How to Choose a WordPress Theme And Whether to Build-it-yourself or Hire a Pro?

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How to Choose a WordPress Theme

Free WordPress Theme – it sounds so good. You can just download the one that is most suitable for you and start using it for free. However… you only want the best for your business.

Every Premium theme is uniquely designed and coded by professionals who can provide you proper support and regular updates. But it will cost you money.

When budget and performance are on the line, the choice is not easy. Let’s take a deeper look at both options.

What is a WordPress Theme?

According to WordPress.org a WordPress (WP) Theme is a collection of files that work together to produce a graphical interface with an underlying unifying design for a weblog. It modifies the way the site is displayed, without modifying the underlying software. Simply put, it allows you to change the font type, colors and background, upload logo and create sliders and other aesthetic properties without necessarily affecting the core functionality of WordPress. Your choice of theme can determine many important aspects of your site. A good theme is one that not only looks nice, but is also easy to customize, flexible, actively developed and well supported into the future.

There are two types of WP themes:

  1. Free WP themes – If you are new to WordPress this type of WordPress theme is probably the best choice for you. There are hundreds of free themes available on the WordPress Theme Directory. They are open to the public and are available for free. You do not need to be an experienced programmer to properly use WP themes, but having basic coding knowledge is necessary. For security reasons, before installation, you should definitely confirm the following critical elements:
    • The theme is compatible with the latest version of WordPress
    • It has a good rating,
    • It has been rated by hundreds of users
    • It is updated frequently and in the last few months
  2. Premium WP themes – Premium WordPress theme can do wonders for your online presence and overall business. In addition to outstanding design, great features and wide range of customization options, with the right theme for your WordPress site, you will get full support and regular updates. Unfortunately, not all the Premium WP themes are created equal, so you have to be very careful with your Premium theme choice. Probably the biggest and most reputable marketplace for Premium WordPress Themes is ThemeForest. You can buy and sell themes at ThemeForest and every item that is submitted for sales will be reviewed by experts and specialists to ensure that it meets certain quality measures and best practice benchmarks.

Premium vs. Free WordPress theme

The most significant differences between Premium and Free WordPress themes:

  1. Security – The majority of Premium themes are secure and reliable. They are usually designed and developed by Web Design companies or Web Design experts with a great deal of relevant experience. Security is a huge priority for the developers. Unfortunately, this is not always true for Free WP theme developers. Many people are creating a Free WP theme. Many of these companies use their free theme as a marketing tool. They create free WP themes to attract new clients. Sadly, many of these themes are very sloppily coded and are an invitation to security vulnerabilities. If you choose a free theme that is not developed by a trusted source, you could find yourself with:
  • Hidden malware and encrypted links, including JavaScript and iFrame codes which can break your server
  • Various types of viruses that were included in the theme, which may harm your data files.
  • An infected theme that generates spam. Search engines, like Google, penalize websites that generate spam because it is a security threat.
  1. Support – Free themes very rarely include support. This can be a real deal breaker for many, because if any problem occurs during setup or development there is no one to call for help. Most of the Premium WP theme developers offer detailed documentation and corresponding tutorials, some of them even offer 24/7 support by email, online forum or by phone.
  1. Updates – Unlike Free WP themes, most Premium WP themes are updated frequently. Regular updates ensure that your site continues to function perfectly – bugs that were discovered in previous versions are fixed and new features and functionality are added often. Websites that are not updated regularly are an easy target for hackers.

Generally speaking, all aspects of design, development and technical quality of Premium WordPress themes are much better than the Free WordPress themes.  One thing to note, just because it is a Premium theme doesn’t mean it is easy to use for the layperson or the under-skilled newbie programmer. There are many areas throughout the process of installation, setup, modification and customization of the Premium theme in which a challenge may arise and stall your progress.

Sometimes it is best left to the pros

First and foremost, do your best to be sure you have made the right choice before the purchase. There are hundreds and hundreds of themes available for you to choose from and it is crucial to pick the theme that is absolutely right for your business. While the best themes are referred to as “plug and play,” an “out of the box” theme design is still time intensive and requires a bit of know how if it is to result in a beautiful, visitor and SEO-friendly website.

If you are unsure about the best theme for your business or needs, our team of experts can help you make the right choice. Here is a list of our favorites and the best device-responsive, multi-purpose Premium WordPress themes.  We know these themes like the back of our hands and recommend them highly.

