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Selecting a website theme can be overwhelming – there are literally thousands of free and paid options available to download and purchase. Your theme is the overall look, feel, and style of your website. This includes things like color palette, layout, and styling elements. Essentially, your website theme is a direct representation of your brand and has a direct impact on your users’ experience.
Admittedly, I was never a fan of pre-made website themes when my agency provided website design services. Years ago, most out-of-the-box themes were clunky, provided SEO nightmares, and just weren’t as effective as a new custom design.
Times have changed, however, and now there are plenty of beautiful themes – but don’t judge a book by its cover – poor coding, slow speeds, search engine optimization issues and poor user experiences exist. still.
To help you choose a great website theme for your particular business needs, be sure to consider these five things.
KISS stands for “Keep it simple, stupid” – one of my favorite sayings in modern web design. Years ago websites were very noisy and companies wanted flash animations, fancy features and other bells and whistles. Now, flat designs with a minimalist approach are popular.
Busy websites take the user away from the desired call to action, and they are a headache to navigate on mobile devices. If you take a look at the Team 10 website, you’ll see a great example of effective design. Each section of the website is simple, has a flat design and gives the information seeker exactly what they are looking for – nothing more and nothing less. It’s so simple it’s awesome.
2. Availability of Developer Support
This is something few people take into consideration when selecting a theme. It is very rare that you can install a theme and not have to make updates as the platform you are using evolves and evolves. This could be due to feature changes or security issues – no matter what you use, from WordPress to Shopify and all the other options, you should anticipate the necessary updates to prevent your theme from breaking.
The majority of theme markets will have developer information, as well as a log of all updates that have been released for each particular theme. Pay attention to this information, as well as customer reviews and ratings – it can give you a lot of information.
Themes that have been around for a long time and have multiple updates indicate that the developer is constantly making changes to improve the theme. One of the most popular WordPress themes, Newspaper, has over 57,000 sales and is constantly updated. If you watch it here, you can scroll down to see the update log and a list of all the changes made each time. This is a sample theme with great developer support.
3. Movable preparation
Almost all popular modern-era website themes are responsive, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re guaranteed to deliver a great mobile experience. There are many websites that will pass Google’s mobile test, but offer such poor user experience that they are worthless on smaller screens, in terms of conversion potential.
Look for a theme that is highly responsive and designed to convert visitors. If you look at this contact page on a desktop or laptop computer, you will see that the form has several steps. It is attractive and very easy to perform on desktops and laptops.
Now, if you look at the same page on a mobile device, you will notice that there is a very visible “Click to call” button at the very top of the page, allowing the visitor to make immediate contact without even scrolling. If they scroll down, they find the contact form, but in a different format that’s much more mobile-friendly.
The majority of website themes will have working demos that you can play with before purchasing, so be sure to get them up and running on mobile and tablet devices.
4. Available Plugins, Apps and Extensions
It’s very rare that you run a website theme in its stock version – you’ll customize the look and feel to match your brand, plus special features to improve user experience and turn more traffic into leads, sales, and revenue .
WordPress has over 54,000 plugins available, Shopify has thousands of apps, and WooCommerce has extensions available to help you enhance your website theme.
You should know which platform is best for your business before exploring the available themes, and once that is decided, you can then start exploring other add-ons. For example, if you’re an e-commerce brand, Shopify is very hard to beat.
If you’re a small service business and your goal is to generate leads, you might want to use WordPress and focus on posting great blog content to drive traffic. Look at the offer used on this lead capture form – a downloadable brochure in exchange for a name, email address and phone number. Rather than a standard sidebar offer that offers a newsletter subscription or email offer, this gives the consumer immediate access to the bribe.
There are many plugins that can help you implement and manage download offers without the need for coding or development skills. Most of the popular services you’ll use with your website, like Mailchimp, for example, have plugins that make integration easy. Make a list of what you will use and what features you will need to add to your theme and reverse engineer the best options.
5. Cross-Browser Compatibility
Testing your website theme on all popular web browsers is an important step, especially if you plan to use one that hasn’t been updated recently. With so many different devices, browsers, and operating systems in use, testing helps ensure that your theme will provide the same user experience and functionality for everyone.
There are many free tools and resources available online, as well as paid options that offer a free trial. One of the oldest, Browser Shots, lets you run your website through them all at once. The free open-source tool is a great place to start – if you spot a problem on a particular browser, you can then investigate further using other available resources.