THE SIMPLE GUIDE TO SETTING UP A THEME ON WORDPRESS28 of July 2016
WHAT IS A WORDPRESS THEME?
A WordPress theme is a group of files that work together to create the structure, design and features of your website. WordPress makes it easy to customize many elements of a theme, which makes it a great platform for beginners creating a niche site, portfolio or store.
Setting up a theme on your new WordPress site is one of the first things that you need to do once you have signed up for WordPress. There are a number of things you need to take into consideration when choosing your theme and it is better to know what your requirements are before hand.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT WORDPRESS THEME
It’s really easy to get lost spending hours searching for the ‘perfect’ theme. Before you begin to look for your WordPress theme, make a list of features or functions you want you site to have. Do you want to sell products? Do you want people to create an account? Will it just be a blog, or a library of content? All of these things need to be considered before diving headlong into the ocean of WordPress themes that are available.
We made this mistake when starting SOP Templates, and it took us a long time to settle on a theme that we were happy with. Eventually, we ended up working with a freelancer to make specific changes to our theme that fit our needs and those of our customers (that’s you btw!).
In order to get what you want, create a list of your site requirements, considering the following:
- What will you site be used for? Blogging, eCommerce, branding?
- How well do you know WordPress? Does the theme offer support?
- How much customization will you want to do?
- Do you want a responsive site? How important is it that your site works well on mobile (hint: it’s pretty important since 51.26% of people use mobile devices over their desktop computers.
- Is the theme ‘SEO’ ready? How important is it that you rank well in Google?
Since there are many free themes available on WordPress, and other external sites, it’s tempting to choose one of these options to save money, but they might not fit with your needs and specifications.
If you find themes that don’t fit your requirements, then move on. Many sites, including within the WordPress dashboard, allow you to narrow down your requirements instead of spending hours having to scroll through thousands of themes.
If you have really specific ideas about what you want your site to look like, you can work with a designer and a PHP developer who can create the site of your dreams. However, a beautiful site does not bring customers to your site, and you really need to prioritise and strike a balance between design and the user experience.
As we mentioned before, make sure that when you choose your theme, that it is responsive. A responsive theme adapts your website to be viewed correctly on any device, regardless of size. Since more and more people are accessing information via their mobile phones and tablets, this is really essential to ensure that all functions work correctly and look great too!
Before buying and downloading a theme, you can test drive it with a site demo. You should also be able to see how the theme will look on your mobile as well as your desktop computer.
When you’re considering purchasing a theme, you should definitely make sure that the plugins and features that you need for your site are already included. For example, if you plan to sell products on your site, you will need e-commerce plugins and designs within the theme. If they don’t come with the theme, you will need to see which options are available and also compatible with your theme to undertake a specific role on your site.
Some themes may also provide you with ‘demo’ or basic versions of a plugin that you will need a full version of in order to update in the future. For example, full versions of site ‘builder’ plugins will often be an additional, and unexpected cost that you should think about before purchasing the theme. To make sure you understand the limitations of the theme, read the details and reviews of the theme where possible.
Envisioning what you might want your site to look like in the future is also important when choosing a WordPress theme. You don’t need to have figured out every detail before making your site live, but thinking about how you want your project to develop in the future will help you consider the features necessary for your site.
One of the mistakes I made in the past was concentrating too much on what the site looked like instead of focusing on the business model which delayed the project and created additional expenses.
You can begin with a simple theme, and once your business expands and grows you can consider making changes to your site and your theme. So, bear in mind how customizable your theme is if you go down this route. Alternatively, you could purchase a new theme or work with a designer to create a new site. After all, lots of companies redesign their sites, whether it is to rebrand, cater for new levels of traffic or purely give it a new burst of life.
The most important thing to remember when choosing a theme is it to consider what will be the ultimate goal of the website and how the theme will get your users to achieve that goal. Don’t get romanced by some fancy animations or bells and whistles that you see on the theme, at the end of the day the purpose of your website is to achieve your business goal. The team should just be a vehicle to get your users from point A to point B.
There are plenty of resources online for free and paid themes, which are perfect if you’re just starting out.
Since it’s easy to get swept up on spending lots of time on the design details of your website, we recommend that you set a time limit for how long you’re willing to spend choosing your theme.
For example, giving yourself 2 or 3 hours will probably more than ample time for you to choose a theme that fits your specification. Spending more time on this will overwhelm you with ideas, and you will waste a lot of time searching for a theme that probably doesn’t exist!
Once you’ve chosen your theme, you need to set up the theme in WordPress. Although the process is not overly complex, you may want to outsource this task, as you may have more specific customizations that someone with a more advanced skill-set can complete easily and quickly.
If you have specific requirements, you can pass them onto a freelancer who is WordPress savvy, by first filling in the details in our SOP.
You can get our SOP by returning to the top of this page and filling in your email address. You’ll receive an email containing instructions on how to fill out the document and the SOP.