Let’s be honest: design is not everything… but it does ease visitors in.
When talking about themes, most creatives (especially the least techie ones) may feel slightly overwhelmed by the theme marketplace.
I am a self-taught designer, which means I created all of my websites myself (multiple times, I’d like to add!).
As a DIY designer, I tend to rely on my own skills and a solid theme, rather than outsourcing to a designer. More and more people look to start out going DIY — however, this comes with some risks attached.
If you want to create your own website, choosing the right theme is key.
No, it’s not just about plugins and colour scheme. A bad theme can affect your readers and ultimately make or break your brand.
Of course, design and responsiveness are highly important (if not essential).
However, there are four other aspects you may want to take into account when upgrading your theme.
Your brand purpose
Are you selling physical products? Then a shopping integration is essential for your new online home.
Are you heavily posting on YouTube? Make sure your theme includes a portfolio showcasing your latest videos.
“The biggest mistake people make is just having no clue about the foundations of your brand before you try to work with someone to build your website.” admits web designer Tracy Raftl from Little Beat Design “Who are you serving? What’s your brand’s message? What makes you different? What do you want people to do once they come to your website? Building a website without having these in place is pointless — without it, you can’t create a compelling website that sells your stuff. I make this a mandatory part of my website packages simply because it’s so damn important.”
Many themes are labelled as ‘multi-purpose’, but that could actually trick you into going for the wrong option.
A multi-purpose theme has a wealth of features to cater to a multitude of needs. This means, a lot of fluff that may make your website more complicated. As a rule of thumb, the saying ‘less is more’ can benefit you in the long run.
Most developers make sure your theme is light and quick, but that hasn’t prevented a lot of heavy themes from working efficiently either.
Always check the demo
All right, let’s say the preview looks unbelievably hot — but is it really user-friendly? In order to test this, head to the ‘Demo’ section of the theme page and play around with all available options.
Make sure the front-end looks easy to navigate, that you can intuitively change colours, and the fonts look right for you and the length of your blogposts.
Always remember that feature-rich themes will slow down a blog, as they come with many pre-designed features you may not necessarily need. Be wise.
When looking for support options, make sure the theme comes with thorough supporting documentation, as well as a support forum (whether in the marketplace or external).
Also, check how promptly the developer updates the theme AND answers queries in the FAQs.
Alternatively, you can go full ‘detective mode’ and perform a Google search for the theme you’re interested in (or the developer) to see what the general consensus is.
Keep user experience in mind
User experience is structuring your website in a way that it’s incredibly easy for the website visitor to navigate around and find the information they’re looking for. If they can’t do that, they get frustrated and either leave or end up with a negative feeling about your brand — and no one wants that!
Web designer Tracy Raftl from Little Beast Design outlines this beautifully “When you’re designing your site, think carefully about how you layout your information, make links clear, don’t make the design crowded or busy, and put things where they are expected to be… for example, people expect that you’re going to have your navigation links in the top right corner of your website. So don’t confuse visitors by putting them somewhere else.”
Remember to always test your final results, adds Raftl:
You can verify your user experience by getting real people to test out your website and let you know if there is anything that’s a pain in the butt about using it.
Looking to spice up your brand? Here are a few of our favourite websites for themes
- Restored 316 has an amazing collection of feminine WordPress themes built on the Genesis WordPress theme framework that offers your lots of options to change the design and brand your website.
- Blog Boat’s themes are very clean and great colour schemes for a feminine and professional blog look.
- Bluchic has carved out a niche for feminine WordPress themes that also deliver marketing assets for social media to help brand your business across the board: Visit Theme Shop
- Blogzilla theme shop has great minimal and clean WordPress blog themes for a feminine and sophisticated site.
As a user, how do you find the best themes?
Marci from Dragonfly Ave hits the nail on the head when saying: “(the perfect theme is ) one that works FOR you! Meaning, a theme that helps you achieve the look you’re wanting and the functionality you need. Every theme is a bit different and they all have pros and cons so choose the one that will work best for you.”
Make sure you make your theme work for YOU and your goals, and the rest will follow.
My name is Fab Giovanetti and I am a writer, author, marketing consultant, founder of the Creative Impact Group and professional troublemaker. I help people grow their online audience and monetise their content and unleash their potentials as creatives.