9 Things to Look for When Choosing a Theme for Your Blog

9 Things to Look for When Choosing a Theme for Your Blog

Blogging is amongst the most interesting and advantageous activities being done over the Internet nowadays. It gives you a good source of social networking, personal and commercial marketing and promotion, a platform to showcase your talents and most often, a real good source of earning a pocket full of money.

Owing to this, the popularity of blogging is growing day by day and more and more professionals are turning towards having a blog. Although there are many benefits of a blog over a usual website like its regular updating and ease of use, however, one of the greatest advantages of a blog is that you can easily change its look or theme without having it designed all the time.

9 Things to Look for When Choosing a Theme for Your Blog

After content, a theme is the most important element of a blog. That is why it is advised that whether you are starting a new blog or re-designing an existing one, pay special attention to the theme you want to incorporate. The most important attribute of a good theme is that it should fulfill your requirements as well as your readers’. This post is a guideline for blog newbies and a gauge for the existing blogger to assess the usefulness of their blog theme.

Things to Look Out For When Choosing a Theme

The First Impression

‘The first impression is the last impression’ is although quite a cliché statement, however it will never lose its value in terms of a blog theme. The first impression of your blog is highly dependent on the theme as a basic visitor is attracted by a design before getting into reading the content. From ‘first impression’ it is meant that the theme should be so strong that it should quickly help the new visitor get an idea of what the blog is all about. Don’t leave it to your visitors to explore the site and find out what it is all about, as very few will be willing to do so.

The First Impression

SEO Friendliness

Like petrol runs a vehicle, Search Engine Optimization runs a blog. A general misconception about SEO is that it relates to the content of the blog only. However, in reality your blog’s theme has a major impact on SEO. The theme should be SEO-friendly in terms of its structure and coding. A weakly coded theme can severely limit your reach to search engine visitors and will ultimately affect the popularity of your blog. So the first thing to look for in a theme for your blog is the aspect of search engine friendliness in its coding and basic structure.

SEO Friendliness

Readability of Content

A blog is meant to be read (except for a photo blog), readability is the key element that makes or breaks your visitors. Moreover, in this fast paced world, Internet users are always on the go and the reading is more or less replaced by scanning the content of blogs. Hence, while opting out a theme for your blog, keep its readability factor in mind in order for it to be successful. Usually, dark text on a light background has the best readability. Using whitespace, headers, sub headers, bold text, bulleted lists, and short paragraphs also help a lot. The theme should effectively use CSS to deal with headers and line spacing, and of course the text and background colors.

Readability Content

Easier Navigation Options

Importance of navigation for a reader is equal to the importance of road signs for a citizen. A blog’s basic strength lies in its content and content is the vital element that attracts a new reader and retains the interest of the old one. Navigation is the key that leads the eager reader to the desired content destination. So a blog theme should be best at its navigation options. These options may include main categories, pages, side panels, recent post, popular posts section, related posts links, archives and blogroll etc.

Easier Navigation Options

For instance, both old and new visitors to a blog are most interested in reading the Popular Posts or want to visit the Related Posts of a certain article. In such a case, only a theme that will offer easier navigation options to its reader will help to retain the visitor’s interest in your blog. Although there are a number of plugins available on the Internet that can help you make the navigation of your blog easier, however, it is advised to choose a theme which is already equipped with maximum navigation options.

Usability of Sidebars

Although Sidebars are a part of navigation options, however, the point of making a separate heading for it is to highlight their inevitable importance for your blog theme. After the main page, sidebar is the second most prominent thing which the reader notices as he visits the blog. Thus, whichever theme you choose for your blog should necessarily have visible sidebar options. Put some extra effort in improving the appearance of your sidebar and think about what would be the most helpful content to include that would instantly get noticed. Unattractive sidebars are often neglected, and as a result they become stale and boring for your blog theme.

Usability of Sidebars

Color Combinations

Blog, being a virtual medium of communication, depends a lot on colors and color combinations in order for it to be attractive. Therefore the design and color scheme of a theme matters a lot and determines the effectiveness of your blog. It is good to experiment the effectiveness and attractiveness of your blog with different color schemes. In today’s world of Internet convenience, a theme comes with several color combinations by default which makes it even easier to experiment upon.

Color Combinations

Use colors, depending upon the nature of your blog. For instance, use vibrant and bright colors for an art, music or design blog, use a wooden or green background for a nature-oriented blog and use minimal and subtle colors for a personal blog. Also, when your blog represents a certain company or organization, try to use the corporate colors of that company and not just any color.

