Before we dive into my tips & tricks regarding WordPress Themes, I’d like to address a question you probably already have!
Should I go with a free theme? Or spend money on the premium theme?
While I can’t tell you what to do, I’ll give you the low down on some pros and cons for each to help you decide!
The main pro of choosing a free theme is of course that it’s FREE!
There are also a few other factors that need to be taken into consideration. Such as: typically little or no after-sale support, they are updated less frequently, and are more likely to have security vulnerabilities.
Since you are paying for them, premium themes tend to offer you more all around and typically have support in place to help you out after you buy.
They also update their theme more often! They also take security more seriously, and of course they usually come with more advanced functionality.
What To Look Out For When Choosing Your WordPress Theme
Before diving into the only theme we now use, we want to make sure you’re aware of a few things before you choose!
1. Demo Site View
Demo site view is a way for you to play around in the actual theme before purchase. This is to make sure it has what you need!
I don’t think I’ve ever purchased a theme without trying out the demo view.
If you are planning to blog, check out what blog layout options they have.
If you want to have an online store, make sure they have that feature built-in and it has a look that you like.
What’s the point in buying a theme if you want to change the way the entire site looks right off the bat?
This normally is also where you can see how customizable the colors/pages are.
I have examples down below where you can check out two different demo views for two different theme companies.
2. Photo Packs
Most people looking at a theme to buy don’t realize that all of the wonderful pictures featured in the theme don’t actually come with it.
Believe me, this was a HUGE surprise the first time around for me. I was stuck with a whole bunch of grey boxes where all the nice photos should be. Sadly, I felt soo tricked!
A good suggestion is to make note of all the photos you are actually going to need to source to make your site look great, especially on the homepage.
Good thing that nowadays there are soo many FREE stock photo sites!
Now, there are some themes that do offer you photo packs at an additional cost, but they really are few and far between.
I’ve only seen one site which was specifically for Virtual Assistants do it. However, I wasn’t crazy about the theme design itself and the photo pack was an extra $70.00.
Check out the picture I got from Restored316’s website that really gives you an understanding of what you are dealing with in terms of figuring out the pictures you will need beforehand.
If you are looking at this theme and thinking “WOW”, don’t worry I will talk about them further down!
3. After-Sale Support
This has three parts to it in terms of offering you the total support package.
First, is that you want the theme creator to offer you in depth “Theme Docmeuntation”.
This means they have written and video tutorials that literally take you step-by-step in the process of setting up the specific theme you purchased.
You want this to be specifically tailored to the theme you purchased, as not all themes made by the same person/company will have the same features.
It’s also a good idea to look over the Theme Documentation before you purchase. This will give you a good idea of how thorough the information is and what it’s going to take to get everything all set up.
You also want there to be some sort of support by email or telephone. This is for instances when you run into a problem that you can’t find a solution for on the creator’s website.
Typically you can find the answer on their FAQ’s, knowledge base, or a good old Google search, but that extra support is necessary just in case.
Lastly, you want to make sure that once you purchase a theme, you will always have access to that theme’s updates.
4. Mobile / Tablet Friendly
It is sad that I have to mention this as almost all themes are on the level with today’s standards, but just something extra to look out for.
You also want this as you may want to change some features and how they display on mobile vs. tablet vs. computer.
For example, making sure that your menu bar on your mobile site is a dropdown and not listing each page individually, which would take up the whole screen and really ruin the user experience.
5. Install and Setup Services
This may or may not be important to you, dependent on a few things.
If you are relatively savvy with computers and happy to take a few days to have your site looking like the demo plus are ready to customize, then don’t worry about this.
If, however, you wouldn’t mind paying a small amount to have the site installed and looking like the demo site (minus pictures of course), in a shorter amount of time, then making sure the theme provider offers this service is important.
Recommended WordPress Themes
Now here’s the part where I surprise you a little bit in the theme we use to create websites and how we actually make that happen.
When we first start though, we only used and then customized Bluchic themes as you will see below.
That’s changed now, but if you just want a great theme and you’re not looking to do much customizing, their themes could be a great fit.
They have over 15 gorgeous paid themes to chose from.
Other than photos, there is nothing else you need to worry about. The theme comes with everything as well as excellent theme documentation, great support and install services.
They also have a “SHOWCASE” tab which is a compilation of websites that people have created using their themes.
This will give you soo many great ideas of what you can do with the theme you are considering.
They also have a “FREEBIE” page which has a whole bunch of amazing resources and guides.
Yup, I just did that. I’m actually telling you that my favorite theme to work with is a free theme.
There is a catch though!
It needs to be coupled with the Elementor pro plugin to use it the way I’m going to explain.
The Elementor Pro WordPress Plugin costs around $50 USD/year.
But, let's back track a bit.
Elementor is a WordPress Page builder plugin that gives you the ability to design your pages and posts in the front end so you can actually see what you’re doing.
It also means that you don’t need to know any coding.
Up until a few years ago, Elementor didn’t have their own theme that paired perfectly with their plugin.
This meant that no matter what theme you were using, you would always find a glitch here and there with the compatibility between the theme and the plugin.
And then Elementor bought the Hello Theme and made it their own.
Which means now it's completely compatible, and it's free!
It’s also what we recommend and walk you through in our WordPress Website Academy.
Please keep in mind though, that we’re only recommending this plugin because we want you to use it in conjunction with Elementor Pro and their Theme Builder.
This allows you to literally design your entire website from scratch without any code, and it’s been a total game changer for us!
How to Install a WordPress Theme
There are two options once you get to this part.
This all depends on whether you purchased a third party premium theme like the ones from Bluchic, or if you’re adding in the free Hello theme by Elementor.
If you’ve purchased a third party WordPress Theme, they should be providing you with the steps to upload it to WordPress. (Also, why I mention making sure the Theme provider has great documentation before purchasing).
What I’m going to walk you through next is how you add the Free Hello Theme in just a few quick steps.
==> As a reminder, you can login to your wordpress site by adding a "/wp-admin" at the end of your URL.
Then once you enter your username and password, you’ll be logged into the back end of WordPress which will look something like this:
Ps. Don’t worry if this seems a little overwhelming, we will be doing an entire post on the WordPress Dashboard to help you out.
Now you can navigate over to “Appearance” and then “Themes” and finally “Add New”.
Don’t worry about the ones that are there right now, those are just the default WordPress Themes.
Then you go to the right hand side and type in “Hello” in the search bar.
The right theme should pop up first and you can select “Install”.
After a few seconds, you’ll then be able to click “Activate” in the same spot.
You’ll be brought back to the main theme area where you’ll be able to confirm that the Hello Theme is the active WordPress Theme on your website.
So, now you’re WordPress Theme is installed. While you’re technically good to go, that doesn’t mean that your website looks good yet.
Before you get to the design point, we wanted to make sure you understand WordPress a bit better and you have a few more things in place.
You can check out our next two posts! They’re all about getting things set up and figured out in the WordPress Dashboard.
Then you’ll be in a much better place to move on to make your website actually look great!