In the modern business world, your digital storefront is actually far more important than any brick and mortar shop you could rent. Commerce is increasingly transferring to the internet, as the rising revenues on Cyber Monday as compared to Black Friday prove out. And while you may just be running a blog or website for fun or commentary and not even for sales, you’ll still find far more interaction than on any other sort of platform. The prominent social media networks now boast numbers comparable to the populations of major countries, and even traditional billboard, radio and television advertising are outshined by the internet. You can find your audience and keep them close, but only if your site is effective. That starts with choosing the right theme, which is the overall look and platform that all else will be built off off. Here are five things to consider to help you select a theme for your blog or website.
First of all, does the layout you are looking at support your site’s ‘call to action’? Every blog or website has a purpose. You could be asking people to refer your business, to ‘become a fan’ on Facebook or Twitter or simply to click on a funny image you found. No matter how significant or simple the request, this call to action is the entire purpose of your site. Make sure that the theme isn’t overly complex, and that your site’s primary purpose is visible and clear on the upper third of the site. The site should be easy to read and navigate, even if it is flashy.
Although flash animations and galleries are very pretty, is the theme too reliant on those details? The latest animations and effects can certainly give your site and expensive look, but it also means your users may have trouble with it. Older machines might not load your site properly, or it could take too long to load. Every second of delay increases the chances your user will simply go somewhere else. There are millions of sites on the internet, and if yours doesn’t load fast or properly you will lose traffic.
Does the theme’s structure and emotional tone match up with your core audience? It is easy to find free themes that are beautiful and functional. Some have photo sliders on the upper third or well-appointed slots for videos. But if your blog or website is for an accounting service, this will not be a match. The theme on its own should bring up thoughts and feelings appropriate to your core audience, that’s why you’ll find themes specifically for artists, photographers, journalists, chefs, musicians and pretty much any other niche you can imagine. The closer the match to your business, the better your numbers will be.
What sort of features does this theme offer you? When you see the theme listed, it should also include information about the various features it comes stocked with. Some of these you will never touch, but others are absolute necessities. Remember you are going to have to make alterations to even the most impressive themes, and if you are a web newbie, you’ll be better off with a user-friendly, feature-rich theme than with something you’ll have to reprogram. And if the latest operating systems and mobile platforms aren’t covered, choose another theme.
Finally, what sort of support can you get from this theme’s company? Prestashop templates are gorgeous, but they wouldn’t be nearly as good if they didn’t come along with solid online customer service. If you download a theme from a company like WordPress, they will offer support, including online boards populated by users just like you asking and answering questions. If you download from the theme’s designer you’ll have to rely on those individuals for support. Make sure you are comfortable with the level of support offered, especially if you have to pay for the theme.