If you read Lawyerist regularly, you know that we’re fans of WordPress.
If you are using WordPress, you will have to decide on a theme. Here are some of the things you should know.
What is a WordPress Theme?
In a nutshell, WordPress Themes provide webmasters an easy way to manage the look and feel of their websites/blogs. However, in addition to design management, many themes extend the functionality of a website or blog. Themes change how sites are displayed, without having to “hack” into core WordPress files.
Most themes have customized template files, image files and style sheets.
Choosing a WordPress Theme
Selecting a theme will determine how your site/blog looks. When choosing a theme, you really have three options:
- Free Themes – The WordPress community has contributed over 1,000 themes to the Free Theme Directory.
- Premium Themes – Premium themes include both out-of-the-box template themes, custom theme design and development or Commercially Supported GPL Themes. You can even “crowd source” theme design & development.
- Roll Your Own Theme – Of course, if you’re somewhat adventurous, you can always design & build your own theme or customize a theme from a theme framework, like Thesis. But even if you can, should you design and development your own theme?
Whether you choose a free theme, premium theme or build your own, you should test your theme on multiple browsers and devices. Personally, I also recommend that you select a responsive theme.
Installing Your WordPress Theme
There are three primary ways to install a new theme:
- Through the Administration Panel
- Using cPanel
- Manually via FTP
For most people, the easiest of the three is installing through the administration panel. First, log in to the Administration Panel, select the Appearance panel and then Themes:
Next, select Install Themes. From here you will have to decide whether you want to search for a theme from the WordPress directory or upload a theme that you have previously downloaded.
Assuming you have already chosen and downloaded a theme, use the Upload link in the top sub-menu to upload a zipped copy of your Theme. Choose your theme file and click Install Now:
Once you’ve successfully installed your theme, all you have to do is activate it:
After your theme is installed and activated, you can tweak it by editing theme files. If you use Thesis, you can use the custom file editor. You should also consider adding the Thesis Openhook plugin:
WordPress Themes & Search Engines
WordPress, “sort of” comes search engine-friendly out-of-the-box. However, there are a variety of configuration options and plugins that you should consider to make sure that your site is effectively communicating with search engines. I recommend WordPress SEO by Yoast. However, if you’re going to use Thesis + WordPress SEO, make sure you’re not creating duplicate title and meta description tags (for now, you can fix this by editing the header.php in Thesis).
In addition to WordPress settings and plugins, a site’s theme can also have consequences in terms of search engine performance. In fact, some poorly developed themes can actually break some the built-in search engine-friendliness of a WordPress installation.
Do you use WordPress? Did you opt for a free or premium theme? Have you seen any WordPress themes that are especially good for lawyers? Would you like a constructive critique of your theme? Post links to it in the comments below.