The WordPress theme is the heart of design for your website. The versatility of WordPress is that it allows you to choose any theme you want. Site builders like Google’s GoCentral or WIX provide a limited number of templates that allow for little to no customization or functionality. With a WordPress theme you have options to customize the look and feel of your website as well as control the functionality and scale of your website.
“Fundamentally, the WordPress Theme system is a way to “skin” your weblog. Yet, it is more than just a “skin.” Skinning your site implies that only the design is changed. WordPress Themes can provide much more control over the look and presentation of the material on your website.”
How to choose a WordPress Theme
WordPress is proud of its themes, however you will find that there are a lot and it can be overwhelming to choose the right one. If you do a simple internet search for “WordPress Themes” you will find there are hundreds of themes both free and premium. So, with all these options, how do you choose? And which is better, a free theme or premium theme?
Where to start
The best place to start is WordPress.org’s theme search. This will allow you to search and filter themes as well as provide ideas on design and layout. Browse through the ‘Feature Filter’ options which include features, layout and subject matter. Each theme will allow you to see a working demo. Be aware of themes that do not show a lot in the demo. This could be a red flag that the theme does not have much to offer. Another nice feature of this search is most of these themes are free to install and use without you submitting any personal or financial information.
A good theme will provide a free and premium version. The free version should allow you to use the theme and present your content in a clean layout. The premium upgrade will open up additional functions that enhance the design and provide support (access to support questions and future updates). The average cost for a premium theme is $40 with themes costing less than $20 and others more than $60.
Things to look out for when choosing a WordPress theme
You want your theme to be responsive. Meaning, the theme should be viewable on both desktop computers as well as portable devices (laptops, tablets and phones). If the theme feature does not clearly identify that it is responsive, avoid using this theme. All websites need to be fully functional and display a clean usable layout on any device. Avoid themes that state there is a “mobile” version. This often means the theme is dropped or switched to a minimal and limited website on small devices such as phones and tablets. A good theme will work on all devices without limiting content, functionality or design.
As previously stated, keep an eye out for themes that do not show a lot of features in the demo. In addition to presentation, read the theme description and be sure it provides everything that you are looking for. That said, look for theme documentation as well. A good theme will supply a user guide to help you style and customize it to your benefit. Look for key features that are specific to your needs. For example, if you are starting an online store look for themes that already have a shopping cart feature built in. It’s still possible to add a cart plugin later but a nice feature out of the box. A theme that gives you full control of layout, fonts, color and branding will also be a nice feature up front because you will be able to brand it to your needs.
If you decide to purchase a premium theme, be sure it comes with support. It’s not worth paying for a theme if its not fully supported by future updates. You will also want the freedom to contact the developer or company if you have questions and need help with your theme. Also, a premium theme may only offer updates and not unlock additional features that enhance the website. Review the theme and be sure that the cost reflects what the company is providing. It is silly to pay for a theme with no updates or one that gives you little to no support or added features.
Need help finding a WordPress theme
Locating the best WordPress theme can be overwhelming. If you find this is the case or you have questions specific to your existing theme let us know. We can walk you through finding a theme, installing it and customizing it to your brand and needs. Let us know if you have any questions.