Wordpress Website Question

I’m using Wordpress.org (the paid version) to build my new website. There are lots of website themes to choose from but they are very limited in that you can’t customize them very much. Apparently there’s an option to pay if you want the flexibility to customize your site to your specifications. I’m already paying for annual web hosting and 2 domain names, as well as other website plug-ins, so I’m a little hesitant to keep throwing money into something that is providing me with close to zero income at the moment.

Does anyone know of a free website builder that can be used with Wordpress (hosted on Dreamhost). I mean …, can I install a free template/theme and manage the plugins, pages, etc, in Wordpress?

PS. I couldn’t find find an appropriate category to ask this question. Moderators, please relocate it to an appropriate place. Thanks

What exactly are you paying for?

Wordpress is free to install on your domains with literally thousands of free themes and plugins.

Not sure what you mean by a website builder that can be used with Wordpress - Wordpress is a site builder.

I’ve never heard of this paid version of wordpress. Plenty of plugins and themes are paid, but wordpress itself is free.

I’m paying for hosting, 2 domains and I bought at least one plugin (Dynamite Countdown…I think it’s called)

I think I might have worded that wrong. I mean I purchased a domain name and web hosting in which I’m using wordpress. When you purchase a website and integrate wordpress into it, then you will be using wordpress.org…, not wordpress.com. If you haven’t paid for hosting and a domain name you can’t use wordpress.org. I’m not clear on the specifics though.

The difficulty I’m having with wordpress is the limitations it has for customizing it’s themes. If I want to customize the any of the wordpress themes I would have to pay. I’m asking , which other site builders would you guys recommend? I’m looking for something free preferably.

Yeah, I think I worded that wrong. I guess wordpress is free but there are two wordpress (versions?)…There’s wordpress.org and wordpress.com…The .org is what you get if you have a paid domain name and paid hosting. The dot com is free.

Yes, try things like themes for free first, then there’s usually a paid option with more features and support. Make sure you like something, and then want more of it. Wordpress is very powerful, but when you’re new to the learning curve it seems daunting, and empty.

Wordpress themes are actually quite customizable, and I’m sure you can create your own, BUT it requires that knowledge of CSS and parent/child themes, HTML coding, etc. That’s what people who are selling paid themes are doing, they are just creating something they think is useful, getting income from their creation, and supporting its use in the wild. I think you can modify or customize free themes, but I could be wrong. They may have a way to block you from doing that.

If you get a free theme you like well enough, find a page builder plugin to do some of the heavy lifting. I have used the free version of SiteOrigin Page Builder, and I think it’s pretty good. They have a paid version I may upgrade to, but then there may be something even better out there if I’m going to pay. The theme basically allows you certain options for headers/footers, colors, banners, and some other features. Make sure you get one that is “responsive”, which means that full, tablet, and mobile displays work properly! A page builder then lets you design the pages, which will be the bulk of your design and content unless you’re looking to get fancy around the edges. Some good (many free) plugins will take you long way too (the page builder is also a plugin). I’d only buy a plugin if the extra features are essential to you, or you just want to thank the plugin maker for their work.

A page builder that lets you do drag-and-drop may be what you are looking for. Try several of them out, look at the recommended ones, download them and try them out. Deactivate that plugin and try another. That takes some time, but should help you find what you want.

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You can definitely modify or customize any theme as much as you want. I’m sure there are agreements against selling themes based on other 3rd party themes, but you can customize all you want.

If you want customization, I think sticking with wordpress is your best bet. It’s all there and open if you are willing to dig into the code. If you are not willing to dig into the code, customization is not the best option.

The easiest(?) way to go is to find a theme that most closely matches what you want, and then customize from there. Create a child theme and then add whatever you want to it. It can get frustrating doing this because often the things you want to customize aren’t well exposed, so you have to dig into the code to change it. Also, you have to learn to just accept the fact that some customization are more work than they are worth and learn to live without it or pay a developer to do it for you if it’s really important to you.


I think you’re getting mixed up. Wordress is a content management system that is free regardless. You install it on your domain then you are good to go.

You don’t have to pay to customize anything, just go ahead and customise.

I wouldn’t recommend any, Wordpress is the only one I’ve tried that can actually produce a professional-looking website.

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I am a complete novice when it comes to designing websites. For My Garage Guitar Solos website, I use rainmaker platform which is word presses “high end” option. At first, it looks constrained, but over the last few months, I’ve been able to design anything I’ve needed. It is $165ish a month USD. I am going to use Studio press Wordpresses mid-range option for my Smith Music website. It’s $30 per month USD.

I am just getting into writing some of the code etc. for the sites. I liked these options because if I customize the “approved themes” I don’t need to worry about incompatible plugins as things get updated over time. Also if my site gets hacked, I have a company to blame and can hold them responsible.


That’s a good point. My understanding is that if you customize a theme without knowing what you’re doing, you can lose the changes when there is a Wordpress version update. I think that’s part of the point of the parent/child themes, among other advantages. You could make a cool custom change to your CSS coding for your theme, and when Wordpress automatically updates to the latest version - poof! - changes are gone (they have been overwritten by the new code).

Another thing is having solid backups, in case of hacking or other problems. Don’t depend on the host services automatic backups. That’s basically to cover their own a**, but may not be what you need to restore your site. That bears some research and a solution as well. Those paid services probably include full backups, but for DIY purposes it’s a good thing to understand.

