Calgary Web Design | How to choose a great WordPress templateWhy is a WordPress template useful and how do I choose a great one?

WordPress is a powerful platform that has celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2013. While it started as a blogging platform only, it is believed it now powers around 20% of all websites around the World.

What’s a “theme” or “template”?

A WordPress “theme” or “template” is to your website what the foundation is to your home. It supports it and allows for the building of great features. Without a template, you could not build a website on WordPress. It provides a great structure to create pages, posts, menus and a plethora of other features to make your website engaging to your audience.

Why are templates useful?

In my opinion, a template’s main benefit is to provide a pre-built structure that will allow your website to be up and running faster than coding it from scratch. Also, the way these templates are coded is so flexible that turning your 5-page website into a full ecommerce online store is a breeze.
As an analogy, a carpenter would focus on his craft and talent at building a magnificent staircase but would not spend his valuable time going to a forest to cut his own wood to make the elements that compose it. He would purchase them then craft them in a unique way.

The way I’ve chosen to bring value to my clients is the same: I focus on what’s important by purchasing a well-developed and high quality structure then turn it into a website that matches my client’s requirements.

How to choose a great WordPress template?

Now that you’ve gathered the website’s requirements, it’s time to pick a great template.
There are thousands of WordPress templates available on the internet and some of them are free while others represent a certain investment. Prices can range from an average of $45-$50 for a well designed all-purpose template on “Themeforest” website and more than $200-$300 for a template designed to cater to special needs such as Realtors’ online tools.

Here are some of the factors I use to screen templates and pick a great one that will serve as a long-term investment for my clients:

1

WELL-ESTABLISHED DEVELOPER

I look at how long the developer has been designing and selling templates online, how many templates they display on their portfolio, how many sales they’ve made. Sometimes, a large number of templates on the portfolio can be detrimental as the developer might try to do too many different things instead of focusing on quality. Also, keeping all these templates up-to-date, providing support can be overwhelming for them.

2

RESPONSIVE DESIGN

I only choose “responsive” templates as this is the way the internet is going nowadays. A “responsive” template means that not only it is already mobile-friendly for smartphones and tablets but it also adapts the content to the browser window’s size. Let’s say you’re working on a 13″ laptop and you’d like to have half of your display showing a website and the other your spreadsheet, the “responsive” feature would allow you to still see the full content of the webpage instead of forcing you to scroll horizontally, one of the things a visitor shouldn’t have to experience.

3

BROWSERS COMPATIBILITY

The last thing you want is your website to display badly on Firefox or Internet Explorer (IE) because the template only works on Google Chrome. Your website, by definition, is online so virtually anyone on earth can have access to it. I always choose my templates carefully so they’ve been designed to work well on Firefox, Chrome, Safari and IE down to the version 8. Eventually, you can’t cater to people who like to hang on to their version of IE 6 for the sake of not liking “change” but at least you’re covering the majority of internet users.

4

LATEST UPDATE

This is what determines if the template’s developer is still engaged at making his template great over time. If the last update was 2 years ago, I would choose a different template. You would probably miss out on the latest code standards and great technologies that makes a website fantastic and contemporary. Also check the “changelog” to find out what has been fixed or updated during the last review. This can help you find out if the developer adds new features from time to time and listens to users’ feedback to improve the template.

5

SUPPORT

Last but not least, support is one of the most important aspects that should not be overlooked. Even if you’re pretty comfortable at designing websites, a great support team on the developer’s side can make a significant difference in how successful the outcome will be. Having a dedicated place to get answers to your questions can help you make the most out of a template and be more reactive should a feature not behave as expected.

Do you need help choosing a great WordPress template?

Contact me today, I would be delighted to help you find a great template that will serve you well on the long-term!

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below!