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As requested, I am writing this post to help folks choose a WordPress theme for their site. 🙂 I hope this will help to reduce some headaches for you in the long run.
Why you might choose a WordPress theme:
- It looks good
- It’s free, a gift, cheap
Yes, of course your website needs to be pretty, on brand, unique, and reflect your vision. It is one of the big ways you present your business to the world, but looks are not everything and, let’s face it, you might change your mind about it in the future. Not only that, search engines and devices may even decide your website needs to look differently as well. Remember the old websites that are not mobile responsive? To cater to the new mobile era they had to create a “mobile version” and then later on were forced to upgrade to a mobile responsive design.
As for price, sometimes you do get what you pay for. There are awesome free themes out there like the Sydney theme, but in order to get all the functionality, you would still have to purchase the PRO version.
Also, be wary of getting themes from unauthorized sources. They may not have the license to distribute the theme or the theme may not always come with support and updates.
The last thing on your mind should be how a theme looks. Instead, what you should think of is HOW your theme can make your site look.
What your criteria should be when you choose a good WordPress theme:
- Functionality: What can your theme do? Can it do the things you need to make your life easier and to make your site look good? Free themes tend to have limited functionality and you would have to purchase a new theme or upgrade to a pro version if you want extra things such as the ability to add a WooCommerce store on your site.
- Flexibility: Some themes limit you to a fill-in-the-blank type of functionality where you can only use certain images, etc. where they say otherwise the design won’t look good. Also, can you change your site’s look completely without having to install a new theme? Flexible themes let you put or change different elements wherever you want without having to resort to going into the site’s code or creating a child theme.
- Simplicity/Ease of Use: Does the theme have an easy to use visual builder where you can see your changes on the fly? Pick a theme that is not overly complicated so that it will be easier to learn and it will be easier to figure out how to do what you need to do.
- Compatibility-Popularity: You might be turned off by a popular theme thinking that your site might look just like everyone else’s, but popular themes also mean a bigger chance it may support or work easily with other popular services such as email autoresponders. Popular also means that more people will know how to use it–meaning it will be easier to pass on to say, a Virtual Assistant, to manage and update and you won’t need to hire a more expensive web developer/programmer for help on the smallest changes you want to make in your site.
- Support & Documentation: This is a big deal. Since WordPress is open source, it also means that there may be some bugs or incompatibility you might run into. Good support & documentation means help & good resources are available when you need it. Companies with good support and documentation also mean they are working harder to keep their reputation and your business.
- Updates: Updates are essential for keeping up with security issues and functionality. You want to always have a safe and secure site and you want your theme to be constantly improving. If the theme is updated regularly and the company behind it is getting good business, it also means that more than likely they will be around for a while and it’s less likely your theme will be outdated and incompatible in the long run.
I love using Divi and recommend it along with similar themes with it’s own made-for-each-other page builders for my clients. Instead of already having the design for your site, it’s more like being the tools to design your site. When you first install it, it doesn’t look like much, but once you start playing around with it, it gets pretty fun–well, at least for a nerd like me. Think of it as building blocks you can paint and put together however you like.
One drawback some people might not like with Divi is that if you decide to migrate away from Elegant themes (the company who makes Divi) in the future, it might leave a mess (just like other themes that use page builders) that you’ll have to reformat to get to look good, but honestly, switching themes usually leaves some amount of mess behind anyway, and people often change their site’s themes because they want to change the look of their site which is not so hard to do with Divi without having to switch themes.
Here are are a couple of examples of sites built with Divi that look different but still use the same theme:
Another theme/builder that I’ve looked into that looks good is Beaver Builder. Usually when I encounter it, people pair just the builder plugin with a Genesis child theme, but I caution you on this. Some themes are not built for the builder and you will end up not being able to use all the features you would have at your finger tips if you used the original Beaver theme specifically built for it instead. The Beaver Builder apparently leaves less of a mess when deciding to switch themes, but it also comes with less functionality than Divi. On the plus side, Beaver Builder so far, from my experience, has better compatibility with other themes and has amazing customer service.
Do you need a WordPress site built from scratch or an updated WordPress site that’s easier to manage? I love building these for my clients and include the Divi and Beaver themes and builders in my packages. I would love to learn how I can help you and make your life and work easier. Let’s chat!