If you have or are planning on starting a blog, you are most likely a creative individual in some form. Hopefully, your website/blog will reflect you, your personality, your mission, and your business.
But how do you make that happen?
When I first started my blog back in 2011, I began on blogspot.com with a very basic, very unoriginal theme. There were no options to customize or brand myself. It was just a platform where I began writing and exploring what I wanted my blog to be and become. There really weren’t many options at that time and I simply didn’t know how to install or even how to go about finding a theme. Have I learned a thing or two since then!
First, I am going to assume that since you are reading this post you are in fact looking to choose a website theme and you are on a WordPress platform. You have chosen a name for your blog and thought about what niche you will be in.
Obviously, when you are looking for a theme you will be wanting a visually appealing theme that will capture the attention of your audience, future brands you want to work with, and be able to grow with you and your content.
Here are several important things to look for when you purchase a theme:
Theme layouts come in all shapes and sizes. This will be the base of how your website is visually structured.
If your website is heavy with photography (example: food bloggers & photographers) you will want a theme that will showcase your photographs to their fullest potential grabbing the eyes of your audience and pulling them in.
On the other hand, if you are heavily word based tutorials, you will want to make sure your theme layout makes for easy reading. Studies have shown that blog posts that are heavy in wording need to be broken down into smaller, 2-3 sentence paragraphs to be sure that your reader won’t lose her place when reading on small electronic screens.
The themes homepage will be the landing spot for new readers to explore your site. Maybe your blog post on Pinterest brought them to your blog and they are curious to read more about you or more of your blog, they will click to the home page.
Look at the themes static homepage to see if they layout provides an ideal overall glimpse into your blog. Can they see the latest posts? Is there a highlight real of your top posts? Can they easily see the options to explore your website?
These are all important to consider when choosing a theme.
Think about the categories in your niche. This will be especially important for those in a Lifestyle niche. You need to have your Categories (food, travel, beauty, etc) easily available to navigate for your readers. Your number one goal is to turn your reader into a stalker! Having categories easy to find and navigate will keep them on your site clicking and reading.
For those who are more niched and don’t have the need to break down their posts into a number of specific categories, you don’t necessarily need a bold category bar at the top of your blog. You could instead focus on a theme with a really great highlight real that flips through your top posts enticing your new readers to click through.
About Me Page
I cannot stress enough how important it is to have an About Me page that is easy to find and engaging to read!
This is how you tell your new readers all about you! And this is also the place where brands will come to find out more about you and where you are from!
A featured image represents the content, theme or mood of your blog post. Think of them as visual snapshots of your content.
Look to see if your theme will enhance the presentation of your site using Featured Images. A theme that utilizes featured images will make quick work in laying out your content in a visually appealing way.
Sidebars are an ever evolving part of your blog. A sidebar is where you can “advertise” your About Me page, a subscription box, a search bar, and hopefully - advertising. Sidebars are the perfect place to add in freebies, opt-ins, and the top read posts on your blog.
When you look the themes you are considering, look to see if you have the option of choosing which side of the screen the sidebar will appear on. How much space will that sidebar take up? Will it be distracting from your content or does it seamlessly add to your content?
Don’t assume that because a theme looks beautiful on your laptop screen it looks just a gorgeous on a tablet or smartphone.
Make sure you can see a live view of that theme on all devices. Most of our bloggers have reported that over half of their audience reads their blogs on their mobile devices! That means that your theme NEEDS to be just a beautiful and readable on a mobile device as it is on your laptop.
Most websites designers are now automatically making their themes mobile friendly, but please don’t assume that they are.
There are a few other things to think about when deciding on a theme.
If you are planning on offering a product to purchase, look for themes that offer a “shop” page. Even if your product is not ready to sell, this would be a great feature to have on hand for when you are ready to have that product live.
For those who utilize a lot of affiliate links (i.e. fashion & beauty bloggers), look for a theme that optimizes and features those images and links. There are some really cool features in some themes that make shopping your page easy for the readers as well as easy for you to plug in your affiliate links.
Don’t go with a fad. While it’s tempting to look at all the other “popular” bloggers with their customized and branded themes, don’t fall into the trap of trying to copy them or the trending fad. Go with your gut and who you are and your personality!
I always suggest making a moodboard on Pinterest of all the things that speak to you. You will see a theme peek through that is really inspiring and can give you really great inspiration when it comes to selecting your theme.
THE AUTHOR: KEIKILANI JACKSON
Keikilani (pronounced Cake-ee-lawn-ee) has been blogging since 2011. She is a mother to six crazy kids, half of whom she adopted from Foster Care. She loves sharing real motherhood stories, creating recipes & feeding her friends, and finding the small good things in everyday life that make it amazing! She has been a Virtual Assistant & Public Relations Representative for kick-ass boss babes since 2011. Brainstorming & strategizing is her favorite! Okay… her husband and dark chocolate is her favorite…. But you know what I mean!