There’s thousands of free and paid WordPress themes out there, but how to choose the right theme for your blog? That’s a question that requires a bit of analysis from your side, and a bit of knowledge on what aspects you should take into account. Here are the points I recommend you to take into account:
What kind of WordPress blog do you need?
A blog is a blog and the theme is not important. ERROR. A blog can be used for a ton of purposes, and depending on what’s your blog for, then you’re going to have different needs to take into account when choosing a WordPress theme:
What kind of content do you have?
Every single blog has content, but it doesn’t mean that every single blog has the same needs. You have to think about what kind of content are you going to publish.
Let’s say your main content is related to photography/paintings/landscapes… you want a theme where the images are prominent and every visual aspect is important.
You may be posting videos, then you have to look for a theme focused on presenting the videos the right way to make your blog easy to navigate and useful for your visitors.
Maybe your WordPress blog is just a secondary section in your e-commerce website, then you may want to focus on choosing a good e-commerce theme for WordPress instead of focusing in your blog pages.
Taking raulgo.com as an example, my main content is going to be text so I want a theme that is simple, structured and the most important, easy to read.
What kind of users visit your blog?
Now we have to analyze what is my target audience so we can chose our theme thinking on them. You may think “I want to optimize my blog for everyone”. ERROR. This is impossible.
Let’s say your blog includes content for kids like flash animation cartoons, you’d like to have very dynamic content, probably using bright colors and very important, you want your blog to perform perfectly on tablets and big smartphones because that is what kids use the most.
Again taking raulgo.com as an example, I would assume that people interested on my content are using a desktop (actually looking at my Googla Analytics I can see 10% mobile and 90% desktop traffic). Why would you try to start a blog using a smartphone? So I will keep in mind that a good desktop experience is more important than a good mobile experience. I also assume my visitors prefer a content that loads fast instead a very fancy website that lasts forever to load.
What is your goal?
Think what action you want your users to perform. You want to think about it at your early stages and have it always present on your decisions (even the smaller decisions). In a few words, you want to keep in mind the main KPI (Key Performance Indicator) you will use to measure your blog’s success.
Your objective may be to sell your products, if your products are simple then you want to have a good and clear call to action (or calls to action). If your product is complex and you really need the users to learn more about your product before moving forward (because otherwise they will be deceived after buying your products), you may prefer the users to read more about your products before pushing them to a call to action.
Other example may be a consultant who looks for potential customers. In this case, it is important that our theme gives us a relevant placement for our contact form.
My goal at raulgo.com will be to engage users with my content, I want you to spend time here today, leave a comment, and come back to read my next article. So I will look for a clean theme, functional and with a clear navigation.
Paid or free theme?
- Paid themes generally offer some kind of support and free themes don’t. Take into account that support varies a lot depending on the theme. Make sure you understand the terms of agreement! Generally support doesn’t include any customization.
- Paid themes generally pass quality controls in terms of code cleanliness that will affect your page speed, most free themes include a lot of junk code.
- Paid themes will release an update that is compatible with new versions of WordPress whereas free themes may not, or take months before they do it.
- Paid themes generally offer more features and customization options than free themes.
- Free themes are free!
That being said, my recommendation would be:
If you have more time than money, go for free. If you have more money than time, then go for paid.
The reason being that paid themes will save you a lot of time troubleshooting, figuring out how to do things (if you have coding skills).
Using this site as an example again, my goal here is to build something that everybody can build, so I went for FREE (same as with hosting). I can tell you now that in the future (I don’t know when) I will move to a paid theme and I will post more details about the advantages of paid themes.
Using a free theme to start with, will give me a better idea of what I need from a theme so I will be able to choose the right paid theme before I do a $50-$80 investment.
Here’s a link to the WordPress directory.
What theme did I finally choose?
After considering all mentioned bellow I decided to make a short list of different themes that I will try. Of course I will update this blog post with my comments about every WordPress theme I tried. I started with StanleyWP and I will write about it soon!
Thanks for reading, please leave a comment and tell me if you agree/disagree with my comments and recommendations or if those were useful for you!