Why you shouldn’t just change your WordPress theme

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Don't make the mistake of just changing your WordPress theme without taking the time to understand how your WordPress website can be improved to provide a massive return on investment, increase traffic and conversions. Creating a truly user-centric experience.

Are you looking to change your WordPress theme?

Your WordPress theme is the part of your website that provides the look, design and style of your website. The WordPress Theme system is a way to "skin" your website. Very often the theme used provides more than just style sheets it can also add features and functionality to your website.

There are many reasons why you decide to change your WordPress website theme. It is a topic covered and requested many times during my WordPress training sessions. If you currently have a very basic theme and a basic website, changing the theme can be a straightforward process. Which means if you have a large, complex WordPress website changing your theme can be a much more detailed process.

Changing a theme won't remove any of your content. When you add content to a WordPress website, the content is stored in your database. This is a method of separating out your content from your design or functionality.

However, very often your content structure or layout is driven by your theme. Changing your theme will change the way your content is presented. Plus your theme may have 'theme specific' elements that are built into your theme, this can be theme specific widgets, shortcodes, design elements and layouts. With this in mind, changing your theme can turn into a large project.

Do you need to change your theme because it is broken or no longer supported?

I have seen this many times during my WordPress training sessions. A website with using an old WordPress theme, when we do a little research it turns out the WordPress theme development company has closed and your theme is no longer supported. WordPress themes need to be cared for and updated. The online space is ever changing – browsers update, WordPress core updates, PHP updates, plugins update. With all those potential changes your WordPress theme needs to be actively updated and looked after.

If you have broken areas on your WordPress website, areas not working correctly or looking wrong it doesn't look great. Visitors will lose trust in you and your business or organisation. If this is down to an old or unsupported theme it's time to change.

Do you need help with changing your WordPress theme?

If you need help with changing your WordPress theme why not ask about our 2-hour, in-person WordPress Training session and fast-track your solution. Or a more in-depth 4-hour WordPress Training session.

Don't just wallpaper over the cracks

Changing to a new design is a great way to refresh your website and enhance your brand. It is extremely important to have a well designed WordPress website. A poor website design just won't cut it anymore. Your WordPress website design has to be stunning to stand out in the hectic online space. Design is important. But wait. Changing your website design takes time and effort. The process of changing your website design is usually a planned project with a budget allocated (or a time cost to an individual). If you are going through the process of changing your design you must review your website performance in alignment to your business goals. If you just change the look and feel of your WordPress website it very often won't improve conversions, traffic or user interactions.

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A new theme design won't improve your ROI.

Your WordPress website needs a reason to exist. Whether you are a charity needing to promote events, increase donations or recruit volunteers – or an e-commerce website needing to sell more products – or a business coach website who needs to sell more courses or consultancy sessions, a new design won't help you to reach these goals. Yes, design is incredibly important to conversions and appealing to your audience, but design is more than colours, typography and layout.

Your design decisions must include User Experience, the right Calls-to-Action, Information Architecture, User Journey and Business Goal conversions. If you don't take these into consideration when you change your WordPress theme you will not achieve your business goals online.

Understanding your users and your audience

Your WordPress website is not for you. It is for your visitors. They need to find what they are looking for as quickly as possible. Changing your theme is the perfect time to asses how well your website is working for your business. Ask your current users for website feedback. Ask your staff, colleagues and sales teams for their feedback. Collate information that will improve your website going forward.

WordPress user experience

Take a deep look at your data and current user journey.

When undertaking a fresh design, you must take the time to study how users are currently interacting with your website and your content. This will guide you to make the right decisions when implementing a redesign.

Study your Google Analytics. Study your Search Console information. Take a look at your Search Optimisation results. How are visitors finding you and then how do they use your website and interact with you?  If this isn't meeting your business goals now is the time to make fundamental changes to your information architecture, user journey and content structure.

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The Takeaway

Changing your WordPress theme can be a necessity. If it is not working, broken and unsupported it is a priority to get a new one. Whether you engage a WordPress web designer or download a pre-built WordPress theme you are missing an opportunity to take a deep dive into how your website needs to work for your visitors.

If you need help with your WordPress website, User Journey, User Experience and improving your WordPress website performance. Contact WP North East to discuss your project or your WordPress Training needs.

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Belinda White | WP North East

Belinda White, WordPress Training Consultant. WordPress Training, WordPress SEO Training - Creative Director at Arttia Creative Limited. Creative designer with over 20 years experience in the UK web and design profession.

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