Picking Your Perfect WordPress Theme! | Meagan Hanes | Skillshare

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Picking Your Perfect WordPress Theme!

teacher avatar Meagan Hanes, WordPress Designer + Developer

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

7 Lessons (21m)
    • 1. Introduction and Course Teaser

    • 2. What Is A WordPress Theme?

    • 3. Website Purpose and Feature Checklist

    • 4. Let's Go Theme Shopping!

    • 5. Making Your Final Selection

    • 6. Final Thoughts

    • 7. BONUS: Uploading your theme

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About This Class

Almost everyone knows about WordPress. But few people know how to select a high quality, long lasting, business-effective theme. Thankfully, I'm here to help demystify how to pick your perfect WordPress Theme! We'll cover:

  • What IS a WordPress Theme exactly?
  • Where can you get high quality, safe WordPress Themes?
  • How much should you pay? Should you get one with features, or one without? 
  • What things should you consider before browsing for themes?
  • How do you select from the thousands of themes available?
  • What if you don't like the theme you've selected?

Meet Your Teacher

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Meagan Hanes

WordPress Designer + Developer


WordPress designer, developer, and solutions provider. I love helping others understand online tech!

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1. Introduction and Course Teaser: Hello, everyone. Welcome to pick your perfect WordPress theme. My name is Meghan Haynes. And with over a decade of professional Web design and WordPress experience, I'll be your teacher today in this skill share class, we're talking all about WordPress. What is a WordPress theme? Where do I find them? How do I make a smart selection? Well, together, we'll go through the wordpress dot org's theme repository, home to over 3000 free themes for us to choose from. With such a large selection, how do we make a smart selection? I'll offer my time proven methods for creating a short list of possible themes. Then we'll evaluate a group and select our final perfect WordPress theme throughout the course. I'll give you tips and tricks on staying safe if you've ever wanted a website but didn't know where to start enrolled today and join us as we begin our WordPress adventure. See you in class 2. What Is A WordPress Theme?: So first off, let's take a look at what, exactly? A WordPress theme is first and foremost. Award press theme is a collection of files, images and code. So let's go ahead and take a quick little peek at the files for 2016. Oh my gosh, so many different files there. CSS. There's PHP. There's image files now. These are the files we receive. When we download a theme, we won't be building these files ourselves. Don't worry. But if we did want to, we could use the WordPress Codex as our development guide. More information about this will be a found in a later course. For now, let's appreciate that someone else did all the hard work in creating these files. Thanks, Theme developer. So continuing. Ah WordPress theme changes the look and feel of your website. Let's take a look at the 2013 and 2016 themes. I have 2013 loaded up Right now, we can see it's using different post types and those air, creating different styles and background colors. There's a small posts. We have a video embedded and a quotation. That's very creative theme. As you can see, the menus are fully rule over a bowl with a nice about Paige. Let's take a look at another theme. This is 2016. Immediately we see this theme is much more different that's less vibrant and creative, though the images are large and the focus on the words is very prominent. The only thing we've changed were the themes of this site, so you can see how the themes make a big impact on the flavor you want to give your website . Finally, themes can add custom post types and custom functionality and features, but it's better to let plug ins do most of this. Taking a look quickly at a premium seen called TV, we can see that it is actually added a new section as well as a new customized shin section . Looking at the big picture, let's imagine that your website is a house. The themes that we equip our website with and similar to the way that you paint a house to change its colors and the way it's felt by your guests will change the functionality of the website by adding new appliances or plug ins. And then finally, the content of your website is like the people inhabiting your house, the things they do, the things they write about and present him what they're talking about. So now we know a little bit more about what exactly award press theme is and where it fits into the big scope of your board. Press website. Let's continue with our next chapter. 3. Website Purpose and Feature Checklist: great. Now that we know what a WordPress theme is, it's time to go theme shopping, right? Well, not exactly. See if you went theme shopping right now. How would you know when you found your perfect theme? You would try on a theme after theme after theme, without much focus on an end goal or if that theme was meeting that goal. So while it's a lot of fun to go out theme shopping, it's not really the best use of your time. So let's ask ourselves a very smart question. What is our website going to do? This might sound silly, but let's think why we're asking this. Many people will answer well, my websites going to make more business happen. This is a cute answer, but it's not a smart one. It's too ambiguous. It lacks a concrete step of action, and it's obvious. Instead, let's answer this question by creating a specific checklists of specific desired features and functionality, our website will have you may know off the top of your head that you want to have a block on your website. Well, go