WordPress themes have been around since the first days of WordPress itself. Themes are what make a WordPress site look beautiful. The theme controls how your customers interact with the website. Themes are the design aspect, while plugins help provide additional features and functionality. In a previous blog we touched on what exactly WordPress plugins were and how you as a WordPress site owner can use plugins to add even more features. In this next blog post, we’ll discuss what themes are, how can you take advantage of preexisting themes, and what to look for when choosing a theme.
What Exactly Are Themes?
Think of WordPress themes as a template for a website. A WordPress theme comes equipped with numerous features, such as responsive design for mobile devices, designed to look amazing on retina displays, and a whole lot of robust goodies. There are numerous places a WordPress site owner can obtain themes. For starters, WordPress.org has its very own repository of free and premium themes. You are allowed to browse thousands of themes to see which type of design best fits your goals. Most of the themes on the repository offer a demo site to take the theme for a test drive. WordPress puts these themes through rigorous testing prior to the theme seeing the light of day on the repository. The team over at Automattic want to ensure all themes pass a specific checklist, before allowing the author to publish the theme on the WordPress.org site. Once the theme has been approved by Automattic, the template is added to the repository. There are two different types of themes for WordPress websites, free and premium. Both differ in terms of features and support. For example, free themes are standard templates that have minimal features. However, if your site is small and has between 10 – 15 pages, a free theme may be enough for your site. The premium themes come with a robust set of features. Including customized shortcodes, page builders, and custom functionality. Here’s an example of a premium theme named Avada, found on another WordPress repository ThemeForest.net. The Avada theme comes equipped with many features that a website owner can take advantage of. Such as a custom page builder for novice WordPress users and the ability to build an eCommerce store. Before purchasing a premium theme, it is bes tto perform some due diligence and read about what people are saying about the theme. Focus on the reviews, the comments users leave behind, and if the themes features meet all of your site requirements.
The Pros & Cons Of Preexisting Themes
Any type of web development for a website involves design. Each business wants a unique site that makes them stand out from the competition. When the term unique is used as a requirement, the developer understands time and costs will be much higher to accomplish the task. With WordPress, this notion is much different. Of course you can have a custom design within WordPress that meets your specific goals. The question is are you ready to spend more money that comes with custom design? Custom designs can be pricey and time consuming. Talk to professional designers and they can tell you how expensive custom sites can become. The good news is with WordPress there are options. As mentioned earlier, WordPress.org has a dedicated repository of themes. Some are free to download, while others are premium and can be bought for a price. When choosing a theme lots of money is saved and the design phase can be cut out. Design is a heavy part of any web project and saving money for small businesses is an aspect all owners can appreciate. There is a good news, bad news situation when using preexisting themes. The positive is you save time and money on a design with a standardize layout already predetermined. In addition, for most individuals who are building there own website, having a an established design allows the person to plugin content were needed. There will be a learning curve with any theme, but once the user has experience with the theme completing specific tasks will become more efficient. The negative aspect about purchasing a plug and play theme is the robustness. For example, a lot of themes from ThemeForest.net have many features the website may or may not use. Sure it is nice to have a drag and drop builder on the back end, but is this a feature the website owner really needs? Themes that are developed from third parties are wonderful, you have to make sure the theme is right for you and being supported on a regular basis. Lastly, make sure the theme works with the many iterations of the WordPress core system. There’s more we can discuss about the pros and cons of established themes. The goal is to provide you a basic understanding of how these themes work and what to look for when choosing a theme.
What To Look For When Choosing A WordPress Theme
I began to dive into what attributes to look for in the previous paragraph. Making sure a theme is continuously supported, the author who developed the theme responds in a timely manner, and the theme works with the latest versions of WordPress are good starting points. The more research you can perform on what individuals are saying who have purchased the theme, the more informed decision you can make when deciding on what theme to choose. We’ll stay at a high level with this post, you may have come across the term WordPress frameworks. One definition of a WordPress framework is a stand-alone base/starter theme that is intended either to be forked into another Theme. This basically means, the framework is a separate entity that works within a specific theme. There are numerous blog posts that can be read for this specific topic and we will cover it down the road. Here’s a standard checklist of what you want to look for when deciding to purchasing a theme.
- The theme works with the latest version of WordPress and beyond.
- The author is responsive to questions about the theme and may even have his own support forum
- The theme has excellent reviews from previous buyers
- All of the minimal features are programmed onto the theme ready to go out of the box
- The author is reputable and a decent size portfolio of other WordPress Themes
- Take the theme for a test drive by viewing the demo site (always my favorite part!)
- The developer has worked within WordPress for quite some time
There is no perfect way of choosing a theme, but making an intelligent decision by using basic deduction skills can prevent headaches down the road. Most pre-designed themes can be modified by a WordPress developer should the occasion rise. Good luck when choosing a theme and if you have any questions, let’s chat in the comments section below.