single account. The feeds work through insertion of images on feeds.

Google AdSense for search allows website owners place Google search capsules on their sites, when a user uses the link and buys a product or clicks on an advert the webmaster gets paid.

AdSense payouts

Google Ad Sense works on pay per click on the Ad Sense search platform they can pay up to 51 percent, The payment method although shrouded in secrecy could be 20 cents per click and for 1000 searches $2 to $10.

Being an eBay affiliate

On your website eBay provides a link and any time a user clicks on he link and becomes an active user the webmaster gets paid, if the user places a bid on an item in the eBay store the affiliate gets paid, if an item is purchased by the user the affiliate earns between $0.05 to$4

how it works

eBay affiliates earn through lead generation payment methods. The sales pay out per bid is $0.05, if a visitor goes through your link and places a bid and becomes an active user you get paid, if other register through your link you get paid. Multiple website owners are moderated through commission junction where your status and account can be viewed.

Payment method

Any account that has a cumulative sum of $23 get paid monthly and any earning above$550 are liable to USA tax.

Amazon associates

Amazon was founded in 1994 by Jeff Bezos with their cooperate head quarters in Seattle Washington the company has ii their stable products such as Amazon kindle, Amazon stores jungle.com endless.com and many other products. The company is worth $32.535 billion and is one of the topmost retailers on line with Amazon stores in India, Brazil, Spain, Germany UK and Italy. All Amazon associates before getting an affiliate contract must first have a good content website or blog where the affiliate link is placed.

Amazon is also the number one book sellers , there associates are provided links that include image of product,short text, price and location. If a user/visitor uses the link on your website and buys the item you get paid. In order to sign on as an associate you need to open an amazon account then sign up as an associate. The 3 step process covers your name, address, age sex, type of website a valid phone number and confirmation and finish. they will then issue you an Identification. They pay their associates a flat rate of $10 for kindle and $4 on other purchases.

The topmost payment methods on these programs vary some use PayPal, master card, direct deposit or checks. By signing up with these top websites and becoming affiliates or associates you can monetize your website and earn many streams of income.

Some more top affiliate websites

As stated earlier affiliate marketing helps you monetize your website or blog. It can be very lucrative if applied well. Affiliates are offered merchants products through links or advertisements on the affiliates website when ever a visitor clicks on a link and buys a product the affiliate gets paid. The website owner has the choice of product he wants displayed on their site.

LinkShare.com

The website has one of the largest networks, with about 12 million affiliate partners and a very good affiliate network, high customer service and support. The website offers to its subscribers well over 2600 affiliate programs you can choose from where every aspect is properly managed for greater returns and profitability. Getting on the affiliate platform is easy and stress free.

PeerFly.com

This website has a high ranking and is very popular with affiliate seekers, they offer an excellent platform good customer relations have a good PPA network, have priority software and over 1200 merchant programs.

ClickBank

ClickBank is one of the top affiliate networks available on line, they sell digital products, eBooks and Digital software. They have a very large number of products ranging in the thousands that you can select fro their library.

To become an affiliate is free and the offer excellent assistance/ customer service. The affiliate has the added advantage of choosing the product that best complements your websites look and feel. Click Bank has one of the highest pay outs for its affiliates, they pay 75 percent commission any time someone uses your link and buys a product. The high commission also allows joint venture partnership between other affiliates where their commission is shared between partners.The joint partners can promote the same product or other products.

Other benefits of the website is increased sales through product promotion and traffic.

pay out.

The website pays on time either through checks or direct deposit. Their tracking system makes sure purchases are well documented and remuneration is promptly paid usually within 1 week or 1 month. If someone buys a product with 60 days of using your link you still get paid. Another website you can search for is Clix Galore, webmasters and blogs if they need to make money on their site they should seriously consider affiliate marketing as a good source of income.

A wallet full of bank notes

A wallet full of bank notes
A wallet full of bank notes

Something about passive income

To build up pathways you need to create real time income streams through hard work research and by not falling for any get rich story, there are many affiliate programs out their like click bank, Fiverr, Amazon associate, Google Adsense, writing for contributory websites like Hubpages, Squidoo, yahoo voices. You can sell used books, old and new items on eBay, write an ebook/book, do online outsourcing, secretarial work, transcription work and many more the list endless. You are only  limited by your ability, skill, knowledge and determination. If you are good with computers you can become a consultant, get paid building website on request, build your own blog and monetize, passive income requires time, a positive attitude and the little money digits will come and eventually add up.

