I suffer from a condition you may have heard of … Shiny Object Syndrome. It is easy to be distracted and frustrated by the number of options we have for WordPress themes (and plugins, and web hosts – the list goes on!). Many themes look the same … some have fancy bells and whistles. Trying them out, only to discover they don’t do what you need, can be expensive and time consuming.
And perhaps once your site is done, you see something new that just might be BETTER! New doesn’t always mean better, but we often think it does. Changing to a new theme should be easy with WordPress but it’s not always the case. Many themes use theme-specific Custom Post Types, plugins and shortcodes which can make changing themes difficult.
How can you stop this endless cycle of looking for newer and better theme options?
Commit to one basic solution. Create consistency in your process/work flow which allows for design variations with consistent coding and structure.
In my case, I chose to work with the Genesis Framework. Now I am not reinventing the wheel every time I create a new site. Once you learn how Genesis websites are built, it is relatively easy to change designs/child themes. A framework is what it sounds like … the basic frame/engine of the website where core theme coding is already done and done right, and the child theme you create (or purchase/download) is the “skin” on top of the frame.
The top reasons to use Genesis are well documented:
- Built in SEO
- Built with Mobile Responsive, HTML5 & Schema.org
- Every Genesis purchase – framework or child theme – includes a developer license
- Instant Updates
- Customizable and Fast
- Uses hooks and filters: customization with hooks and filters vs. templates
- Top Developers in the community
- Well coded markup
- Lightweight code = faster performance
- Good documentation and support networks (over 160,000 members)
- Built In Widgets
- Genesis-Specific Plugins
- Page Layout Options vs. Templates
- Easy Child Themes
Great Genesis Resources:
The Genesis WordPress community is a group within a group – the WordPress community itself is so welcoming and supportive, which is also true of the Genesis community. I have received help and given help; the Facebook group and Slack group are now familiar places for me and one of the first places I turn to when I need a quick answer. Some of the best tools, resources and forums can be found here:
- Studio Press
- Sridhar Katakam (and endless and on-going treasure chest of snippets and tutorials)
- Carrie Dils (website and podcast officehours.fm and Lynda.com Courses)
- Bill Erickson (snippets and solutions – a well known resource whose code you will find in many Genesis themes)
- Facebook Group (Genesis WordPress)
- Slack Group (GenesisWP)
- This Week In Genesis/Genesis WP Guide (a great weekly update on things happening in the WordPress community, written by Nick Davis)
Top Places to get Genesis Child Themes:
If you are still learning, or are not interested in building custom child themes, there are some great child-theme developers who sell user-friendly themes (but not so many that it will drive you crazy!)
- Studio Press – Framework and Themes
- Web Savvy Marketing – niche themes
- Carrie Dils – accessibility, real estate
- Themedy – niche, ecommerce
- Simple Pro Themes – straight-forward, well designed and coded
- ZigZag Press – niche, animated content
- Pretty Darn Cute – feminine, blogs
- Shay Bocks – food, blogs
- Appfinite – great design and lots of widget options
Whatever workflow and system you choose, pick one method and stick with it so you can master it and avoid the distraction and time-wasting process of selecting and learning a new commercial theme every time you build a new website. An article in the Huffington Post by Alex Charfen describes Shiny Object Syndrome as a process that “can derail your focus and your business, and cost you a lot of money in the meantime.” The solution: “Pick a target and stick to it.”
What is your target?