What Makes a Good WordPress Theme?
I’m still trying to wrap my head around this whole concept of WordPress. In theory, I should be able to design and build more complex and beautiful websites using it, but since I’m new to the concept, I feel like I have no control over what I’m doing. I guess I’m an old-fashioned HTML/CSS coding kind of girl. Hopefully once I learn more about how to customize WordPress, I will come to love it. Right now, I feel like I’m just typing in documents in a MS Word sort of format and leaving the rest to some magical forces. It’s not really the challenge I was looking for when I decided I wanted to create websites for a living. I have high hopes that the fun will come when I learn what the heck a “child theme” is and how I can create one.
So, this brings me to the topic of the week, which is “What makes a good WordPress theme?” I decided to begin my research with searching out some WordPress themes. I found a few I like (see the list of links below), but I really didn’t want to purchase a theme without really understanding what a theme actually is. And the best way for me to learn is to dig in and just do something.
Hence, I decided to download and install a theme to my blog. Upon the advice of my wise instructor, I sought out a free theme from WordPress.org. Why a WordPress.org theme? Well, I’m glad you asked, because this is one of the most important aspects of a good theme – security. Any themes posted on WordPress.org has been vetted for security. And, this is the main reason my wise instructor recommended it.
I searched for Portfolio themes, found one a few I liked and narrowed down my choice by selecting a theme with a 4.5 stars rating. It’s called Pinnacle. Do you like it? It’s looks pretty cool to me. It’s pretty neat that installing and activating a theme can change the entire appearance of a site without changing any of the content. So there, I just wrapped a small part of my head around the beauty of WordPress. The design and the content are separate entities, and the design can be changed without modifying the content, and vice versa. And while I’m pretty familiar with databases and how they work (I used to be a database quality assurance analyst), I don’t know how a website design and content is managed by a database. I’m really, REALLY looking forward to learning more about it all.
Anyways, back to what makes a good theme. From what I’ve learned, you want a quality theme that is secure. You also want to make sure your theme is Responsive. Long gone are the days when you can ignore the phone and other mobile devices. I tend to visit more websites from my iPad and smart phone than I do from my laptop. I pretty much consider myself the 100th monkey. If I’m doing it, then it has become an evolutionary leap and the rest of the world is doing it too. I’m not the last one to the party, but I’m definitely showing up with the masses. So I know if I’m a primarily mobile web surfer, than so is the rest of the world.
Okay, moving on now. Security. Responsive. Up next, Support. You want to make sure to select a theme that has good support. I think this is why purchasing a theme makes good sense. Especially when you are a newbie like me. For example, I just want to change the main image on my web page here with my new handy dandy Pinnacle theme and I don’t know how to do it. I visited the support page and watched a few videos but didn’t find the answer I was looking for. It’s probably really simple. I’ll figure it out soon enough. Makes me realize how important support is. Come to think of it, Ease of Use is probably another factor to consider. This theme may actually be considered easy to use, but my inexperience is limiting me. Or, it has a crappy User Experience. The more I learn about WordPress and themes, the better I will be able to answer that question!
Other important factors in choosing a theme are speed/size of the theme. You don’t want some giant theme with a bazillion features when you are a one man band with a single page site. That would just be silly. You want to make sure the theme has the features you are looking for with the right amount of ability to customize to your liking.
Optimized SEO is another factor to consider, but I’m not sure how much of a factor that is for everyone. SEO is a can of worms that I’m just not ready to open at this moment in time, but I know what it is and that it’s a factor to consider.
Finally, I think the fun and most pleasing part in what makes a good theme is Design. Professional/purchased themes should probably have better design than the freebies out there. And the professional themes should be right on point with the latest style trends.
So that’s my list. A good theme should have good Design, be Secure, have a good UI/UX, must be Responsive, SEO Optimized and have quality Support. And you want to make sure your theme is specific to your needs and not just a theme with every possible option out there.
Hope you enjoyed my journey in trying to understand themes and thoughts on how to select the right one. Here are a few portfolio themes that I liked:
- I love the hover animations. I can use for case study summary
- I love the top menu layered on the photo and the footer
- I like everything about this: the look, the off-canvas menu, hover effect on the portfolio items
- I like the overall look and I like the portfolio page
- I like the look and the scrolling feature.