There are thousands of WordPress themes available on the net; most of them available at $50 or less, and every day we see more brilliant work from the WordPress community. Developing themes appeals to individuals and agencies alike, it’s a thriving enterprise offering incredible value to consumers but how do you choose the right theme for your site?
Do you choose a theme based on aesthetics with gorgeous HTML5 and CSS3 animations? Or are you excited by the latest parallax-sliding layout with slick AJAX loading?
(Image: Seen the forest? WordPress Themeforest)
Resist the temptation to purchase the most beautiful theme. You should think about conversion. In other words, you need the theme to facilitate an action from end users. This is the universal objective for every website on the net: Encourage an action, whatever the action may be.
For most business owners it is essential having your phone number in the header yet so many themes do not allow this basic functionality. Similarly, many sites need a clearly visible contact or quote form on the home page so check for these essentials.
(This theme by Pallets Melbourne is not pretty but it works)
WordPress in 2014:
The latest in web design should enhance the user experience (UX) not hamper it. There are many themes with cool hover events on preset objects, perfect for a call-to-action (CTA) but do they allow you to click-thru? Check out the hero banner; does it have a button following a unique selling point?
These are basic web design and marketing principals that are often lost in theme development at the cost of a trendier layout. If you can’t edit the code yourself then it’s just not worth it and even if you’re a savvy WordPress user wouldn’t you rather start in first place on the grid? One of my clients significantly increased conversion by adding new buttons and anchor text to their packaging materials pages. It’s so simple and so very important.
These days’ responsive layouts are standard, they add to the UX and undoubtedly increase conversion. Google has publicly announced a preference to responsive layouts and if you read between the lines you’ll see they’re watching every interaction on a site. Especially click-thru events and exploration deep into the site’s page count.
The current market liquidity facilitates a high volume, low sales price model. In other words, you can purchase a theme that took someone 4,000 hours to develop because 2,500 other users are also licensed to use it (unless you pay for exclusivity.)
In 2014 we will see more themes with custom drag and drop page layouts. If you’re new to WordPress or you’re not interested in writing code or learning shortcodes then these themes are easily your best option. They incorporate all the impressive animations and design elements that attracted you to the theme in the first place but also empower the end user with a modular drag and drop layout. So if you need a button, you simply drag and drop it on the page! Easy.
If you’re intent on buying a theme that doesn’t have flexible shortcodes or a layout builder then be prepared to learn some code or pay for the service. Failing all of the above you can run with a static theme as is, and watch out for the aforementioned conversion elements. They’re really important.
Author: Dion Lovrecich