Speak to most web developers and they will sing the virtues of having your website built on the WordPress platform. And whilst I’m not going to sit here and argue with them (we use it ourselves) It’s very important to do your research when it comes to choosing the right WordPress theme.
Traditionally WordPress themes were boxed, had a right hand side bar and a few little extras to help you get your site up and running. The text wrapping was pretty average (It still is) and even with the advent of modern responsive themes, texts and images don’t always wrap too well on every single platform.
Things have moved on since the early days and the modern WordPress themes have a whole host of shortcodes, plugins and widgets, pre-loaded with the theme, to help make you life easier. However with these changes comes more complication and some themes are so complicated, that they are no longer for the DIY website builders.
I’m going to take a look at a couple of themes I’ve used and still use, to give you an idea about what you need to think about, when choosing a theme.
MH Magazine WordPress Theme
the MH Magazine theme is something close to the traditional theme but with a few extras. There is a Free version (lite) and a number of premium versions, starting at just $49.
If you are writing just a standard blog or basic magazine, I’d suggest stick with the free version. It will list your recent posts, let you put together a snazzy sidebar and all of the images are sized perfectly for all platforms. It’s limited in colours and fonts but it’s quite lightweight and loads pretty quickly.
Homepage options are limited on the lite version, so if you are looking for a funky home page (especially if you have lots of content), you’ll need to look at the premium version.
The premium version has a completely different layout for the home page, than the rest of the pages. You can fill it full of different post categories in different widths and completely change how the front page looks. You can even set the different post categories to “random” so instead of the same posts or most recent posts being on your home page all of the time, it changes every time a reader goes on.
The home page doesn’t have a side bar but you can create one by using the 1/3rd page widget area, so effectively your home page has a different sidebar to the rest of your pages.
MH Magazine is great when it comes to being responsive. Everything fits in nicely and it’s not too aggressive when it comes to resizing text, images and switching to a mobile menu button.
Well worth a look and not too expensive
X WordPress Theme – Renew
the X WordPress theme is completely different altogether than MH Magazine and you’ll probably need a bit of experience to get to grips with it. It’s responsiveness is a bit questionable and you often have to set things to be “visible on mobile only” or “non visible for mobile”
However, for websites that look nothing like a WordPress website but with all of the simplicity of adding posts and articles, X is pretty good. Their support team are excellent and if you get stuck trying to do something, you can ask them via the forum and they will come back to you with a solution.
X sites do transfer well to tablets but I’ve seen them struggle a little bit on a mobile phone. The text to image wrapping is not very good and I think it’s over aggressive when it comes to how things are viewed on different platforms. For example even on a large tablet, in portrait mode, it will still turn the menu into a mobile menu button and still dump the contents of your sidebar to the bottom of the page.
In fact, when we build using X, it’s usually a full width site or if there is a sidebar, we’ll limit it a tad.
X uses the usual visual editor but also comes with cornerstone. If you’re the kind of person that can use cornerstone, you’re probably already a web developer, its not for the beginner. X has migrated into something more complicated than when it started but I think that’s because they are a theme targeted at developers and not DIY website builders.
So there are 2 completely different themes. Both very good in their own way but entirely different in what they do.
There are thousands of WordPress themes available, so make sure you have a good look around before you commit. You may see amazing examples of websites written in a certain theme but more often than not, these have all had the CSS customised in some way. If you’re not familiar with code, stick with something more simple or dig into your pocket, get a good developer on board and all you need to do is project manage your site, while they design it.
Happy Web Building 🙂