When I decided to make the switch to WordPress, I quickly learned that there are some complicated decisions that you have to make after the time consuming decision of switching to WordPress. One of the questions I get asked the most from potential blog design clients is how to choose a WordPress theme. I also run across a ton of customers who regret the theme they chose and end up having to purchase a second one or make lots of tedious changes to their design. So my hope is to help guide you in choosing your next WordPress theme!
WordPress themes are so different from Blogger themes and it’s important to understand the difference. Blogger themes are predominantly visual, whereas WordPress themes add a ton of functionality to your site. This is why it’s hard to change or remove certain features of a WordPress theme without doing some serious coding changes, which is unnecessary as long as you pick the right theme to begin with.
So how do you know how to pick a theme?
Here are a few things to think about as you start to browse themes:
- What features do I want?
- Do I plan on adding banner ads, sidebar ads, etc.? Think about where you want these ads placed?before deciding on a theme, because a lot of themes will have sections built in.
- How prominent do I want my header to be?
- How do I want the footer to look?
- How tech savvy am I? Do I need a theme that has easy customizations so that I don’t have to touch the coding?
- Am I going to hire a designer for help??If you are, be sure to check with them?before purchasing a theme, they will have a lot of insight for you and may even be able to provide the theme for you.?
A lot of people get stuck on colors or other visual elements of a blog design that are purely visual and can be easily removed. Instead, I try to focus on?functionality within blog themes because as I mentioned, those things are much more difficult to change. A few functionality areas to keep in mind:
- Multiple footer widgets: This is something I didn’t pay any attention to when I was searching for my blog theme. While having a divided footer widget can be super useful, it wasn’t originally what I wanted. Thankfully I have Genesis which has some amazing plugins to correct this… more on that later!
- Ad placement: Some themes have ad placements set up for you above the header and below the footer. If you are under contract to have specific ad placement (header, footer, above the fold, etc.) be sure to look for those in the live demo of the theme!
- Recipe/Category Index Grid: This is definitely something I wanted in my blog design, but never articulated and thus I do not have it currently. A lot of people love that look of a recipe index (even if it’s for a project list) but it’s not something that’s built into blogs and honestly I haven’t found a great plugin to do the same thing. If that’s important to you it’s better to find a theme that has it already even if you don’t use it right away!
Once you start to look at the theme with a functionality lens, you’ll quickly see things you do or don’t need within a theme. This is so important because again, it’s easy to change fonts, colors, backgrounds, etc., even for someone who isn’t tech savvy. However, changing coding within the theme can be really tricky and dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing.
I hope that these tips help you start to think about the necessary components of a new WordPress theme. Also be sure to check out this post on my favorite WordPress themes.
As a reminder, I take a limited number of blog design clients per month! I have a few more spots open for the next few months, so please get in contact if you’re interested! Mention this post and you’ll get a special discount.?