WordPress is perhaps the most ubiquitous framework for blogs and websites today. It’s grown from rather humble beginnings to a massive behemoth that can be found everywhere. WordPress is no longer just for bloggers – it’s for entrepreneurs, startups, artists, musicians and even Fortune 500 companies that want a quick and easy way to get a fully functional, beautiful web presence up and running. With the availability of WordPress themes, everyone can find something that works for their specific needs.
Of course, given the immense popularity of this platform an incredible number of theme developers has cropped up, all of whom claim to offer the ideal themes for pretty much any needs. That’s bunk. There’s no such thing as a cookie cutter solution. In fact, that’s really what makes WordPress such an ideal platform – the number of customizations, graphic design overlays and functionalities available ensure that you can find a custom solution that fits you like a glove. How do you choose a theme, though?
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One of the first considerations you’ll need to make here is the type of theme you want. WordPress comes in a dazzling array of flavors, including:
- Magazine styles
- Portfolio styles
- Newspaper styles
- Catalog styles
- Old-school blog types
- Business/corporate styles
Which one of these fits your needs best? A magazine style theme can be a great option if you routinely add new posts or stories to your site and want your visitors to have access to a small preview (with or without an accompanying image) for each post. A traditional blog style is a good choice if you want your visitors to read each and every post in its entirety without having to take an addition step to get to the content they way (the drawback here is that it can be time consuming and frustrating to scroll to the bottom of a lengthy page).
A portfolio style WordPress theme is best for artists, photographers and graphic designers because these types of themes focus on visual elements (pictures as opposed to text) and can make a huge impact on a visitor. A newspaper style theme can be great for any site that routinely updates with news stories or industry information (think Engadget and the like).
Other considerations that fall under the type category include the number of columns on the main page, the type of navigation used (and whether you can customize it to any extent) and the number of sidebars you can have.
What you really want to know is how easily the theme will let you tell your story to your visitors, while providing them with easy navigation, the means to engage with you or your company outside the website and more.
Plugins provide vital added functionality to WordPress themes, far beyond what’s available with a barebones site. You need to consider the number and type of built-in custom plugins designed to work with that theme before you make a final decision.
Plugins can offer a range of vital functionality. For instance, you might want one that allows you to make a call to action, or to provide your website visitors with a subscribe button. You might want a built-in storefront, or maybe you want to encourage your visitors to take your content and spread it throughout their social media accounts.
Before choosing any theme, give the number of custom plugins a good long look. While you can download additional widgets and plugins, custom options are generally the best solution as they have been tailored to work specifically with the theme in question rather than being a “one size fits all” solution.
A Word about Dynamic Themes
You’ll find the word “dynamic” bandied about quite a lot today. In fact, it’s become so common that its impact is being lost. When it comes to WordPress themes, that word is an important consideration. A dynamic WordPress theme is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. These automatically adjust themselves to your visitor’s specific needs. For instance, if a visitor comes to your site on a mobile device, the theme will adjust to fit their viewing needs without you having to use an additional plugin. There’s a lot to be gained with dynamic themes, so make this one of your top considerations.
Ease of Customization
WordPress themes are just that – they’re themes. You still need to do a few things to really make them your own. However, not all themes are created equal in terms of easy customization. Dig through the theme’s documentation to find out exactly what you need to do to give it your own unique flavor and just how much customization is actually available with the theme.