In the bad old days, it was nearly impossible to design an attractive and professional looking business website. If you managed to pull off the task, you spent a small fortune working with a temperamental web designer — and the project took months.
These days the situation is completely reversed. With the proliferation of professionally designed WordPress themes, it’s nearly impossible to have a bad looking website.
There’s no shortage of great looking themes that will make your site look like a million bucks. Unfortunately, beauty alone is no guarantee that a theme is right for your website.
Not all WordPress themes are created equal. While a theme may look professionally designed, it may not offer the range of features you need to build the type of website that will best serve your business.
Before you invest time and money on your dream theme, stop to ask a few questions first. Your answers will help you determine whether or not that dream theme is right for you.
Does the theme meet your branding needs?
If you’re using an “off-the-rack” theme, you’ll want to make it your own. You don’t want a website that looks exactly like thousands of others.
You’ll need to add your logo, customizing the header, and ensure that the color scheme matches your other branding assets. All without having to muck around in the HTML (or worse, the PHP templates).
Look for a theme that includes support for WordPress custom headers, and offers an options page that allows you to change colors schemes without modifying your theme’s stylesheet.
Does the theme meet your content needs?
Your theme should feature a home page layout that highlights your most important content, and provides multiple ways to feature posts and pages. Depending on your tastes, you may also look for interactive features like a content slider or image gallery where you can display high-resolution photos and videos.
And don’t forget your call to action! It’s the most important part of a business website. Your theme should allow you to highlight your message while making it look great in the process.
Does the theme support WordPress custom menus?
Navigation menus have a huge impact on how your visitors move around your website. Fortunately, WordPress custom menus make it easy to manage your website navigation.
Most recent WordPress theme’s support the custom menu feature. Be sure your theme does.
Depending on your needs, a single menu location (usually near the top of the theme) may not be enough. Look for a theme with multiple menu locations: a primary menu, a utility menu for links to support and related topics, and a footer menu.
Is it the right theme type?
There are many different types of WordPress themes. The vast majority of themes are designed to work as blogs, not as business websites.
For a more general business website, you’ll do well to stick with a theme that’s identified as either “business” or “CMS” (Content Management System).
If appropriate, consider a specialty theme designed specifically for your profession or industry. There are specialty themes available for real estate agents, restaurants, photographers, and even authors.
Does the theme include adequate support for widgets?
WordPress widgets provide a tremendous amount of flexibility by allowing you to position content on your website with drag and drop ease.
Widgets zones can be positioned anywhere in a theme. Usually, they’re located in the sidebar and footer areas, but recently we’ve seen a few themes that include widgets on the home page.
The more widget areas your theme has, the more freedom you have to position content on your website.
How does the theme look on smartphones and tablets?
The number of visitors coming to your website on mobile devices is skyrocketing. These visitors see your site much differently than those using traditional computers.
A theme that looks great on a 27-inch monitor may be completely unusable on a 4-inch phone.
You can avoid these problems by looking for a theme that uses a “responsive design.” A responsive theme automatically delivers your site in a format that provides the best experience for every user, regardless of their device or screen size.
Consider these questions before committing to a WordPress theme, and your website will be much better as a result.