Top 10 Affiliate Networks & Programs For Affiliate Marketing

I didn’t have any plan to write this post. In fact for the past few days I was working on the topic “Learn Exactly How To Make Money Online With Affiliate Marketing” but when I began writing, I realized that it would contain a hell lot of words. So I decided to split up the post and published an introduction to affiliate marketing at first.

And, now you know what is affiliate marketing and how does it work. Right? Okay. So let me introduce you some of the Best Affiliate Networks and Top Affiliate Programs so that you can join them straight away.

List Of Top 10 Best Affiliate Networks & Affiliate Programs

There are tons of Affiliate Networks on the Internet but I am going to feature only the best among them. They offers the best affiliate marketing programs for beginners and have the top paying affiliate programs.

1. Google AdSense

Google AdSense

Google AdSense is a free program that empowers online publishers to earn revenue by displaying relevant ads on a wide variety of online content, including: Site search results, Websites and Mobile webpages and apps.

Alexa Rank: #1

Minimum Payment Amount: $100

Payment Method(s): Check, Direct Deposit, Western Union

Programs Offered: Pay Per Click

Referral Program: No

2. Commission Junction

Commission Junction

Commission Junction (CJ), a ValueClick company, is a leading provider of performance-based marketing solutions. CJ facilitates and supports equitable, lucrative relationships between advertisers and publishers.

Alexa Rank: #303

Minimum Payment Amount: $100 (Check); $50 (Direct Deposit)

Payment Method(s): Check, Direct Deposit

Programs Offered: Pay Per Click, Pay Per Lead, Pay Per Sale

Referral Program: No

3. ClickBank

ClickBank

Founded in 1998, ClickBank is a secure online retail outlet for more than 50,000 digital products and 100,000 active affiliate marketers. It is the most effective and most profitable way to sell information over the Internet. Find tens of thousands of digital products to promote online.

Alexa Rank: #260

Minimum Payment Amount: $10

Payment Method(s): Check

Programs Offered: Pay Per Sale

Referral Program: No; But you can refer vendors (advertisers) and earn 20% of the $49.95 activation charge. Additionally, you earn 5% of ClickBank’s typical markup of each sale that your recruited vendor makes for one year.

4. Google Affiliate Network

Google Affiliate Network

Google Affiliate Network is a free program that makes it easy for website publishers to connect with quality advertisers and get rewarded for driving conversions. To participate in Google Affiliate Network, you must have a valid Google AdSense account. Google Affiliate Network distributes payments via Google AdSense.

Alexa Rank: #1

Minimum Payment Amount: $100

Payment Method(s): Check, Direct Deposit, Western Union

Programs Offered: Pay Per Click, Pay Per Lead, Pay Per Sale

Referral Program: No

5. Amazon Associates

Amazon Associates

Amazon.com Associates is one of the most popular and successful affiliate program on the Internet. You earn advertising fees from all qualifying purchases, not just the products you advertised.

Alexa Rank: #11

Minimum Payment Amount: $100 (Check); $10 (Amazon Gift Certificate, Direct Deposit)

Payment Method(s): Check, Amazon.com Gift Certificate, Direct Deposit

Programs Offered: Pay Per Sale

Referral Program: No

6. LinkShare

LinkShare

LinkShare is a leading provider of full-service online marketing solutions specializing in the areas of Affiliate Marketing, Search Marketing, and Lead Generation. As the online marketing industry continues to evolve at a fast pace, advertisers,  publishers and agencies are turning to LinkShare for technology innovation, superior service and most importantly – RESULTS!

Alexa Rank: #603

Minimum Payment Amount: $1

Payment Method(s): Check, Direct Deposit

Programs Offered: Pay Per Lead, Pay Per Sale

Referral Program: Earn $1.50 when you refer new affiliates to LinkShare.

7. ShareASale

ShareASale

There are currently over 2,500 Merchants plugged in to the ShareASale Network. Each of these merchants has a different type of product that they are selling – and each is ready to commission you on that sale if you bring a customer to them.

Alexa Rank: #598

Minimum Payment Amount: $50

Payment Method(s): Check, Direct Deposit

Programs Offered: Pay Per Click, Pay Per Lead, Pay Per Sale

Referral Program: Earn $1 when you refer new affiliates to ShareASale and earn 5% of their future earnings.

