Building Modern Church Websites, Part 5: Thinking About Themes

Now that the basic settings for your website have been configured, it’s time to think about the look and feel of the website.

Before You Start

Before even starting to think about how the site should look, it’s a good idea to decide on the basic features of the website. Do you want to have a slideshow on the front page? Are you going to run poles? How many pages are you expecting to have? A basic idea about questions like this will help you decide on exactly what kind of website theme you want. Until you have at least a general idea of what needs to appear on the front page, you can’t decide on how it should look.

Choosing a Theme

In WordPress, a Theme is the part of the software that controls the look of the website WordPress creates. Themes can change everything from the fonts and colours, to the number of columns, to the images and icons. Picking a good looking theme goes a long way towards both making your website look good, and preventing it from looking like every other WordPress site on the planet.

At the time of writing, there are over 1500 themes available, directly from the WordPress theme directory. Those are just themes that people have made available for free download from WordPress. It doesn’t even scratch the surface of what is available on other, specialty sites. There are even sites that specialize in making themes for Churches! At first glance, all of this choice might seem like a blessing. The problem is: how do you choose?

Questions to Consider

  • How many columns does the theme offer? You want to make sure that you have enough space for all of the things you need to display on the front page, and yet ensure that the page won’t be busy and overcrowded.
  • What is the colour scheme? Does it match your church logos, and other banners that you may want to display? Does it look good on older computer screens? Will it make life difficult for those members of your church who are colour blind?
  • What browsers does the theme support? Not all themes will work in all the different web browsers on the market. Some only work in Firefox and Safari, but not Internet Explorer. Some work in only recent browsers, that older computers can’t run. You may find it surprising how many of the people who want to use your church website are running 14 year old computers, and can’t run the latest web browsers.
  • What fonts does the theme use? Are they easy to read? Is the text large enough for older readers, or those with low vision?
  • How will the theme look on small screens? What about mobile phones?
  • Is the layout easy to understand? Confusing visitors is the best way to make sure they will never come back.
  • Does the theme follow any web standards? A theme that follows standards is likely to work in more browsers, be ranked better in search engines, and work better for those who are blind, or have physical disabilities.

Making A Choice

No matter how hard and long you look, no theme will get a perfect score on every question. Unless you know enough HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and PHP to design your own theme, you’ll have to settle with some imperfections, and work around them as best you can.

Using what you know about the members of your church, try and rank the above questions in order from most to least important. If your church is full of early adopters, you probably don’t care if the theme won’t work on old software. On the other hand, mobile support might be absolutely vital. But if your church is mostly composed of non-technical people, they might only have 10 year old computers, and no mobile phones at all.

Once you’ve got the questions ranked, go through the themes available from WordPress, and try and find one that has all of the features most important to you. Then, think about how you can work around any flaws in the theme. Can your logos and banners be redone to fit the theme? Can you offer training to your members on a layout that they may at first find confusing? Can you settle for fewer columns than you initially thought?

Once you’ve decided

Once you’ve made your choice, getting the theme on your website is easy. From the dashboard, click Appearance. Then click Install Themes, and search for the theme you decided on. Once you’ve found and installed your theme, it will show up in the list of installed themes. In order to apply it to your website, you can click Activate next to your new theme.

You can switch website themes at any time, without losing any of your work, just by installing another theme and activating it. If you have several themes that you think might work for you, it’s a good idea to install all of them, and try them out, to see how they’ll look in practice.

The theme I eventually decided on for Good Shepherd was RedLine 2.0.0. However, this theme does not work well on older browsers, and some extra work needs to be done to get it working on mobile phones. Just because it was right for my church doesn’t mean it’s right for yours.

Next Time

Next time, it will be time to look at the theme settings, and layout of your default widgets. Unfortunately, the last two weeks have featured a constant stream of…interesting…server and software problems on my end, that prevented WordPress from even publishing site updates for a while. I have some of them under control, and remain baffled by others. The next update will happen next week, or when I get everything running smoothly.

This entry was posted in Sam's Stuff and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Building Modern Church Websites, Part 5: Thinking About Themes

  1. Sharyn says:

    I read a lot of interesting content here. Probably you spend a lot of
    time writing, i know how to save you a lot of work, there is an online tool
    that creates high quality, SEO friendly posts
    in minutes, just search in google – laranitas free content source

  2. I’ve been browsing on-line more than 3 hours as of late, but I never found any interesting article like yours.

    It’s lovely worth enough for me. In my opinion, if all site owners and bloggers made good
    content as you probably did, the internet will likely be a lot more useful than ever before.

  3. Minerva says:

    I read a lot of interesting content here. Probably you spend a lot of time writing, i know how to
    save you a lot of work, there is an online tool that creates unique,
    google friendly articles in seconds, just search in google – laranitas free content

  4. Seal the notes in a plastic bag and place them in a box for
    the mother-to-be, telling her she can open them with
    her child on his or her fifteenth birthday.
    They also recently celebrated Pongal, a festival of Hindu that follows a solar calendar that is celebrated all across India for ten days.
    To the restaurant, met the 80% of the wine list will be the region or grape type, but the change in type smell wine list could be the future trend.

  5. Incredible story there. What happened аfter?

    My web-site; Andorid Iphone Crack Hack Cheats Download

  6. Verna says:

    I simply couldn’t ցo awaʏ your site befοгe suggesting
    tgat Ӏ аctually enjoyed the standard indormation аn individual provide fοr
    your visitors? Is goonna bbe ɑgain ceselessly tο investigate
    cross-check new posts

    Mƴ website – clash օf clan hack (Verna)

  7. Kisha says:

    Hey There. I discovered your weblog using msn. This is
    a really neatly written article. I’ll make sure to bookmark it and return to read more
    of your useful information. Thanks for the post. I’ll certainly comeback.

  8. The following is a list of symptoms associated with thyroid disease, specifically Hypothyroidism:.
    The plus side of this diet is that it offers a large variety
    of meals and does not have too many restrictions.

    Tips on getting Pregnant #3: Restriction of Caffeine and other bad habits.

  9. cube field says:

    The way to play Cube field game is to use the right arrow keys and the
    left arrow keys to move the ship avoiding the cubes coming on their way.
    You can barely browse the web for game sites without tripping over a
    cheat code site, and most of them are about as ugly as a dog
    wearing a sweater, but Cheat Code Central is one of the better
    sites for getting cheat codes. Perhaps the biggest message board community devoted
    to gaming, IGN is a great place to go to ask questions and get opinions from other gamers.

  10. It’s an remarkable piece of writing in support of all the
    internet viewers; they will obtain advantage from it I am sure.

    Feel free to visit mmy blog post; Harga mobil baru

  11. fotomecanica says:

    First off I would like to say terrific blog!

    I had a quick question that I’d like to ask if you do not
    mind. I was interested to find out how you center yourself and clear your mind before writing.

    I’ve had a tough time clearing my thoughts in getting my
    thoughts out. I do take pleasure in writing but it just
    seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are lost simply
    just trying to figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or
    tips? Appreciate it!

  12. Hello, I wish for to subscribe for this web site to obtain latest updates, therefore
    where can i do it please help.

  13. he rastreado sitios baratos para adquirir cosas para gimnasia y lo mejor que he visto esta en esta pagina

  14. Hiding your IP is through a VPN is the most secure way to surf the net anonymously.
    The daily newspaper headlines are filled with bizarre twisted tales,
    covering all ages, pre-teens to adults. Your
    party consists of up to three teams (you should unlock the second and third
    team within your first hour of the game).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>