What Kind of WordPress Theme Do You Really Need?

At first, the whole task of choosing a perfect theme for your site sounds more like fun than actual work, right? You just go to one of the popular theme stores and browse around to find something that you like visually. But is that the the right path? Have you ever wondered what kind of theme does your site really need?

Okay, first things first, there are two sides to this issue.

The obvious part is that you need a theme of really high quality, no doubt about that. No matter from where you get your theme (hint: you’re sure to find something interesting here at ThemeFuse) it needs to be developed by professionals who know their craft and can write safe and effective PHP and HTML code.

The other part is the purpose of the theme. For instance, a writer sharing their work every other day needs a different theme than a small business using a blog to reach their prospective customers.

But that’s just one example, and before we can look into this let’s focus on the “where” part of the matter … as in:

Where to get your theme from?

The easiest thing for me to say would be: here at ThemeFuse, obviously! But hold on for a minute.

The fact is that there are many ways of getting your hands on some quality themes. First of all, don’t even think about getting a free theme. They usually feature some kind of strange encrypted PHP code that can’t be removed.

Actually, you can use free themes for inspiration, and nothing more. When you browse the internet some free themes will naturally catch your eye, but treat them only as an indication on what direction you want to take with your theme.

Since free themes are out of the picture only three ways of getting a nice theme remain:

  • Hire someone to build it around a good framework (like ThemeFuse framework, for example; self-promotion engaged!).
  • Build it yourself.
  • Buy a premium theme.

The first approach is the most expensive. The second is okay, but you might find it hard if you’re not a professional developer. So we’re left with premium themes as the only decent approach for most people.

Don’t get me wrong. Not that long ago I was a big enemy of premium themes. I’m a web developer by education, so I always thought that I can create something myself without spending a dime. But when I saw what sits inside a really quality premium theme I realized the amount of time I would have to spend to create something similar. And since premium themes now are between $40 and $100 the investment is really worth it.

What are the basic kinds of WordPress themes?

As I said, it’s all about the purpose of the theme. In other words, it all starts with answering the question of what do you need the theme for.

When you’re launching your own site or creating one for a client I’m sure you know what the main purpose of that site is (will be).

Some questions to help you determine the purpose:

  • Why am I launching the site?
  • What is going to be the main element of the site?
  • How do you describe the site in two short sentences?
  • Why would people want to visit the site?
  • Who is the site for?

When you have answers to the above questions a clear picture of the site should become apparent … along with its purpose.

At this point you can decide what kind of theme you need.

Nowadays WordPress is quite a serious website management platform, so it can run pretty much any kind of site, not only traditional text-based blogs. Therefore, depending on the purpose of your site you can go for one of the following kinds of themes.

Traditional blog themes

These are blogs like we know them. Simple two or three column designs with the main content block in the center and some sidebars on both or one side.

Example: Writer.

Such themes are targeted towards people who want to create a text-based site, where posts/articles are the most important element.

If your purpose for the site is to showcase your content in a clear and visible way, and at the same time there’s no other element (like a product, for example) that’s more important than that content itself then the traditional blog design is probably right for you.

Essentially, if you want to launch a “blog” then this is the kind of theme you should choose.

Photo blogs and portfolios

In essence, photo blogs are not very different from traditional blogs. The only difference is that there’s rarely any text inside the posts, which usually consist of just a single picture.

Example: Exposure.

Photo blogs are even more difficult to use for additional purposes than video blogs. For example, if you want to promote a product of some kind later on from the blog then it will be impossible to do it from a photo blog theme. Whatever you want to include it will naturally attract less focus than the pictures.

It’s just the way it is, so go for this kind of blog themes only when you’re certain that showcasing your photos (or other work) is the only thing that matters to you.

Magazine themes

There’s a certain opinion circling around the internet that no one actually needs a magazine theme. The problem with magazine theme is that it’s only – and I mean ONLY – suitable for big online magazines. If you’re just publishing one or two articles a day then a magazine theme is not the solution for you.

If your project, however, is a big online publication that showcases work of many people on a daily basis – like 5-10 articles a day – and showing those articles is all that matters to you (your main purpose) then you can consider going for a magazine theme.

Example: Sportedge

Business and corporate themes

Even though classic business sites and corporate sites look very differently they are still pretty similar in nature. The most common purpose of such a site is to showcase some products or services that the business has to offer. In essence, it’s an informational type of site where the main purpose is to put the biggest emphasis on the brand itself.

This type of sites should use a clean and understandable layout with a custom homepage to show some of the most important information about the business. Depending on the scale of the business some additional content blocks might be suitable, especially when there are more departments in the company and every one of them has to be mentioned on the homepage.

A good business theme for you is one that can handle the scale of your business and the nature of its activity.

Example: The advisors

Product themes

Product site are a little different than business and corporate sites. When it comes to business sites the main focus is put on the business itself, not the individual products it offers. A product site is where the product is the main element and, essentially, the only thing that matters on the site.

For example, firefox.com has only one purpose – to get you to download the browser. Of course, the site provides a lot more info, but the main goal is for you to click the download button and get the product.

A good product theme needs to provide a possibility to showcase the product properly, and not overshadow it with other design elements that can draw the attention away from the product.

Example: The Adsivors.

Local business themes

The big question is what’s the difference between local business sites and normal business sites mentioned earlier. When we’re dealing with local business sites it means that the website is not the actual place where the business is done. All sorts of physical businesses are great examples here: restaurants, photographers, galleries, hotels, doctors, cafes, etc.

The main purpose of these kinds of sites is to draw people to the actual front door. A restaurant, for example, can use a website to showcase their menu and maybe even provide table reservation online. In the end, it all leads to getting someone to actually visit the business in person.

For that to happen the site should show the business in the best way possible. First impressions work here as much as anywhere else. If a visitor sees the website as not attractive they will think that the business is not attractive as well.

In a nutshell, a good local business site should answer the question “why a customer would want to visit the business?”

Examples: Coffee Lounge, Medica, Welcome Inn.

That pretty much sums up this post. As you can see, there’s a number of different kinds of WordPress themes. I’m sure you can point out even more examples, and you’re welcome to do so in the comments.

In the end, building a great WordPress site and selecting the perfect theme is about a lot more than just looks. If you start with the purpose of your site you’ll do a much better job at picking a nice theme than someone who focuses only on the visual side.

there are 4 comments added

  1. Thanks for the article Karol and the heads up about the free themes. One thing that is sorely lacking in all Premium Themes sites is a Musician Theme, I have several bands that need sites and the market is very thin. Think about it ThemeFuse!

  2. Great article, And a what about a one Page Wordpress theme ? Everyone's looking for this kind of sturr right now :)

  3. I always make my own WP themes - I use flexible and dynamic WP Theme Generators like Lubith and personalize my websites however and as much as I want. I make the themes I need. It's easy to get good at it and it's more profitable this way - you can always start a business in WP design.

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