by Spencer Haws
I get this question a lot. A lot. More than you would imagine.
Choosing a great theme is really, really important. If you choose a bad theme, you might have a whole range of problems—from your site just not looking professional to serious technical issues.
On the other hand, everything is easier and more effective with a great theme.
Luckily, there are about a million good themes out there. So, in this lesson, I want to talk you through what I look for when I’m looking for a theme that fits my site.
1. Trust your first impression.
As your browsing for themes, your very first impression is going to tell you a lot about how good a theme is—at least aesthetically. If it stands out to you and looks professional, it will probably seem that way to your readers, too.
2. Consider what type of site you’re building, and pick a theme that makes sense.
Are you building a store? Get a good eCommerce theme.
Are you setting up a huge authority site that provides timely information on new products/research/sales/etc.? Then you probably want to look into a good magazine theme.
Is your site going to be more personal, and will you be selling yourself as part of the brand? Go for a good blogging theme.
Basically, it just has to make sense.
For example, Perrin started a shaving site in Niche Site Project 2. He was adding content in batches of about 20, and most of those pieces were covering different products and providing reviews, but none of those products were new. He was also getting a few interviews and guest posts from people in his market.
Lastly, he was updating on a fairly regular basis, but he wasn’t posting enough to really be a news site.
So, Perrin went with a good blogging theme. It just made the most sense. And, in that case, it worked out really well.
As another example, just look at Niche Pursuits. I also chose a blogging theme. I update on a fairly regular basis, and I sell myself as part of my brand.
So a nice blogging theme makes a lot of sense.
I’m not trying to say blogging themes are the best themes, though.
We use a magazine theme on our new authority site because we create lots of content and post fairly often. Lots of authority sites do the same—even those that only post every week or two.
So it’s really up to you, and it’s going to be something of a judgment call. But the point is that not every theme fits every site. Every site is different, and your choice of theme should be part of your branding process.
3. Choose a theme with lots of flexibility.
There is nothing worse than wanting to do something on your blog but having a theme that doesn’t support it.
One of the themes I look for in my themes is a ton of flexibility. I personally like Thrive Themes because you can basically do anything you want with any of their themes.
Tables, landing pages, call out boxes, countdown timers, etc. It just has tons and tons of amazing features, which translates to tons and tons of flexibility.
And, to me, that’s important. I don’t want to have to write code to put in a button. I just want to drag-and-drop it in. Thrive lets you do that.
Whatever theme you choose, just make sure it’s robust and has a lot of options. If you’re not sure, here’s a small checklist:
- Does it have a lot of reviews?
- Is it made by an active developer?
- Is the developer active in the comments?
- Does it have an easy-to-get-to support page?
You want to be answering “yes” to all of these questions before you settle on a theme.
4. Pick a theme with good support.
Listen. You’re not going to install a theme and have it work just the way you want it to.
It’s not going to happen.
I’m telling you: something will go wrong.
It’s happened with every theme I’ve ever installed.
So, one of the most mission-critical features of any theme is an active, live support structure.
I’m not talking about some orphan FAQ page here. I’m talking about a real person who will actively answer your questions. This is really, really important.
I’ve wasted a lot of money on themes that looked good but had dead support. It’s almost always a waste of both time and money.
And that’s another reason I usually use Thrive Themes. Their support typically responds in a few hours—not days. Because I’m trying to use my site to make money, having an active support structure lets me implement new features and fix bugs sooner, making it extremely high value.
5. Pick a lean, fast theme.
You don’t want a theme with a bunch of convoluted code adding several seconds onto your load time.
That’s a recipe for a high bounce rate.
You want a theme that loads fast. I won’t go into site speed here, but there are plenty of guides out there to help you understand what to look for.
Again, I prefer using a set of themes I already know works really well, but if you go a different route, this is something to research.
Wrapping it up!
Don’t skimp on themes!
A good theme is NOT expensive. A few bucks a month can get you a fast, flexible, professional theme. It’s a small-dollar expense that can make you a TON of money. So remember, if I see you using the default WordPress theme, I’m going to be angry! 🙂
Tools mentioned in this lesson
I’ll give you a day or two to digest this, and then I’ll follow up with you and give you (1) a checklist for looking for a theme and (2) a few blog posts to help you if you want to read a bit more on this topic.