Choosing and optimising your WordPress theme site

While we specialise bespoke designed WordPress sites, occasionally, we are asked to use a WordPress theme. Themes are available from a lot of different sources, at varying degrees of quality, but I admit there are a few nice ones out there. It’s less expensive as they are pre-designed and the HTML is already built.So, sometimes it’s what’s best for a client, at that point in their business. But sometimes we find them to be slow to load and overly complex – they come with far too many things in them.

Choosing a theme

We have certain things we like to tell people when they are choosing a theme.

  • Consider your brand and message: Try and visualise how your main massages and and content would fit into the layout and visual sections of the theme you are considering
  • Aim for simplicity: This site is there to introduce your business, and we would rather you focus on good quality images and well written copy rather than lots of animations, popups, and extra functions. The simpler the better.
  • Make sure it’s “responsive” (mobile friendly): This is NOT optional. Any modern site has to adjust to fit into different devices and screen sizes. This way your site can be easily accessed on a mobile phone, and we all know how common it is to be looking at sites while on the go. Try Google’s Mobile Friendly Test to see if the theme works. And check the theme in different browsers too – Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari.
  • Do your research: Its a good idea to read up about the theme, the flexibility, what other people have said about the theme in the reviews, the ratings it’s gotten
  • Read up about the plugins: You’ll want your WordPress site to support the most popular and useful ones, W3 Total Cache for speed, and Yoast SEO for search engine optimisation.

Themes can come with problems and require technical knowledge, like:

  1. They may look great, but still they can load really slowly. This will affect not only the impression it gives to site visitors, but also the way Google ranks your site.
  2. Sometimes they have so many unique custom parts it will be very hard to switch the theme in future to another one, without pretty much starting from scratch.
  3. Once it’s installed, you want your pages to have search engine friendly URLs. Be sure to switch on SEO friendly URLs by using the “permalinks” settings in the WP back-end.
  4. If there are things you want to change about the theme, it is not recommended to modify theme code (bad practice) – the proper way, according to our coders, is to “write a child theme so your coder can override the parent theme’s code”
  5. WordPress, PHP, HTML, CSS and JS knowledge is helpful.

You’ll get people telling you, its easy! Anyone can do it? I wouldn’t be one of those people.

Though you can save money by choosing a theme, it still takes a lot of skill to put it together and customise it properly – we have our expert coders using their skills in Wordpress, PHP, HTML, CSS and JS – it’s definitely their department!

Just like with any other thing you are purchasing for your business, it’ s important to go into it with both eyes open, do your research and plan properly.
And feel free to ask us for help!

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