Does the theme support basic WordPress functions?

You may think I’m crazy for even bringing this up, but there is a reason. The “glass half full” kind of girl that I am always thought all themes supported core WordPress features. The truth is that this is an incorrect assumption.

I have an SEO client I am working with right now that has a theme so poorly coded it is killing me. It lacks basic elements like proper spacing, ordered bullets, featured images for posts, commenting, and on and on. The creator of the theme just doesn’t know WordPress as much as he should. I don’t think he intentionally left these items out, but they are in fact missing.

Prior to buying any premium WordPress theme, make sure the theme supports core features like: WordPress menus, widgets, multiple sidebars, featured images, blog page beyond that of the home page, individual posts, author boxes, commenting, 404 page, sitemaps, etc.

Do you need your theme to offer multiple layouts and columns?

Again, don’t assume your theme has multiple layouts and will accommodate things like full width pages, one or two sidebars, columns within content, etc. Review the theme description and demo to make sure the theme layouts will support the content you want to create. Also verify the theme has widgetized sidebars and that the sidebar content isn’t hardcoded into the theme.

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Does the theme’s navigation support your website or blog’s content?

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Before you start looking for the perfect theme, decide if you need one menu or two menus. People many times use one menu for pages and secondary menu for categories. Do you need footer navigation or footer widgets with links? Is the navigation bar long enough to accommodate all your primary menu options? Some are not and I’ve even fallen into this trap with one of our designers. She created the nicest theme and it wasn’t until we were building it out that I realized the menu bar was way to small for the average amount of links people would need.

Learn from my mistake and consider your content sitemap and navigation requirements before buying your new theme.

Does the theme offer call to actions for the home page and/or sidebar?

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I’m a huge proponent of call to actions. I want every stock theme and every custom theme we build to have these available. Every website or blog wants the visitor to do “something”. You have to have a cohesive design with built-in options for call to actions to work well and look professional.

Before selecting your theme, figure out what actions you want visitors to take and document them. Then while theme shopping, make sure your theme can support your list of visitor to do items.

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