How to Create a Tutorial Website Theme for WordPress
There is a specific style of blogs that I like to call “tutorial websites”. These are blogs that take a very specific topic (often a piece of software or a device) and break it down into easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions that teach you something.
While there is certainly no strict formula for creating a successful tutorial website, there are some basic guidelines that you can follow to make sure that your blog has what it takes to become a tutorial site.
Tutorial Website Theme Design Principles
To start with, let’s talk design principles. A tutorial website theme has very specific design principles that help it function well and look consistent across all the blog posts within it. It’s a good idea to think of these design principles as guidelines and not rules because you can always find a better way to do things (that’s what makes it a creative art form :-P). Here are a few of the design principles that you should follow when making your own tutorial website themes.
Consistent With Other Websites
One of the things that makes a tutorial website different from other kinds of blogs is the fact that it usually teaches you how to do something rather than just talking about the subject. If you’ve ever taken a day-to-night course in sewing or cooking, you’ll know exactly what I mean. Even the name of the blog comes from this – Night Owl Sewing Co. is a tutorial site about sewing and the name itself is a classic example of how a tutorial site usually operates.
Because of this focus on teaching you something new, the design principles of a tutorial website are often quite different from other kinds of blogs. Typically, you’ll want to keep things light in color and motif so that the reader is motivated to keep going and doesn’t get bored or discouraged by the amount of information that they have to absorb. The tutorial website will also typically feature a lot of images so that the information is more visually appealing to the reader.
Keeping information well-organized is one of the most important things to do if you want to create a tutorial website. This does not just mean that the information needs to be laid out in a logical manner with headings and subheadings, but that you need to give the reader an easy-to-follow flow from the first to the last step of the tutorial. If you’ve ever tried to follow a blog post about something technical and ended up going back and forth between several different pages, you’ll know what I’m talking about. This makes the reader wonder if all the information will ever be delivered in one place and if they’ll ever get back on track.
Another important factor to consider when creating a theme for a tutorial website is reducing the content to the bare essentials. You don’t need to have an entire page just to display a single tweet or a list of links because, quite often, a simpler is better. Minimalism will help the reader focus on the information that is important to them rather than getting distracted by all the extra fluff around it. It’s often said that too much info can be as bad as no info at all. This is especially true when it comes to tutorials where you’re trying to teach someone new something or detail intensive courses where you go into great lengths to explain everything clearly.
A blog that you intend on being a tutorial for will undoubtedly get a lot of visitors. If you can keep up with the content, you’ll be able to sustain this number of visitors throughout the year. The fresher the content is, the more likely it is to attract new readers. You can always go back and update older blog posts with new information but you can’t exactly predict what will or won’t be valuable to a future reader. One suggestion is to give some thought to what is the most useful content for people who are new to a particular topic. For example, if you’re blogging about cake baking, you might decide to write a tutorial about mixing the perfect cup of coffee for your favorite recipe. While this might not seem like an obvious choice to someone who’s new to coffee, this tip can make all the difference in getting your tutorial read by new people and keeping your existing readers interested.
Another important point to make about any good tutorial website is that the information should be easy to understand and follow. When I say “clear”, I don’t just mean that the text should be easy to read but that there should also be no distractions or confusing layout elements in the way.
Usually, this is where a clear distinction between header, content, and footer areas is useful. Having these clearly defined sections makes it easy for the reader to know where they are at all times. You don’t need to have a huge header area with links to other blogs or social media accounts because, quite often, simply having text in big bold fonts will suffice. The opposite of a clear structure is a chaotic mess of a design where everything is jumbled together with no obvious sections or area to find what you’re looking for. This is likely to cause confusion to the reader and make them want to give up at the first sign of trouble.
Finally, you don’t want to create a theme for a tutorial website that is not useful. This is not meant to be a subjective statement but rather an objective one that can be proven through testing. To test the usefulness of your theme, you can write a tutorial using it and then track the number of views and comments that you get. If the comments are numerous and positive, you can be sure that your theme is serving its purpose well. On the other hand, if the comments are few and negative, it might be time to make some changes to make the tutorial more useful to whoever is trying to learn it.
As you can see, there are many different variables that come into play when deciding what kind of theme you should use for your tutorial website. However, the only way to find out for sure is by trying out a few different options and seeing which one gets the most positive feedback.