Every website has a theme. If you are using WordPress, there are thousands of themes you can choose from. A theme defines the general layout of your website and includes details such as menu and content placement, choice of colours used.
Commonly referred to as WP (stands for WordPress) Themes, choosing the right theme will go a long way in improving user experience and hence boosting your website’s ranking. In this article, we discuss WP Theme and what you should take note when choosing one.
- How to Choose a WP Theme
- When to change your Theme
- Points to note when changing Theme
- Paid or Free Themes?
1. How to Choose a WP Theme
When you create a website, the first thing apart from your niche is the choice of a theme. Some people struggle over this. At Wealthy Affiliate, because I am a Premium member, I have access to over 2000+ WP Themes at the point of creating any website. I wrote a post sharing how to create a website in 4 steps under 5 mins. Sometimes, it takes longer because it is hard to choose the right theme. They just all look so nice…
Therefore, it’s no wonder that How To Choose a Theme has become such a hotly searched keyword on the internet.
It is impossible to tell what theme works best. Themes like clothing, reflect the personality of the creator and content. Just as we all wear different clothes to the same party, websites come in different dressings.
However, there are certain rules of thumb that may be helpful. These guidelines are by no means hard and fast, but they are good fundamentals and on top of them, you can add your creative touch.
A theme should be relevant to your content type. If you are in the business of imagery (i.e. a photographer or travel blog), you want to choose a theme that is more image-centric. A potential search is for magazine or photography related theme and you should find themes such as the Smart Magazine.
On the other hand, if your focus is on text with occasional images, then a potential theme would be the Omega. No-frills, it is the perfect theme choice for a more text-based approach.
The bottom-line is that themes are very personal choices but the examples show you quickly there are themes catered to different distinct categories such as image-intensive versus text-focused content.
Advice: Take some time to play around with different themes in the very early phase of your website and then settle for the one you like most. After that, keep to that until you have a compelling reason to change.
2. When to Change Your Theme
I list down three scenarios where you may want to consider a theme change.
- In my last point, I made the suggestion to try out different themes at the early phase of your website building. Test out different themes and then settle for the one you like most. For clarity, the early phase is when you have just a few pages and posts (probably less than 10 in total preferably).
- You should change your theme when the current one is not loading properly. Themes are usually quite robust and issues like this are rare but there are some themes which didn’t get updated over time and they could cause problems.
- Another reason to change your theme is when you want a new theme for your mature website. Yes, a new theme is important from time to time. You wouldn’t wear the same clothing all the time no matter how much you like it. The same goes for your website’s theme.
3. Points to Note When Changing Theme
Changing a WP Theme is a very straightforward process. You browse for the Theme you like, install it and click Activate and viola~ your website receives a fresh coating of personality.
A new theme is very invigorating until you notice some subtle adjustments.
Where is the customised menu you used to have? Where are the featured posts? There used to be a section on them and you love them so much because they are receiving the highest traffic, your cash cow.
Now, here’s the reason.
WP Themes are not designed the same. The menus, widgets used in one theme do not port over 100% to a new theme if the new theme does not support the same website layout. Your content will never be lost BUT your overall web layout (custom menus, widgets etc.) may have to be reinstated manually.
On top of that, your website’s SEO settings may be affected depending on whether your SEO is built within the theme or controlled from a plugin.
This is the A-ha moment~ now we know why it is sometimes better to have an external SEO plugin despite the golden rule to have as little plugins as possible because they slow down websites.
Lastly, your social media statistics may not carry forward smoothly. Let’s say your website has a Total Share Count of 1k or more. When you move to a new Theme, these statistics may not port over. I had an encounter where my total share count reset to zero, which really put a dampener on my mood.
Fortunately, all is not downhill and your most important content (blog posts and pages) will not be affected at all. They remain intact and so are all the comments on them.
You should not be discouraged from changing your theme when there is a compelling reason. However, by now you probably appreciate why I suggest theme change at the early phase of your website building. Once the website is ranked by Google favourably and has gained traction, you want to avoid rocking that boat at all costs.
And if you have to change your theme, then just take note of the above points and try to restore the menus, widgets once the theme change is completed.
4. Paid or Free Themes?
Free themes work very well, especially if you are a beginner or in a bootstrapping mode.
They provide all the features you need to get your quality content out, attract traffic and earn you an income.
Now, let’s take a look at the difference between Free and Paid Themes.
With free themes, you have to rely on plugins to perform certain functions. The use of plugins slows down a website and that affects your website ranking. Free themes also do not have receive any support in the event of a technical glitch. You may be able to find some help online but it can be a tedious process. In addition, theme updates are not guaranteed and thus, whenever WordPress releases an update, your free theme may not catch up fast enough or at all.
Paid themes on the other hand, come with full technical support, built-in features so that everything is optimised for speed and on top of that, you can create everything including landing pages, featured content all under one roof. The seamless integration is one reason many people convert to paid themes at some point. The flipside to this is when you change to a new theme, you lose those built-in features and may have to rebuild everything.
What theme you choose for your website is dependent on your content. It is always a good rule of thumb to start with the right theme so that you can minimise additional work later. However, if you really need to do a theme change later, it is still possible. You just have to take note of the points discussed in this article.