The sheer number of WordPress sites available can make selecting the right one for your website frustrating and overwhelming. Choosing a theme is a commitment, with a significant investment in time and money to get it right. As your website is often the first impression you will make with a potential client, selecting the right theme can be the difference between online success and failure.
Evaluate Your Needs
To narrow down your choices, avoid buying or downloading a theme based solely on on-screen appearance. Make a plan, and decide what you want your website to accomplish. Start by answering these questions:
- Is your website going to be a content-heavy, ecommerce marketplace, or more of an information site?
- Will you be needing online store functionality like Woocommerce or payment processing?
- Will your front page display items and products, or a company blog?
- How do you expect your website to change or grow in the next year?
Different themes are designed to accomplish different goals. Defining your goals will ensure that you make the correct choice when selecting your theme.
Make Sure Your Theme Matches Your Goals
Many of the most popular themes now come with demo content included. A common mistake new website owners make is trying to force your content needs into the existing design. Once you evaluate your needs, make certain that any theme you consider contains all of the basic functionality you need.
Choosing a theme with dozens of design shortcodes or blog designs or image galleries makes no sense if you are not planning in advance to display multiple images, or maintain a blog, or design fancy content displays. Choose the theme that fits your needs, instead of trying to force your website needs into a theme.
Look at your needs and find the theme that delivers them. There is a quality WordPress theme designed for almost any business niche. Find that theme and you are over the biggest hurdle.
Consider Ease of Use and Flexibility
There are hundreds or thousands of themes that appear attractive from the demo site. Finding a great-looking WordPress theme is easy. But carefully consider your WordPress skill level and the amount of time you have to invest in building your website. A theme that is easy to use and customize without CSS or coding can save you time and money, and there are plenty of these available today.
How easy is it to change page layout to build the exact page that you envision? Can you change columns, sidebars, header and footer from the front end or post editor and use different page layouts throughout your website? Maybe you do not need multiple layouts for multiple pages, but if you do, or think you might in the future, this can be a big consideration.
Many of the newer and better themes are integrating with the new WordPress Theme Customizer to allow for much of the website customization from the admin panel. This also allows you to view any changes you make instantly, without updating and refreshing the live site. Maybe you do not need to make a large number of customizations in the beginning, but once your website grows, this can be a terrific time saver. Maybe you have some coding skills and don’t mind customizing the templates, but for most people, and easy way to design your website is a must.
If you will be using your website as an online store, or as a forum or blog, you might want to consider themes that are styled and compatible with any plugins you might use. Many of the premium WordPress themes will come packaged with the most popular plugins, allowing you to add custom skins to make them your own.
Think of the Future
What happens if the theme you choose today cannot keep up with the growth of your website? In theory, it seems like a simple task to change themes in WordPress. In practice, the more content you publish, and the more complex your navigation and theme design, the more difficult this job becomes.
There are some very good, quality themes that will simply not convert to new themes. The design of these themes means that you are either stuck with them forever, or you will be paying a professional to migrate your site from one theme to another.
Make sure that you are comfortable with the theme, the theme designer, and the functionality the theme delivers into the future.
This is where I tell every client to start, every single time. After you narrow down your theme selections, take some time to read reviews, customer comments, and reviews of other themes from the same designer. How often do they update their themes? Do they offer quality support? What does the theme support cover? How detailed is the documentation for the theme?
It seems overwhelming, I know. Selecting the theme you think looks best is the easy part. Take the time to go through the steps above, and you will save yourself time and frustration, and end up with a quality website that you can live with.
Ready to choose a WordPress theme? Check out the latest WordPress themes at Presscastle.com.