So You’ve Bought Your First Premium WordPress Theme …
I think it is a big step on your journey as a blogger when you hand over your hard earned for your first premium theme . It says you are serious about your blog and you want it to stand out from the also ran free themes.
The problem is, premium themes look excellent and with that excellence comes a complexity of use. I have been working with a couple of clients recently to coach them using their new themes. From this experience I thought I would documents the common pit falls premium themes can spring upon you.
What’s A Premium Theme
A premium theme is a professionally developed template for your WordPress blog. They tend to be of a high quality with lots of wizzy features such as video players and featured post rotators.
They are the middle ground between free themes and custom developed setups, they tend to cost around $100 and for that you will get a customisable theme, support and usually updates. You will get a fairly unique looking blog, add to that your own logo and bingo a less than ordinary blog look and feel.
My site uses a premium theme Ice Cream Dream, it’s not as busy as many premium themes but the cleanness and efficiency is something I could never ahve done myseld, I have very little graphic design skill. That’s why I handed over my money for a premium theme.
Here is a short list of companies creating premium themes so you can get an idea of what is available, no affiliate links here, just companies themes I have used:
Premium themes are for bloggers wanting a unique look without the skills or budget to develop their own custom theme.
The first thing to do when you get hold of your premium theme is to read the f*cking manual. This sounds obvious but the devil is in the detail, I don’t know how many times I have steamed ahead, installing themes only to have to go back to the PDF packaged in the zip file to learn how to use a complex theme.
The documentation is usually packaged with the zip as well as being available on the plugin site. Check out the sites forum as well as the documentation so you are up to speed with any issues before you install.
A quick tip, look for documentation on the plugin developers site before you buy. If it is incomprehensible, I recommend you take the advice of Dionne Warwick and walk on by. If the documentation is poor, it is a sign that the support will be equally poor. On the same note if documentation on how to install your theme is not on the site, consider if you want to buy this theme. I learned this from hard experience I was installing a premium theme for a client and the documentation was so poor I had to pull apart the code to understand how it worked. Techies are notoriously poor communicators, they just expect you to understand what is obvious to them. If I am paying for a theme I want support and quality documentation.
Often a premium theme will rely on certain plugins to work properly. Make sure you have downloaded and activated these or your theme will not work as expected . The plugins will either be included with the theme zip file or be documented in the readme file. Take notice of versions, sometimes updates to plugins can make themes fall over.
This is one which catches out many people. A custom field is a small piece of information which you pass into the theme for it to perform a function. An example of custom field usage from my site is the thumbnail on the front page. For each post I create, a custom field needs to be created too called thumb which contains the URL of the thumbnail image to be displayed on the front page.
Custom fields are added from the edit post page, scroll down and near the bottom of the page you will see a section like this:
Enter a new custom field name, then add the value as specified in your documentation, don’t forget to activate it by pressing “add custom field” . Please be aware of the case Thumbnail is not the same as thumbnail with custom fields. As you add custom fields they are saved (see the drop down) so you can easily create new fields for your posts.
Many premium themes use categories to position items on the page. For example many of the look and feels will have a featured post section, to get posts into the featured section, you need to add them to a category named featured.
Again watch the case, I spent hours trying to get some videos to appear by adding the to a category called video instead of Video.
I Love Premium Themes I Do..
A premium theme says you are serious about your blogging, but please remember content is still king and your true fans will probably subscribe to RSS and never see you day-glo rotating doo-dad from that point on. Don’t get too hung up about your look’n’feel.
Just to re-iterate, read the manual and do exactly as the developer tells you and you site will look as smart as a carrot .