Last week we talked about getting your self-hosted website up and running with Siteground (in just 3 easy steps!) and today we’re diving back into all-things-WordPress by learning how to choose an unbeatable theme for your new WordPress website.
I’m honored to bring you today’s guest post, written by one of my blogging buddies, Krista Rae, who is a pro when it comes to WordPress!
Choosing a theme for your website is one of the most important decisions you’ll make when you’re getting started.
If you choose the right theme from the start, you’ll create a website that accurately reflects you, and, as a result, you’ll avoid having to make constant tweaks. As a bonus, the right theme can also boost your search engine rankings and support your business.
The only problem is that choosing a WordPress theme can be very overwhelming. There are so many themes available online that it’s difficult to know where to start. Should you pick a theme based solely on its aesthetic? Should you pick one based on your business goals?
They key to making a smart decision when it comes to choosing a theme for your site is to know what its most important features are. Today, I’m going to walk you through how to determine what features in a theme are most important to you.
Clarify your business goals
The most important features of your theme are those that directly support your business goals and make it easier for you to achieve them. The only thing is that you need to know exactly what your business goals are, because if you don’t know what your goals are, you can’t pick a theme that supports them.
If you’re not already clear on your goals, take some time to decide what your biggest goal is. For many of us, our biggest business goal is to increase our income. Whatever your business goal is, write it down.
Once you’ve determined what your main goal is, create three supporting goals that will help you reach your main goal. In the case of increasing your income, your supporting goals may look something like this:
+ Grow my email list
+ Build trust with my audience
+ Grow my social media following
Each of the supporting goals will help you achieve your main business goal of growing your income, and they give you a good starting point for determining the most important features of your theme.
Consider your aesthetic
After you’re clear on your business goals, decide what aesthetic you want your website to have. Sketch out a few rough layouts of how you see your website pages to be set up. While you’re sketching, consider whether or not you want the option to add a sidebar.
Also think about a widget area. Is it important that you be able to customize your footer or sidebar using widgets, or is that too much fuss for you? Do you want a customizable homepage, or are you planning on using your most recent posts on your homepage?
If you’re stuck as to what you want, look at websites that resonate with you and see what you like about them. Take notes so you can look for similar features in your theme search.
Choose your features
You may not find a theme that has all the features you want, so it’s important to decide what’s essential to your goals and what would be more of a bonus. The essential features are those that push you towards your goal. To see whether or not the features listed on the theme’s sales page will help you reach your goal, write down what your theme would ideally need.
When it comes to growing your email list, you’ll want a theme that offers you the ability to display an email signup form. There are several ways themes can support this goal. Some themes have opt-in areas included in the footer, sidebar, or header of your site. Other themes offer a landing page template or integration with email marketing platforms like MailChimp, ConvertKit, and ActiveCampaign.
Look at some of the websites that you like and see where the opt-in forms are placed. Are they in the sidebar? The footer? A separate landing page? Decide which feature you want the most, and add that to your list of essentials.
Do the same thing for your second supporting goal – in this case, building trust with your audience. Look for a theme that has room for a quick bio in the footer or a spot for a picture of you in the sidebar.
Finally, decide what features would help you grow a social media following. Visible social media icons on your website is a definite must, as are social share buttons. An added plus is a sidebar or footer area that would let you embed a social media feed.
Make your list
Once you have an idea of the features that are essential to your business, make a list of them. For this example, the list of features is as follows:
+ Visible opt-in area
+ Integration with email marketing platform
+ Spot for image and/or bio
+ Visible social media icons
+ Visible social share buttons
+ Sidebar with ability to embed social feeds
Using this list, you should be able to narrow down your choice of theme to those that include the most essential features for your business.
A feature that should always make it onto your list of essentials is mobile responsiveness. A website theme that’s not mobile responsive will deter mobile web traffic, which is an ever-growing percentage of web visitors. Additionally, a theme that’s not mobile-responsive can damage your search engine results and drop your ranking.
Things to avoid
When you’re looking at themes, it’s tempting to focus only on the colors, fonts, and images, but those aren’t as important as the features that will help you meet your goals. Besides, you can generally change a theme’s fonts and colors, so don’t worry about whether the display font matches your brand. Focus more on how the theme will function for you.
Another thing you should avoid is buying a theme based solely on price. There are cheap themes out there, and there are extremely expensive ones. While it’s tempting to focus only on price and choose the cheaper theme, especially when you’re just starting out, don’t.
Picking a theme based solely on price can cost you more in the long run if it turns out that the theme doesn’t have the essential features your business needs. While price will likely be a factor in your purchasing decision, it shouldn’t be the only thing that decides whether or not a theme is for you.
Have some fun!
Choosing a WordPress theme should ultimately be fun and enjoyable. It’s an exciting experience that has the potential to set your business up for future success, especially if you follow the above procedure for finding your theme’s most essential features.
If you’d like a little extra help through the process of deciding what WordPress theme is the perfect fit for you, check out our free 3-day mini-series all about choosing your next WordPress theme!
About the Author
Krista is the techy half of the Coded Creative duo where her and Kory create feminine WordPress themes for creatives and bloggers. They believe your website should be simple, beautiful, and do the work of growing your blog and business for you.
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