Whenever we talk to a new client about building or upgrading their website, the first thing we need to tackle is selecting the right WordPress theme. (A “theme” is the WordPress term for the set of page templates and style sheets that define the look and feel of your site.) Using a predesigned theme can save thousands on designer fees, and with the range of themes available (either free or premium paid themes) it’s almost a no-brainer for a small company on a limited budget to use one. A good WordPress theme will not only look great but can also be valuable for SEO, as the design and structure of your website will impact its performance in search results.
Regardless of whether you go with a free WordPress theme or decide to purchase a premium theme, there are a few very basic things to keep in mind:
- Theme demos include “dummy content” that shows off the theme at its very best. For example, this Parallax theme looks great, but if you don’t have good quality, high resolution photos your site will not look the same. Try to imagine your own content – how will it work with this theme? Choose based on your content needs, and don’t be wowed by bells and whistles.
- While you’re thinking about your content (you should ALWAYS make your content your first priority when developing a website), think about any special needs: do you need pages to show off products or services? You might want to choose a theme that includes a portfolio template. Have you a need for a large call-to-action space on the home page? Look for a theme that includes an area to feature it. Remember, a WordPress theme is a set of page templates that dictates how the home page, internal pages, and blog will be displayed, so you want to review the demo sample pages of any theme to ensure you will have what you need.
- Avoid themes with too many built-in options. It’s natural to think that the more options available to you, the better the theme, but too much functionality built into a WordPress theme may cause you headaches down the road. Updates to the theme may cause you to lose any customization you’ve done. Additionally, updates to WordPress’s core software, or any plugins that provide extended functionality on your website, may cause conflicts with your theme and your site might not display, or even function, as expected.
Using a WordPress theme should ensure that your website is user and search engine friendly, and is attractive and navigable across a wide spectrum of browsers. If you select a responsive theme, you get the additional benefit of having your site look good on tablets and smartphone. What are you waiting for?