A custom designed WordPress site isn’t always in the cards. Luckily, there are TONS of pre-designed themes and templates out there to consider. But how do you decide which theme will work best for your project?
Here are three tips for choosing a WordPress theme that will work well for your project.
One of the first things I check when looking at a new template are the features. Does it have most of what I want, in the format I want it in?
Pull up the demo of the theme you’re considering and look at each of the following areas.
- Is my logo in the same style and format as the demo? Or is it vertical while the demo is horizontal? Is it the wrong tone or color? What about transparent or colored backgrounds?
- Will I have a similar menu as in the demo or will I have many more (or less) items? Do I need more menus than are shown in the demo?
- Is there something else about the header that won’t work? Sticky/scrolling options, presence or lack of social media icons or other features like quick contact information.
- Can I envision my content in this footer? Will I have similar content? (Or does it have hours, location and a phone number when my site won’t have that?)
- Does it have the correct number of columns or will I want more or less?
- Next check the layout of the body on the home page, inside pages, blog/archive page and the posts.
- Do I like the presence or absence of a sidebar? Do I like which side it’s on?
- What about the width of the pages? Is the content stretched, full width or boxed (and which do I like best)?
- Does this theme use breadcrumbs? Page headers with photos? Pre-footer calls to action? Will this work for my project?
Another thing I try to keep in mind are the images, fonts and colors that are currently used on the site.
How do my images compare? Are mine similar in tone, color and contrast? Do I have similar interior or outdoor photos? Are the photos offset if needed (for example, a person on one side so that text can appear on the other)? Are the photos in the demo primarily horizontal or vertical and are mine the same?
What about fonts and colors — do I like the fonts and colors in the demo? Changing them drastically would not only take time, but could change the whole look and feel of the theme.
Documentation & Support
Choosing a theme isn’t all about how it looks! The last thing I look for is documentation and support. If there isn’t documentation and support, I know the theme isn’t a good choice for me. I like to know that after I spend time installing and customizing the theme that I’ll have somewhere to turn if (when) something goes wrong.
Here are some themes I enjoy working with that have good documentation and support. (Note that some are paid and all are worth the price.)
A note about functionality
Notice that I didn’t mention choosing a theme based on functionality — event calendars, membership options, forms, scheduling, ecommerce, etc.
I prefer a theme without added functionality for two reasons.
- If I choose a theme with added functionality and then change it later, I’ll lose that functionality
- Having access to a variety of plugins, I can confidently choose the best plugin for each piece of functionality I want to add
Working with an existing theme is a great way to save time and get your site up and running quickly. But make sure you review your theme choices carefully so that you don’t end up spending more time to get your content to look good.