I don’t watch a ton of TV, but HGTV is one of my guilty pleasures. I can’t get enough Property Brothers, Fixer Upper and Love It or List It. But when a couple is touring a home, it drives me crazy when all they can comment on is the color of the room. The color should have no influence on their decision to buy the house because it’s easy to change. Instead, they need to focus on structure, the layout and the functionality of the home.
The same thing can be said when selecting a theme for your website, it can be easy to get wrapped up in the pretty pictures, fancy demos and endless choices. But when it comes down to it, the functionality of the theme should be the most important consideration.
When choosing a theme, the first thing you need to do is disregard the colors, photos and copy because all of that will be customized to match your brand. It can be hard to turn your blinders on and look at just the framework. Here are a few questions you can ask when selecting a new theme.
What is the goal of your website?
When selecting a theme for your site, you want to consider the goal of your website and what tools you will need to help get you there. A website designed to market services has different needs than a website designed to sell artwork.
Create a list of pages your website will include and then review the demo site. Do you a see a page that would work well for your sales page? Do you like the layout of the blog? Is it easy to integrate ecommerce into the site? Consider the types of pages and features you would like your website to include and then select a theme around that criteria.
Who is your audience?
When selecting a theme, always keep your audience in mind. If you already have a website and are just refreshing your site, spend sometime with your Google Analytics to determine who is spending time on your website. You can find a large amount of information about your site visitors under the “Audience” tab on the right.
If your visitors are older than expected, then you might want to pick a less complicated theme. If you have more traffic coming from mobile devices, then you must check out your theme options on your cell phone too. Most importantly, you want to make sure your audience will easily be able to easily navigate your website so you can make a sale or book a new client.
What are your Future Goals?
Select a theme that will grow with you. If you change your theme up every two years, chances are high it looks very different when you first installed the theme. Therefore, you should always look ahead when choosing a theme. For example, if you are thinking of opening an ecommerce shop next year, find out if that is an option with the theme you select. While themes are not a huge investment, taking the time to customize one to your brand is an investment. Always be sure to keep in mind how a theme is able to grow and change with your business.
If you are looking for a new theme, here are a few of my favorite places to check out.
WordPress themes: Coded Creative | Restored 316 | Pretty Darn Cute
Squarespace themes: Designs for Squares | Square Space 7 Theme Chart (Squarespace has beautiful built in themes, making it unnecessary to purchase one many times)
When selecting a theme for your WordPress or Squarespace site, be sure to consider the theme’s functionality before you fall in love with a beautifully designed theme that does not include essential features you need. Be sure to keep your audience and future goals in mine when selecting a theme. If you still aren’t sure what the best theme is for you, schedule a website refresh with me today. We will select the best theme for your brand and decide the best way to set up your site. Want to learn more? Head over here!
3 thoughts on “You Can’t Pick a Theme Just Because It’s Pretty”
Great advice, Katie – couldn’t agree more regarding the fact that the website’s purpose should be the primary driver behind choosing a theme or template. However, with WordPress I’d actually suggest that looking at the theme developer’s history and post-purchase support is also important, as WordPress is a bit more technical and requires constant updates. I’ve heard too many stories of people buying themes only to find that they aren’t supported after purchase, or that after a couple of months certain bits no longer work with the latest version of WordPress, or that the themes are brand new and still buggy… or worse still, that there’s a security loophole in the theme. The last thing a web novice needs is any of these headaches. I’d always advise choosing a mature, established theme by a well-rated developer to save any potential issues. Many developers will use the point-release system to indicate how old/established their theme is (eg. theme version 7.8 – much like computer operating systems).
And an equally important thing to note with Squarespace is that by sticking to their own templates – as opposed to buying a custom one – the templates will automatically be updated in future, for free, without you having to do anything. Unfortunately, bespoke/custom templates from 3rd parties won’t have this benefit. I don’t normally recommend going the full custom template route with Squarespace for this reason. Instead, go with one of the Squarespace default templates and use the built-in design tools to create nearly infinite design possibilities. And then if necessary, use a bit of custom CSS or a plugin to do anything fancy that’s not possible within the standard design tools.
Yaaasssss! I absolutely love this post, you’re so right! So many people think about getting a website that looks pretty (I’ve certainly been guilty of it in the past), but aesthetics really need to be ignored until you figure out what your website is really supposed to do for you. Sharing this everywhereeee 🙂
Well said. Way to help others reach their potential and live unstoppable. Cheers!