Candy Store: How to Pick a Good Theme for Your WordPress Site
The assignment du jour: how does one determine what makes a good theme for a website? Inquiring minds want to know! This is assuming that you are choosing a theme for WordPress, which, it just so happens, I am. Lots of handwringing going on, at least on my front. I hear the great thing about WordPress is that it is open-source and free and has countless numbers of highly adept Good cyber-Samaritans contributing to its well-being. Maybe next life.
So, after much purposeful research, I have come to the conclusion that the most important requirement for deciding on a theme is the Goldilocks Principle: that the theme be “just right” for one’s goals, vision and brand. I, for one, have a propensity to be distracted by shiny objects and this does not bode well for me in the selection process. Perusing the virtual candy store of themes available can be a very heady experience, but campers, stay the course! Before you get all starry-eyed and fall in love with the profusion of bells and whistles available, think about what suits your needs and style and choose accordingly. Think about your visitor’s first impressions to your site. Will they be captivated and stick around or will they click quickly away, dazed and confused by the circus that is your site. I personally incline towards chaos so I, for one, should be sitting up straight and paying attention to this advice.
Several things that need to be considered before you choose a theme include your budget, your web expertise, and the time frame in which you need to be up and running. Do you want a free theme or should you invest in a premium one? This, of course, depends on your budget, but let the buyer beware. You don’t want to settle on a free site that requires skills above your pay-grade and takes forever to figure out.
If you are opting for a premium site, the following questions should be asked: does the theme offer to set up documentation? What support is available to you and more importantly, do you have the chops to deal with all of the potential snarls? This can be one of those cost/benefit things that you really need to think about because if you are in over your head, the amount of time involved figuring it all out may not be worth your time investment…just saying. A prudent move at this point is to investigate the level of support that is available and the terms of said service. Also, make sure the company that you are dealing with has been around for a while so they don’t disappear into the ether and leave you holding the bag. In the end, that could cost you time and money and stretch the wine budget.
Thoroughly check out the process by which changes may be made to the site. Can changes be made with child themes? Any widgets that you have your heart set on will have to be supported by the site or they won’t be happening.
Last words of advice: drag yourself out of the dark ages. It is a no-brainer these days to make sure that your theme is responsive, end of story. Also, make sure that the theme can be modified. And, even though this could be a lot of work, it is pretty critical to see if your theme is compatible with all browsers, and yes, this includes the hapless IE.
So do your research and think carefully about the balance between your needs and the user experience. Ultimately, simplicity is key. And remember the Goldilocks Principle. It needs to be just right.