Finding a theme for your WordPress site can be daunting, frustrating, time-consuming…. need I go on? And relying on looking at demos doesn’t always help the matter. Sure, there might be some specific features listed, but for the first time WordPress user, it can still be Greek.
So next time you look at a demo, you might ask these questions:
1. Is what I’m looking at all part of the theme? Often we get taken in by the “it’s all packaged in” factor. What we don’t realize is to actually get it to look like the demo, we will need to add plugins. Now there is a lot of disagreement in the theme world about including all features in the theme vs. adding them via plugins, but that’s another conversation. Just realize that even though it isn’t rocket science, you may need to add some stuff.
2. Is it just plug and play? Although it may be obvious to some, others can only wonder why when they install it, their site doesn’t look anything remotely like what you saw in the demo. Yes, you will need to set it up. It’s that simple, or not. Think of the last time you purchased that elaborate home theater wall of shelves and drawers at IKEA and you walked away with a large box of assorted pieces.
3. Does the church theme really need to be used for a church? When you are looking at dozens of themes, the first thing you typically see is the name and what the demo represents. So, that cool looking church theme, you really like it and it seems to fit your biz. But since you just started one of the first marijuana shops in Arizona, will it really work for that as well? The answer is yes. Some themes might have specific functions for a certain niche, like Real Estate, E-Commerce Stores, etc, but even those might still work for you. So don’t limit yourself by taking the name of the theme literally.
4. Is this what my site will look like? That’s the big question. And to be honest, that depends on the themes. Some themes have totally widgetized home pages. That means each block you see there is simply a widget installed. If you see a slider at the top, you can often use another widget in there, or even some plain text. If you see two columns, well, you can do the same but remember, you need to use them both. That is just one example. Other themes may require you to have the homepage look exactly like the demo (but with your content, of course). A slider may be built in and that’s exactly what you have to use it for. Sometimes it’s an option that you can use or hide, but not replace.
5. Is there a way to use the same theme for a simpler blog and then use its cool homepage later? I get asked this a lot. You find a theme you like. It’s more of a magazine-style theme that you know you want your site to look like in a couple of months. But for now you just want the homepage to be a simple blog of your latest posts. Yes, you can. Often if a front page is widgetized, you can just use one widget area to list recent posts and hide the rest. Or, as with all themes, you have the option of choosing your homepage as a simple archive list of your posts.
6.Is there a way to get the theme exactly how I want it to look? Of course. Basically you have two options. You can learn a drag-and-drop theme like Headway or Divi by Elegant Themes or you can select several other frameworks that allow you to build a site from scratch without knowing code. But be aware: there is a steep learning curve to these themes, I don’t care what others say. And the second is to hire a good designer and developer.
Now choosing a theme isn’t as simple as just reading this post. There are a lot more factors involved, but this should give you some basic guidelines. And if you would like to visually see what I’m talking about, watch my video Choosing a WordPress Theme.