WordPress Themes are Important (so are all themes)
To see why WordPress Themes are important, let’s take a look at what a Theme does for you:
- Branding – developing a consistent color scheme, logo, graphics, and layout is an important part of developing a brand. Brands imply trust, character, and personality to consumers. Changing your brand can be dangerous and failing to develop a brand can be deadly. Look at what happened when Gap tried to change its logo. It cost them in terms of both tangible cost and reputation. Moreover, your branding should fit your target market and your product. Compare this blog with Let’s Blog for Money, for instance. They have a totally different feel because the target market is different, as is the strategy. This blog is designed to create authority among mid-sized business and organizations who might hire me to speak or consult with them. The blog must look professional and businessy. Let’s Blog for Money targets small business who have little technological capability, but who want to learn to blog or do e-commerce. It’s more folksy to make blogging look less intimidating.
Now take a look at Wacky, designed primarily as a lifestyle blog for people (women) over 40. Notice the more feminine color pallet and graceful design. So, I’m one person with 3 different personalities across the 3 Wordpres blogs I run. This reflects good branding (although it remains to be seen whether my market feels the same way).
- Functionality and a good user interface – WordPress themes fit on top of the WordPress CMS (content management system) to help manage the look of your website. To be effective, your WordPress theme should be easy for you to use, in terms of customizing the theme and creating content. Your WordPress theme also controls how visitors interact with your site. For instance, does your theme support menus to allow easy navigation? Does it support social share buttons to help spread your content and bring you more visitors? Does your theme support AdSense or other money-making tools? You get the idea. Your WordPress theme determines whether you’ll be successful in reaching your goals.
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Many aspects of the way your theme is coded and what it’s doing behind the scenes affect your search engine ranking and where you appear in search engine results (SERPs). Improving your SEO brings you FREE traffic. You can add plugins to support your SEO (I use WordPress SEO by Yoast), but these can only partially overcome problems that might come from your WordPress theme.
- Security – your WordPress theme affects the security of your site. For more on security, see this post from Let’s Blog for Money.
- Speed – ever since Google upgraded its algorithm, load speed has been an issue in page ranking. WordPress runs a little slow, but that’s a function of what it’s doing and the amount of content on most blogs (WordPress is working on a new version to speed things up a little, read more about it here). But, your theme can seriously slow things down. Also, consider installing W3 Total Cache, which will speed up your website by caching frequently used content.
Theme Advice from the Experts
Here’s what I learned about WordPress themes from the experts at Word Camp Raleigh:
- Themes are difficult to customize. You can change one thing and break another. So, if you want to change more than the logo on the theme, you’re better off starting from a basic theme or from scratch. It’s kind of like husbands, you can’t marry them then think you can “fix” all their bad habits.
- It’s complicated to extend their functionality. Plugins are great tools for increasing the functionality of your blog, but not all plugins will work with all themes and some plugins conflict with others. Again, it’s better to get a theme that works great right out of the box rather than install a bunch of plugins to enhance it.
- Themes can be risky. You don’t know who coded them, whether they were coded to WordPress standards, will they be updated when WordPress changes, are there security holes, are you losing SEO? It’s best to only get themes from reliable sources — like WordPress.org.
Based on this advice, I changed my theme to one from the WordPress.org website. According to the experts, these themes have been tested for compatibility with WordPress and for functionality. Many are written by the same coders who develop WordPress. So far, I’m very happy with my new theme. What do you think?