When you visit a website, what is the first thing you notice? The theme. Instantly your mind subconsciously processes the colors, pictures, text, and formatting of a web page to tell your eyes where the content, ads, and navigation reside. Your conscious mind will then kick in and you will make the decision to stay or navigate away from the page. All of this happens within a fraction of a second and the theme you choose can be the deciding factor on whether or not your readers will stay. If you can’t already tell, you’re going to want a theme that will be warm and attractive to your readers, as a theme is one of the ultimate shaping factors in your blog’s personality.
Here are three basic guidelines you need to follow when selecting a theme for your blog:
1. Dress Your Blog According to Your Content.
I bet you’re probably wondering why there is a wiener dog dressed in a princess outfit above. Don’t worry, I have no actual explanation, but I sort of wanted to tie it into dress appropriately. If you can make the connection, more power to you. The point I wanted to make is that you need a theme that suits your blog. Technology news blog? Stick with a newspaper-styled theme. Goth blog? You wouldn’t want a happy pink and yellow theme with cutsey pictures all over the place. This may sound like common sense, but there are a lot of designs that are chosen simply because they look pretty and offer no real functionality for your site.
2. Avoid Causing Your Reader Pain.
You could be the world’s greatest writer, but if your theme looks like crap and your content is hard to read, you can forget about becoming a popular blogging personality. For example, I was browsing Digg the other day and found a link to a post outlining changes in the new Vista Service Pack 1. The description of the link was intriguing and I wanted to learn a bit more about the changes, but once I clicked the link, I was immediately repelled by the resulting page. Aside from an obnoxious yellow header that took up 50% of the viewing space, the body featured a background color of gray, with a lighter shade of gray for the text. I had to strain my eyes to even notice there were words there. If you want a visual, it looked a lot like this. I wish I could have made that up and I also wish I could slap the designer in the face for choosing such bad colors. Now, if you’re trying to attract attention, how could you possibly expect to retain readers who have to struggle to read your content? It doesn’t matter what you write if no one can read it.
3. Community Makes All the Difference.
A lot of people look past the community around a theme. What does this mean for you? It means that you’ll want to look into who’s already using the theme, are there consistent updates for new WordPress releases, and is there a support forum you can go to ask any question you might have. If you can’t find any of those three things, move on to the next theme. You really don’t want to upgrade your WordPress software to find out your theme isn’t compatible with it and your blog will no longer function until you change it. This is one of the most devastating turn of events that can stunt a blog’s growth. Find a theme with a loving, caring family and you’ll be set to handle any changes the WordPress development team can throw your way.
If you think you’re ready to pick out a theme then head over to the WordPress Theme Viewer and find a theme that suits your blog’s needs. If you need help installing your theme, be sure to check out how to customize your blog. If you don’t even have a blog but want one, click here to read my Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Blog.
Disclaimer: We here at StartBlogging.net do not endorse the cruel act of dressing dogs in costumes (I can’t say much about JacksonPE however). I used the image of a dachshund in costume to portray an appropriate WordPress theme. Personally, I think it was dumb. Yet, as I type this it still stands. Oh well.