When it comes to choosing a WordPress theme for your farm website or blog, the options are nearly limitless. Just a quick glance through any theme showcase can overwhelm you with possibilities!
Many themes are designed with a particular use in mind, such as photo blogs, online magazines, or real estate sites. A few theme categories you may want to look at closely include:
- Blog. Made for keeping readers up to date with timely posts.
- Business. Often includes a clean look and customized areas for testimonials and a portfolio.
- Craft. Best described as cute and colorful!
- Easy. Designed specifically for beginners.
- eCommerce. Set up for selling products online.
- Food. Some of these are made for restaurants, but many are for recipe blogs.
- Journal. Similar to the blog idea, but with an emphasis on readability.
- Lifestyle. Sleek, innovative themes that frequently make it possible to showcase a lot of content.
(Note that theme categorization varies; these category examples are drawn from several sources.)
One of the first things you will see when you demo a theme is the homepage. And the homepage is also something many of your readers will see—often more than once! So make sure that your new theme has a homepage capable of showcasing your most important content.
Some homepages are heavily image-driven (ours generally is)—don’t choose one of these themes unless you are prepared to use a lot of photos! Other homepages emphasize featured pages, which is excellent if you have a static site. Still other homepages offer unique combinations of features to highlight more than one type of content, such as pages and a blog.
Many themes offer multiple homepage setup options, so be sure to read the documentation and see what options are available to you before dismissing a theme altogether. Due to recent advancements in the WordPress experience, homepages are becoming increasingly customizable with a simple drag-and-drop-type interface.
Be sure to click on several posts, pages, and archive pages at the demo sites for the themes you are considering to see if you like the way the content is presented. Some things can be changed—fonts and colors can easily be replaced in the Customizer, for instance. If you know or learn CSS, you can tweak some typographical elements, such as underlining links or adding space between items in a bulleted list.
Other things are not so easily changed:
- How featured images are displayed.
- Whether post excerpts will be visible.
- What post tags look like.
- What decorations set off a blockquote.
- How tag and category archives are laid out.
Make sure you choose a theme that has good eye appeal and readability when it comes to matters such as these. Also remember to preview the demo site for both desktop and mobile users.
Widgets are a way to make your site unique and direct your readers to other content that they may enjoy. Many themes have a place for widgets in the footer (if you aren’t familiar with widgets, scroll down to see the text, image, menus, tags, and search box in our footer). Some themes also display a sidebar with widgets to desktop users, although this has become less common since people started browsing on smaller devices.
Pay attention to how many widget areas your prospective theme has, particularly if you are planning a content-heavy site. Many farm sites will need comparatively few widgets to help visitors find their most important content, but some sites will need more widgets to feature more posts and pages.
And then there are all those nice little touches that make some themes really stand out. Depending on your needs, you may want to consider:
- Room for a site logo in the header (highly recommended for businesses!).
- Multiple navigation menus.
- Special post formats to make images, videos, links, or quotes stand out.
- Full-width pages to use as landing pages for promoting products or services.
- A specially formatted portfolio.
- Online store compatibility.
As technology advances, some themes become obsolete and have to be retired. Don’t get attached to a beautiful theme only to find out it is dying of old age. Start by looking at the newest themes first.
If you really want an older theme, one way to gauge its age is to find a support forum for that theme and see how old the oldest threads are. By the time a theme is three years old, it is generally pushing its life expectancy.
A well-supported theme is a pleasure to use. Even if you never have to contact the theme creator yourself, you can enjoy the peace of mind of knowing that your theme is being regularly monitored and updated to keep it functioning properly.
Evaluating support is another job for the theme support forum. Get a feel for how often problems arise and how quickly they are resolved. Evaluate what kinds of problems come up—sometimes new threads deal more with user errors or design suggestions rather than actual bugs. When issues do arise (and they will), make sure that the theme creators have a good track record for actually resolving problems and bugs rather than letting them dangle indefinitely.
And the Winner Is…
The final criterion for a good theme is the most important—how much it appeals to you. As long as there are no major problems with the theme or with the way it will suit your application, you should definitely settle on a theme that you love. Your favorite theme will add authenticity to your brand, because it will be a reflection of you.