ahead and add that to your checklists. Are you unsure of what features there are out there. Well, I've got you covered. Let me introduce you to two of my favorite lists. The website purposes lists on the website features list. Generally speaking, a website exists to do one of these things. Inform, entertain, persuade or sell. It could be a combination of these things. Here's a sample list I've created off commonly used website purposes. Simply write down the ones that apply to your own website. For instance, let's imagine a small jewelry business. They may want to increase awareness of their products. Deliver one time information such as pictures as well as ongoing information like what craft shows they'll be attending next. It's also valuable toe identify website purposes that you do not want to achieve. For instance, this drool re vendor is focusing on real world events so they don't yet want to process online payments. This means when we go theme shopping, we don't need to pick a theme that's e commerce compatible and therefore our options have gotten even larger. Now it's time to introduce our project. It's time for you to start creating your own website purpose lists. I'd like you to create this list by their physically on paper or in note, pad or word or any text document you'd like to and saving uploaded to the project gallery so that we can all have a dialogue about your website goals and so that you can inspire others and get inspiration from other people's website purpose lists. That is our first goal in our project continuing. We have our website features lists. This list is even more precise than our website purpose lists. It contains a breakdown of the most requested website features, such as having the website be mobile friendly, having a well presented image gallery or maybe even multiple separate galleries being compatible with a specific e commerce plug in like blue commerce. Having a dragon Drop page editor think back to our jewelry store. It knows it wants toe have a blawg to keep customers updated on new products and a website generated mailing lists of interested people. What website features does your website neat at these features to your project checklists? Now you may not know what each of these purposes and features means exactly. Now is the time to use one of my best friend Google do a search for website Feature Blawg toe. Learn more about what a block is. Do this for any of these features that you were unsure off. You can also start a discussion in our course discussion forum and share your learned knowledge with the rest of the class. Now that we have a checklist of are features, let's move on toe where we will find these themes. 4. Let's Go Theme Shopping!: Where do we find teams? This is a question I'm asked. Commonly, when speaking a word camps. Let's look at the answer. There are two primary themes. Sources the wordpress dot org's theme repository or commercial third party websites for your first website. I highly recommend spending as little money as possible in order to learn as much as possible. For this reason, I recommend the wordpress dot org's theme repository. These are high quality themes that have been personally vetted by other members of the community, so you won't find any malware in them. There are over 3000 themes for you to pick from for all website kinds. Ah Blawg, a portfolio website and e commerce site and beyond. Each theme has its own support forum, where you can get help, ask questions and later answer some. Sometimes these themes require more customization because they don't bundle a lot of extra functionality. So sometimes they take a little bit longer for you to get up and going. But for the same reason they often have the best performance. You may choose to invest in a commercial theme from websites such as in battle, marketplace, move themes, elegant themes etcetera. These are often $49 per year licences, which you must renew annually. These themes are often much more feature rich and require less configuration, but they often can cause your website to slow down due to unneeded features and bloat. This is why I recommend going with wordpress dot org's theme first, so you can decide if it's worth your money to buy a pre main scene. Warning themes don't need to be feature rich. Sure, it's convenient to buy a theme that has most of the work done. But this comes at a cost. Features should be left to plug ins, not to themes. When they're locked into a theme, it means you're locked into that theme forever. If you try to change your theme, you'll lose access to that data created by the feet. But if this data were created by a plug in, you would still have access to it. This is why smart website creators let plug ins do as much feature work as possible for the long term health of the website. All right, enough learning. Now let's go have some fun. Let's go theme shopping. Load up your browser toward press dot org's slash themes and have your checklist in hand. Start clicking on themes that are visually appealing. As you can see, there are a number of themes for us to pick from, so just pick whichever theme starts striking your fancy right away. You could see I'm given quite a lot of information. I'm giving a sample of the site, and here into the tags are some of the features that I'm going to see on my checklists. For instance. Responsive Web site. Once you've found a theme you like, simply click on the download button, download the files. Now let's take a look at some themes I've selected from the repository. This one is called Arcade Basic. As you can see, it's a very fun looking theme with a full with image and a focus right on that main content . Another one I've selected for my gallery is flat. I've taken a look at this, and I like that big sidebar element. I think that the jewelry shop could very much use this toe also focus on their main content and achieve their business goals. 