How to pick a theme[ 7 min read ]

One of the first things we ask our clients (when we start a new build) is to pick a theme. If we’re honest, it’s usually the thing which they struggle with the most.

With this blog, we hope to give you some tips and tricks on how to pick the correct theme for your site.

Why use a theme? 

Before we get into what to pick and why, we need to explain why we believe using a theme is a great thing to do. First of all, it saves a lot of time, which in turn, saves you money. We’re all about saving you money! 

This is because a lot of the hard work is done already. To design a site from scratch is going to add several zeros to your build cost. Whilst it can seem a great idea to have a custom-built site, it can often cause issues later down the line. Particularly when it comes to updates or moving to a new web developer. 

We only ever use premium themes. These tend to be well designed and well tested. This means that all the components work seamlessly together. They are also safe to use. Oh, and it really does save you a lot of stress too.

We narrow it down, so you don’t have too!

After we’ve had our client meeting with you, we’ll have a good idea of what your website needs to do for you. So armed with this information, we’ll then pick three themes for you to choose from. This makes the job much easier for you as there are literally thousands of themes out there. 

We’re pretty confident you’ll find something you love in the selection we give you. But don’t worry if it takes some time to be sure of which one you like the best

What does it look like?

The first thing that all of us are drawn too, is how the theme looks on the screen. When we send you your choices, there will be a demo that you can view. This means you can see what the theme behaves like on various devices. Whilst this isn’t the most important factor, it’s usually what you’re going to be thinking about first. 

Make sure that the theme works how you want on mobile phones or tablets, for example. Most browsing is done on a mobile device these days – so this may be something that sways your opinion one way or another. 

At this point, it’s worth remembering that we can easily adjust layouts of pages etc. But, if you’re pressed for time, finding something which needs less tweaking is going to be beneficial. It means the build will generally be a lot quicker.

Does it have the functionality you want?

This is the MOST important bit, but the one that causes a lot of confusion. When we talk about functionality, we’re talking about the things that the theme does which takes it beyond just a plain brochure site. 

So for example, if you’re looking at using your website to deliver courses, you need to see how that functionality works. Does it work how you would like? Do you think your students would enjoy using it? How easy is it to access your courses? How do you take payment? Do all these processes seamlessly fit together?

Other examples of specific functionality are things like portfolios, document archives, job boards or membership functionality. 

There is a chance that each theme may have a slightly different way of working, so you really need to pay attention to how this works and if it is right for you.

Remember, once you’ve chosen your theme and we start to build the site, we cannot swap to another theme.

What visual builder does it come with? 

These days, pretty much all the themes we pick, come with a visual builder. These are so much easier to use than the native WordPress interface when it comes to designing pages and changing the content in and out of a page. However, we all have our favourites. 

For example, Suzi really loves Elementor. Whilst Sarah prefers WP Bakery. It’s just down to preference, but if you’ve already got experience of one builder, it may be easier to work with a theme which is using something you already know!

What about growing your site? 

Not everyone will want to launch into a full-on membership site when they first start out, for example. So it’s worth thinking about what your future plans are with your site. When you’re looking for a theme, does it have room to grow with you?

With WordPress, this is not the end of the world. Pretty much anything you could want to add to your site comes as a plugin. So things like WooCommerce, LearnPress or Membership Pro can be added after the initial build. Though it’s much easier if they come as a part of the theme to start off with. You know it will all play nicely together!


Does it fit with your brand?

We may pick you a theme, which one the face of it, doesn’t align with your business. So for example, if you’re a coach, we may pick you a theme which may look like it is geared towards a plumber. Try not to be swayed by the content on the demo! That is just there to give you an idea of what your site could look like with images and text in there. 

What we’re looking at is how the functionality fits with your requirements, but also how the theme feels based on your brand. If you’re someone who has a more traditional feeling brand versus a more funky brand, then the theme should reflect that. 

We’ve been known to throw in a few wildcard selections before now! On the face of it, these may be a less ‘safe’ option, but a number of clients have picked these and they’ve worked really well!  

There are literally thousands of themes to pick from these days, but we hope this blog has given you some ideas on what you need to think about when you’re picking a theme. Remember the most important bit is how it actually works for your business. Fonts can be changed, colours too, but how it behaves in terms of functionality is less easy to change. 

If you’re still not sure what you need, then why not get in touch? We’d be happy to help.




Suzi Smart Bear

I'm Suzi - the owner of The Smart Bear.

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