Now that you know why you should use WordPress for your website, you have to make the next decision – which WordPress theme should you use for your website?
There are so many WordPress themes out there, free and paid, that it can feel almost impossible to choose one. So most people just dive an and choose what looks best to them – but this can be a serious mistake. Aesthetics should, of course, always play a role in theme selection, but they shouldn’t be the only factor to regard.
Single WordPress theme or framework?
First, let’s have a look at the different variations themes can come in. The common standard is a single theme. When you install WordPress, it already comes with such a theme (Currently it’s 2017) which gives you the basic WordPress functionality, but otherwise is a little bland.
There is a cornucopia of other single themes available on various marketplaces. They vary in layouts, stylization options & functionalities. When it comes down to selecting a WordPress theme, ask yourself these questions:
- What functionality do I need?
- How much content do I have and how do I want it to be represented?
- What layout am I drawn to?
- How easy is it to customize?
- Has it been updated recently and will it be updated in the future?
The investment for a single theme is not that steep and there are also tons of free themes you can choose from. However, there can be pitfalls with these themes.
Let’s imagine you have to update your WordPress theme (which will inevitably happen, as the WordPress core is constantly updated and improved). Did you know that all customizations will be lost unless a child theme is set up to work? Also, the normal lifespan of a single theme is around 2 years for updates and support. The reason behind this is quite simple: For the developer, it’s more economic to develop and sell new a new WordPress theme than to update and support an old WordPress theme.
Anatomy of a framework
WordPress theme frameworks work differently than a single WordPress theme. There are different frameworks available: Thesis, Headway, Genesis to name a few. Frameworks basically provide the core functionality of your WordPress site – if you think about your WordPress website as a car, the framework would be the engine. You then create the layout and design of your website based on what the framework offers. So you basically give the car its design and paint job.
How you will create your website within each framework is different for each framework. For example, in Genesis, the framework is accompanied by a child theme, while you build your websites using skins and boxes in Thesis.
But what advantages has a framework over a single theme? Usually, they have a way longer lifespan, are well documented and supported and often have bigger communities around them that help you with technical issues. They are continually developed and improved
However, they are more expensive and might require yearly license fees for updates, depending on the framework and company you decided to go with.
Which WordPress Theme do I recommend?
I have bad news for you: I can’t give you a “one size fits all” recommendation. As with all things, it comes down to what your needs are and what works well for you. But I’m more than happy to share my own experiences with the Genesis Framework.
I use it exclusively in my Web Development & Design Business. Genesis comes with many advantages: it has great SEO capabilities out of the box, it’s rock solid stable, looks good on mobile without many adjustments and has a huge support-community behind it.
But I also know that Genesis has a bad reputation of being not very user-friendly. This stems from the fact that you indeed need to know a little code (speak HTML and CSS) to customize it. However, I really don’t think that this is a disadvantage because:
- There are TONS of beautiful child themes available you don’t need to customize
- Simple customizations like changing out your colors or fonts don’t require a lot of knowledge (and some child themes also come with easy in-built solutions like color pickers etc.)
A big plus of the framework / child theme for me is also that I don’t need to worry about my customizations. When updates are happening, they are administered in a way that only affects the core and leaves all customizations untouched.
Done for you or do it yourself?
As web development & design is one vital part of my business, you’d probably expect me to warn you from trying to designing your own website and to insist that you need to hire a designer / developer to get a website that looks great and works well. However, I’m not here to tell you that you’ll never have a great website if you create it yourself.
But before you decide to dive into the madness that is DIY and spend time, money and maybe even more than just a little chunk of your sanity, ask yourself these questions:
- Am I a strong learner?
- Am I willing to invest time and energy towards this project?
- Am I not afraid of failing and trying over again?
- Am I a tech-inclined person or does the thought of having to play around with hosting / installation / bug-fixing / troubleshooting gives me nightmares?
If you are hesitating with just one of these questions, you might be better off hiring a designer. Even if it seems like a steep investment first, think about how much time and sanity you will save in the process, not to mention that you can use the saved time to work on your core business and make money there.
Also, be aware that building a website has its own costs – licenses for themes and plugins can add up fast. A designer usually has a developer license for all themes and plugins and will be sharing the costs with you this way.
What is your choice? WordPress gramework or single WordPress theme? Done for you or do it yourself? Let me know in the comments!