WordPress is the world’s most popular landing page and blog software, used by more than 58% of all websites whose content management system is known, and it powers more that 27% of the top ten million websites visited globally.
Its success owes much to the fact that the software is free and open source, that its capabilities are constantly being enhanced with plugins, and because it is easy to use and flexible, even for novices.
Another reason for its popularity is that there are a host of themes and customisation options available, either from the official WordPress repository, or through dedicated marketplaces, and various WordPress shops.
One of the most popular and well-known of companies for obtaining themes, plugins and other digital assets is Envato, which operates a group of digital marketplaces that sell creative assets for web designers, including themes, graphics, video, audio, and photography and 3D models. It has over 1.5 million active buyers and sellers and over 8 million community members, along with over 5 million items for sale.
According to Alexa, ThemeForest, is the 204th most visited website in the world. It also has a well-deserved reputation amongst developers as a good site with which to work. This is because if they develop a theme, upload it to ThemeForest, and it passes Envato’s quality control and is made available for sale through their online store, then the developer earns between 50% and 70% of any subsequent sales. A virtuous cycle is created; Envato gains a stream of new products, developers earn a living, and customers always have a range of new themes and designs from which to choose.
ThemeForest lists over 10,000 WordPress themes, priced between $13 and $199 — giving it a wider range of pricing than most other large theme marketplaces. However, given such an enormous range and choice of themes, plug-ins and other digital assets, how do you go about narrowing your options down and find the right design for your site?
Use the Search feature to narrow your selection
ThemeForest’s search feature allows you to find themes using keywords. For example, if you are designing a website portfolio, your preferred keyword could be portfolio, or illustrator for a graphic designer. If you want a broader search, you can choose from 14 top-level categories (corporate themes, blogging themes, e-commerce themes, etc.), which should help you find something suitable.
Now you can narrow your search even further, using the drop-down menu to sort for the best match, top-rated, best sellers, new releases and price.
Use the Filter bar
If you prefer a targeted search, the website has a very helpful and user friendly filter system, which includes information on tags, sales,price and overall ratings. This can be very useful as it keeps you focused on the task in hand, and stops you being distracted by the multitude of other theme choices.
Another popular option for many users is the Bestseller’s Page, which lists the best-selling theme designers and the most popular themes. In fact, some website owners will specifically choose themes and designs based on the developer who produced them.
Preview your chosen themes
After you have narrowed your search to a few options, it is time to test their style, design, and functionality using the live preview. This will give you a very good idea as to how your website will look and function once the theme has been properly installed, and allows you to change colours and the basic layout as well.
An important note when previewing the themes is to not let yourself be distracted by the images that the theme author has chosen to showcase their work. Instead, try and use, or imagine, the images you intend to use on your own site.
Check the ratings
Having chosen a theme and previewed what it will look like, now it is time to check the ratings and see what others are saying about it. Each theme comes with buyer ratings, statistics on the number of sales it has achieved, and buyers’ comments. Read the comments carefully, as they can provide valuable feedback on how the theme performs in reality.
It is also worth checking-out what support from developers is available for a particular theme. However experienced a coder or web developer you may be, there is still the chance that you will get stuck or find a bug along the way. Rather than allow yourself to get tangled up in the code when trying to install a theme on your website, you should be able to get help and support from the original developer if you get into difficulties. Most theme packages will normally offer six months’ support or more from the date of purchase.
Whilst ThemeForest offers many modern, aesthetically pleasing and versatile themes from which to choose, it is important to remember what you are trying to achieve with your website and the market you are intending to reach.
For example, whilst the Bestseller List may be a very good guide as to what is popular, it should be borne in mind that if you choose a theme from that list, you run the risk of having a website that looks the same as many others. Look at similar websites, and businesses like yours, and also those of your nearest competitors, and try to choose something that is distinctive and stands out. That does not mean that you should go for the quirky and unusual necessarily, because such designs can alien some people and, more critically, soon look outdated. Rather you are looking for something that makes your website stand out from the crowd, and reflects the values and unique proposition of your business.