8. Neverblue

Neverblue

Neverblue is a performance-based online marketing company that specializes in lead generation and client acquisition. Through the powerful medium of Internet, Neverblue successfully matches advertising clients with solid business leads, registrations and sales.

Alexa Rank: #4,827

Minimum Payment Amount: $25

Payment Method(s): Check, Direct Deposit, PayPal

Programs Offered: Pay Per Lead, Pay Per Sale

Referral Program: Earn 5% of referral’s revenue for the first 6 months.

9. PepperJam

PepperJam

PepperJam, a GSI Media company, is an industry leader in online performance marketing and technology. PepperJam operates a next generation performance marketing network, which provides innovative tools and analytics to optimize the complex performance marketing channel.

Alexa Rank: #33,414

Minimum Payment Amount: $25

Payment Method(s): Check, Direct Deposit, PayPal

Programs Offered: Pay Per Lead, Pay Per Sale

10. LinkConnector

LinkConnector

LinkConnector is an affiliate marketing network helping merchants and affiliates increase online sales and revenue. LinkConnector has introduced exclusive technologies to the market that give our merchants and affiliates a strong advantage.

Alexa Rank: #8,492

Minimum Payment Amount: $100

Payment Method(s): Check, Direct Deposit, PayPal

Programs Offered: Pay Per Click, Pay Per Lead, Pay Per Sale

Referral Program: Earn $2 for referring new affiliates and earn $100 for referring new advertisers to LinkConnector.

BONUS: Automated Affiliate Marketing

With just one sign up get instant access to thousands of advertiser’s affiliate programs. Get paid automatically for links from your site to advertiser websites.

11. VigLink

VigLink

VigLink looks to make it easier to use affiliate programs on your blog or website. Your links can be doing more. Unlock the power of your site’s links through affiliate marketing and earn extra money from your site automatically, transparently and honestly.

Alexa Rank: #5,332

Minimum Payment Amount: No Minimum

Payment Method(s): PayPal

Programs Offered: Pay Per Click, Pay Per Lead, Pay Per Sale

Referral Program: Refer your friends to VigLink – they will give you 30% of their earnings for 1 year!

12. Skimlinks

Skimlinks

With Skimlinks, you can finally tap into the revenue stream you’ve been missing out on. Your community is posting links to merchants and mentioning products they use – previously you couldn’t easily convert these into affiliate links. The Skimlinks technology takes care of this automatically, converting product links and references into affiliate links; and, no matter what your niche, we’ve got the merchants to keep you covered: over 17,000 of them, aggregated through our service.

Alexa Rank: #8,434

Minimum Payment Amount: $10

Payment Method(s): Check, Direct Deposit, PayPal

Programs Offered: Pay Per Click, Pay Per Lead, Pay Per Sale

Referral Program: Refer your friends to Skimlinks – they will give you 12% of their earnings for 1 year!

You can visit  http://www.minterest.org for more tips…

http://disqus.com/embed/comments/?base=default&version=fb3f4179c96fa16db7834ba2e3810eb7&f=minterest&t_i=2997%20http%3A%2F%2Fwww.minterest.com%2F%3Fp%3D2997&t_u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.minterest.org%2Ftop-affiliate-networks-and-programs%2F&t_e=Top%2010%20Affiliate%20Networks%20%26amp%3B%20Programs%20For%20Affiliate%20Marketing&t_d=Top%2010%20Best%20Affiliate%20Networks%20%26%20Programs%20You%20Should%20Join&t_t=Top%2010%20Affiliate%20Networks%20%26amp%3B%20Programs%20For%20Affiliate%20Marketing&s_o=default&l=#2

20 steps to the perfect website layout

Claudio Guglieri walks you through the process of designing a website layout from start to finish.

When approaching the topic of designing a website layout, I thought about common mistakes I have seen in my years designing, especially with interns and new designers fresh from web design training.

Within this short list of steps to the perfect website layout, I aim to cover what I believe every new website builder working within a digital agency should know and do before starting a new project, and what they should pay attention to during the process.

Event promotion

These principles cover not only design aspects such as landing page design but also general workflow issues that will get the job nicely done. Follow them and you’ll soon be on your way to creating professional website layouts.

