Content is King on the Web, but the way you present the information on your site makes a huge difference, as it can either draw in visitors or push them away. A good WordPress theme makes a positive first impression, but how do you choose the right one given the thousands of themes available? Here are some suggestions.
Choose a Theme That Matches Your Niche
This sounds very basic, but you will be surprised at how many bloggers and web designers fail to take this into consideration. The basic rule is that the theme design must complement the topic of your site, so if it’s about fashion, the colors / design needs to be light or pastel like, or it could be black or red as that evokes sophistication.
On the other hand if your blog consists of political commentaries, the design must be minimalist. The bottom line is – the kind of theme you use has to reflect the content of your blog.
Keep Things as Simple as Possible
One of the trademarks of a good blog design is simplicity. Yes, there are some good WordPress themes with complex features that look great, but in terms of functionality they can be difficult to use. If the theme has too many things going on, you should consider replacing it with a custom one to ensure it works the way you want.
As a rule, it’s always better to go with a simple theme as they’re easier to use, and more importantly, you don’t have to worry about compatibility issues with browsers.
Browser Compatibility is a Must
This is directly related to the point made above. Even if you have the fanciest WordPress theme available, it’s no use if features don’t display properly on browsers. Before you even publish the page, test the theme on all the popular browsers, including the latest versions.
Some people have different web browsers while others just use one, so don’t assume that if your theme doesn’t display well on one browser that the user will try another. In all likelihood, he will stick with his browser and leave your blog. Many themes are cross browser compatible, but it’s still a good idea to test them first.
Review the Terms of Service
Needless to say you need to review the terms of service, even some of the free themes may have certain stipulations about how they can be used or modified. Take the time to read them because number one, you should respect the work of the theme creator, and second, it’s the right thing to do.
Know What You’re Looking For
Make a list of the features you want in a theme and use that as a guide to help you find what you’re looking for. Yes, you can get a basic theme and customize it later on, but that will take a lot of time, so why not get the theme with the features you want right from the start. This isn’t as time-consuming as it seems. Just list down the features you need, i.e., customizable colors, two columns, three columns, etc. and get the theme that has all or most of them. If you do this, the less time you’ll spend tweaking the theme to fit your needs later on.
Are Free Themes Better Than Premium/Paid?
Some people will swear by free WordPress themes because they’re free after all. Others will say that paid/premium themes are better designed. The choice is really up to you of course, but there are certain things you need to keep in mind when choosing between free and premium WordPress themes.
First, free WordPress themes can be harder to customize because they don’t provide as many options, and second, they don’t have much in way of customer support. That being said, they are free, and many of them are of very good quality. Premium themes on the other hand, do have customer support and are updated on a regular basis.
Moreover, they usually have more features and options, but as pointed out earlier more is not necessarily better. Also, some of these themes can be expensive and there’s no guarantee that paying for a theme will turn out better than getting a free theme.
So which is the better option? The answer depends on the type of WordPress site you’re trying to put together rather than whether the theme is free or not. Remember that WordPress is easy to set up, but if you want to tweak the settings and customize it, you’ll need to learn some CSS.
If you’re just a casual WordPress user though, it’s better to get a fully functional theme that requires as few modifications as possible so that you can quickly get to work. Also, remember that the WordPress admin panel gives you many options for editing themes, so it’s something you’ll want to check out.