Choosing a WordPress theme can be fun. Or, it can strike terror into your heart — what if you choose The. Wrong. Theme??? Will it be the end of the world as you know it?
The first step in choosing a theme is to choose the theme designer, the company that creates the theme. Sure, it’s more interesting to dive headfirst into colors, layout, and bells and whistles, but you always test the water before you start. In this case, testing the water means ensuring that:
Two of them, Headway and PageLines, don’t offer themes, per se. Instead, they provide drag-and-drop theme frameworks that you can customize to your heart’s content. So instead of hundreds of designers and thousands of themes, I only had to look at four designers and a couple hundred themes.
When it comes to e-commerce and WordPress, the go-to designer is Woo Themes. In addition to offering a free plugin that you can use with any WordPress theme, they’ve designed an e-commerce theme framework called Storefront.
Storefront is free, and there are also 13 extensions (some free and some paid) to add functionality. Extensions make it easier to do things like customize the checkout experience, or add a parallax, hero image to the homepage.
Then there are the child themes. I’m partial to Pro Shop ($39.00) because of the hefty image sizes available, and because the homepage images are a bit unusual, and therefore eye-catching. See how they’re not vertical? That helps your readers’ eye to rest on them longer.
These are extremely popular. In a true single-page theme, clicking a link in the navigation bar at the top sends you directly to the correct spot on the same page.
. . . a technique in computer graphics and web design, where background images move by the camera slower than foreground images, creating an illusion of depth in a 2D scene and adding to the immersion.
The Altitude Pro homepage includes up to seven widgetized areas, with an almost limitless number of ways to configure them. The layout inside each widgetized area changes, depending on how many widgets are used. Here are some examples.
Altitude Pro is a child theme that uses the Genesis Framework — $99.95 for both the framework and child theme. If you already own the framework, you can use it on an unlimited number of sites so the theme alone is $44.95 — less if you’re a returning customer.
Fable from Elegant Themes offers another impressive scrolling homepage. It tells your story beautifully, showcasing images, video, audio, slides, and text. Elegant Themes works on a subscription model — $69 annually gives you access to all of their themes, support and updates. Add $20 to access their plugins as well, or, if you plan to build lots of sites, spring for the Developer price of $249 one time.
The One Pager from Woo Themes is another excellent choice for a scrolling homepage. It offers plenty of customizations. For $59.00, you get to use it on as many sites as you want, with support and updates for a year.
To be considered a portfolio theme, it must showcase images beautifully, and give you a way to easily create galleries of images. It’s in demand by photographers and other visual artists.
Modern Studio Pro, from StudioPress, is an excellent choice. It emphasizes images, and includes interesting details like the round, centered logo image. Despite a contemporary look, it’s still very much a blog-style theme.
It’s got a versatile front page that uses up to four widgetized areas. Depending on how you arrange the widgets, your homepage options are practically limitless. For example, this cluster of images represents six Featured Pages inside one widgetized area.
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