It’s likely that your website is the back bone of your business therefore, not only do you need your website to look the part and draw users in so they become customers, you also don’t want to lose the will to live (or run your business) just because getting WordPress up and running is daunting.
Over the next few posts, I am going to talk about themes, hosting, plugins, optimisation and all those other things that are holding you back from getting your website up and running.
We’re starting off by tackling Wordpress themes and how to know what to look for when choosing one. Choosing a WordPress theme for your business, whether it’s a brand new ‘turning your dreams into reality’ project or your current income stream, is a daunting task. There are so many to choose from with so many price points from free to one-off fees to annual costs.
Note: This post contains affiliate links meaning that although your price won’t change, I will make a small commission on any products you purchase using these links.
This is a very personal aspect, some people choose to spend hundreds on their website and others strictly use free themes and plugins. And, to some extent, it will also depend on where you are in your business journey. There are some great themes that are perfect for getting started, however, once your business has grown and you’re at a point where you want to develop it further, free themes will at some point becoming limiting. (Side note: This is the reason I always suggest starting with WordPress.com and not a free website builder, but I’ll come back to that another day!)
With 2/3 of users accessing your website from their mobile device, it’s more important than ever that your website is responsive. This means that the design will work on any screen size from small mobile phones right up to large desktops, your users should enjoy their experience on their site.
In 2018 Google shifting it’s priority to the mobile platform so designing a site on a desktop then editing it to be ‘ok’ on mobile screens, just won’t cut it! Many themes, both free and paid, are responsive right out the box but there are plenty that requires the installation and configuration of additional plugins so that they work well. This not only requires more technical knowledge but also requires more plugins and therefore more weight to your site.
For the commitment-phobes out there, signing up for a new theme doesn’t have to be the start of a long relationship. Sure, if you’re happy with it then stay but if it doesn’t tick all your boxes you should be able to leave when you want to. Whether you’re someone that sticks to things until the bitter end or someone who likes to float around trying anything and everything should certainly be considered when choosing a WordPress theme.
We know how it goes, you create pages, write posts, add images and share everything on social media. Then you realise you need to have social sharing icons so all your readers can shout about your content. Plus you need a way for them to sign up to receive your entertaining newsletters every month. Then you need to make sure your site is optimised for speed. Before you know it you’ve added a plugin for everything and your lightweight theme is heavier than something really heavy. One of the advantages of many premium themes, like the ones from Elegant Themes, is that they more than likely include a range of native modules or elements. These will mean you don’t need additional plugins and therefore only need to learn how to use your theme and not individual plugins too! Whether you go for premium or free when choosing a WordPress theme make sure to think about the features you’d like to have and ones you’ll need then check whether the theme has that functionality included.
Along with a great user experience and SEO, site speed is one of the most important aspects of your website. The faster the site is, the more Google likes it. Site speed and SEO go hand in hand – there is no point spending hours optimising your content for SEO if, when someone finds your top ranking post, your site takes 10 seconds to load! Take it from me, the reader won’t hang around waiting! In order to be fast, a theme needs to be lightweight. This can be tricky if you’re going for an all singing all dancing theme in order to eliminate the need for plugins
Sometimes, the more options there are, the more daunting something can seem. However, when choosing a WordPress theme, it’s important to choose a theme that you can fully customise so that you can showcase your branding and implement a design you love rather than being restricted from the layouts, or design of certain elements, that some free themes use. If you’re feeling techy, you should be able to use CSS to edit every aspect of your site but, having a navigation bar that can be customised from within the theme is so much more pleasant than fiddling around with code to get it looking spot on. One of the main reasons I always work with Divi is that pretty much every aspect of the theme can be customised without the need for code. This means it’s great for my clients as they don’t have to rely on me to make changes to their website should they choose to change pricing, dates, social media links, contact info, and more!
7. Ease of use
Again, this is going to vary from one person to another and although some of us enjoy learning new skills as we go, sometimes all we want is simplicity! Making use of theme demos will give you some idea of what the dashboard of a theme looks like as well as how you make changes – whether that’s through a drag and drop builder or a page builder interface. However, the best way to know is to ask around as well as asking around to see if anyone you know has recommendations and if they do, maybe they’d let you have a look at the back end (you might need to find a better way to word your request :-))
There’s nothing worse than finally making a decision, investing in the purchase, eagerly logging in to get started making magic happen on your site only to find you fall at the first hurdle. Or at the 50th. No matter when it is, you’re likely to come to a point where you get stuck and no amount of Googling helps.
Free themes often come with very limited support, if any but premium themes come with a range of options from dedicated Facebook groups to live chat services, you can usually find someone to help you work out that oh so simple sounding issue that has you baffled.
9. Building style
With various options of how to create your website, ranging from using drag and drop builders, traditional editors, visual builders and more, it’s important to go with a theme that works for you. The visually driven people amongst us will likely find a visual builder more appealing whereas there are plenty of people who thrive in the back end of a site putting it all together there before checking the visual results. A good theme will have options so you can turn visual builders on and off depending on not only your development style but also on your mood.
10. SEO Optimisation
SEO. Those three letters have the power to make any business owner break out in cold sweats. We all know Google likes us to include keywords in certain places and that our sentences should be just the right length. However, it’s common to forget about SEO at the building blocks stage of a website – choosing the theme. You’d be forgiven for thinking that any theme can be optimised for SEO and, while that’s largely true, they all differ in how easy it is for you do just that. A well-optimised theme should make it easy for you to include keywords, have organised code, be lightweight, enabling you to optimise your images from within WordPress and, as we have talked about, be responsive.
So there you have it, 10 things to consider when choosing a WordPress theme for your business website. I would love to know what theme you use and what makes you love (or hate!) it.
I first wrote this post for Female Travel Bloggers.