  • Avada
  • BeTheme
  • X Theme
  • The7
  • Bazar theme
  • YourMag
  • SimpleMag
  • Adrenalin

If you are a die-hard do it yourselfer and you are set on building your own website, here’s a summary of your next-steps:

  • Purchasing your domain or URL, if you don’t already have one
  • Choose your WP Theme
  • Choose your host and setup your hosting
  • Install WordPress
  • Log into your WP dashboard and install your theme
  • Outline the pages you will have on your new website
  • Identify the site infrastructure – how the visitor will navigate your site and how pages link together
  • Choose the page styles you will use from the theme for each page
  • Write your content for each page. Look at the theme pages you are using to determine approximately how much content you will want on each page.
  • Find the images you will use. Don’t use standard stock images. Visitors hate them. Be sure the story your images tell supports the text you add to the page.
  • Begin creating your home page
  • Use keywords in your page titles, page URLs and within the content of your pages
  • Be sure to get a qualified specialist to do your on-page SEO
  • Once you are finished with your website and you are ready for it to go live, point your nameservers to the server
  • Hire a qualified SEO expert so that your new website is indexed by the search engines and so that it begins ranking well for your keywords and phrases

The cost to do it yourself

While the steps above seem easy enough, designing and developing a website that will do an excellent job creating the brand awareness and engagement you need and designing it so that it is very SEO and device-friendly requires talent, experience and coding know-how. The “back end” programming is a specialty.  There are many things that can sabotage your site’s ranking in the search engines and it can even get flagged or removed if violates Google’s WebMaster guidelines.

Even if you are building a small 7 – 10 page website, the total time invested in building your site – start to finish – will be approximately 100 hours.  If you are not a designer or a programmer it will likely take you much longer.  By the time you develop and refine your content, acquire the proper images, complete the list of activities outlined above and test, tweak and revise your website, you will be into the project well over 100 hours. This doesn’t include stopping along the way to look up things you don’t know, the time required to fix problems you don’t understand and troubleshoot features that aren’t working properly.

Try this little exercise to see if it makes sense to design and develop your own website:

What is the value of one hour when you have spent it doing the highest yielding task that is in alignment with your company goals? The answer isn’t the hourly rate of your highest service.  The answer is much more likely to be you, showing up at an event where your best referral partners are… or a attending a high-value networking event.  Why? Because if you spend 30 seconds sharing your company pitch and you get one referral out of that (or better yet, you gain a solid referral partner), your 30 seconds returned the value of the new customer that results from the referral.  Moreover, the value of that 30 second opportunity is even greater than that.  It’s value is more accurately quantified as the lifetime value of the client you received as a result of the referral, plus the value of the referral business referred by your new customer.

To keep it simple, if the value of one client new client is $10,000, your 30 seconds is worth $10,000.00. You might argue and say you spend another 3 hours “courting” the prospect before they become a client.  Okay, then the value of that 30 seconds is more like $3,333.00.  Imagine spending a week showing up at the best events for your business and the value of even 3 referrals that come from those opportunities.

You can begin to see that the value of your hour is so high, you shouldn’t be doing anything else.

There are 120 pitch opportunities in an hour.  It’s highly unlikely you’ll have the opportunity to do 120 back-to-back 30 second pitches, but to make a point, if you set a goal to give 120 pitches a month the potential for business goes up exponentially and the value of one hour can be as great as 120 x the lifetime value of your average client.  Even if you only closed 10% of them, we are talking about an hour that is worth way into the six figures.

If this is so, why would you spend 100 or more hours developing a website that isn’t likely to do as great a job projecting your brand, attracting your target audience and converting clients as it would if you hired a professional?

Even if your highest valued hour is worth $3,000, when you multiply it times the 100 hour website project you end up with a $300,000 website that is, at best, mediocre.  The time you spent on the learning curve won’t pay off because you won’t develop enough websites for it to pay off.  You won’t be able to keep up with the ever-changing guidelines. This website building experience will be a colossal waste of your time and waste of opportunity to build what counts most toward your business goals.

Once you have clarity on the true value of your time, you’ll discover that designing and developing your own website will cost you far more than it will to hire professionals.

The cost to hire a professional website designer and developer

A professional will likely charge you between $3,000 and $6,000 for the same theme-based website.  If you hire the right team, you will receive far more value for your investment than you will receive when you do it yourself.  Oftentimes, in the midst of development, you’ll discover you need certain customizations to your theme to produce the feature or look and feel you want.  Choosing the proper theme and knowing how design and development work together is important to achieving the results you want.

Be sure to find a website solutions company that will also provide on-page search engine optimization. If it isn’t in your budget today, build a budget for ongoing SEO.  If your website isn’t showing up on the first page of the search engines, your competition is getting your business.  The cost of your competition getting your business is far greater than the investment you’ll make in an effective SEO plan.

Blue Iris Marketing is a full service web solutions company.  Not only can we develop a small starter site at competitive pricing, we offer all of the services you’ll need to support your growth. When your company begins to grow, we’ll help you keep your website ahead of the curve so that your brand continues to project the proper image and engage all of your client segments.

Many of our clients require a fully customized website with eCommerce, SEO, online marketing strategies and many other features. Our service, results and pricing are second to none.  Our customer service stands out from other agencies.  We are different on purpose.

If you are considering a do-it-yourself website project, take a moment to give us a call.  We’ll be happy to provide you with suggestions and guidance, even if you are going to build it yourself.

Call us Today.

Jillian Vanarsdall
Jillian Vanarsdall
Founder of Blue Iris Marketing. An inbound marketing agency assisting businesses, from start-ups to high-growth firms, to phenomenally tell their unique story in a noisy digital world. Our services include inbound marketing, Wordpress web design and development, SEO, and social media.

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