Whether you are using a platform like WordPress with its open source community and wide selection of themes, or an alternative like Joomla that has its own set of options, you need to make a decision about your website’s theme. Blog creation is a great way to engage with a community, spread the word about a topic, market products and brands, collect knowledge and information- the list goes on. The blog format is so versatile and useful in different contexts that there are almost infinite ways to use a blog. But settling on the right design, in the form of a theme, can make a big difference to how popular your blog becomes. The right theme will showcase your best content, while a bad theme will leave visitors confused and even annoyed. In this post, we will go over some important tips to help guide your search for a theme.
To Pay or Not To Pay
First of all, do not be afraid to spend money on a theme. Most blog creation platforms come with a set of great free themes, although they might not offer the same flexibility as premium themes when it comes to design and customization. Some might also have poor-quality images, load slowly, be confusing, or look outdated so a premium theme is more likely to be good. If it is clear to you that a free theme looks bad, it will be clear to your visitors as well. Just take a look at the premium options for your platform. You will probably see some very nice ones across a wide variety of design types and options. That kind of quality is going to help draw people in and keep them coming back. In most cases, a bad design is easier to notice than a good design. Many of the best contemporary themes are minimalist, so the design takes a back seat to the content. This is SEO-friendly and is good for visitors. You don’t want them to have to wait through long load times or see a blog that looks clunky. If you are confident in a free theme, feel free to use it and count yourself lucky.
You need to spend some time thinking about the direction and goals of your blog, because that has a big influence on the kind of theme you want. For example, if you are doing a blog where posts will have a lot of photography, especially if it is your photography, then you would benefit most from a theme that can really showcase images. On the other hand, if you plan to have text-heavy posts, then you want a blog that has good whitespace and that can frame the text well within the post. Your blog might be about trying to get people to give you their email so that you can start sending them content that way, and there are specialized themes for that too. The color palette of each theme is different, and visitors are going to make a strong association between your blog and its dominant colors. Choose carefully and find a color scheme that matches the theme of the blog in some way. It’s hard to switch themes once people are used to one, so don’t settle on a theme just because you found it without much effort. This is the face of your blog.
It is important to talk about the visual appeal of a theme, but it is even more important to consider the functionality. It is very common to see themes that look very good at first glance, but on closer inspection they reveal themselves to be hard to navigate. The desire to put a lot of elements in the theme or try to pull off a cool effect sometimes outweighs building a good navigational menu. However, it is critically important that visitors know where they are at all times and can easily hop to any other page. Again, it is very common to see blogs where the navigation menu is an afterthought. You can hide it away in a dropdown, put it off to the side, string it along the top: as long as it is clear and in the same place on every page, you are in good shape. It is surprising how many themes neglect this basic job. The good news is that if you make an effort to have good navigation, you will stand out from the crowd. It’s a matter of practicality and functionality.
Lastly, take some time to make sure that your chosen theme looks good on mobile devices. The proportion of Internet users who are on mobile devices is over half worldwide, and that share is rising. If your blog looks blurry, distorted, or too big on a mobile device, then you are losing a big chunk of your potential audience. You need to think about finding a theme that is mobile responsive. That is a standard that Google created to ensure sites will display well on tablets and smartphones. It includes concepts like picking good fonts, having images automatically resize, having text columns display at a readable width, and so on. If your site is responsive, not only is that a boon to mobile visitors, but you will also get a big mobile SEO boost. A responsive site will rank higher than a non-responsive one on Google.
As you can see, finding the best theme is a compromise between cost, appearance, and practicality. There is a lot that goes into finding a theme, from how to it looks to how it performs under the hood in terms of speed and SEO. You can’t ever find the perfect theme, but that doesn’t mean you should not spend some time trying. Consider it an investment, which will ideally pay off in the form of future increased traffic and retention.