WordPress Premium Themes come in all shapes, sizes, designs and layouts. One would be hard pressed to not find a theme they can use that fits their project’s needs. Now more than ever, there is an abundance of quality premium WordPress themes to choose from with every imaginable structure and layout one could want. The key from a cost point of view is to choose a theme that will fit your specific needs “right out of the box.”
Unlike the HTML sites of old, it can get very expensive fast to re-purpose a premium theme. In my experience, it is pretty common with those who are not familiar with how WordPress themes are created and how they work, to think that things can be moved or changed around very easily.
Customizing a premium theme is doable to a point. You can easily customize:
- Your header (top of page) graphic.
- Your basic color scheme by virtue of the theme’s CSS file and changing the core graphic set. (Depending on your theme there could be exceptions to this rule if additional customization of the core theme files are necessary.)
- What displays in widgetized areas or the sidebar(s) by using widgets.
One can even do some simple customizations if they are familiar with PHP and the core files every WordPress theme relies on to display your content.
What becomes costly is when you want to rework the actual structure of the site or make things function differently than the theme or a plugin is set up to do. Things such as moving non-widgetized areas or increasing/decreasing the width of the site can create a domino effect of changes when you want to add or move key content or feature areas around. In this case it will probably be more cost efficient to just choose a more suitable theme. Having to switch themes mid-stream can be avoided if you know what to think about before deciding on a premium theme.
This is why it is so important to be sure you choose a theme that has the visuals you want, lays out your information the way you like and most importantly has the navigational structure you will need.
Going through the theme’s demo site is crucial. You need to take the time to click-through the demo to see how the site navigation works and all the variables, plugins and theme specific widgets that the developer has included that will decide how pages and posts can be displayed. Click on every page, post and drop down example to make sure the site’s structure and layout is what is required for your project.
Know How You Want to Organize Your Content
Before Choosing a Premium WordPress Theme
Here are three important things to check before choosing your theme:
- NAVIGATION: First look at the navigation. In my experience, most clients want primary and secondary navigation. Primary for all your pages — those items that don’t change much and have your core information such as About, Contact, Services, Directions, etc. However, some themes only have one navigation bar where your Blog/Categories are a single tab vs. having its own nav bar for all your Blog categories that hold your posts. Be sure you know what you prefer before choosing your theme.
Whether you are using categories for content, your Blog or both, we don’t want an endless cascade of drop downs. This can be overwhelming to visitors and even cause your navigation to drop “below the fold” making it unusable. This is why I suggest you create a list of pages and a category and subcategory listing of the topics you want to have available for your site visitors to choose from before deciding on your site theme to make sure you have a good fit.
Think intuitive, simple and as condensed as possible. Endless choices make finding things more confusing for site visitors, and in my experience, site owners alike.
Short and sweet categories and page titles work best so that you can take advantage of the limited space in the width of your theme’s nav bar. Categories and page names should be one or two words — not sentences or descriptions that will use up valuable space (or in some cases break the navigation).
- HOME PAGE DISPLAY AND LAYOUT: Many themes will auto-propagate select content from inside your site to display on your top page via widgets. Look at how many areas you have to highlight your key information and make sure you can fill those spots with the information you know your site visitors are looking for upon landing on your site.
Then, keep in mind the amount of information that will fit in that widgetized space. Add more content or larger graphics than allowed for in the design — and the design goes out of whack.
Slideshows are also very popular and common in many premium WordPress themes. These galleries work by you designating a representative photo to display in that slot when you want to feature a certain page or post. That photo will then click over to the page or post that it is linked to.
You will have to have photos that are sized to look good in that space and be ready to add new photos on a regular basis to keep your gallery fresh and interesting to repeat visitors. Modifying the height and the width of the gallery is not always possible without getting into customizing the structure of the rest of the site to accommodate a narrower or taller gallery display.
- SIDEBAR REAL ESTATE: While sidebars are very flexible because you can use WordPress and theme specific widgets to display the information you want to highlight, keep in mind that this space is limited. We don’t want a sidebar that scrolls endlessly past the end of your center content leaving wide-open white space. If you have more information to include than a single sidebar column can provide, you may want to entertain themes that offer two sidebar layouts to contain all your widgets.
If after reviewing the above considerations, and a premium WordPress theme meets your goals, you have most likely found the theme that will work for your project.
Taking the time to thoroughly review a theme’s demo and knowing in advance exactly what and how much information you need to accommodate it time well spent. Which means you will have to spend less on customizations — or a new theme!
Last but not least — support, support, support. Look for support forums you can tap into. E-mail the developer if you still have questions after reviewing the demo and note the type of response you get. Professional? Prompt? Detailed? The best theme in the world is useless without support!
At your service,