What your WordPress theme should and shouldn’t do

image of WordPress themes page

WordPress is a powerful CMS (Content Management System) and it’s popularity is only increasing. We use it for many of our client’s websites that we develop. We love it for its flexibility, robust features and that many clients can add blogs, photos, videos and other content themselves.

Here are just a few reasons why we love WordPress and why it’s a dominant CMS.

  • 22% of New U.S. Registered Domains Run on WordPress
  • 48% of Technorati’s Top 100 Blogs Are Managed With WordPress
  • 48% of Technorati’s Top 100 Blogs Are Managed With WordPress

However, we see a growing trend for beginner web designers or people that make their own website and we want to help warn you of impending danger! Yes, that may seem over dramatic, but it really could be a big deal down the road.

What your WordPress theme shouldn’t do

Some makers of themes try to lure you into buying their theme by adding all sorts of features and functions to the theme. They might have sliders, custom post types, short codes, photo galleries or any other eye candy that looks good. And while it is tempting to buy a theme like this, we think it’s important to educate you on why this is a bad idea.

So let’s talk about what each part of WordPress so you can use it effectively.

What is WordPress Core?

The “WordPress Core” are the main files that makes up WordPress. Think of it as the foundation. It’s what makes your website run properly. WordPress has rules for making a smooth experience and if you conflict with these rules, you may have issues with your site losing functionality or breaking altogether. If you play within their rules, then you will have a great website that doesn’t have issues.

What are WordPress Themes and what do they do?

[Tweet “a WordPress theme gives the design & layout to your website but not have sliders, galleries or other eye candy”]

Your theme should only contain the design and layout portion of your website. This keeps the code as clean as possible to help your website running smoothly and load quickly for the website visitor.

Many people think your theme should have all the bells and whistles like sliders, photo galleries and anything else you can throw at it. However, this is a dangerous approach. What if you changed themes? Your website would break and you would lose your sliders, photo galleries or whatever else your theme has.

We don’t recommend using themes by simply “Googling” a search term. Use the WordPress Themes Repository within your Admin area or use a reputable theme developer to avoid themes with bloated or malicious code that could do more harm than good (even if the theme looks really cool).

What WordPress themes do we recommend?

While there are some good free themes in the WordPress Themes Repository, we prefer using premium themes for our client websites. We want the support and community that many premium themes provide. And, we want to know that the theme maker will stay in business for years to come so our client’s websites will remain solid with each update to the WordPress core. Our preferred premium theme developer is Genesis and their child themes.

What do WordPress Plugins do?

The main goal of WordPress plugins are to add functionality. There are thousands of free plugins in the WordPress Plugin Repository, and there are many paid plugins that we use and recommend. We love premium plugins like BackupBuddy, Gravity Forms, and even some plugins at CodeCanyon. We don’t recommend using plugins by simply “Googling” a search term. Use the WordPress Plugin Repository or reputable plugin developers to avoid plugins with bloated or malicious code.

If you need help with your website, design or setup, let us know. We love to help take over a project that may be frustrating you, or we can consult with you to get you unstuck.

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials.”

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