When it comes to WordPress themes there are a TON of options available. Do you want an ecommerce site? A free theme? A premium one? A customizable one? Genesis? A Child Theme? A Framework?
Deep breaths friends. We’re going to cover the basics of what you should look for when searching for your perfect WordPress theme… and what, in my humble opinion, makes it hot or not.
Decide What You Want + Need
First off, ask yourself what you’re going to be using your WordPress theme for. Are you a blogger? Will you be selling products from your site? Will you want a theme that will grow with you over time and one that offers various customization options? What is your budget? Do you want to mess with code? Do you want image galleries? Is your theme going to come with support?
These are important questions to answer. After you nail them down, you’ll know what to look for in a theme.
If your theme supports the plugins you need, has flexible galleries, makes your content shine, and comes with stellar support…well. That’s hot.
Beauty + Brains
Let’s face it. Your WordPress theme is not hot if it looks good on the outside but is, as we say here in the south, “All hat and no cattle.” It looks pretty, but doesn’t deliver the dashboard options you need.
Years ago, before I ever started developing feminine WordPress themes, I designed custom websites for clients. More often than not, these usually started with a WordPress theme that I found on Themeforest and tweaked. At that point in time, this was one of the ONLY marketplace selling WordPress themes. I can’t tell you how much money I spent over there to be left pretty disappointed with my purchases.
The theme demos looked great prior to purchase, but when I looked under the hood I found that these themes were lacking the color, font, and other style type of customizations I needed and wanted. I didn’t want to have to copy / paste code to add a new font.
Ain’t nobody got time fo dat.
OR, even worse…. the theme options panel was so convoluted and overloaded that it felt like learning a new language just to make a site look decent.
Enter The WordPress Customizer – That’s Hot.
The WordPress customizer is accessible under Appearance / Customize from your WordPress dashboard. A theme that provides you with robust options via the Wordpress Customizer is, in my humble opinion, the single most important sign of a great WordPress theme. Here’s why I think so.
– You can see your changes as you make them.
This saves so much time… I can’t even tell you. Here’s the backend of our older generation themes. These options are not too shabby. BUT… you can’t see your changes when you make them. You’re left to toggle between your front end (your live website) and your backend (the WordPress dashboard) to see what in the blazes you’re doing.
Argh. Not ideal.
Enter our second generation of feminine WordPress themes and the WordPress customizer. I can see my changes as I make them. I can change colors a million times in a matter of seconds and see how they look with my site’s content.
Hold the phone. I’ve died and gone to heaven.
BUT THAT’S NOT ALL.
– The Customizer Keeps Everything In One Place
The customizer is so much more than just color / font customizations. Depending on your theme, you can manipulate your blog layout, make your site responsive, customize your sidebar, page layouts, and more.
It can do everything but the dishes.
The beauty of this is that all your options are right there in one place. Yessss. No more hunting down where a theme author has put various customization options in your WordPress dashboard.
– No More Pasting Code / Bulky Theme Options Panels
Seriously. If you’re still having to edit your WordPress theme this way, I honestly feel sorry for you. I’ve been there. It’s frustrating.
– Themes that use the customizer are sticking with the WordPress Core
Say whaaaa? Let me translate. Theme’s that utilize the WordPress customizer aren’t adding anything to WordPress. They’re simply harnessing the power of WordPress and a feature that has some serious customizing potential. This means theme creators aren’t pushing the limits of what WordPress was intended to be and do. This means theme creators aren’t adding a crazy theme options panel of their own invention that’s going to frustrate you and take hours to learn.
Themes utilize the Wordpress Customizer aren’t building a framework or anything else convoluted and cumbersome. They’re lightweight.
What about you? Have you tried the WordPress Customizer? What’s your take on it?