The design of your website is so important. Not only does the design influence the visitors to your website but a well-designed website will also give you a sense of pride. If you aren’t 100% ecstatic about your website then it is going to show. Your disappointment and dread at directing anyone to your website will be clear.
But it doesn’t have to be that way!
Whether you are on a tight budget or have money to splurge on your online home – choosing the perfect theme doesn’t have to be a grind. Today, I’m going to discuss how to approach choosing a theme for your website and blog.
Choosing a theme can be an overwhelming task due to the sheer number of ready-made themes available for download. There are so many things to consider and sometimes all the fancy bells and whistles can distract you from what you actually really need your website to do.
So, let’s get down and dirty with my 4 top tips for choosing a kickass theme that will knock your socks off.
1 // Plan What You Need Before Looking At Themes
Before you even start to look at themes, take some time to plan out your website goals and aims. This will help you get clear on what you want to achieve and what you need to make it happen.
What pages do you need? – The first thing to consider is the pages you want on your website. Whenever I start a website whether it is for me or one of my clients I always open up a notebook and create a list of the pages to add.
Write down the main pages (home, about, services) then any subpages within those. If you want to be really fancy, you can draw up a sitemap! The page map will help you when you start to look at theme directories as you will know if you need certain pages or not.
Organise your content – Now that you have the page names sorted, it is time to organise your content. You may be wondering why you need to get your content ready at this stage but there is a reason (a really good reason).
When you look at theme demos they show every. single. thing. the theme can do and are filled with sample content to show you exactly how spectacular your website could look. The problem with this is that you are highly unlikely to have even 60% of the content that the demo has which means that you will never get your website looking like the demo. Que that disappointment and frustration at shelling out for a theme that looks nothing like the demo.
If you organise and prepare at least the majority of your content before going on your theme search, you are going to be so much more aware of how much you actually have to fill the pages.
2 // Do You Really Need Those Fancy All Singing and Dancing Features
It is easy to be impressed by all the shiny features that themes offer. And that’s what the theme developers what you to be, they are competing for your business in a rapidly growing marketing. All the sliders, animations and pretty touches are added for the wow-factor. But it is important to remember that these things may be pretty and cool but do you really need them? My guess is probably not!
Also worth noting that all those fancy features can slow down your website as they take longer to load, especially for mobile visitors. A slow loading website can affect your search engine optimisation as it increases the chance of people bouncing straight off your website if it takes more than a few seconds to load properly.
Less is more when it comes to website design.
3 // How Easy Will It Be To Customise?
Another thing to consider is how easy the theme is to customise. You may love the design straight out of the box but you will probably need to add your logo and change the colours to match your branding. Does the theme allow you to do this easily or will you need help from a designer to make the edits?
The theme description will most likely state if their are built-in options for this but beware that some themes have very limited customisation options. Making it difficult for you to make the changes yourself which in the end will cost you more money.
You will also have to set up the theme after installing. Most themes don’t look like the demo when you install so you need to be able to change the settings to add your own content and images. Some themes do come with demo content installs so you can upload the settings to match the theme demo you like. But you still need to know the basics to be able to configure the setup and styling.
4 // Is The Theme Updated & Supported?
Let’s say you have found a theme that looks great and fits in with your website plans. The next step before hitting the download button is to check out the support and update info.
Is the theme updated regularly? – If the theme was last updated in 2013 you may run into compatibility and security issues as the coding is out of date.
Does the theme developer offer a support service? – Check out the description and comments for details on what you do if you run into any problems or have any questions. There is nothing worse than having a issue with a theme and you can’t get hold of any support to help you through it.
Where To Find Good Themes?
Now that you know what to look for and consider when choosing a theme for your website, you will be desperate to start your search. Here are a few places to check out.
- Themeforest – One of the largest directories for themes, at the current count there are 22,126 templates available.
- Elegant Themes – There are 87 themes available at Elegant Themes so you are sure to find one that suits your style and aesthetic.
- StudioPress – StudioPress themes are the built using the Genesis Framework* and are the industry standard for beautifully coded themes.
- WordPress Themes Directory has 100s of themes, making it an ideal place to start your search for a free theme.
Above all the most important piece of advice I can give is to be realistic about your plans for your website and find a theme that suits your needs not the one with the fanciest demo.
*Links are affiliate links, if you make a purchase you are supporting Wildflowers & Pixels.
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