One of the first challenges you can come across as a freelance WordPress professional is that you face picking the right theme for your clients. Now that there are thousands of themes available, it should be easy, right? However, picking the right theme for your client is much harder than it seems, and it requires a few steps to home in on the right theme.
Finding out what your client needs, finding that in a theme, and making sure all of the essentials are there can be tricky, so we thought to share with you a few tips (and examples) that can help you in the process.
As a WordPress professional, you know much more than your clients. This is important to remember. Assume your client knows nothing, and start from there. I say this because you need to really understand the project objectives of your client, so that you can create the best possible website.
Project objectives must align with your theme.
Everything a project has needs to be attempting to reach the project goal, and this of course includes their website, and their theme.
Be detailed. Questions need to be about the final aim of the project, the audience, but also about the type of content that will be going up on the website. Ask lot’s of big questions, like does your website content need images? , or do you need videos on your website? But, also ask about the smaller things, do you want all of your posts to have the same layout?, or do you have a font preference? The more information you have, the easier it will be for you.
The best practice is to create a document with all of the standard questions that you can send to your client, this way be sure to get all of the information and deliver a website that meets their expectations.
Once you get the big picture, write down 3 things you really need. I really mean just 3 things. Everything can be narrowed down to 3 essentials, that’s why they are essentials. These 3 aspects must absolutely be engraved in your theme type.
Here is an example so you can understand better.
Your client is setting up a dance studio, where he or she needs a website that can feature all of the types of dances, and choreographies that students can learn at the studio. You asked all the questions that you needed, and you concluded that, the website will be video heavy. You also happen to find out that most of the videos have been uploaded to YouTube, so the WordPress theme needs to be YouTube integration friendly. That means it needs lots of clips of dance performances to entice people to sign up.
You client is a dance professional, so doesn’t have time or the skill set for complicated video uploads. It would be great to have a theme that can automatically import YouTube clips, and offers a few attractive layouts. Different dance styles need to be grouped, for example ballet clips need to be together in one playlist. That way the dance studio can create playlists for different types of dance performances, and group them by skill level on their website.
There you have your 3 must haves.
- Video heavy (YouTube centric)
- Easy import (automatic if possible)
- Playlists easily integrated with attractive post layouts
Pick a video based theme like, Vlog. It has all of the essentials plus additional perks.
Video focused theme, features all of your videos in the best light.
Easy video import and playlist creation. Have everything look great automatically, and pick layouts that support video clips, so you don’t need to worry about the details.
Look for quality
You have the objectives and the essentials down, you still need to look for a quality theme. Clean coded and well designed themes are still less than common.
You need to find quality that you can trust.
Don’t jump at any theme, because if you get yourself entangled in a badly coded theme it will backfire down the road. It might seem like taking the extra time now is a pain, but it will save you tons of time by ensuring you will not have problems later on.
Basic things to think about when it comes to quality are; theme author’s reputation, word of mouth, documentation and support, responsiveness, and theme optimization.
Test a few themes
I promise this is the final step on the road to finding your theme. Rarely do you find one theme that seems just perfect, you usually find a few, probably around 5 -6 (up to 10) that fit the criteria. What’s next?
Pick 3 that you think are best for your client and test them. Usually quality themes can be tested for free. We at Meks make sure you can have a test website before you commit to buying our themes.
It takes seconds to test a theme, there is no reason not to try it out. Email, link and test.
Occasionally, clients will enjoy being fully informed on the process of theme selections. If your client is one of these, even better. Grab a few themes, make a demo and send some ideas over. If all 3 themes fit your criteria, you can offer your client the option of choosing one that he or she prefers. Client’s like to feel like they are part of the process, and at this point you can guarantee quality for all 3.
Picking the right theme is 50% of the job – once you have the right one you are halfway there. Don’t rush it. The more websites you make, the more themes you will meet, and soon you will have a list of your favorites. You will know what they can do, their quality and reliability won’t be questioned. Even then, don’t fall in the trap of going for what you know best. The WordPress theme market is rapidly changing, and there are new and more advanced themes being created every day. Have your favorites, but don’t be afraid to look for more.