01. Put your thoughts on paper first

 initial sketch
Very initial sketches of an illustration series about cities around the world

This seems very obvious but I’ve found too often that designers jump straight into Photoshop before giving any thought to the problem they are trying to solve. Design is about solving problems and those problems can’t be resolved through gradients or shadows but through a good layout and a clear hierarchy. Think about the content, the layout and the functionality before starting to drop shadows.

02. Start sketching a top level framework

 UX sketch
Sketching a basic wires will help you to resolve UX problems and to structure the layout

When I’m asked to create a look and feel for a project, the first thing I do is come-up with a top level framework that solves all the design problems. The framework is the UI that surrounds the content and helps to perform actions and navigate through it. It includes the navigation and components like sidebars and bottom bars.

If you approach your design from this perspective you will have a clear understanding of what your layout needs will be when designing sections beyond the homepage.

03. Add a grid to your PSD

An example of a 978 Grid with a 10px baseline

It’s as simple as it sounds. Before starting to design anything in Photoshop you need a proper grid to start with. There are no valid excuses for starting without a grid, and yes if you don’t, I can assure in one way or another, the design won’t look as good.

A grid will help you to structure the layout of the different sections; it will guide you through the specific screen size requirements, and help you to create responsive templates, to be consistent in terms of spacing as well as many other design issues.

04. Choose your typography

 typography
A general rule of thumb is to use no more than two different typefaces in a website layout

Exploring different typefaces and colours is part of the discovery phase of a project. I would recommend not using more than two different typefaces in a website but it really depends on its nature you could use more or less. Overall choose a font that is easy to read for long amount of text and be more playful with titles and call to actions. Don’t be afraid of using big fonts and overall be playful and consistent when using typography.

05. Select your colour theme

 colours
Use a limited set of colours and tones to guard against visual overload

Throughout the process of choosing a set of typefaces to use you should start exploring what colours you will use in the UI, backgrounds, and text. In terms of colours I recommend using a limited set of colours and tones for the general user interface.

It’s important to apply those consistently across the UI depending on the element’s functionality. Think about the layout of sites like Facebook, Twitter, Quora, and Vimeo. Besides the UI there shouldn’t be any colour restriction for illustrations or graphic details as long as they don’t interfere with the functionality of the components.

06. Divide the layout

 B-reel homepage
The simpler the structure of the site, the easier it is for users to navigate

Each section in your site needs to tell a story. It needs a reason and a final outcome for the user. The layout needs to help the content highlighting what are the most important pieces in that story. In reality there shouldn’t be too many call outs on a page so everything should drive to that final “What can I do here”.

Think about the most simple layout you can imagine for a simple purpose and start adding components that are necessary. At the end you’ll be surprise how hard is to keep it simple.

07. Rethink the established

 search button
Do we really need a search button any more? In most of the cases the answer is no

As designers we shape the way users browse the internet, it’s up to us to decide how many steps a simple action will take and how efficient our site will be. Design patterns and conventions are there because they work but sometimes they are there because no one spent enough time evaluating them or rethinking them. It’s important to rethink the established interactive patterns on any component and to see how we can improve them.

08. Challenge yourself

I encourage every designer out there to challenge themselves on every project. Innovation doesn’t always come as a requirement for the project so it’s up to us to come up with something interaction or design related. Examples of different challenges could include using a new grid system, creating a new component, or even minor challenges like avoiding blend modes or using a specific colour.

09. Pay attention to the details

 game work in progress
Game work in progress: detail view

This statement has been overused lately but it’s not always visible in the final product. Depending on the concept behind the project, that “love” could come in different ways.

It could be a small interaction, an unexpected animation or an aesthetic touch like a little gradient in a button or a subtle stroke around a box in the background. But overall this touch is essential and also natural if you really enjoy what you do.

10. Treat every component as if it could be presented to a design contest

 video component
Pay attention to every component, and the whole will be more than the sum of its parts

I have to admit that this piece of advice is not mine. I heard it in the past at Fantasy Interactive and I was shocked by how clear and true this statement was. Each component needs to be designed as it could stand alone as the best component ever. Sometimes designers leave some parts of a site last on their to-do list and show little respect to them at the end.

11. Sharpen your work

 blurry pixels
To avoid blurry pixels, try to set the right contrast between strokes and background or background colours.

