Your website does more than display various forms of information. It conveys your identity and expresses how much you care about your content. When powered by WordPress, using the default theme may be easy, but it says nothing about you and your brand. Your website does not stand out and looks bland to visitors. If you want to make an impression on your website’s visitors, then you need to find and use a theme that will show to them who you are, and make them remember you.
What Makes a Good Theme?
A “good theme” is a very subjective item. There may be common traits that many people appreciate, but the perceived overall quality of a theme is specific to the person making the judgment. That said, there are several attributes that you should keep in mind while selecting a theme for your WordPress site. In terms of a successful theme, usability, design, and uniqueness are often some of the most important aspects.
You would not want to use a car that refuses to run. You might be extremely hesitant to use one that constantly sputtered, rattled, and lost pieces. You want something that will get you from A to B, and if an automobile cannot accomplish that, then most likely you would not consider using it.
Similar to a car, if a theme cannot do what you want it to do, then why use it? If a theme cannot disseminate information to your website’s visitors, then why even consider installing it? Your visitors will only see a broken or empty website when they visit, and most of them will immediately move on to another site. If you see a high bounce rate in your website statistics report, this may be the cause.
The first thing you should do when looking over a theme is evaluate its usefulness and usability. Look at the example of that theme and ask yourself these questions: Is the content visible? Is only one post visible when looking at a single post? How accessible is the search form? Does pagination work correctly? These questions will lead you to the beginnings of an opinion of the functionality of that theme. If you cannot use the theme, then most of your visitors will not be able to use it as well.
The car works, but does it look good? Is it just two cardboard boxes with some seats and an engine glued together? Is it very sleek and fluid? Or something in the middle, not good but not bad? People might be embarrassed to get into a car that is sloppily put together, while others might be left gaping at the beauty of an extremely well-designed car.
As with a car, looks also matter when considering a theme. The aesthetic quality matters to visitors that want something that looks nice on their device. A theme with no styling would make content difficult to find, but a theme with too much styling may be confusing. There some general guidelines as to what needs to be looked at when judging a theme for design.
A theme that is well designed for most visitors will have posts and pages that are clearly separated from each other and other site elements. A well-designed theme will have text that is easy to read but not large enough to only fit a few words on each line. Well-designed themes should be responsive to device width, have a visual flow to the page that a visitor’s eyes can follow, and be able to clearly indicate who owns the website. Be sure that the primary content is visible as well, as your content is most likely what brought visitors to your website in the first place.
You found a car that works and looks nice, but is it the same model that everyone else owns? Will you blend into the crowd or stand out while on the road? Would other people that see your car confuse your car for another in the same parking lot? How would you know which car is yours if similar cars were lined up next to each other?
Again similar to a car, you want to find a theme that is clearly different from the others, but not too different. Using the default theme is easy, but is boring. Using a theme that moves the main navigation menu to the side of the page may be novel, but that is not where normal visitors expect it to be placed. A theme that is different from the others but still maintains accepted standards should be the best option for many websites.
When evaluating a theme’s uniqueness, look at the features it offers. What shortcodes or page templates does it offer? Some of those features may be what differentiates your website from another. Using those features may create something memorable for your visitors, which gives them something to tell others about when discussing your website. You want to give them something unique enough so that your visitors’ acquaintances will be able to tell when they have arrived at your website.
How Do I Choose a Theme?
You know what makes a good theme, but how do you finally go and choose one? The ratings and feedback are helpful, as are comments by other users of a theme. Recommendations by trusted websites can steer you in the right direction if you know what type of theme you want to use. There are many factors that can impact the decision you make, but three are very important to the process.
The content you will be posting onto your website is a large part of the decision when choosing a theme. A general blog requires a theme different from a photo journal. A portfolio of written works requires a theme different from a collaboration website. You need to know what type of material your website will be focusing on before making your final choice.
One good method in determining if a theme is the right choice for your website is to go to the developer’s demo or preview of that theme. What type of content is displayed there? Another method is to read the description and the tags included with the theme. If you cannot find a description or tags on the developer’s website or on the site where you found the theme, the theme’s primary stylesheet is where these should be located. You can view the stylesheet using the theme demo by viewing the source code of the page and searching in the head of the page for a file that has the theme name in the URL and ends in “style.css.”
Two other methods to pair your content to a theme is to see the features included with the theme and to see how others use the theme. For a photography journal, you will most likely want a lightbox with your galleries. Check the feature list to see if the theme includes what you think your content should have or might require. Some theme developers may post a list of some websites that use their theme, so browsing those websites would help you to see what can be done with that theme. Searching for the theme name with a search engine may help you to find other websites that use it by the fact that some themes include a “powered by” link in the footer of every page.
If you do not know your own preferred style, visit websites whose design and layout you like. Point out to yourself exactly which aspects you like in those websites. After you have a list, you can search the WordPress.org Theme Directory and input several of those aspects into the search bar. If you find nothing there that you like, you can try to search through websites that provide or list reviews of themes, such as WPHub Themes. Your last resort would be to search the Internet for “WordPress themes with,” followed by some of your favorite theme aspects.
You (or your brand) can influence which theme you choose for your website. Your flow, organizational patterns, and other preferences can impact how you will use WordPress. Having a theme that works with you will definitely help you when using WordPress. The reverse is true as well, as bad themes will most likely slow you and your website down.
The choice stemming from this factor of the decision-making process is refined over time. You will learn how you use WordPress and what you would like a theme to help you accomplish. You may discover a favorite theme developer when working with other websites, or that your users like sharing your content using social media. You can use those experiences to help you make the final decision.
Selecting a WordPress theme for your website does not have to be difficult. All you need to know is where to start and what you need. A good theme should have good functionality, good design, and uniqueness. Ways to choose a theme include evaluating your content, your style, and your own experiences. While nobody can make the decision for you, the words of others may help you make it. It is up to you to initiate the process by beginning the search.