5 things to consider when selecting a website theme
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Selecting a website theme can be overwhelming – there are literally thousands of free and paid options available for download and purchase. Your theme is the overall look, feel, and style of your website. This includes things like color palette, layout, and style elements. In essence, the theme of your website is a direct representation of your brand and has a direct impact on the experience of your users.
Granted, I was never a fan of prebuilt website themes back in the days when my agency was providing website design services. Years ago, most out of the box themes were clunky, provided SEO nightmares, and just weren’t as effective as a new custom design.
Times have changed, however, and now there are a lot of beautiful themes – but don’t judge a book by its cover – bad coding, slow speeds, search engine optimization issues, and bad user experiences exist. always.
To help you choose a good website theme for your particular business needs, be sure to consider these five elements.
KISS stands for “Keep it Simple, Stupid” – one of my favorite sayings when it comes to modern web design. Several years ago websites were very loud and businesses wanted flash animations, fancy features, and other bells and whistles. Now flat designs with a minimalist approach are popular.
Too busy websites take the user away from the desired call-to-action, and browsing on mobile devices is a headache. If you take a look at the Team 10 website, you’ll see a great example of an effective design. Each section of the website is simple, features a flat design, and gives the information seeker exactly what they’re looking for – no more and no less. It’s so simple, it’s awesome.
2. Availability of developer support
This is something that not many people take into consideration when selecting a theme. It is very rare that you can install a theme and not have to make updates as the platform you use evolves and evolves. This could be due to changes in functionality or security concerns. No matter what you use, from WordPress to Shopify and all the other options, you should anticipate that updates will be needed to keep your theme from crashing.
The majority of theme marketplaces will have developer information, as well as a log of all updates released for each particular theme. Pay attention to this information, as well as customer reviews and ratings – it can give you a lot of information.
Themes that have been around for a long time and have multiple updates indicate that the developer is constantly making changes to improve the theme. One of the most popular WordPress themes, Newspaper, has over 57,000 sales and is constantly updated. If you watch it here, you can scroll down to see the update log and a list of all the changes made each time. This is an example of a theme with great developer support.
3. Mobile preparation
Almost all of the popular website themes of the modern age are responsive, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re guaranteed to provide a great mobile experience. There are plenty of websites that will pass Google’s mobile test, while still providing such a poor user experience that they are worth nothing on smaller screens, in terms of conversion potential.
Look for a theme that’s extremely responsive and designed to convert visitors. If you look at this contact page on a desktop or laptop computer, you will see that the form has several steps. It’s attractive and very easy to complete on desktops and laptops.
Now, if you are looking at the same page on a mobile device, you will notice that there is a highly visible “Click to Call” button at the very top of the page, allowing the visitor to make immediate contact without even scrolling. If they scroll down, they find the contact form, but in a different format that is much more user-friendly on mobile devices.
The majority of website themes will have working demos that you can play with before you buy, so be sure to put them to sleep on mobile devices and tablets.
4. Plugins, applications and extensions available
It is very rare that you run a website theme in its original version.
WordPress offers over 54,000 plugins, Shopify offers thousands of apps, and WooCommerce offers plugins to help you improve your website theme.
You need to know which platform is best for your business before exploring the available themes, and once that is decided, you can then start exploring other add-ons. For example, if you are an e-commerce brand, Shopify is very hard to beat.
If you are a small service business and your goal is to generate leads, you might want to use WordPress and focus on posting great blog content to attract traffic. Look at the offer used on this lead capture form – a downloadable brochure in exchange for a name, email address, and phone number. Rather than a standard sidebar offering that offers a newsletter subscription or email offer, this gives the consumer immediate access to the bribe.
There are plenty of plugins that can help you implement and manage download offerings without the need for coding or development skills. Most of the popular services that you’ll use with your website, like Mailchimp, for example, have plugins available that make integration easy. Make a list of what you’ll use and what features you’ll need to add to your theme, and reverse engineer the best options.
5. Cross-browser compatibility
Testing your website’s theme on all popular web browsers is an important step, especially if you plan to use one that hasn’t been updated recently. With so many different devices, browsers, and operating systems, testing helps to ensure that your theme will provide the same user experience and functionality for everyone.
There are many free tools and resources available online, as well as paid options that offer a free trial. One of the older ones, Browser Shots, lets you run your website through them all at once. The free open source tool is a great place to start – if you spot a problem with a particular browser, then you can investigate further using other available resources.