The Structure Of Your WordPress Theme Matters More Than The Visual Design
Picking out a new WordPress theme for your website is fun, but also tedious. How many designs can you possibly demo before buying one? There are thousands of designs available on each main template site. It would take hours to view them all, and even more time to thoroughly investigate each demo. So, how do you make the right choice?
If you’re like most people, you probably choose WordPress themes based on looks. However, looks don’t tell you what’s behind the scenes. You could have the most beautiful theme in the world, but if the developer disabled the native WordPress sidebar, you’ll run into some frustrating problems. Like when you install a plugin designed to show up in your sidebar, and you realize you don’t have a sidebar and it ruins your entire project. Worse, you might discover you can’t add a sidebar because your theme has a multitude of interconnected, complex core files and you don’t know PHP.
Themes can be customized more easily than functionality
The visual aspect of a theme is highly customizable. Functionality isn’t that easy to change.
When a theme developer removes core WordPress functionality, you risk not being able to integrate business-essential widgets. For instance, say you rely on a WordPress integration from Rize Reviews to generate leads. This widget displays customer reviews on your site through a WordPress widget. You can see this widget in action on Houston property management company Green Residential’s website. Put yourself in their position. Imagine switching to a new WordPress theme, expecting to reinstall your review plugin, only to discover your theme isn’t widget-ready. Suddenly you’re paying for a service you can’t use, you’re losing leads, you’ve paid for a theme you can’t use, and you have to start over.
The only way to avoid being trapped in this type of dead-end is to thoroughly investigate every theme you’re considering buying.
Theme designers intentionally beautify their themes
Theme designers are running a business, and their sales depend on their ability to make their themes desirable. Stock photos greatly influence how themes are interpreted. Brilliant photos can make bad themes look good. Theme designers know this, and intentionally license the best stock photos for their demos.
Instead of judging a WordPress theme by looks, create a list of essential features you want your site to have. Be sure to include the basics, like a sidebar. Your list might include features like:
- Bootstrap compatibility
- WooCommerce compatibility
- Visual Composer
- Buddypress compatibility
- Social sharing buttons
- Gravity Forms
- Events Calendar
- Aesop Story Engine
- Responsive layout
- Cross-browser compatible
If you’re not sure which features you need, demo themes that are categorized as most popular, highest rated, and best sellers.
Sift through theme reviews for problems
Before purchasing a theme, you need to know what problems exist with that theme. It’s easy to find out. If you’re browsing themes on Themeforest.net, you can read comments left by everyone, including buyers. Read through as many comments as possible to get an idea of what the theme’s limitations are, how quickly the developer responds to issues and questions, and whether or not those issues are promptly fixed.
Make sure the developer of your chosen theme releases regular updates. There’s nothing worse than buying a theme that never gets updated because that’s how hackers take over a site. There are far too many vulnerabilities with WordPress when it doesn’t get updated. Avoid buying a theme from a developer who doesn’t spend much time maintaining their themes. It’s best to buy your themes from “Elite Authors” on Themeforest because they are usually full-time developers, and their attention to detail has earned them Elite status.
Aesthetics are important, too
Keep in mind there are some visual aspects you can’t change easily. For example, you can’t easily change a one-column theme to a three-column theme, unless you install a visual editor that allows you to create three columns of content. However, creating three columns of content is different than having an outer shell consisting of three columns.
Take your time
Take your time evaluating potential themes, and demo as many as you can. Expect to switch themes a couple of times until you find the right one. Sometimes you need to test a theme with your content to know if it’s right for you.