You can waste a lot of time browsing through various WordPress themes. Themes generally look very appealing and this is one of the reasons that you have probably found yourself hours later still clicking that next button, as you continue to browse through the gallery of themes on offer.
I initially searched all of the Top 10 Best WordPress Themes. I looked at cute WordPress themes (for other sites), I searched the various lists of top premium WordPress themes. I trialled various WordPress shopping theme options. And I looked at both flexible theme designs and fixed theme designs.
Eventually, I streamlined the selection process by scanning for theme attributes that would allow me to build a site that could function well, that could perform well in the “eyes” of search engines and that could please me visually. So, which eventually won my seal of approval?
The Website Tips 4 U Theme
Website Tips 4 U uses a WordPress genesis theme. It is built on the Genesis Framework from StudioPress.com. The child theme that I selected is one that I have been very happy with. The Genesis Framework installs the main core WordPress files required and then you can select a child theme which determines how your site will look.
There are many child themes to choose from and these are being added to all the time.
If you have a preference for modifying the look and feel of your site, you simply tweak the child theme that “sits on top of” the Genesis Framework.
Update: However, regardless of the framework or theme you use, I strongly recommend that you have a local installation of WordPress on your own computer. This way you can trial, offline, any major changes that you want to make to your site . I have installed WordPress on XAMPP which allows me to test major site changes via my own localhost. If you would like to do the same, you can read my tutorial on copying your site to run on localhost.
What to Look For in a WordPress Theme?
So, how do you narrow your choice when looking for your ideal theme?
How do you zero in on what is important when choosing a theme for your WordPress site or WordPress blog?
Here is a checklist that can guide you. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Does the theme appeal visually?
Is the theme visually appealing?
A visually appealing theme is a no-brainer.
You want to have a site that you enjoy looking at; one that you are proud to showcase to the world.
However, it is important that this consideration doesn’t cloud or outweigh the critical aspects that come under the heading of functionality. How well does this theme allow your site to perform?
- Does the theme pass browser compatibility testing?
Does the theme load well on each of the main browsers?
You can check this by testing the demo URL on a site such a Browser Shots.
- Does the theme respond on other devices?
A responsive design is essential now.
A responsive theme will allow your site to work on different platforms, to be loaded on mobile devices as well as laptops and desktops,
- Does the theme load fast?
You definitely want your site to load as fast as possible so that you don’t lose visitors and customers “at the door” so to speak.
- Does the theme validate?
I like to check that the code does indeed validate as correct HTML & CSS for example. You would be surprised at how many sites do not validate.
You can check this here: W3C Markup Validation Service.
- Does the theme qualify as a ‘horses for courses’ theme?
In other words, you want a theme that will match what you are aiming to do with your site.
This might mean that you need a 1 column theme or 2 or 3.
It might mean that you do need a slider area at the top or you might be looking for a theme that will help you showcase your gallery of designs or photographs.
- Does the theme match your skill level?
A theme that matches your skill level is definitely preferred.
If you are a beginner then you could opt for a theme that offers lots of options in the dashboard such as afforded by the Genesis Framework.
If you have some coding experience you might prefer to go for a theme that offers the bare basics with respect to options and then you can do some editing and tweaking of your own to customize it.
- Does the theme include a variety of templates?
A theme that offers a number of different page templates is preferable.
- Is the theme price within your budget?
How much does it cost?
If it is a free theme that you are looking for, then you need to be wary of some hidden extras to look for. This post outlines some of these: Choosing a WordPress Theme.
A theme that you purchase is called a Premium Theme. These tend to range anywhere between $45 to $300 and more, but you can usually find just what you are looking for in the lower range of this price bracket.
- Does the theme come with support?
Is the theme well supported by the company that sells it?
- Does the company answer queries or offer a support ticketing system?
- Is the theme updated periodically? Check when it was last updated. A recent date is a good sign that it is being actively updated as needed.
- Is there user support in the form of a discussion forum for people using that particular theme?
- Does the theme provide implementation documentation?
You want to have a theme that provides you with the step-by-step guidelines on how to get the most out of your theme, how to use the various options and how to set it up in a particular way that suits you.
- Does the theme vendor have an excellent reputation?
Is the company that sells the theme well known?
Why I Chose the Genesis Framework by StudioPress
After considerable time and research I chose Genesis for this site, as mentioned above.
So what is it that I like so much about Genesis?
- It is very fast to set up.
- SEO – I like the fact that my site can be easily optimized for search engines. Search engine visibility is paramount.
- It offers a choice of 1, 2 or 3 columns in the layout.
- There is a choice of where to position the side navigation, left or right.
- Mobile responsive. I can create a site and have it load on mobile devices as well as fixed devices.
- Security. Genesis follows best practices when it comes to ensuring WordPress security.
- Makes it easy to add snippets of code if desired via plugins such as Simple Hooks.
- Custom widgets that I can position where I choose.
- Unlimited updates.
- Easy updates. Every time an update has come out for Genesis, I have backed up my site, as we always should, and then within minutes and without any drama, I have been able to implement the Genesis updates.
- Lots of child themes to choose from.
- Support – forums, feedback, online demos.
- Step-by tutorials on how to set and use the framework and child themes. Tutorials like this are great for showing you how to customize a WordPress theme.
- Best of all, it is a one-off fee. I prefer to keep any on-going fees to an absolute minimum and Genesis fits the bill perfectly in this respect.
- Reputation, the last item listed in the ‘what to look for’ checklist above.
I was very happy to go with the Genesis framework because StudioPress is so well known and has such a good reputation.
- Given that I am now a customer of StudioPress, I can access special discounts and options on other themes that I might want to purchase in the future.
Best WordPress Theme of the Month
There are lots of different child themes to choose from, each of which sits on top of the Genesis Framework. If you click on one of the banners or links above, you can browse through what is offered by StudioPress and run a demo in each case.
Alternatively you can see which theme is currently featured.
Each month StudioPress features a selected theme for you to consider. You can return here to check these out each month:
I have used other themes for different sites and blogs, some of which I will be discussing n the future and would also add to my list of best WordPress Themes for Blogs. But in the meantime, I can highly recommend the Genesis Framework by StudioPress as definitely living up to its widely acclaimed reputation.
Which theme is your favorite?
Teaser image courtesy of Stuart Miles/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net