- Internet & the Web
Picking a Website Theme Without Nightmare-like Frustration
If you spend a good portion of time on the internet then at some point in time it's likely you tried blogging a little bit. Nearly everyone who tries to do that doesn't try to create their own custom platform from scratch - not even web developers. More than likely, a content management system like WordPress, Drupal, Joomla or a site managed blog like Blogger or Tumblr gets used. When you're using one of these systems you really REALLY do not want to stick with the default website theme but it's a tough decision to make. Even if the website theme is pretty decent like WordPress' Twenty Twelve, Twenty Thirteen, or Twenty Fourteen themes your site will look utterly generic if you use the same website theme and layout as every other blogger out there
There Are so Many Themes to Choose From...
So one of the things you have to do sooner or later is pick a website theme (unless you're a professional designer and make your own). That can be a real challenge. I've struggled with picking website themes across the few sites I've run online. You always want something that looks good now but is also going to suit your needs in the future. Especially for platforms like WordPress, there are literally thousands of website themes out there. A lot, and by a lot I mean probably at least 90% of those, are garbage but even once you filter out the slick website themes from the trash it's still hard to choose between them. How big do you want your text to be? Should your blog make use of images? What if you ever want a front page? How well does the theme support those front pages with features like slide shows? The questions go on and on. Once you think you've found one that works for you, don't be too surprised if you get the itch to check out other website themes and find one that actually competes quite well with your original choice. At the end of the day, there probably isn't too much difference in terms of results for exactly which website theme you pick as long as it is overall a good-looking and functional theme. You can also bust into the theme files, creating a sub-theme so that little aspects of it may be fully customized without breaking the original. You may also choose to switch between different website themes on a yearly basis when new and better ones come out. Hopefully, you end up managing to be a bit more decisive than I have with the process. After making website theme selection a bit of a person nightmare for myself, here are a few tips you can use for speeding up your process.
#1: Know Your Website Theme's Purpose
1. Know your site's overall purpose before thinking about your website theme. Is it just going to be a simple blog? Maybe you want to set up an e-commerce store or a corporate website? Generally speaking, your theme needs change drastically depending on the end goals of the site.
#2: Decide between Visual or Text-Based Needs
Determine whether your content is primarily visual or text-based in nature. You may have noticed that there is a huge difference between photographer and writer blogs. One focused strongly on images so posts are often entered into by clicking on images, while in the other the primary focus is on text like a book. Of course, even a writer's site can have thumbnail images in all of their posts so it's up to you to decide whether you want to invest time and energy into having images in your posts and whether images are the highlight of the post or an afterthought. How, where, and if images are presented in a website theme is one of the largest differences between all of the themes available on platforms like WordPress.
#3: Plan for the Foreseeable Future
Plan out your customization needs or sketch out a rough idea of your site layout ahead of time. If you know roughly what box areas you will need inside your site ahead of time, then many website themes can be simply excluded from the candidate list. Many themes do not actually provide many areas in order to add in widgets or other page elements outside of simple written content. Although you can add custom areas by modifying a sub-theme, that takes time and effort to get looking just right in many cases. Many website themes are built to never be anything more than a Tumblr blog equivalent so decide ahead of time if you will need more than that in the immediate foreseeable future.
You can always customize any theme if you spend a little time to learn how
#4: Don't Stress Your Decision Too Much
Remember that you can always change it later. Most websites change out their theme every few years. This includes professionally made designs that may cost thousands of dollars for a company to fund each time. If something looks perfect today but does not work for you any more in a few months then that's fine. More than likely only your most dedicated readers or followers are going to notice when your site layout changes and they can probably provide you constructive feedback at that time anyway. Some of the best content sites on the internet don't even really stress their website theme in the first place like stevepavlina.com.
Remember to Breath and Relax
I hope this post reduces the numbers of people suffering over their website theme choices like I did just a bit. In my opinion, a website theme serves to amplify the impact of the content that is already there. For that to work, your content needs to be good in the first place. No amount of stylized text colors or cheap thumbnails will ever make up for having something worth visiting on your website. That said, once you find, create, or have made the right one, it makes a big visual difference and can completely change how your site looks.