#Web Development

Three Questions to Answer When Choosing a WordPress Theme

June 5, 2013

There are nearly 2,000 WordPress themes available to download from the official site. Some are well designed, unique, and highly customizable, others are total bandwidth hogs, or simply rip-offs of more popular themes. And the last thing that you want is to pay for a theme only to find out that it is a total dud, or to install one and then grow to hate it only a few weeks into its use. You thus need to put a bit of thought into what theme you are going to use and, by answering three big questions, you can narrow down the list to a handful of suitable themes.

1. What is your site for?

Obviously, some themes are going to be more suitable for particular types of sites. A news website, for example, would probably want to use a theme that features new articles, comments, and has a design that makes text easy to read. However, an eCommerce site may not necessarily want a theme built to highlight and feature text-based content. So the first thing you need to do is a bit of research to find those themes that were built with your needs specifically in mind. As was stated above, there are nearly 2,000 possible themes, but narrowing them down by the industry they were built to serve will help you focus your search.

2. What features do you need?

WordPress has an entire catalog of plug-ins that you can sort through and use to customize your site, but if you use too many then your site might feel a bit discordant and scattered. A lot of themes actually have modules built right into them so, after you install the theme, your administration panel will be populated with whatever modules the theme was packaged with. Then you can go through them and add your own content, without having to worry about tweaking the code on the module to match with the rest of the theme. And, as the theme was built with the module in mind, using that module won’t wind up breaking the theme, nor will it turn your site into a bandwidth black hole.  Just be sure to look at examples of these themes to make sure that the features that are built into it are something you can actually use – otherwise your admin module can get a bit unwieldy.

3. Are you capable of customizing the theme?

This is a major point of concern, as the answer will determine what type of a theme you will need. If you have a bit experience with coding, then you have a few more options for a theme. Now, most themes have built in functionality that makes it easy to change things like background or text color. But if you, say, want to add a sidebar, include another navigational tool, or play with the width of the header, you will typically need to know how to customize the theme’s style-sheet. Of course if you aren’t interested in getting into coding, that’s perfectly fine – just make sure to find a theme that looks perfect, or near perfect, right out of the box. However, if you can code, you can tweak most themes until they look and act exactly how you want them to. Remember, though, to first check the terms of use for that theme before tweaking it. Otherwise, the theme’s original designer could get mad and ask you to remove the theme from your page.

WordPress is a great content management system because of how intuitive and easy to use it is. It also has a strong community of developers and designers, which is why there are so many themes to choose from. And, though the system was originally built to serve text-based websites like blogs or online news outlets, the evolution of WordPress themes has meant that all sorts of other types of sites can use WordPress effectively. Choosing the right theme can be a bit daunting, but if you ask the right questions, do a bit of research, and are willing to tweak things here and there, you will be able to find an awesome theme that matches your needs exactly.

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