What’s the Best WordPress Design for Me?
So, you’ve chosen WordPress because, unlike a web builder platform, you now have full control to grow your online space. You’re all set up with a domain and hosting package. Now what? There are literally thousands of WordPress themes to choose from. But which one is the best fit for your needs? And what will be the most attractive?
There are lots of practical factors involved in choosing the right WordPress theme, like accessibility, load time, SEO, and many more. (And that’s a subject for an article all on its own.)
In this article, we’ll be exploring design elements within a WordPress theme. We’ll examine some of the elements you’ll need to consider in order to find a WordPress theme that makes your site super appealing, so you can, in turn, build a loyal audience.
Why Great Design Really Matters
These days, almost everyone and their cat operates a website it seems. Whether it’s a lifestyle blog or a business e-commerce site, you’re up against a sea of people all over the world doing the same thing.
That’s why each site visitor is precious (even more so if you’ve paid to get them there through advertising). And just like meeting someone new or walking past a shop front, first impressions are everything. This is especially true of websites because people are just one quick click away from countless other options.
If people arrive at your site for the first time and it looks messy, dull, hard on the eye, or they can’t instantly see why they should be interested… Poof! They’re gone, and probably checking out the websites of your competitors.
It’s important to understand that your website has about three seconds to give a visitor a good or bad impression, almost on a subconscious level. If the look and feel of the website are out of whack, people will get the immediate feeling they’re in the hands of an amateur. You’ll have lost brand trust right out the gate. Website design can literally make or break the growth of your audience.
Simplicity Is Platinum Gold
Here’s something that designers who like to charge a lot aren’t going to shout about – a Google study proved that website visitors are turned off by visual complexity.
Examples of keeping things beautifully simple are:
- Home Page – keep your website minimalistic, with bold headings and punchy paragraphs that grab attention. Link to landing pages that do the main talking. The job of your home page is to demonstrate your value so that people read further.
- Layout – thinking outside the box is great for explaining your product or service. But when it comes to website structure, people get weirded out when it’s too different from what they’re familiar with. Check out some of the most popular website brands, especially those that are in the same line as your business, to get an idea for normal layout structure.
- Accordions, Carousels, Sliders & Tabs – while many website owners and developers love these types of functionality because they seem clever, there is growing research to support the fact that users mostly don’t click on them. People tend to scan content, so make sure they don’t need to click around to find it.
- Hick’s Law – the more choices you give a person, the longer they’ll take to make a decision. In other words, if you give shoppers 10 options, they’ll be less likely to buy than if you’d given them four. This applies to your website menu and your product or service offerings. Don’t display everything in one go. Create clear, helpful categories that target people’s needs.
- Color – this aspect directly affects people on an emotive level, so it’s not to be underestimated. If you have lots of clashing colors you’ll really put people off. The general rule of thumb is to have a palette of two main colors (not counting the black or dark grey of text). Use them consistently throughout your site, but without getting too heavy. You want a balance between vibrancy and a feeling of lightness.
- Pictures & Video – also really important for emotive reach. And they can be really useful for simplifying explanations. But if you overdo pictures and video, you’ll end up causing distraction instead of engagement.
Smooth Path Or Rocky Road
We’ve covered choosing a WordPress theme that has optimal visual appeal because it’s sleek and streamlined on the first impression. Now let’s look at some important design usability tips:
- Scrolling vs. Clicking – a study by conversion metrics specialist Crazy Egg proved that a scrolling page layout is the best way forward. They took a short sales page and made it 20 times longer. The result was a 30% conversion increase, which is a big achievement. So instead of short landing pages, choose a theme that lets your content run like a well-planned story people can smoothly glide down.
- To Fold or Not to Fold – the prime real estate that people immediately see when they click on a page, compared to the space underneath (called above and below the fold) is no longer set in stone. Screen sizes change the fold depending on what device you’re on. But the fact remains that while scrolling is the best layout, readership drops after the first two screenfuls. So it’s really important to put your best foot forward first.
For example, you should try to use eye-catching headings. Have a concise and strongly appealing introduction to the page (an experienced copywriter is really worth the spend in this area). Include engaging imagery above the fold. You want to make sure, in as short a time as possible, that users are interested enough to stay on the page.
- Navigate Like a Captain – a great theme gives site visitors what they want in the easiest way possible. People will bail if they have to dig around too much, and your competitors will be waiting with open arms. Your customers need to be able to find what they’re looking for with minimal clicks. Good navigation also helps search engines index your site for user search results.
In the section above we talked about creating a streamlined menu and clear categories. Other essentials for great navigation are to have a website logo that links to the home page, a well-developed search bar, breadcrumbs (showing users where they are in the site hierarchy), and plenty of anchor links (‘back to top,’ ‘down to bottom,’ and useful page links like to your FAQ).
To learn more about giving your website visitors a smooth experience, read: How to Design a Website with Your Users in Mind.
Added Design Tips
Although the following pointers aren’t directly related to WordPress themes, no article about good website design would be complete without including these tips:
- Clear Text – if the text on your site is too small, low-contrast, or in a difficult-to-read font, it will make for a difficult read. People will get tired and click away. Likewise, if your text sits on pages in big blocks, it’s much harder to digest. Create short paragraphs with useful sub-headings that people can scan to find what’s important to them.
- People Imagery – a study by workflow software company Basecamp demonstrated the power an image has to connect with your audience. They added a background image of a person to a web page and conversion spiked by 102.5%. People relate to people—it’s as simple as that. But the caveat is to avoid free stock images in most cases. They tend to look really fake and done-to-death.
- Click Buttons – no website can be effective without clear social media and CTA (Call to Action) buttons. Strong CTAs are a big part of sales conversion. Ideally, you’ll want to test a number of variations over time to see what works best, like different colors, labels, and positioning.
Now that you understand the importance of good website design, how to keep the look sleekly simple, and how to create a smooth path for users, you’ll make great strides in narrowing down your WordPress theme shortlist.
Choosing the right design means:
- Your uniqueness and value shine at first glance—no effort or guessing.
- New visitors want to browse around—it feels like a good place to be.
- Existing customers keep returning—they can find what they want with ease.
Keep these three goals at the front of your mind and you’ll soon find the WordPress theme design that feels like a hand-to-glove fit.