In our view, choosing the right “theme” (or template) is the most important step when you create a website for your nonprofit on WordPress. We have a number of tips and tricks to remember when selecting your theme, which we have summarized in this article.
In the video below, you can look over our shoulder as we browse actual nonprofit WordPress themes and explore the pros and cons of each.
Tip 1: Look for Frequent Updates + Many Sales
First, you want to buy a theme that has a lot of sales and that has a history of frequent updates. Recent updates show that the theme author is engaged and actively tweaking and improving their product. Since you will get these future updates for free, the most often the theme is being updated, the better the value for your money.
The internet, web browsers and WordPress itself are always changing. Let unattended to, these changes will cause issues with your website over time. If Internet Explorer or Chrome changes how a certain type of image is displayed, for example, the code underlying your theme may need to be updated to ensure that images still display properly.
While a history of frequent updates is good, having that plus a large number of sales is even better. Popular themes continue to bring in revenue for their creators, which gives them an incentive to update the theme in the future. You can rest assured that a developer who is making tens of thousands of dollars a month from a theme will do his or her best to keep that theme on the cutting edge. If they don’t, negative reviews will begin to accumulate and their sales will slow.
Tip 2: Choose a Theme Where You Want the Demo
Nonprofit WordPress themes will each come with a live-action demo, often many demos, showing what the theme looks like in use.
Your goal is finding a theme, and even better, a specific demo within a theme that closely matches your vision for the site. Some elements will have to be tweaked, of course, but the overall aesthetic and layout should be in line with your end goal. We have found that websites who stay closer to the demos tend to end up looking and functioning better than those that do not.
This certainly isn’t a hard and fast rule. Having worked on dozens of websites, however, we have noticed over time that choosing a theme with a demo that gets you 60% of the way complete on your website tends to both save a lot of time and significantly improve the end result.
Video: Look Over Our Shoulder as We Choose Themes
Putting the above two rules into practice, watch the video below as we narrate our process of looking at different themes and ultimately narrowing them down to make a decision.