1/3 option is human. Now you can see this site looks drastically different than the other previous sites, with a full three columns and lots of information. Now this one might be too much for my jewelry vendor, but I may know another client who, like this, say quite a lot continuing. We have storefront now. I already know that this theme will not satisfy my client's needs because they don't need tohave on online store. However, we can see that this theme has 50,000 downloads, which means it must be a great base theme for using with move commerce. So I'll file that information in my mind for later. Finally, we have Sydney. Now Sydney looks similar toe arcade, but it has more of a modern, an interesting theme. I would need to explore the theme demos to make a choice, but I think some of these things will be on my short list now. Warning. Do not pick the first theme that you like. It can be very easy to fall in love with the first thing that you see, but that is not going to give you the best business results. Remember, it's not about what you personally like. It's about what your audience desires to see this concludes, but where to find themes? Lesson. I'd like you to go into the wordpress dot ord Repo. Find five themes, maybe three at the least and seven at the most. But go for five themes that satisfy your business needs those needs that you've identified on your checklists. Make a list of those five themes and there you are else and post that in your project. 5. Making Your Final Selection: Now that we have our candidate themes, it's time to make our final themes selection. How do we make this choice? Well, here's some guidelines I used to determine what themes to go with. First off have a look. The theme reviews. There's certainly a difference between a one star average review and a five star review read through some of the recent reviews for hints as to whether other people are happy or unhappy with their theme experience. Then take a look at the Themes Forum. How many questions are there are the answer, And how long does it take for the author to answer? If you need more support, what are the options now? This is a very helpful question to ask, as you're going to use this theme for the next number of years. Speaking of which, let's envision how your website's gonna look in about two years time. No, sadly, most websites don't last past two years. There's often new technology that comes out, and people would rather designed from the ground up than fixed what they already have. So let's just assume that this website will will expire in two years. So will this theme let your website grow all that it needs to in that two years time. Or is the theme too limited for what you have in mind? Finally, if you have it down to two themes that are on average about the same quality, the same amount of support, then you know what? Just pick whichever feels right to you. Remember, you can always change your theme later on, certainly within the first few months before you want to commit toe. Having that theme be the one for your website. If you have buyer's regret, simply look back on your notes. Here in the Project Gallery, install the runner up and then a valid E. Wait to see if it feels better for you. All right, it's project time. I'd like you to evaluate your theme candidates in the following areas. User happiness, free support, paid support, growth opportunities and gut feeling rate each of those and then based on that information , select the number one perfect theme, the one that scores highest in all of those categories. Generally update your project in the gallery with both your theme notes, so that others can learn and so you can learn what others think of themes you're evaluating and also listener number one perfect theme. Congratulations. You use the scientific method to find the best possible theme for your website. 6. Final Thoughts: thank you so much for taking this course. I hope you've learned a little bit about WordPress things and the number of options available. Just like with decorating your house. Finding the perfect theme for your website and customizing, it really helps to make a website your room. And more importantly, it gives your website the best chance possible. It's succeeding in its goals. If you have any questions, please post them in the discussion forum so I and others can answer. You can also reach me on Twitter at M. Haynes, looking forward to seeing your perfect theme in the Project Gallery. 7. BONUS: Uploading your theme: bonus. Let's take our perfect theme and install it on our WORDPRESS website. Let's start with WordPress already installed. If you don't have it installed, please ask our friend Google or the discussion form for help. Or look for my next course to start Goto appearances and select themes on this page. Click on the add new button that appears at the top of the page. You'll see we actually have all of the themes that are available in the dot org's repository right here on our dashboard, and we could easily install them with one button click. But let's click on the upload button. Click on this button and find where the file that you downloaded this. Then click on the installed now button. We'll wait for our website to upload that file. It might take a minutes. There we are now, the websites activating the theme. This may also take another minute. The Here we go number clicking on the activate theme. This theme will be selected as our current activated theme. This one's telling me I should use some additional plug ins, but for now, let's just take a quick look and make sure the theme is working correctly and there we have it. We have our human theme already have been going on our website ready for content. Now you know how to upload your perfect work. Press theme to your reward breast website.