Uniqueness of Theme

As mentioned earlier, technological advancement has made it super easy for just anyone to start a blog and manage it well. The ease of acquiring a domain name, blog hosting and a pre-designed and coded theme, prompted many of us to have our own blog. However, with more and more people entering the blogging zone, it has become quite a challenge to stand-out from the rest in terms of design and content of your blog. Therefore, when you choose a theme for your blog, gauge its uniqueness, especially within your market niche. You don’t necessarily need to have a theme that will wow your visitors, however, your theme should have something so rare and memorable that will help for branding purposes.

Uniqueness of Theme

Basic Load Time

Imagine when you find a blog interesting and want to visit it, however, as soon as you click to open it, it takes ages to load, element after element, till you get annoyed and your interest in visiting this blog takes a detour. Visitors are always short of time and for them load time of your blog matters much. Although the richer the design, the longer will be the load time, however, try to find a blog theme that has either a shorter load time or strive to create lighter pages yourself, without affecting the attractiveness of your blog.

Basic Load Time

Advertisement Space

Blogging is serious business, and from business, it is meant as a source of earning a few bucks. Blogging has become a common source of income among professionals around the world. People use the knowledge in their respective fields to produce good content that attract visitors as well as advertisers. Hence, your blog theme should have proper space for advertisements, without mingling with the basic content. Although, advertisements have virtually no impact on the usability of your blog, however, this a little favor you might want to do for yourself. After all, when you work so hard on a thing, you deserve to reap your share of success from it!

Advertisement Space

The Wrap Up

Blogging is the most interesting source of social interaction, personal and commercial promotion and money-making. Blogging comes with an ease of user-friendliness and the liberty of choosing the theme of your choice from the Internet without getting into its designing process. However, the convenience of choosing a theme often lands a blogger into trouble re getting the right theme for his blog.

The aforementioned tips will enable you to ‘best out of the rest’ from a large pool of blog themes available on the Internet. So whether you are planning to get a new blog made or re-designing an existing one, pay special attention to the theme and go for the one that allows you to stand out from those using the popular free themes from the Internet.

Arfa M Waqas is a writer and self-taught graphic designer. She has a dream of making it big with her CreatiWittyBlog which is all about design, creative ideas and witty posts.

Comments

  1. / Reply

    Blogging is very important nowadays, and using creative themes is a great approach to attract visitors and perhaps even new friendship getting.
    So, the themes presented in here are cool enough. I loved them.
    Thanks for a post.

      • Richard,
      • March 31, 2011
      / Reply

      You should check out the mobile themes at http://themify.me

      They have fluid & responsive themes that work on iPhone.

    • SLAB,
    • March 30, 2011
    / Reply

    There are so many themes out there that having some guidelines for choosing one is very helpful.

  2. / Reply

    Useful article as i would like to get into building blogging themes, will certainly consider everything you have mentioned here.

  3. / Reply

    Very good tips when choosing a theme here Arfa. One of my favorites which includes all of these attributes in my opinion are the themes and framework over at Studiopress (.com) . Their themes are built on what they call the Genesis framework and then they have available different ‘child themes’ that have different look and feel to them based upon your needs. I have purchased two of them in the past year and they are fabulous. Their support and forum area if pretty good too.

  4. / Reply

    Great article, for me “Uniqueness of Theme” is the most important, you want to stand out from the others, The one thing you don’t want is someone looking at your blog and saying, that you are using the same theme as their friend is, so make sure you get unique theme and then modified so it looks even more unique and special to you and your community.

    Marios

    • kal4u,
    • March 31, 2011
    / Reply

    Nice one

  5. / Reply

    Nice article! I agree with Marios that “Uniqueness of Theme” is very important. Sometimes going with a big name theme developer may be a double-edged sword. Yes the theme looks great, but 1000 other people think so too. Taking your time to find the theme that works best for you is worth it.

    Also the ease of theme customization is another thing to look out for.

  6. / Reply

    good one, I understand the need of speed as I had seen the report of google expirement that just 400ms delay in google leads to reduce in 0.59% of their trafic.
    and hence increased the speed of my website to rocking speed

  7. / Reply

    Great topic Arfa! Sites are graded by load time by not only the search engines, but by Alexa as well. And people just like myself are impatient and will vacate your site if it’s sluggish or slow. I think load time is the most important thing to a blog next to content.

  8. / Reply

    Loved the way u represent here to describe the blog theme.. I m very much selective while choosing the themes bcz i m strongly agree with your point that first impression is the last impression… U can have a look at all of my blogs at the bottom right widget of my main blog.

    Blog says a lot of words for you which you cannot deliver to all of your readers..

  9. / Reply

    I think the choosing the blogger themes is more important for than to impress the customers. before starting a new blog you should choose theme very wisely.
    you should consider that the ads which you will display on your blog. the size of the blog and space where you will post the ads. the ads program from different websites.
    you can check my website

  10. / Reply

    Very informative article .. great share author !!!

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