Last nite @GrantGriffiths from Headway Themes joined us for the 1st ever sponsored #Blogchat. Headway is a premium blog theme, and the topic for last nite’s #Blogchat was How to Choose a Blog Theme/Template.
The discussion was broken into two areas; the 1st 30 minutes or so was devoted to a general discussion of what to look for when picking a blog theme/template. The second 30 minutes focused on the difference between free blog themes, and premium ones. Here’s some of the main points that we covered:
When picking a theme, look for the following features:
1 – Themes should be simple, with fonts and sizes easily readable for all ages – @abbisiler
2 – Consider your audience and what features would appeal to them – @prosperitygal
3 – Does the theme allow your content to be easily shared on social sites? – @galactic
4 – When picking a theme, remember that a light background for the text will make it easier for printing your posts – @abbisiler
5 – Look for themes that are SEO friendly, that have good code, and that offer support – @GrantGriffiths
6 – A reader-friendly layout is more important than cutesy colors and designs – @sueyoungmedia
7 – Also consider how much coding you’ll need to know to modify the theme, is it compatible with WordPress 3.0 and widget ready? – @GrantGriffiths
8 – @BCarroll7 asked about going with a 2 or 3-column theme. Seemed most people preferred 2-columns as they are less cluttered and have less code involved.
Next we moved to a discussion of free vs premium themes. Most people were of the mindset that if you can afford it and are serious about your blog, that it’s worth the money to invest in a premium theme, and most are under $100 for a one-time fee. Obviously since Grant is with Headway, it was a very popular choice among #Blogchat participants as a premium theme. Others that were mentioned repeatedly included Thesis (this site runs on Thesis) as well as Genesis and Woo.
My take is this: If your blog is just for your own personal enjoyment, then you will likely be just fine with a free theme. But if you are using your blog for business or think you might at some point, I would invest in a premium theme.
Now as you might expect, the majority of the rest of the #Blogchat discussion focused on premium themes, and especially the Headway Theme. That was by design, as I wanted to make sure that there was a section of #Blogchat where y’all could learn more about Headway, since Grant was sponsoring #Blogchat last nite.
And as I said above, this site runs on Thesis. My personal take on Thesis is this: It’s a very good theme. For me, the big problem I have with Thesis is the upgrading process. Even though Thesis offers from lifetime upgrades, the upgrading process involves going into your site’s file structure and manually adding some files, removing others, changing the permissions on some, etc. IOW, if you are an idiot like me, there’s about 100 opportunities to break something during the upgrade process. That’s why I am stuck on Thesis 1.5, when I think the latest version is 1.8. I am scared to upgrade because I am afraid I will break something.
One thing I loved hearing from Grant was that Headway will offer automatic upgrading with it’s new 2.0 version coming out later this month. That alone will guarantee that I will give it a closer look. From everything I heard last nite, it seems like Headway is better if you want to do less coding (which is most of us), and I think Thesis is better if you are a total coding geek and love getting your hands dirty. That’s just what I think based on using Thesis, plus talking to everyone last nite.
Grant was kind enough to also offer us a 20% discount off Headway for the next 2 days. The regular price for Headway is $87 for a personal license, and $164 for a developer license. If you want to use the discount, go to this link and use code ‘hwblogchat’.
Thanks again to Grant for joining us last nite. He did a great job, and everyone seemed to love the topic and what they learned. Last nite was the first attempt at a sponsored #Blogchat, and if you would like to learn more about how you could sponsor a future #Blogchat, click here. If you have any questions, including how much a #Blogchat sponsorship would cost, please email me.
And finally, if you have ANY comments/suggestions/ideas about last nite’s #Blogchat, please either leave me a comment here, or email me. I definitely want to hear your feedback on having a sponsor, and have already taken some of your comments into consideration for how future sponsors will be handled.