Whether you have a personal blog, an online store, or a commercial website, it can be a bit overwhelming when it comes to achieving the right look and design for your site. Luckily, there are easy ways to achieve the look that you want without being a complete technical wiz or paying someone huge amounts to build a site for you. With the use of readily available website templates, you can have your own, professional looking site up and running with minutes. Templates are created by developers and most often can be completely customised and tailored to suit your needs.
Where to start
There are 1000s of free and paid options available, so how do you choose?
First of all, your theme should compliment your content. So once you have your chosen platform i.e Shopify or WordPress you can start looking at your options and select a suitable template depending on your needs and budget.
Sites like Theme Planet, are a great place to start when looking for templates. They make it simple by categorising their available themes for different platforms. Each theme will cater to different markets, so be sure to know your target audience beforehand. It is always a good idea to have a good look around the site and utilise the theme demos before you make your purchase. You can always message the theme creator before your purchase if you have any questions. Similarly, if you need any help of support after your purchase, you can get help at any time.
(Quick Tip: Look at sites that produce similar content to you for ideas if you are stuck as to what you need)
What to look for
Nowadays, responsive themes are a must, with more and more people utilising mobile devices. It is all well and good having a great looking site but if it does not load correctly or makes it difficult to view on mobile devices, you might end up losing visitors. We need to consider how our website will look on mobile devices (phones and iPads or tablets) as well as on desktop computers. Most template websites will tell you in the features if the template is responsive or not and often have the facility to filter searches to include responsive themes only. If you are unsure you can try testing the theme demo and copy the URL of the theme’s demo page and test it, in Google’s Mobile Friendly Test page. ThemePlanet also have this feature built into their site that allows you to view the URL as it would appear on a web browser, mobile or tablet; which is great for helping you narrow down your options.
It’s also worth noting that some themes can look different depending on the web browser i.e Firefox, Chrome or Safari etc. So, I would recommend testing the theme demo in different browsers before purchasing.
Look for a design and layout that works for you and you know would appeal to your target audience. You want your site to suit its purpose, gain traffic and bring your audience back for more. Your new theme will most likely come with documentation to help you get your theme installed and your site up and running. If you run into any difficulty, then you can contact the theme developer through the site for support.
Take a look at the reviews and ratings if they are available for the theme you are looking at. If you can’t see any ratings yet, don’t worry it might be a new theme or it just hasn’t been rated yet (you can always have a quick google for the “developer” & “theme name”). It goes without saying that the higher rated something is, then the more people would recommend it, but also look at the developer responses and ongoing developer support.
What do I recommend?
WordPress.org is always my recommendation to people when they are looking to set up a site, it’s a versatile and easy to use platform, not just for bloggers with an excellent variety of WordPress themes available . The great thing about WordPress is that it is highly customisable and comes with tons of options so you can tweak almost anything to your liking, including fonts and colours etc. There’s also the added extra of WordPress Plugins which make it possible to do almost anything with your WordPress site including creating your own online store i.e. WooCommerce.
Why use sites like Theme Planet?
They have large number of themes to choose from to suit different content
You can browse themes by a selection of criteria and search terms i.e “responsive”
Being able to see user ratings and have access to comments can help you assess the quality of the theme and the support provided before purchasing
You can chat to the developer before purchasing your theme
Once you have purchased a theme, you have free access to ongoing updates and continued support.