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wordpress-581849_1280Want to know the secret to a great WordPress website? Themes! Isn’t that cheating, you ask? No!!! Not only are themes able to be customized, but they can be styled beyond recognition. Then why use a theme, you ask? Because it’s not about the design, but the function that makes a theme so valuable. Themes provide the framework, the foundation or building blocks for a website.

Built-in Features

For example, what if you need a website specifically for your real estate business? Yes, you can have a designer develop what you need from scratch, but it’s just as effective, if not more to purchase a theme with built-in capabilities suited for that industry. A real estate website will need options built in for a filterable property gallery so visitors can search for available properties by area, type and other options. It’s possible for a web designer to do this, but it would take centuries, which would cost them a lot of time, cost you a lot of time, and thus drive up the cost to create the website.

What Does the Perfect Theme Come With?

On several occasions, I’ve gotten excited about a theme that I thought was perfect. It seemed to have everything I needed, which I thought would save me time. Instead, it became time consuming. Some of the issues I’ve run into have included finding out my purchase did not come with technical support, not having access to plug-ins that made me want to buy the theme in the first place, and finding out my purchase only covered one year of use. The technical support piece is always the area that causes the most headache. I’ve wondered if certain theme development companies purposely hid coding issues so that even if you did everything out the issue still remained. Then being at your wits end you reach out to them only to find that support services would cost extra! I’m sure that’s not really what happens, but it sure feels that way when you’re excited about a theme you purchased and it won’t function properly. So before you purchase the theme that catches your eye, make sure to Before jumping right in to purchase a theme, it’s important to spend some time researching what’s included. You’ll also want to make sure you can see a demo of the theme. That way you’re able to test the functionality. Here are things to look for before purchasing your theme:

  • Is it a one-time fee or subscription? Understand the length of time you can use your theme. Is it a one time purchase, or is it good for one year only?
  • Understand what features are included. Is that fancy calendar or property map plug-in that you love so much included with your theme? If so, is an additional purchase required? If you do need to make a purchase for the plug-in, it’s quite alright. Just make sure it’s within your budget, and just like with themes, verify the type of support received and the length of time the plug-in can be used.
  • Read the reviews. Understand whether customers are satisfied after they’ve purchased the theme. If you’re allowed access to the support section of the theme website, take note of the types of issues web designers and developers are having. No theme is perfect, so it’s normal to see a complaint or two. If these comments are followed up by a caring support team members and the issues seem to be resolved, then that’s a good sign. If you see multiple complaints by those who have purchased the theme, and not much follow up from the theme’s developers to resolve the issues, then that’s a problem.

After Purchasing Your Theme

Once you’ve purchased your theme, the WordPress software will need to be installed on your server. This is through WordPress.org and not WordPress.com (I’ll explain the difference in another post). After installing the software, the theme and plug-ins need to be installed and configured. Then design needs to be incorporated, such as the header with your logo, an image slideshow, buttons, etc. Other areas will need to be configured like the footer and sidebar areas, your site favicon, and much more. Customizing the theme will make  your website to completely reflect you or your company and it will no longer look like the them. The entire process is made a lot easier with a theme, but it does require patience and some technical know-how, which is when a web designer like me could come in handy!

Go ahead – test drive a theme. Here’s a live demo for a real estate WordPress theme template. Even if this is not the type of website you need, take a look at the demo to get an idea of how themes work!

If you’ve found a theme you like and need help installing it, please contact me!