With thousands of beautiful and sleek WordPress themes to utilise, picking the perfect one for your website or blog can be a daunting task.
During the early days of WordPress, it was common to find blogs that held nothing in common with each other boasting the exact same theme and layout. Now, with literally thousands of professionally made themes to pick from, there is no excuse not to use a theme perfect for your website and audience.
Find a Niche
Before creating your website, you have to plan it – think about what purpose will your website serve? Find a niche that you can provide some level of authority on, and own it.
Website and blogs that only provide a generalised view on a topic tend not to perform as well as those with a specific target. For example, a generalised sports blog may appeal to a wider audience than a soccer blog, but fans of soccer will find more appealing content on the niche source.
For niche blogs, especially those that cover sport, utilising a magazine WordPress theme is the best route to go down. These themes tend to focus more on images accompanied by minimal text that grab the reader’s attention.
Good examples of magazine WordPress themes include Hotmagazine, Gutsy and Real Soccer (best used for soccer specific blogs or websites).
As well as sports, these magazine WordPress themes can be utilised brilliantly for music, gaming and food blogs that can make great use of photography. With customizable widgets, it is possible to use these themes as the foundation of your website or blog, ensuring that your site has a distinctive and unique look.
Know your Audience
Knowing your audience very much ties into your niche – once you know your niche, it is all about refining your target audience. Think about the person that you want to appeal to, and how your website should be laid out.
For websites aimed towards a more technical audience, it is best to keep the web design as simple as possible – resist the temptation to use everything that is compatible, sometimes (a lot of the time) less is more. Not only will using widget after widget make your website look clunky, this can also hamper its usability, especially on mobile devices, increasing load times and, with that, your bounce rate.
Blogs that focus on more visual topics, such as those mentioned earlier in the post, are best placed to utilise WordPress’ more creative capabilities. For technical blogs or news sites, picking a theme geared for content-rich websites with a plain background is recommended.
What Features Do you Want?
Before settling on a particular theme, consider what features you would like your website to incorporate. Not all plugins are compatible with all themes – for instance, the WPML (WordPress MultiLingual plugin is highly popular amongst blogger that want their website to switch between languages.
If you are interested in incorporating an e-shop into your website or blog, right away or at some point in the future, this is another key aspect that you will want to consider when choosing a theme. Various themes are built with the popular e-commerce WordPress plugin Woocommerce already installed and designed flexibly around this functionality.
When searching for a WordPress theme to incorporate an e-commerce solution, consider whether this will be the main function of your website or if this will play the role of an extra. If its main function is as an e-commerce site, themes such as Walker, TheMall and Soffia are some of the most popular amongst WordPress users.
Get your WordPress Site Seen
As WordPress is the most used CMS on the internet, the platform is highly receptive for search engines, meaning that it is easier to gain traffic organically. As we all know, there is no point in having the best website in the world if no one is going to see it – so employing a marketing strategy is a must.
Almost all WordPress themes easily incorporate social media functionality, with various widgets and plug-ins available that easily combine your website to your social media channels. By including call to actions such as share buttons, you are encouraging the audience to share your content with their own social media followers.
Of course, simply opening up a couple of social media accounts and placing ‘share this’ is not enough. When creating a social media account, do so with the same care as you would when building a new website. Make your account stand out – create graphics yourself or use tools such as a Twitter banner maker to give social feed a branded image.
Start conversations and engage with your audience to help build your following, which will see conversions and clicks through to your website increase. If done right, your website will quickly, and organically, gain traffic which will increase your domain authority.
Try to use a theme that does not constrain you to one set design – while the basis of the layout will remain the same, many themes can cater for multiple features. For example, many themes will only allow for a set number of columns (unless you are savvy enough to re-write the theme’s code) which places a limit on content and advertising possibilities.
Although advertisers use various techniques, many of which involve in-content banners and sponsored posts, allowing space for banners that can be seen across the website increases your website’s appeal to advertisers. This designated space can also be used for affiliate advertising – many WordPress themes offer advertising widgets – and other promotional features.
Initially, make any changes to your blog or website layout in an offline template. Although this sounds obvious, there are many website owners that carry out changes on live websites, meaning that the user journey is interrupted. This will also save from alterations having a damaging effect on the website, and making it easier to revert back to the original template if you are unhappy with the changes.
Look at What Works for Others
If you are still unsure as to what type of theme will work best for you, carry out some research on what features are working for other websites. Look at other WordPress blogs and websites in your field and look at what features they use, consider how well you think they are utilised, and what themes they are using.
When you have a list of features that you like and don’t like, expand the field and get other peoples’ opinion – you may find that there are aspects that you like that do not work well for the majority, and vice versa. By undertaking primary research, you will collect valuable results that you can refer to in the design process, helping you to pick the best theme possible for your website.
There is no one size fits all solution when building a website, at least not a successful website, and there will be a lot of trial and error when deciding on the perfect theme. Make use of demos to gain a visual as to how your website will look and perform, and consider how each theme works across different browsers and devices.