WordPress themes are like opinions – there are millions of bad ones, but a few good ones. With that said, I am offering my history and an opinion.
WordPress themes are a collection of code that enables a WordPress user to change the appearance of their website in a relatively easy manner. Themes are not an end all solution, and normally you cannot buy or download a theme and have a beautiful website in one click. I say normally because if you have a beautiful website, and it doesn’t have any customization, some themes allow you to quickly apply new colors and basic layout feature without more than a click. This would be an exception and not the rule.
When I fist started using WordPress I had already been using Themeforest for basic website layouts so finding new themes was not a problem. Finding a good theme was. I spent a few dollars buying themes that looked terrific in demos, but were hard to implement or the implementation was really limited. For me this changed with the release of The7 theme. The7 was so named because its release coincided with the release of iOS 7 and they were introducing several of the design features in the iOS release. I immediately started using it on my websites and ended up with several licenses. A couple of years after starting to use it, one of the sites I was working on decided to shift to a more news oriented layout and the theme was not the best fit. Enter Newspaper.
If you are looking to run a news-centric website, Newspaper is definitely worth a look. I would probably still be using it if the megamenu worked as I needed. One of the lessons learned from moving to Newspaper is that many of the design features do not transition easily, especially if the theme has custom builder for designing layout. This will come up again. The initial transition from The7 to Newspaper was fairly easy because they were both using WP Bakery’s Page builder.
After a year of being a news focused site, the decision was made to go back to a more corporate site, with news being a key feature, but no longer the center-point. The initial plan was to go back to The7, but I had also become Avada-aware in recent months. Avada, according to the Themeforest site is the number one selling theme of all time (on Themeforest). What to do?
I had seen Avada listed as the top selling for quite some time, but one day it went on sale and I decided to join the numbers and give it a try. In addition to their own builder, which makes layout a breeze, they offered several demos to learn the functionality available, but the clincher for me was their focus on accessibility. Accessibility, which is a requirement for the site I was transitioning, had been a struggle and having a theme that made this easier was a godsend. I was hooked and made the decision to move the newspaper site to Avada. As I mentioned before, migrating from a site with one type of builder to another, is not straightforward. The way columns are created, css classes, and more, did not move over seamlessly and it took a few months to get the site converted. Since then (Oct 2017), Avada has been my go to choice for all websites. Is it perfect? No, far from it. But with each release they address many of the shortcomings and add new features that are quite useful – they listen to their customers.
In addition to the themes I have mentioned above, I should say that there are several really nice themes on the market that have a huge market share such a Divi by Elegant themes, and the rise of custom builders such as Elementor have put focus on themes such as Astra and OceanWP. Elementor, and custom builders like this, can make migrating from one theme to another much easier, but work is still required.
This is not a complete history of every theme I have every tried, but how I ended at Avada. While Avada works for me, it may not be the best solution for you and the purpose of this article was not to sell you on any one theme, but make you aware of things to keep in mind.
- A theme is a tool or collection of tools, and not a turnkey solution. Demos show wonderful layouts, imagery and graphics, but they are just demos for inspiration, not implementation. Use the demos to see what is possible, but understand that time and effort will be required.
- You will need to bring content, layout, graphics, and more with you. If you hire a design team to implement a theme, they will still need funding for those missing elements unless they are part of the package.
- Implementing one theme and then switching to another can have a cost both in money and time. Take your time, look at what others have done using the theme. In the case of Avada there is a user group on Facebook where you can see a wide variety of implementations.
- Not all plugins work with all themes, so if you have invested in plugins, make sure they will work.