You have a domain name registered and the idea behind a site, but you don’t know where to get started. First of all, you need to think about the platform you want to use, and since you’re reading this post, there’s a good chance you’re considering WordPress. With thousands of premium themes available for purchase and download, it’s difficult to decide which theme best suits your needs.
The process of choosing the best theme for your needs is difficult so we’ll get started by asking you a few rather simple questions.
Question 1: What type of site do you plan on running?
Generally, WordPress themes fall into a few distinct categories, with the designer of the theme focusing on certain features to entice new customers. There are, however, sub-categories which are targeted for specific markets. For example, within the business category, there may be other themes designed specifically for catering or photography businesses.
Listed below are a few of the main categories, and how you can use them for your next project.
- Business – By far the largest category of premium themes, business themes are ideal for anyone looking to focus on a specific product or set of offered services. However, since this category is so popular, you can find many themes that serve multiple purposes. Even though the theme might be designed for business use, they often incorporate a blog page or portfolio.
- Creative – Within this category, you’ll find themes designed for photographers and designers, and often focus on showcasing your work (whether photography, designed websites, or other projects). The portfolio may be displayed on the main page or as a primary aspect of the design. Another great way these themes help to showcase you and your work is through social media – a large portion of the site may be dedicated to Facebook, Twitter, or other recent updates.
- Magazine – Also categorized as “news” themes, the primary aspect of these themes is showcasing text content. with a mixture of photos. Ideal for bloggers and those who post a lot of updates, you’ll have no problem getting the latest news stories out to your readers. However, the one drawback of these themes is that they take a bit more time to get set up and running if you’re just getting started due to the large amount of content on the homepage.
- eCommerce – We’ve already listed the business category of themes, but it is also important to note the various shop themes available. With these themes, you’re able to quickly get your products online and the theme will handle much of the work once set up from the admin panel. All you need to do is stock your website with your digital or physical products and customers will be able to purchase.
- Multimedia – These themes are designed for people who wish to showcase their favorite videos or photos, however they may also work for videographers and photographers since their focus is also on displaying work.
- Personal – A specific category designed for individuals who wish to provide quick status updates, posts, and a variety of other content. These themes may be designed with more whimsical elements than a traditional theme and may not include quite as many features as themes within the magazine category. Within this category are Tumblr-style themes.
Question 2: How do you plan on laying out your site?
When a visitor lands on your site, how do you want them to react? Do you want them to see a large empty space at the top before any content? LIkely not, so that’s why you need to think about the appearance of your site. Each premium theme is different in this regard, so you have to take themes for a test drive or demo before you hit the buy button.
“Above the fold,” which refers to the space the visitor sees immediately without having to scroll, is the most important element of your site. Obviously, this is what they see first, and can either draw them further into your site or quickly away. Within this area, it is ideal to have your website or company title, a navigation structure, and some form of content, whether text (if you’re planning on setting up a magazine/news site) or photography or examples of your services if you’re setting up a portfolio or business site, respectively.
While all theme designers should consider user interface principles, it is also up to you to determine how you want your site to appear. We’ll explain further through the next question.
Question 3: Which features are important to you?
Included in many popular premium themes are option panels, multiple page templates/styles, and plugins to help you get started. However, not all premium themes are built the same, so follow these simple steps below to determine which features are most important to you.
Options Panel – Not all admin panels are created the same. Some themes build upon other frameworks while other designers have set out to create their own custom solution. The top theme designers all utilize extremely easy-to-use and powerful panels which make it a breeze to edit and customize your site. Depending on your experience with CSS and HTML, you can make advanced changes without having to utilize these, but if you do utilize these, they dramatically reduce the amount of time between customizing your site and getting content uploaded.
Flexibility – When you search for a theme, don’t focus on the layout or color scheme the demo uses. This is how the designer intended the site to appear, but you’ll be making your own customization using the options panel. In this respect, you should avoid looking at minor details like fonts, colors, and the layout of specific elements.
Retina Support – Many new themes released have support for “retina” displays, essentially amounting to high-resolution images and graphics, as well as fonts. If you plan on targeting products and services to mobile devices, and who isn’t, then this is a feature you should be looking for.
Page Templates – A majority of premium themes available include a variety of page templates and layouts, making it even easier to arrange your content and create an organized website. However, if you need a specific type of page, you’ll want to look for this in the list of features or through the theme’s demonstration site.
SEO Features – Although there are a variety of plugins available to help with search engine rankings, it also helps if your website’s coding is set up to ensure your content is ranked well.
Question 4: What if I have questions or need support?
Unlike with many free themes, premium themes generally include great support. In many cases, you get personalized support. If the theme you are looking at doesn’t include this, then it might be time to search for a new theme. You are paying for a theme, so you should expect to receive e-mail or ticket support response. Steer clear of designers and companies who appear to be inactive as it likely means that your questions will go unanswered.
One of the leading theme designers, WooThemes, has a variety of support options available. You can view documentation for your theme where many of the most common questions have already been addressed, the knowledgebase with tutorials and code snippets, a help desk, as well as a community forum. With all these support options, they have received an average of 91% customer satisfaction (from the last one hundred support tickets).
Question 5: Now what?
You have the domain, the idea for the site, and now you know a few key things to look for when determining which theme suits your needs. What’s next? Well, now’s the time to begin seeking the best theme for your needs. As we already mentioned, it can be difficult to find the perfect theme, but with a little time and patience, you’ll find one that comes close. But you can’t just wait for the theme to come to you, begin your search utilizing our gallery of the best themes now.