Choosing a ready built WordPress theme

August 13, 2015

Low cost, off-the-shelf WordPress themes are plentiful. They allow you to put a beautiful website together with no coding experience. However, there are so many that choosing the right one can be a minefield. So, here are some points for you to consider if you are thinking of buying a ready built theme.

Most places where these themes can be purchased allow you to demo them first. Remember that you can’t necessarily try everything before you buy the theme. You will only start to get an idea of how long it will take you to put the website together once you have purchased and installed the theme and started to use it. Be prepared to have to buy more than one theme in order to find the one that is perfect.

Allow yourself plenty of time to get to grips with it. Not all themes are the same; each developer will build them differently. If you’ve learnt how to use one theme and then decide to switch to another, you might have to start the learning process again.

The theme previews that are available will always look great, but that’s usually due to the great choice of photographs that have been put in. It can be very difficult to visualise what the theme will look like with your own photos in. Be careful not to be drawn to the pictures that are in use in the demo rather than the rest of the design.

Be prepared for feature bloat. Pre-built themes do have a lot of functionality, probably much more than you need. These themes need to appeal to a lot of people so that they can be sold over and over – that’s what makes them so cheap.

What about customising the theme further? This is something I get asked about a lot. Changing fonts and colours within a theme is usually easy, but more fundamental changes will require changes to the code. It is possible to tinker with the underlying code of the theme – or get a web developer to if you aren’t brave enough. If you do this, then make sure that a child theme is created so that the original theme code remains untouched. This way you can still apply any future updates to the theme and keep your customisations too.