How do I choose the right theme for my WordPress website?
In the previous edition of this blog series, I explained to you how to start creating your own website with WordPress and what the advantages are of WordPress. In this second edition, I’m going to tell you all you need to know about WordPress themes. You’ll get answers to the following questions:
- What were themes again?
- Where do you find themes?
- How do you choose the right theme for my website?
- What if you want that little bit extra?
Before I continue, what were themes again? Themes are templates on which you base the design of the website. You don’t have to start from scratch or think in standard frameworks, because there’s bound to be a theme that suits you. And it’s very easy to choose a theme that meets your needs and website purpose.
Where do you find themes?
So, where do you find a theme for your WordPress website? There are heaps of websites that offer themes that are compatible with WordPress, for instance, WordPress and ThemeForest. When you start browsing through the various themes on these two websites, you will soon discover that there are so many to choose from and you might feel a bit like a kid in a candy store. So, keep it simple and take a look at the WordPress.org website first. Many new themes are added almost every day. Most of these have been developed by WordPress’s own editors. Because WordPress checks all of the themes that are added, you can be sure that all of the themes are 100% reliable.
Once you’re on the WordPress.org website, click the blue ‘Get WordPress’ button in the upper left-hand corner to start downloading. Once you’ve downloaded WordPress, you’ll see all of the themes that are available in the backend. Alternatively, you can click the ‘Themes’ tab on WordPress.org. There you’ll see a library with all sorts of themes arranged in ‘Popular’ and ‘Latest’.
The theme structures the website
With so many theme’s to choose from, it’s very important to think about the website’s purpose. You see, the theme structures the website and the website structure has to support the purpose. What do you want to achieve with the website? Say, you want to do some blogging. You’ll need a very different theme to when you want to present a portfolio of photos, or attract clients, or if you want to sell products in a webshop. Once you’ve clearly visualized your goal, you’ll know what functions the website needs and it will be a lot easier to choose the right theme.
In the library, the theme descriptions and images will give you a pretty good idea of what the website structure will look like. It’s important to realize that this is only the basis. Not until you further develop the theme in the design phase, will you know what the website will actually look like. That’s why you need to look beyond the theme. Compare it to viewing a house that’s for sale. The house will be decorated to the taste of the people living there at present. So, it’s up to you to use your imagination and visualize what it will look like once you’ve decorated it to your own liking.
What’s important is that, in any case, the theme provides the functions you really need, because you can further develop the theme to meet your requirements. You’re free to add colours, lettering fonts and other elements, and you can even remove parts of the web page layout if you want.
What else do you need to consider?
What else do you need to take into consideration when choosing the right theme? Besides what you want to achieve with the website, it’s very important to choose the theme that you really like. So, ask yourself whether the theme really fits in with the atmosphere you want to create on the website. I’ll be taking a closer look at this in the next edition (edition number 3). Also make sure there are updates available for the theme. The last thing you want, is no regular updates. Because then the theme won’t be serviced, making it vulnerable to bugs and hackers. And believe me, you don’t want that. Make it easy on yourself and choose a theme with regular updates. In any case, you can be sure that there are updates available for all of the themes at WordPress.org.
If you want that little bit extra
Now, I can imagine you wanting that little bit extra. For example, if you’re looking for something specific or if you’re a fast learner who expects more from a theme. If this is the case, you can take a look at ThemeForest – I mentioned this earlier. Unlike WordPress.org, the themes there are not free of charge. However, in a demo you can preview the website without already using the theme. If you like the theme, you can even upload it with all of the content you’ve added to your website. This can save a lot of time and effort, because then it’s only a matter of replacing and altering things.
You can view some WordPress.org themes in a demo, but you need to click the link in the description and this demo can’t be uploaded to the website. Alternatively, you can take a peek at the website with the theme in the library in the backend before you install and activate the theme. You can also install the theme on a test page and view the theme there. You’ll need more knowledge and experience, or help from an expert for this.
Apart from ThemeForest, there are many other websites with themes that are compatible with WordPress. I myself use a theme called Divi. Because of its advanced builder, you can use this theme to create a website based on a template or from scratch. What I love about Divi is that you can use a so-called ‘child theme’. A child theme is a theme in which you can place your own stylesheets, php scripts and so on, and overwrite the Divi main theme files with your own adaptations. After this, you can develop this child theme to your heart’s content. The advantage of this is that you can always fall back on the main theme. This is very useful for web designers like myself who create tailor-made websites.
Choose the right theme in 6 steps
You now have all the information you need to choose the right theme for your WordPress website. Let me summarize this for you in 6 steps:
- Define the purpose of your website
- Check out WordPress.org first
- Determine whether the theme provides the functions you need
- Look beyond the design
- Choose a theme you really like
- Choose a theme that has regular updates