Choosing a Theme
This is the hardest part of doing theme modification vs custom design and development.
Largely because what strikes us as visually appealing is very subjective. What I think is a great looking design you might look at and say, “that’s AWFUL!”
For this step I will ask clients to find 3 sites of competitors that they like. Often they come back with more and try to tell me what they like about each, and that’s fine, but what’s most important is finding the common thread between them.
What made them chose those sites subconsciously? Not what they think they like about each, but the deeper reason they chose them. Beyond all 3 having a slider (and trust me, they will!) what about the layout and design is similar?
Then I spend about an hour looking through theme shops to see what I can dig up that looks similar. I don’t do this because I like it, but rather because if I set the client out to do this they generally get overwhelmed by choices.
Themeshops vs Themeforest
I only really check 2 theme shops because I want to know the themes I’m looking at are quality, so my first stop is WooThemes, and if I can’t find anything there I head over to StudioPress.
I’ve had a fair amount of experience with some pop up theme shops and even some of the larger ones like Elegant Themes, and have been pretty consistently unimpressed by code quality and the overall build.
Yes, sometimes with Themeforest you’re hoping and wishing as there’s really no way to validate without purchasing, but it does open up a huge avenue of selection.
One thing I ALWAYS do before buying anything from a developer is check the comments section for that theme.. take some time and read through the latest to see what kind (if any!) issues people are having.
Rule of thumb: If there are more comments than sales, that might be a bad sign.
That’s why in Part 3 I’m going to talk about auditing a theme.
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