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Thanks Stan. I’m going to try the plug-in that you suggested, just to test it out. What you guys mentioned about the wordpress updates may have me looking for another solution eventually, but I’ll see how it works for now.

Wordpress automatic updates (I think you can turn that off and do it manually, if necessary) are a helpful feature, keeping you up to date and probably with security enhancements. I’m not suggesting it’s a problem, just that it’s something to be aware of as you customize. If you don’t plan on tweaking CSS code then it shouldn’t be an issue, and the solution to that is (I think) parent/child themes so that you tweak the CSS code in the child theme which doesn’t get updated when you update the parent theme.

Another thing to watch for is that some plugins can become outdated and incompatible if they are not updated and supported on a regular basis (when Wordpress updates). I have not encountered this, but I have heard of it. Just a heads-up to look at that when choosing plugins. Stick with tried-and-true with good reviews, and you shouldn’t have a problem.


I’ll keep those things in mind…,(for as long as I can remember).:grin:
You’ve made things clearer for me. Much appreciated!

I have a friend who’s a graphic designer and is knowledgeable about CSS and website building but she’s really frustrated with the code in the wordpress templates we’ve tried. She presses the customize tab and she finds that only certain things can be customized without going into the CSS…then she throws up her arms in frustration, trying to find the code for changing the font size and colour of the text (there’s no customization for the text, yet the theme has customization options for the header in this particular theme). Every theme we’ve tried isn’t easily customized. Customization would require diving into the CSS code, which she isn’t familiar enough with. I’m only trying to make a basic site, nothing fancy at all but the layout for all the themes I’ve seen aren’t laid out the way I would like my site to appear.

I’ll keep you and the gang updated on my progress…or lack thereof. :scream::rofl:

All the themes that I’ve been interested in using weren’t fully and easily customizable, unless the user is knowledgeable about CSS and PHP. I have a friend who knows CSS and PHP but when she looked at a few of the themes, she became frustrated trying to where to change things.

Paul mentioned that he’s using an upgraded option of wordpress (Studio Press), which he pays $30 a month. I wouldn’t mind paying money on something like that, but I’m already have a hole in my wallet from all the other music related expenses that I’m dishing out.

I’m going to try using the plugin that Stan suggested and I’ll keep you guys informed of my progress.

Can’t you just buy a theme that does exactly what you want? That’s what most people do. I mean, I don’t mean to be rude but you don’t sound like you’re at a stage where customization is going to come easily to you, so why not just keep it simple?

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I understand your frustration here, but I’d love to give some advise. This is coming from someone who can do some web programming, but hates doing it. If I absolutely have no option but to dive into the code and change something, I’m capable of doing it, but I’d much rather not. I’ve written simple wordpress plugins and I’ve created custom themes.

Do not get hung up on customization that don’t matter. It’s an endless battle if you do. Find a theme that gets you 90% of the way there and just accept the fact that there are some things you won’t be able to change. It’s not that they’re unchangeable, it’s just that they’re beyond your ability and/or time and/or budget. Just let it go. Most of that stuff doesn’t matter to anybody but you.

Find a theme that looks good enough and work within its confines. Your life will be much easier. Accept the fact that it won’t look exactly the way you want it to. Nobody but you will care, as long as it looks good. If you can’t change the font easily, so what. Use the default font. You can’t change the menu position? So what. It’s a menu. As long as the website function and serves its purpose, everything else is irrelevant. It will only waste your time and make you frustrated to care about the small details.

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If she’s not familiar with doing this, and there may even be blockages in the free themes to easy customization, then I’d say stay away from that.

If I were you I wouldn’t get tied into a monthly service right now. Paul is potentially making money off his sites and can probably afford the monthly expense. Paying for a “custom” theme is usually a one-time expense, maybe $60-80. It shouldn’t cost you any more for at least a few years until a major revision, if ever. As has been said, just find a free one you like and then check out the “plus” version that is paid and see what the added features are. You can probably demo the paid version for a short time as well to verify it will do what you need. Some advice I got about websites is “really good is good enough”. Don’t be a perfectionist and get caught up in minutia. Have a design goal and come as close as you can. As long as your site is appealing and easy to navigate, an interested prospect will spend the time on it. Just try to avoid common pitfalls that make the site unfriendly.


Okay, I am back with my by Xara rant…
A couple of years ago, when looking for web designer software, I had all but decided to buy the highest-ranking product in one of them “10 best” listings…
Being of mature age, I have learned to Google “product x” with the word “problem” before committing to any purchase - and by doing so, I found a poster who said doing something in product x was not only boring, but it took two hours… “with Xara it would have taken 15 minutes and been fun,” he wrote.
This Xara product was not even on the 10-best list…
This is a total drag-and-drop product, no programming, that works really well and has many themes you can use.
If you want to link it to a wordpress blog site, then here’s how to incorporate a wordpress blog in a Xara site…
(This would be the ONLY thing that I might do outside Xara…)

I also got hosting with Magix, which is cheap and allows you several domain names.
Uploading a Xara site is amazingly easy, included in the editor…
Can’t speak highly enough of this product…


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You can also - EASILY - build your own themes and stuff from scratch with XARA.

This is obviously not an impressive example, but I did this from scratch - very easy.




I get the frustration with spending on stuff like this. For me because it is a business site I have zero problems investing. I’ll either need to hire someone to do it, take my money making time and learn it or get something that is easy enough for me to do some and still have money making time. I chose option 3.

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