Changing to New WordPress Theme - factors to consider

Factors to consider when deciding on
a new WordPress Theme

Does your WordPress site need an updated look? Mine certainly does. Are you having trouble deciding which new WordPress theme to use?  The choice of themes is huge isn’t it?

It took me a long time to work out which I needed.  I hope I can make your own decision easier.

Although I enjoy looking at themes, I almost reached the stage of analysis paralysis! In the end, after trying all sorts of different theme frameworks and builders, it came down to me deciding between the two I’d originally considered.

I should have had the confidence to know that I’d already done enough research as a matter of course, rather than looking for the proverbial “green grass on the other side”.

This week I’m transferring the theme I’ve worked on over to this site. I created it on a test site because the theme I chose let’s me easily export all the layouts and settings.

WordPress Themes for an established blog versus a new blog

When starting out you don’t need anything complicated. Learning the basics and working on your content is more important. There are plenty of good quality free themes that suit and WordPress now comes with plenty of inbuilt options. For e-commerce sites, although there are free plugins, you may have to buy certain add-ins or specialized themes.*

Once your site is established you are clearer about your needs. Or, your needs may increase or change completely because you’re aware of what to focus on. You are now familiar with WordPress and customization is easier for you. You are ready to take on a theme with more options. One that makes you stand out from the crowd to create a distinct looking brand.

Your current theme might not be mobile responsive which is vital; not only because of the number of readers now using mobile devices but for Google’s approval.

Even if you haven’t paid for your theme, you’ve likely paying for plugins or external utilities such as splash, landing page, and sign-up form, creators. A theme that includes options to create these saves you money.

How to decide on a new WordPress Theme

As Steve Jobs says, design is more than how it looks but about how it works. It needs to suit your needs at the same time as being user friendly.

Design Quote New WordPress Theme

Work out your priorities for a new WordPress theme. What is it you want to achieve:

  • What is lacking in your current theme? Is it layout, color, or font options or not enough features and functions.
  • What bugs you about it? Are there things you’d like to do but can’t?
  • Are there too many sites that look just like yours and you want something different?
  • Do you need a static front page, and what would you like to put on there. Do you still want a blog layout plus the ability to add other features? One of my pet peeves is that most themes with static front pages don’t cater to bloggers who want their posts seen straight away. They might have fancy sliders and space for describing your business but, for content marketing, it’s the posts that attract. Why don’t most themes have the ability to do both!
  • What about if you want to feature something new, such as a different call to action or information about some new service on your site? Does your prospective new theme allow for that?
  • Do you need different features or layouts for different pages, posts or categories? Perhaps you’d like a sign-up form for a free e-book about “widget A” on “widget A” posts and a different one for “widget B” category posts. You might like different sidebars for different topics.
  • If you display ads for your own products or from third parties, such as Google Adsense, do you want the freedom to display them where you want – on certain index pages, within or below certain posts or on certain categories only.

Other considerations for choosing a new theme

Cost

There’s not a huge difference between prices for premium themes but that cost adds up if you have to pay annually. Sure your theme might still work without updates, and you might not need the ongoing support, but when updates increase site security they are vital.

Consider joining a theme club. Even if you have to pay annually you’ll get free access to other themes and sometimes plugins too. If you have more than one site this often works out much cheaper. Individual theme purchases usually come with only one site licence.

SEO

Most premium  WordPress themes claim to be SEO friendly but don’t have the same amount of features that come with the WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast. So I wouldn’t worry too much about this aspect.

Responsive Design

Any new theme must be mobile responsive so that it looks good and is easy to navigate on any device. Last year searches on mobile phones alone exceeded those on desktops and other devices. Search engine success now depends on you having a mobile friendly theme. In Search Engine Watch’s It’s Mobilegeddon hot in here: Google strengthens its mobile-friendly ranking signal, Christopher Ratcliffe  talks about more changes coming in May.

new WordPress theme mobile responsiveness quote Christopher Ratcliff

Please don’t take that literally – at least stick around until the end of this post! It’s much better to use a responsive theme than using a plugin to create a mobile theme that loses the look, and branding features, of your main site.

Site Speed

Whatever theme you choose, if you add too many plugins or fancy features your site will slow down. Large images, sliders and animation are major culprits. You can still use these to an extent. A good web host, optimized images, an effective caching program and plugins to minify CSS and Javascript can make a big difference. Take a look at how I increased the speed of my site by changing hosts.

Look over Function

There are so many excellent looking themes out there but don’t decide by look alone. It’s tempting I know. They might not suit your content and, even if they do, what appears on a theme demo page might be hard to duplicate. I’ve tried some popular themes that offer the option of different layouts and looks but they took me a lot of tweaking to achieve. (and I know how to tweak).

Be wary of theme frameworks. Genesis is one that allows for any customization you might ever need. It comes with many excellent looking child themes. But, unless those child themes suit you exactly, you’ll need coding knowledge to make changes. I have all the Studiopress child themes and only a couple would suit my needs without much change.

A Theme That Will Last You

Look for themes that allow flexibility to make changes in the future. Your needs may change again but do you really want to buy yet another new theme?

Buy from established sites that create their own themes, rather than those that sell for third parties.  This way you’ll get updates and find support.

Here goes, I’m about to change my site look. Next time you read a post on here it will be surrounded by my new theme. I’ll post about why I made my decision.

Are you ready to take that leap to a new WordPress Theme yourself? If so you are welcome to contact me for theme suggestions to suit your needs –  it will make all my research worthwhile too!