Yes, a theme determines the look of your blog. But if you think that’s all that it does, you are highly mistaken!
Read on to see what a theme can do for your blog, and which features you should be looking for when choosing the WordPress theme for your blog.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
The theme you choose has a lot of impact on the SEO of your blog. The way the theme is coded determines if your blog would ever appear a the top of the search engine results page or not!
The way your WordPress theme is coded determines how fast (or slow) it loads. This in turn determines the loading speed of your blog posts and pages.
The theme also determines which sections of a webpage are load first. If you have a content + sidebar design, which one would you like to load first – the content part, or the sidebar? Of course, the content!
That’s the first thing you would want your blog visitors to see, and that’s the first thing you would want the search engine spiders to see! But you would be surprised to see so many themes that pay no attention to this!
You need to opt for a WordPress theme that is coded in a lightweight manner (so that it loads fast), and is search engine optimized.
Great Look and Design
The look of the theme is what hits you first, and it should definitely be clean and professional looking.
At the least, the WordPress theme you select should give you the option to play with colors, and should give you predefined color options you can choose from.
Better still, you can opt for a WordPress theme framework, where you can implement the framework and choose various “child themes” to change the look and feel of the blog. This way, the core of your blog – the content, the SEO, etc – remains intact even when you completely change the look of your blog!
A WordPress site can be hacked and exploited by hackers – if the theme is not secure. Your WordPress theme should follow all the WordPress security best practices so that your blog is not hacked.
As we discussed above, you should get the option to install various child themes. If not, you should at least be able to change the color scheme or color style of your theme.
Apart from this, you should get the choice of selecting various layouts for your blog. Some of these are:
Sidebar / Content
- Content / Sidebar / Sidebar (this is the layout I use for this blog)
- Sidebar / Sidebar / Content
- Sidebar / Content / Sidebar
- Content only (no sidebar – full width content)
- Content / Sidebar (this is a popular blog layout, and I use it for my New York City blog and my Cruise tips blog)
A good theme would not only allow you to choose from all these layouts, but would also give you an option to change the layout at a post or page level!
Your theme should come with multiple menus and menu locations – that way, you can further customize the look of your blog, and place important links at the relevant places.
The WordPress theme should also offer you multiple widgetized areas – sidebars, header, footer, etc. This way, you can put information using widgets at various locations.
WordPress Theme – Support
Sooner or later, you would face technical issues with the theme. It may have nothing to do with the theme – it might be a conflict with a plugin you are using, or some hosting setup issue.
Whatever it is, you would need support – you would need to find out if it is the theme that is at fault, and if so, you would need it fixed!
That’s why the theme should have a good help desk or support team – this would ensure that you get help when you are stuck with a problem.
Ideally, the theme should also have a good user community (say a discussion forum) where you can talk about your issues. Also, a knowledge base – tutorials explaining theme installation, etc) would also prove to be useful.
WordPress Theme – Updates
WordPress is an evolving blogging platform, and comes up with updates quite frequently. Your theme needs to keep up with the changes in WordPress to function optimally.
For this reason, your theme should have the backing of a good company or a dependable programmer. This would ensure that you would get updates of the themes, and your blog would keep functioning at its best.
The updates should also be smooth – you don’t want a complicated theme update process that results in downtime for your blog, right?
Ideally, your WordPress theme should provide 1-click updates, just like the updates for WordPress itself.
WordPress Theme – License
While narrowing down on a theme, you should carefully evaluate your needs and check the theme license. Are you allowed to install it on only 1 blog? Or is it for multiple blogs? Can it be installed on client blogs?
Wait – you may think that these things are not important if you are just starting your first blog. but keep in mind that things change!
I started with just 1 blog, but now have more than 20 blogs! Imagine buying a separate license for each of them! Wouldn’t it be better if you can buy a theme with a license to install it on multiple domains? (I did just that – I use the Genesis theme framework, and use its many child themes on my blogs. But more on that below)
Also, although you might not be creating blogs for your clients, a developer license (with permission to install the theme on others’ blogs) can come in handy if you ever want to sell your blog in the future – with this license, you can sell it including the theme, which means less changes and less work for the new owner.
This is not something you should pay too much money if you are just stating your blog, but if the theme comes with such an option, its definitely a plus.
WordPress Theme I Use and Recommend
The Genesis theme framework is highly SEO optimized, very easy to install & update (1-click), and is constantly updated to keep up with WordPress changes. It is also priced very reasonably.
The child themes make it possible to change the look of your blog instantly without any technical knowledge!
I am very happy with the Genesis theme, and I highly recommend it. If you are looking for a WordPress theme for your blog, I suggest that you go for the Genesis theme framework – please click here for more details.
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