Having been a blogger for over a decade now, it has been a first-hand experience of how difficult it can be to maintain a WordPress theme to keep up with the latest standards and demands. Sometimes I would find myself switching styles as frequently as every few weeks, but time has taught me an invaluable lesson — stick to what works for everyone, not just you.
A good WordPress theme is one that serves the purpose of the website flawlessly, and the most important thing being the readability and accessibility of the content that you’re presenting. In my own experience, sometimes going through a hundred different designs might actually prove to be more rewarding than settling for a single theme you enjoy, since seeing more of what is out there — gives you an idea of which direction to take.
Free or Premium
The most important decision you’re going to make about your WordPress theme is whether you wish for it to be free or premium. The difference in overall design can be pretty staggering. And the biggest advantages premium has over free are:
- It’s easier to switch styles and colors since most premium themes come with multiple styles.
- Features such as related posts and social buttons are automatically integrated within the theme.
- An extensive options panel that gives you access to modify the theme to your own liking, without any coding.
I’m currently a customer over at MH Themes who provide nice and flexible themes for bloggers, magazine owners and small businesses who need a reliable solution to modern web requirements. Before that, I was constantly a user of free themes (even though I do have coding skills), but found that a premium theme can save me a lot of time that could be spent making more content, than trying to optimize the site for it.
Personal or Business
One more thing I have learned to take into consideration is the overall audience of the blog/website that you’re building, is it going to be more of a personal blog that talks about your life and all the experiences you’re having, or is it going to be on a more business level — sharing stories and content that everyone can relate to?
On the left side we have an example of a very simple and clean personal blog, no extra images or content, just a list of posts and that’s all. While on the right side we have an example of a magazine style blog, which is aimed at a global audience and is powered by all the latest gadgets of the web development world.
The Type of Content
I think this is the one where you will spend most of your time on, to find a theme that resonates with the type of content you want to produce the most. For list posts, roundups and similar content types — a simple blogging/magazine theme will be just fine, but what about themes that compliment proper and insightful storytelling?
Then there are websites like BuzzFeed, who focus on both roundups and also polls, quizzes and surveys type of content. Before you settle for a final theme, ask yourself these important questions about your content choices, and whether the theme you’re choosing is going to be able to reflect those answers.
Amongst other things, look out for complete and total responsive integration (mobile support), make sure that the theme has been updated in the last year or so, that there are no previous security issues that might not have been taken care of, and avoid going for themes from shady and unverified sources, more often than not they’re polluted with encoded scripts that will rob you of your rankings and credibility.
Alex Ivanovs is an online entrepreneur who has been writing about technology, business and developer topics for over a decade. He currently manages CodeCondo — an aspiring community for designers and developers.