Selecting a theme for your WordPress site is probably one of the most important aspects of the development process. Unless you’re building your own from scratch, the theme you choose will dictate the layout and overall design of your site. Sure, you can change up the color scheme, move things around, and add plugins to round out features, but the main theme lays the foundation for all you build on top of it.
Understandably then, theme selection is one of your big site development decisions. As is choosing one while being mindful of how it plays into your overall marketing plan. After all, how your site looks bears a heavy weight on your company’s brand identity.
What follows are some tips for general theme selection as well as tips for selecting a theme that fits in with your messaging.
General Theme Selection Tips
Before you can think about marketing, you need to ensure any theme you select checks off a few boxes in the features and functionality departments. Must-haves include:
- Browser compatibility. What good is a fancy new theme if it can’t even be viewed properly on all browsers? Cross-browser compatibility is imperative as is W3 compliance.
- Updates. If you find a theme for free you don’t need to worry about this one so much, but if you’re shelling out cash for a premium theme, you need to see if updates are included in the purchase. Or, at the very least, determine how long the free updates will continue. A year’s worth of updates is typical for premium theme purchases.
- Support. The best themes out there offer plenty of support. That can mean responsive WordPress experts ready and willing to answer your questions at all hours, yes. But it can also mean that the included documentation is useful and thorough. You want to make sure you will have a hand to guide you through the implementation of this theme. There’s no reason you should have to go it alone.
Brand Identity and Cohesion
Your next consideration is to pick a theme that properly emphasizes your brand identity. It needs to feel cohesive with the rest of your marketing materials and should feel like it was custom designed for this purpose. A matching color scheme isn’t enough, I’m afraid.
No, the theme you pick needs to fit in with your company’s overall goals and brand messaging. What do you want to accomplish with your site? What attributes are those that you never see your company deviating from? What features are top-priority for your company’s mission?
Think of it this way: if you run an online fabric store, but the theme you select isn’t outfitted for e-commerce, that would obviously be a huge mistake. Likewise, if you picked a theme that featured metallic tone headers and nuts and bolts sidebar graphics, visitors might think your site is for a hardware store at first glance, not a fabric store. Make sure the theme fits your messaging. To do otherwise only stands to confuse and alienate your visitors. And those are words not typically associated with making the sale.
You also need to pay attention to the amount of social engagement that’s possible in any theme you select. Is it properly outfitted with social profile icons and social sharing buttons? Are these featured in a prominent place? Can you include the profile links that make the most sense for your brand?
While you can certainly enable greater social sharing capability through plugins, the best brands have thought about social engagement as a part of their primary theme design — not just as an afterthought. A theme that allows for custom icons might even be a better option, since it lets you put your unique brand on this small detail of your site.
Any theme you select must be optimized for conversions. There’s just no getting around this. If you plan on selling a physical product, service, or anything else, your theme needs to support calls-to-action that can be customized to suit your needs.
This doesn’t always equate to a big CTA button, mind you. However, it does mean that an opt-in form should be included. It means that various CTA button styles should be included. And it also means the theme offers enough flexibility to insert these CTAs wherever it makes the most sense for your business.
Ideally, your theme will include a contact page template and the option to insert a CTA form or button on any page and on any spot on that page.
As you know by now, choosing a WordPress theme is no small decision. It weighs heavily on how your site will be received by visitors and it can also directly impact your conversion rate. While you can always change your theme at a later date, it’s a much better idea to put in the time and effort to pick the right theme from the get-go.
Your brand is everything online. It’s your first impression and it’s your ongoing reputation. Best to put some thought into your WordPress theme and how it bolsters your brand right now don’t you think?
What factors did you consider before choosing a WordPress theme? Did keeping it in line with your marketing and brand messaging play a role at all? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Image sources: Sean MacEntee
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