WordPress is a great shortcut to getting a professional looking site up and running for your health coaching business. You can set up a basic WordPress site in about 10 minutes then add a fantastic looking theme to give it just the right look and feel for your business. Yes, it can be that fast to set up.
Because there are tens of thousands of WordPress themes available – both free and paid – choosing the right WordPress theme can be time consuming and challenging. In this article, Iʼll give you 5 things to consider when reviewing WordPress themes to help you quickly eliminate themes that wonʼt work and narrow down your choices on which will.
Understanding WordPress Themes
Two things you need to clearly understand about WordPress themes in order to choose the best theme for your website.
1. A WordPress theme is a template.
What you see is what you get. Unless you hire a webmaster to customize the stylesheet, you will have to be satisﬁed with the look, feel, graphics, and layout of the theme you are using.
If the theme doesnʼt come with drop-down menus, then youʼll have to do without them. So write down what features are really important to you so you can use this as a checklist when considering themes.
2. Not all WordPress themes are interchangeable.
One of the beliefs promoted about WordPress is that you can quickly and easily change the entire look and feel of your site by just changing themes and that all your pages and data will stay the same. This is only true some of the time.
In actuality, not all themes will have the same layout and navigation menus. And some specialty themes even store your data differently in the database. What this means is that if you change themes, some of your pages, posts, and sidebars may no longer appear, or they may contain gibberish. So when you pick a WordPress theme, do so with the intention of keeping it for a while.
Now that you understand the basics about WordPress themes, here are 6 things to look for to choose a great WordPress theme for your health coaching website.
Easy vs Flexible
The easiest and fastest way to get a WordPress website up is to use the theme as is and do little or no customization. But if youʼre like me and you want to customize, look for a theme that is ﬂexible in design. Some themes include a dashboard that lets you select fonts, backgrounds, colors, and more with just the click of a button – no HTML or CSS programming required.
Masculine vs Feminine Designs
Thereʼs very little information on this topic, but I believe it is critical for health coaching websites. If your ideal client is a woman and youʼve been having trouble ﬁnding a WordPress theme you love, thereʼs a really good reason.
According to a University of Glamorgan study done a few years ago about what aesthetically appeals to males and females when surﬁng the web, women prefer sites designed by women and men showed a preference for those created by men.
They also found that:
• 74% of sites were produced by a man or a predominantly male team while just 7% were designed by a female or female team.
• 94% of websites were biased towards men and only 2% towards women.
• websites which might appeal greatly to one group are a total no-no with the other
I personally ﬁnd that most of the WordPress themes on the market have a masculine look and feel about them, which is why I often create custom graphics for my clients and replace the ones that come with the theme.
When youʼre choosing a WordPress theme, look at it from the prospective of whether itʼs more likely to be attractive to women or men and compare that to your ideal client.
• Women tend to prefer a clean, uncluttered look with space to breath, rounded edges, neutral background colors, great images, high-end photography, and easy to use navigation.
• Men tend to prefer straight lines, few colors in the typeface and background, and formal or expert language.
Pretty vs Optimized for Sales
Of course, you want an attractive website that will give you a professional online image. But ultimately, you want a website that will attract your ideal client and turn them into prospects and clients.
While there are a lot of attractive, professional looking WordPress themes available, few of them are optimized with effective online marketing strategies, e.g themes that incorporate an opt-in box for a free irresistible offer. This is the cornerstone to having a proﬁtable coaching website. Yet, ﬁnding a theme pre-designed for this strategy is almost impossible to ﬁnd.
That means you need to look for a theme that can be easily customized to include an opt-in box on almost every page. Some coaches choose to put their opt-in box in the header graphic section to accomplish this.
However, I personally donʼt recommend this because extensive research has shown that the header graphic and footer areas are the two least looked at sections of a webpage. That being the case, why would you want to put your opt-in box in the least looked at area of your webpage? For more information on this topic, see my article “Website Layouts that Maximize Sales and Sign Ups”.
Other coaches choose to put the opt-in box in the sidebar, which is a great option. But that requires you have a sidebar on every webpage, which may not always look good.
Paid vs Free WP Themes
A lot of people ask me if they should use a free theme or a paid theme. I used to use free WordPress themes, but now use paid. Why? Because the paid themes I use are kept up-to-date with the latest versions of WordPress. That means that I donʼt have to worry about my theme crashing next time I update WordPress.
I also look for paid themes with a member forum and great customer support. That is easily worth $35-$80 for a premium WordPress theme.
Fast vs Slow Page Loading
Most of the theme designers are not Internet marketers. That means they are more interested in offering theme features than in designs that load quickly. I have found that even themes promoted as “minimal” can load slowly.
You only have a few seconds to grab the attention of a website visitor. So look for a WordPress theme that loads quickly. Since “quick” is a relative term depending on the speed of someoneʼs ISP, you can test the loading time of several different themes using this site: http://www.websiteoptimization.com/services/analyze/
First ﬁnd the webpage with a demo of the WP theme you are considering using. Then enter the URL to the theme demo on the websiteoptimization.com page and submit the query. Youʼll get a detailed report to help you make the best choice.
Built-in Features vs Adding Plugins
This is closely related to page loading time. The ﬁrst thing many of us do after we set up a WordPress theme is add in all our favorite plugins. Thereʼs the SEO plugin, Facebook plugin, spam ﬁlter, Google Analytics plugin, video plugin, and more.
Some things you need to know about plugins:
• They can signiﬁcantly slow down your page loading time. The more plugins you use, the slower the page loads. So even if your theme loaded quickly in the tests, your plugins can slow it down to a snailʼs pace.
• Not all plugins work well with other plugins or even with every theme. I sometimes have to try 2 or more plugins before I ﬁnd one that works with a speciﬁc theme and other plugins.
• Sometimes free plugins arenʼt kept updated, which means that they may stop working the next time you update your version of WordPress.
Some WordPress themes include a lot of built-in features, especially the paid themes. The beneﬁt here is that if the extra features you want are built-in, you wonʼt have to bother ﬁnding and adding compatible plugins to do the work. This could also mean that the theme will load faster because the features have already been optimized for speed.
The best place to start when choosing a great WordPress theme is to ask your web designer or online marketing mentor. If they set up WordPress on a regular basis, theyʼve tested and looked at a lot of different options and can give you great advice.
You can also search online. Here are some theme sites that I have either used or I know a trusted advisor who uses and recommends them:
One last thought. To get the most out of WordPress, youʼll need more than a 10 minute set up and a WP theme. You will also need to conﬁgure the settings, create the sidebar content and menu, customize some of the graphics and/or stylesheet, add plugins, insert content, and optimize the design for sales and sign ups.
If you donʼt have the aptitude to do these yourself, get training or hire a professional to help you. Remember, the faster your website is online and effectively marketing for you, the faster you can get clients and sales.
Looking for more information on how to use WordPress for Internet marketing? Get free instant access to tips and articles on how to get more clients and sales from your health coaching website. Just visit http://www.KarenBrunet.com. From Karen Brunet, online marketing consultant, where “Itʼs not just a website…Itʼs the Mother Lode!”