When most bloggers start out, they pick basic options for the design and set up of their WordPress themes.
It’s hardly surprising really. There are a lot of free themes available, and they all seem OK. The idea of a ‘premium theme’ seems unnecessary at first.
Why would you need to spend money on a WordPress theme when there are so many free options available?
Well let’s clear a few things up first…
What is a WordPress theme?
A theme for your blog is the design that your site will be skinned with. It’s what defines the page layouts, colours, fonts and functionality overlaid onto your site.
It’s a readymade design that just needs configuring to customise it to your taste. Sometimes that configuration is simple, and other times, it can be very complex depending on what you choose.
A free theme will give you the basics. These are usually simple and more suited to just content sites such as galleries or simple blogs.
A premium theme will layer more complex design features, additional functionality and allow you to further customise your blog. These themes can help you convert your simple blog to more of a ‘website’ look and add ecommerce functionality if you have a shop.
Usually a rule is, the more you pay for the more you get (or can do).
How to pick a WordPress theme
Here are some tips to help you to pick a new theme for your WordPress blog:
KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid – All singing, all dancing sites can look great, but then can slow your sites down. Slow sites will affect the user experience, but also how Google rates your blog. Look for a theme that gives your Blog a professional appeal, without over complicating it.
Think about what you like: Have a look at the design of other blog sites you read. What do you like about them and why? If you look in the footer, you might even be able to find a link to the developer, or why not get in touch with the blogger to ask?
Do your research: For whichever themes you find that you like, check out the demo sites for information such as the type of plugins available and the lastest version of WordPress it’s compatible with. This will tell you how up to date it is, and also how ‘on it’ the developer is at keeping it updated.
Make sure it’s mobile compatible: Does the theme include a mobile compatible website too? These days this is a must-have. Users are accessing blogs on their mobile devices more and more, and Google actually factors it in when it indexes sites against search queries.
Get a sense of what help is available: As I mentioned earlier, some themes can be very complex to configure. So che out the theme demos to get a feel for what documentation and support is available. Whether it’s bugs or just customisation, it’s always good to have someone available to ask.
Shop around: Popular marketplaces such Themeforest or Themefuse are good directories for browsing what themes are available for you to pick. But don’t forget, you can often go direct to the developer or shop for WordPress themes on Etsy. Prices can vary too, so shop around to get the best deal.