 

Besides any aesthetic consideration there are some common things that have to be avoided in order to create a clean and correct piece of work. Some things you should be on the lookout for when trying to sharpen your work should include gradients banding, blurry edges, font rendering options (some fonts depending on their size are best viewed on a specific render mode), and strokes that merge badly with the background.

These are just few basic examples of issues to look for but in reality the list is endless. Always look at your design as a whole to see if everything works well and then analyze each component individually more carefully.

12. Tidy up your PSDs

This is (along with the use of a grid) one of the most important pieces of advice when designing with Photoshop. Despite the size of the project and the number of designers working on it, you need to keep your files clean. This will make it easier to export different sections, to speed-up the design process and to work with shared files with other designers.

13. Design the best case scenario but prepare for the worst

 Clear app
Bear in mind how your layout will work on different devices and screen sizes

As designers our job is to solve problems through different constraints. With web design, the constraints range from conceptual and technical issues to content related issues.

We need to build a site that can work not only in the ideal scenario, but also in the worst-case scenario. For instance a user could be using a really small screen and check the site when there is barely any content on it so it looks broken.

However for the purpose of presenting our work I always strongly recommend building the best case scenario for it. Therefore we are going to display the ideal amount of text and we are going to show the site inside the ideal browser size that should be the most common scenario for most users using it.

14. Obsess over the design until you hate it

If you are passionate about design I’m sure this is something you are already doing. Whenever I finish a comp I feel proud of, I tend to make that comp a part of my life. I take screenshots of it, check it out it different devices, make wallpapers of it and even print it and hang it on the wall.

Throughout this process I get to a point where I finally end up hating it; I start seeing everything that’s wrong with it and eventually I change it. Disliking your previous work is sign of maturity, and it means that you are finally learning from your own mistakes.

15. Avoid spending too much time on a concept before sharing it with the client

When proposing an interactive concept or a design ‘look and feel’, you need to ensure that you and the client are both on the same page as soon as possible. Once that happens and the initial concept is approved you can relax a little bit and start production.

But if after presenting the first concept and the client doesn’t fall in love with it, you should gather enough feedback to bring a second more appropriate concept to the table.

16. Be your developer’s best friend

 developer Rafael Mumme
Rafael Mumme of Yahoo gives advice on how designers can work better with devs at http://creativebloq.com/design/20-things-drive-web-developers-crazy-7116930

Developers are creative people and they love their jobs as much as you do. But they are not always included in a project from the very beginning and often times only get involved when the concept is decided and their creative role has been overridden. This process is wrong; some of the best ideas come from the development team, so make sure you team up with them from the very beginning of the project. Sharing your concepts and excitement with them will lead to better ideas and a better execution in the end.

17. Presentations: explain it to me like I’m a four-year-old

It’s just as important to produce great work as it is to present it. Your best design can be ignored or thrown away if you don’t present it properly. Always keep in mind that what is totally clear to you might not be that clear to somebody seeing your design for the first time.

18. Love each of your ideas but don’t get too attached to them

There is a thin line between knowing when to advocate for your ideas and learning to realise when your team or client doesn’t see them as ‘the one’. As a designer you need to believe firmly in what you do, but you should also be open to quickly turning over that idea and coming up with something else. Don’t forget that there is more than one unique solution.

19. Track down your design during the development process

If you work inside an agency you might have realised how easy it is to find yourself struggling with the design of a new project when the previous one you just finished is being developed. Contrary to general belief, your work on a project doesn’t end when the PSD and styles- sheet are delivered.

If you really care about your designs and interaction ideas being well executed, check in on your old best friends the developers from time to time and help them as much as they need to ensure that everything little pixel is perfect.

20. Show your work in progress

 style sheets
Share your style sheets and work in progress components with the community

As part of a community of designers, we all love to see not just the final results but also the work in progress. Sometimes the best part of a project is left out for several reasons and gets lost in your Archive folder. Once the project is done and you get the approval from the client/producer promote it and if possible create a case study with the work in progress and designs that didn’t make it to the final release. You will be helping by contributing to the community’s knowledge and you will get valuable feedback in return.

Words: Claudio Guglieri

Claudio Guglieri is currently associate creative director at multi-award-winning design agency Fantasy Interactive.

For more web design tips, check out these features:

What tips should we add to our list? Let us know in the comments below!