Choosing the Right WordPress Theme

“How do I know what is the best theme for my website?”

When I first started making WordPress websites, the advice I generally read about choosing a WordPress theme went something like this:

When you make a WordPress website you can either start with one of the free themes or purchase a premium theme. There are many wonderful themes to choose from for your website.

Well, that didn’t turn out to be the best advice for me. I used a number of free themes, and each theme has a major learning curve on learning how to use it. I soon saw the value of using paid premium themes, but when you use one, all of the extra features add to the confusion of how to use it. If you start with the free version of a theme and upgrade to the paid version, most of the time you lose your theme settings. Plus, purchasing a theme isn’t a one-time purchase, you need to renew it every year for updates. Some of the theme updates need to be installed manually, which means that you need to download the theme from its author and install it manually.

Perhaps the most serious problem I ran into was websites crashing when I updated the plugins and themes. A WordPress website is a combination of the WordPress Core, its theme, and the various plugins added for functionality. Each of these plugins and themes needs to be updated to work with the most recent version of WordPress. I learned the hard way that it is very important to use only the very best themes for WordPress – themes made by the agencies with the top reputations in the WordPress Community.

Genesis by StudioPress

Along the way, I heard about how wonderful the Genesis framework is, and I purchased a LIFETIME subscription to the the Genesis framework and the Genesis Sample Theme for only $59. That is about the same price as a one-year license for most premium themes.

Why is Genesis so great? Hang in there for a bit while I explain something technical. When you modify a WordPress theme you start by creating a Child Theme and then overriding the base theme with your CSS changes in the styles.css file in the Child Theme. With Genesis, the child theme is included…the Sample Theme is the child theme. So rather than overwrite with the CSS, you simply change the CSS. That is one reason why Genesis Themes are the fastest themes. With any other theme your CSS changes override the theme, so that both the original theme CSS must load, and then all of your changes must overwrite the original theme. All of this happens in milliseconds, but it does slow down your website.

Beaver Builder Theme and Page Builder

For several months I put all new clients on the Genesis Sample Theme, and with CSS redesigned their websites to their custom design. Then, one of my clients asked me to make a website with Beaver Builder. At first I resisted, but agreed to try it out. Beaver Builder has its own theme, and it also has a page builder plugin. I fell in love with Beaver Builder the first time I used it.

The Beaver Builder Theme was far and away the most comprehensive and clear theme I had ever used on WordPress. Since I started using the Beaver Builder theme I do not need to write nearly as much CSS for a website. In fact, I train some of my clients how to use the theme customizations, and they also find it to be intuitive. Beaver Builder is the only theme I have used that has dozens of layout options for the top header bar.

What is a Page Builder and Why Do You Want One?

The Beaver Builder Page Builder was so much more intuitive to use than the other page builders. Because I know how to code a website with CSS and HTML, as an alternative I could simply code any website to do what the Beaver Builder Page Builder can do. However, I found that my website designs dramatically improved using the Page Builder.

Allow me to digress and talk a bit about page builders. Page builders are WYSIWYG tools to make it easier to make WordPress websites. I had used several of them in the past. Because I know how to code they were more of a hindrance than a help. Each page builder has its own learning curve. Page builders also add a lot of extra code to your websites. Until I started using the Beaver Builder Page Builder I simply didn’t prefer to use them.

After my first experience with Beaver Builder I immediately went to Beaver Builder and purchased my own agency license. I create almost all of my websites on the Beaver Builder theme, with one exception. If speed is critical to a website, I create it in Genesis. The development time is longer in Genesis, but the website can load a few milliseconds more quickly.

The Bottom Line on Choosing a Theme

When you make a website with WordPress, purchase the Genesis theme if you are on a budget. Experienced WordPress developers will be familiar with Genesis if you need help with your website. If you can afford it, purchase the Beaver Builder Theme and Page Builder. The Beaver Builder Theme will give you the most flexibility without code. If you want a completely free theme, then use of of the themes by, the themes that come pre-installed with WordPress.

When you make your website with White Buffalo Websites we can set up your website with either the Genesis Sample Theme or the Beaver Builder Theme and Page Builder on our agency license. We can either do the website work for you or train you to do it yourself.