This may seem strange coming from me, and those of you that have known me for a while may raise an eyebrow at this, but good design doesn’t have to be original.

I know, I know, I try to rewrite the rule book every time I design a new website, and we’ve all come across a new whizzy website at some point and thought, wow! But the thing is that that whizzy website design probably took a designer months to get right, the team probably took many long nights to discuss and write what was needed and the idea was probably swimming around in their head for much longer than that.

And the truth is that a well-designed site is not necessarily the site with all the bells and whistles, but the site that is the most user friendly.

There are LOADS of well-designed WordPress themes

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I am always being asked what theme do I recommend and for somebody who is really interested in design without the coding I would go for Udesign on Themeforest or ithemes Builder every time. But for the beginner website builder and the entrepreneur that just wants a website without the fuss and on a little budget then an out of the box theme is worth its weight in gold.

The trick is to find a theme that matches your website plans as closely as possible. And I don’t just mean the colour or the subject matter, but how the theme is structured and how visitors are guided through the pages.

So instead of an easy answer, I’m afraid I have to bat the question back to my curious client – what do you need your website to do?

How to choose a WordPress theme for your website

1.       It’s all in the planning.

Jot down everything your website needs to achieve.

  • Do you need visitors to be able to register on a programme you are selling? Does this need to be front of the site or tucked away after visitors have been guided through the sales process?
  • Will visitors to the site be looking for different information or will they all have the same question that needs answering? Will their paths through your website be the same?
  • Will you need to sell physical products, downloadable products or membership?
  • Do you need to explain to visitors what you and your business is about and what benefits you can achieve for them, up front?
  • Will your blog be central to the website?
  • Will it be a very social site?
 2.       Sketch it out.

Just on an envelope, with a crayon, stick men and plenty of scribbles if you must, but this will really help you to visualise what you are looking for before you spend hours of your precious time cruising through reams and reams of themes. Where are your calls to action going to be and where is all that precious information going to go?

3.       Who is your website for?

Visit your competitors websites and visit the websites that your ideal customer shops from. You’ll start to see similarities in colours, patterns, spacing, fonts, images they use. Steal these ideas (not the pictures), they work!

4.       Don’t get hung up on colour or fonts

Keep your colour selection simple. You may not be able to find exactly the right sort of green as in your logo in a theme selection, but going with the original design of a theme will probably be better than trying to colour match yourself. A premium theme is professionally designed and will look great if you don’t fiddle around too much.

5.       Be honest with yourself.

If you don’t have a lot of images or time to trawl through stock photos, don’t choose a theme that is heavy on imagery. If you don’t know how to create whizzy animated slider images for your site, don’t go for one. If you know that you won’t be blogging a great deal, don’t go for one that relies on up to date information and graphics on the home page.

6.       Do a bit of research

When you find a theme you like have a look for reviews and find out if the designer offers support. Having an expert in your chosen theme makes sorting any problems out a lot easier.

And before you throw your mac out of the window in disgust because it is not quite as polished as you imagined, take a step back and see it from the users point of view.

If it is neat, organised and visitors find it easy to find the answer to their question, it’s a good design and well done you.