In todays lesson of 7 Days of WordPress we cover the 8 things to take into consideration when choosing a theme, to help you find the best theme that will fit your business needs. We also give some details on our favourite theme providers, explain how to install your theme and for those with existing themes, how to make the switch to a new theme.
How to Choose the Right Theme
Choosing the right theme is no easy task. However there are 8 things you should take into consideration when choosing the right theme for your business needs.
1. Theme Features
First things first, you should take some time to plan your site, the pages you’ll want to have and then list out the features you’ll need. For example if you’re a photographer, you’ll definitely want a Blog, Galleries, Slideshows, and Video options. Do you need a custom logo, your own fonts and colors? Should it have specific layouts? Is it ready for eCommerce?
Write out all the features and then you can review some providers based on that list.
2. Responsive Design
This is no longer an optional item when choosing your theme. Your website should work on all devices. Responsive design allows your site to do just that. Make sure that the theme provider you’re looking at, offers responsive design. Check out the demos on your mobile to make sure it’s going to look how you want for your mobile site visitors.
3. Styling and Colors
Can you add your own fonts, colors and logo to make your site brand-able? It’s super important to use your website to represent your brand online. Make sure that the theme you choose lets you customize your site, to allow you to represent yourself in the best possible manner. This will lead to greater brand consistency, which is important for any business. Your online presence should match your work, style and offline presence.
4. Premium vs Free Themes
We highly recommend investing in a premium theme within your niche. The free WordPress themes are great if you’re a basic blogger and haven’t really got a brand. If you do have a brand and want to come across as a professional, choosing a premium WordPress theme is going to offer you more flexibility and allow you to create a website more suited towards your needs, allowing you to best serve your customers on the web.
Choose a theme that offers you flexibility in design. By this we mean, choose one that will give you the building blocks you really need to create your site. Flexible theme builders allow you to optimize and update your site as you grow. Look for block builder or drag & drop builder options for your site.
Are you a developer or designer? If so then a drag and drop builder is going to give you more flexibility. If you’re not, check out some options that come with built in templates and have custom styling as standard, something you’ll find with Flothemes.
6. Multi Lingual
Going to have a multi lingual site? Is your theme compatible? Does it allow you to add custom fonts especially for those who are using languages that have extended alphabets. Check and see if your theme provider offers support for plugins such as WPML or PolyLang.
Does your theme provider offer ongoing support? What type of support do they offer? Is it free and for how long? One of the major downsides of free themes is that there tends to be zero support offered, so if you’re stuck, you’re likely gonna stay stuck. Most premium theme providers offer some form of support, 6 months to 1 year.
At Flothemes we offer free lifetime (lifetime of product) support with all themes.
Check with your theme provider to make sure you’re going to get the support you need when setting up your new theme.
Is your theme SEO friendly? Will it offer you the necessary flexibility and features to build a site that ranks correctly in Google? Make sure that the theme is coded well as this will greatly help with SEO site structure. You can check W3C Markup Validation to see if it’s using proper HTML 5.
There you have it, 8 things to look out for when choosing a WordPress theme. Next we will look at some premium theme providers that offer great solutions for WordPress.
Best Theme Providers
Having worked with WordPress for over 10 years, we’ve kept tabs on the best theme providers that fit various business needs. Some are more suited towards developers and designers than the basic user. When choosing a theme from a theme developer, you should think about your technical level and ability.
Best Themes for Designers and Developers:
1. Divi by Elegant themes – offering a great platform, a strong community and lots of options, Divi is great if you want to start from fresh and build everything on your own. Their only drawback is the lack of strong blogging options, so if you intend on blogging a lot consider another option.
2. Genesis – One of the best theme frameworks on WordPress it’s stable and very well coded. You will need a child theme to get started which is one of its drawbacks so expect to spend some top dollar to get the design you’re after. It’s also slightly harder to get started with than other themes, again solid theme framework, just maybe not the best for a beginner.
Best themes for Photographers:
1. Flothemes – At Flothemes we have created a responsive block building framework focused around design, allowing you to get an amazingly styled site right out of the box, no coding required. Check out some reviews of Flothemes below.
Interested in getting started with a new site with Flothemes? Get 20% off any theme with the code: DAZZLE20
2. Showit 5 – with Showit 5 you get an experience similar to that of Squarespace with a drag and drop builder which you can create unique layouts all by yourself. A very flexible system, with plenty of options. Just be ready to spend $19 a month plus to get what you’re after all before you even get a design. Again this is a great system for designers, but for those without a design bone in your body, it’s better to choose a platform with integrated design options.
3. ProPhoto – one of the longest photographer themes in the market. ProPhoto is another full site builder. It offers a very extendible platform to get started with building a photography website, with a ton of options. Again it doesn’t come with design integrated, so expect to pay an additional $200 on a design that you like for your site. Still a great option for those wanting to build the site from the ground up themselves.
All of the above options will give you a great opportunity to create a website on WordPress, just take into consideration your technical levels before getting started. Most frameworks aren’t tailored for the basic end user, and are often used by designers and developers alike. If you need something thats beautiful out of the box look for a solution that has it all built in as one package.
How To Install Your Theme
In the following section we explain how you can install your theme to WordPress using both the WordPress installer and via FTP (see below each method).
The WordPress Installer
Using the WordPress installer is the easiest method for installing your new theme.
