I absolutely love WordPress.
I have tried many blogging platforms right from ghost.org, Blogger through Tumblr, Drupal, et al. I have not found any good replacement to Wordpress and what it can bring to the table.
WordPress empowers users, not only those who are in web development space but all mortals. WordPress enables you to easily create and run your own web sites/blogs, and gives you tools to manage all aspects of the site.
That empowerment is enhanced by WordPress plugins and themes, that extend WordPress far beyond what it can do as a stand-alone application. Plugins are invaluable in their contribution to the site’s functionality, and make it easier for the creator/maintainer of website.
But, it is the theme that catches the eye.
The theme of a website if the first to get noticed, and that’s what often makes or breaks your blog or website at that very first glance.
Themes have quite a bit of history, and have contributed a lot in increasing the popularity of WordPress as a platform. While other CMS like Drupal or Joomla have themes as well, the ease of WordPress combined with themes just blows you away. WordPress provides deeper functionalities that are subject to easy manipulation through themes, and thereby makes it easier to work with.
Themes change the look and feel of the website/blog, and (probably unjustifiably) is a direct indicator of the professionalism, quality of website/content, trust-worthiness and the commitment shown by the blogger to his subject of choice.
Themes provide a cheaper, easier way to customize the website, and make it unique within an available framework.
The first place to visit for themes is of course the themes at WordPress.org.
There are a lot of excellent themes here, and all of them are free (and without spam I might add).
A lot of themes offer a ‘pro’ version that will provide enhanced functionality as compared to the starter free version. Developers/designers starting up with their own WordPress work will find the platform provided by wordpress.org one of the best to showcase their work.
I have used both starter versions, and the completely free versions on my websites, and have been satisfied to various degrees. However, to find the right theme for the website is easier said than done.
- It routinely includes browsing tens of sites other than WordPress.org to check out reviews, opinions about the theme
- WordPress.org preview is not quite good, and I end up visiting multiple sites to preview a theme as well as compare it to its peers
- I download, test the theme on my local site, and sometimes it ‘clicks’ and sometimes it doesn’t
- If there are minor tweaks needed, I rely on the helping nature and good will of many a WordPress developer to get me out of trouble (I am not a core web developer, and my PHP skills are enough to write ‘Hello World’ pages)
- I get frustrated by the sheer number of websites that display wrong information, sites that are copy/paste jobs from the main theme site, and those that do their best to mislead people
In other words, the search for themes is not a straight forward affair.
So, when I was recently getting increasingly worried about how one of my websites looks, and performs, I started thinking about themes that require hard cash.
Why use WordPress premium or paid themes?
I did this because of two reasons:
- I was increasingly not happy with the way my site looked. It was not exactly looking like the below pic, but was trending towards it. I had started going through a lot of internet marketing materials, and of course those polished, made-to-order websites were enough to give me a sad feeling
- I believed this in a way also influenced the way users perceived the articles/posts. This was not good since with the negligible traffic I had, I wanted the content to look professional enough
Once I took a decision to pay for a theme, I started seeing better quality themes as expected. But it was not a straight forward decision either.
Before selecting the theme, I did quite a bit of research on what exactly I wanted from the site and what was the best/easiest way to achieve that using a theme. I went through the routine of browsing a couple of websites to evaluate themes and gather opinions that mattered.
At the end, I narrowed down my options:
- A magazine/blog theme suited my needs since I published more than one topic of interest on the site
- I needed something that does not require changes to the code, CSS or anything else not exposed on the user interface
- Support for Google fonts was a must, I intend to make it as easy to the reader as possible
- I put down by budget as USD 40 so that I have a upper ceiling for my options financially
- I needed a sizable positive review. This sadly ruled out some themes with interesting use of HTML5 and animations that were more recent entries, but I was going to be really careful about my money
And, finally I narrowed further down to two themes. After spending some more time on the demos, and comparison, I selected one. The winner – Sahifa WordPress Theme from ThemeForest.
At USD 55, this went beyond my budget – but well worth the money if you ask me. I spent less than 3 hours to reset my content, and was all set. The all new website is a treat to look at – as compared to the old one that is.
And, I am seriously thinking of ending all searches for free themes and go premium for all my future endeavours.
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