Choosing a WordPress theme can seem overwhelming if you are unsure of where to start. I hope by the end of this article you will have a firm grasp of the steps the professionals take to go from general concept to a finished design. While most professionals build their themes from scratch, this will still show you the mindset behind why we build the way we do.
Step 1. Decide on your sites purpose
The theme you would choose for an e-book sales site would not be the same theme you would choose for a restaurant. Take a look at what your purpose of the site will be to determine how you start your theme search. Here are some typical purposes of WordPress sites:
- General Business Marketing – This is an informational site so that people can find your business. Look for a theme that will have at least 3 ways to get people to buy into your business to contact you on the home page.
- E-Commerce – These sites are built to drive revenue for your business directly from your site. You will want to look for a theme that is built to work with an e-commerce plug-in.
- Blog – This site is meant to send out information on a regular basis via articles. Look for a theme built for blogging or that are built to easily add in ad space for ad revenue.
- Digital Media Sales – This type of site is used to sell digital downloads. This can come in the form of e-books, software, or music. Look for a theme that easily integrates with a digital sales service.
Step 2. Choose a Responsive Design
Responsive Design has been a bit of a catch phrase lately. The reason Responsive is such a big deal is because Google is cracking down on mobile-friendly sites. If you want your website to be found online you need a mobile site. The easiest way to accomplish this is with a responsive website. This will help boost your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and allow for the best possible organic results. Most theme sites and theme review articles include if the theme is responsive or not. This allows you to make an informed buying decision.
Step 3. Plugin Free Themes
I know it looks tempting when you see a premium theme say “comes with 50 free plugins” however, this is not the way to get your plugins. There are several reasons why you should be buying plugin free themes, and installing your own plugins as needed.
- Security – Purchasing a plugin enriched theme means that you can not remove those plugins even if there is a major security flaw. It would be up to the theme developer to release an update that removed the infected plugin. Until the theme developer completes this vital step, your site is vulnerable to the security flaw.
- Full Plugin Control – When you are installing your own plugins you are able to minimize how bulky your site is on the server. Allowing only plugins that you need to accomplish the end goal will help speed up your website, instead of bogging it down. This helps your SEO as well.
- Don’t Buy Bundles – I know I already stated this, but Don’t Buy Bundles. They can look really appealing, but remember that they make the site bulky, hurt your SEO value, and can open you up to major security flaws.
Step 4. Choose an User-Friendly Design
After all the technical parts have been combed through and planned out, then you get to be creative. Now is when you get to look for a design your consumers will find easy to use, and that you are able to find esthetically pleasing to the eye. There are hundreds of designs on the market so here are my tips to narrowing down your choices.
- Easy Navigation – Is the site’s navigation easy to find, use and see. One of the biggest mistakes made is finding a gorgeous site that you can not navigate through because the navigation is hidden or not where most would think to look for it. Is there navigation at the top and bottom of the site (header and footer)? These are the kinds of things I look for with clients.
- 3 Call to Actions (minimum) – Your purpose is to ultimately make money. You want your end user to easily be able to follow your lead in how you want them to interact with the website. Whether you want them to contact you, buy something online, sign up for a service or click an affiliate link, you need them to take action. Choose a design that has Call to Actions built in and use them!
- Solid Message – Does the site design allow you to send a very pointed, direct, solid message to your end user? Make sure that your design is in tune with your business, blog, etc. Also, make sure that you convey your message in a non-convoluted manner.
If you use these steps you will be able to drive business, search engine results, and with the right backing, build a solid start for your company. Choosing a theme does not have to be difficult. Just take it one step at a time.