Step 1 – Download Your Theme
If you’ve purchase a premium WordPress theme you will have received an email with a download link following your purchase. Download the theme, it should be a .zip file or contain a .zip file with your theme name and version (i.e. crowd.zip). This is the file you will install.
Step 2 – Check Files
Make sure that your downloaded file is a .zip file. For Mac users, the file is often unzipped.
In this case, make sure to compress the unzipped folder.
Step 3 – Install Theme
Login to your WordPress site, then go to appearance > themes > add new:
Select Upload Theme > choose file > and locate your theme on your local computer (the .zip file that we previously mentioned) > click the Install Now button. WordPress will upload and extract the theme archive for you.
Having issues with your installation? Check out the section below on common theme installation errors.
Step 4 – Activate Theme
Remember! If you are switching themes from an existing WordPress site, make sure to read our switching WordPress themes article.
For new sites, you are now ready to activate your theme. Simply click “Activate” and that’s it, your theme will now be ready to use.
Once activated you can get started with your new theme!
Note: If automatic installation fails for any reason, please review the process above and review your steps. If you still are experiencing installation issues, another option is to use an FTP service (such as FileZilla) for installing your theme. Note this method is for intermediate users and should only be used if you cannot upload via the WordPress installer.
Via FTP Upload
If the WordPress uploader has failed for various reasons, you can upload your theme via File Transfer Protocol (FTP). FTP is a direct secure link to your hosting account, where you can download, upload, delete, move and change files directly from an FTP client.
You should download one of the FTP clients above to get started.
Step 1 – FTP Details
To get started with an FTP Service, you will need source your FTP information. This can be found by referring to your hosting provider documentation, they will have all details on how to get your FTP information.
Most hosts will have a section just for FTP accounts. The details you require are as follows:
– FTP host address
– FTP username
– FTP password
– location of your WordPress installation inside the hosting account (usually directly into the public_html folder or some folder inside this)
Start your FTP host, and login using the details above.
Step 2 – Download and Unzip Theme
First you must download the theme you’ve purchased, from Flothemes you will have received an email with a download link, or you can login to your account to download your theme. From other theme providers, please check with them on how to download your theme.
Download the Theme, it will be a zipped file with the theme name and version i.e. crowd18.104.22.168.zip. Unzip the file (For mac users with Safari, the file may already be unzipped).
It should look like the following:
Step 3 – Upload to Themes Folder
Now go to your FTP Host (we use FileZilla), login and connect to your site. If you need further instructions for this, refer to your hosting documentation, or contact hosting support.
Once connected to FTP, on the left hand side, look for the directory where you downloaded the theme and find the unzipped theme folder.
On the right hand side, navigate to folder WP Content > Themes (go into this folder) or wp-content / themes.
In the left hand pane, choose the unzipped theme folder, right click and select “Upload” from the menu.
After the transfer is complete you will have your new file in the right hand window, the theme will now be in WordPress.
Step 4 – Activating Theme
Remember! If you are switching themes from an existing WordPress site, make sure to read the switching WordPress themes tutorial. We highly recommend using our Flo Launch Plugin if making a theme switch, as it allows you to build everything in Test Drive mode, and only publish the new site live when it’s ready.
For new sites, you are now ready to activate your theme. Login to WordPress navigate to Appearance > Themes, find the new theme, and simply click the Activate link (see below)
Note: If the Theme preview is blank, do not activate the new Theme without investigating further. Your site may not be displayed correctly, otherwise.
Common Installation Issues
Broken Theme or Stylesheet Missing
The most common WordPress install issue that can occur with users new to installing WordPress themes is a “Broken theme and/or stylesheets missing” error message being displayed when trying to upload or activate the theme.
This error occurs when the file being uploaded is incorrect. When you download your theme you receive a .zip file preceded with the theme name for example theme.zip. If the file is not zipped you will not be able to install the theme. Again this may be different for each provider. Refer to your theme documentation for installation if your theme comes in a different format.
Upload Max File Size too large
This occurs when your WordPress has a max media file size upload/or your host has set a max file upload size. There are 2 options for resolving this issue:
1. Increase Max Upload File Size. Check out the following tutorial from WP Beginner on how to increase the Max Upload File Size for your site.
2. Upload theme via FTP. You can refer to our tutorial above to learn how to install your theme via FTP.
If you get an error after installation, and it has something related to PHP in the text, it’s most likely a PHP error. If thats the case, first check your hosting panel, and find out if your PHP version is at least version 5.6. Again refer to your hosting documentation to find out where to locate this.
If your PHP version is not minimum version 5.6 make a site back up first, and then increase the PHP version to at least 5.6, there may be occasions where you need to contact hosting support to do this for you. If your theme and hosting supports a higher PHP version, try upgrading to PHP 7.0 as it will increase site speed significantly.
Switching WordPress Themes
If you’ve got an existing WordPress site and you want to make a switch to a new theme, we highly recommend checking out our switching WordPress themes page. Our recommendation is to use a plugin like Flo Launch allowing you to create a temporary site to work on whilst updating to a new theme, it will give you the most flexibility and prevent down time from your existing site.
That’s all for today’s lesson. In tomorrow’s lesson we explore some of the basics of WordPress, how to install your theme, the different types of content that can be added to WordPress and much more.