How I Chose my WordPress Theme

WowWayAfter posting my article discussing why I decided to choose the WordPress format for my recent complete website revision, I received several emails from readers requesting more information about the theme I had chosen. Not only were readers inquiring as to what theme I chose, but they also desired to know why I chose this particular theme to represent my artwork.

Believe it or not, many hours of research went into choosing which theme would most appropriately represent my website. I had a small list of criteria that needed to be met and it was actually more difficult than one would think to find a theme that would be the perfect fit. With my computer science background, I certainly could have attempted to create my own theme but my inexperience with the WordPress framework would have necessitated hours of research in order to accomplish something that a more knowledgeable individual had already written. Obviously, unless one is completely creating the theme themselves, there are some compromises that will undoubtedly arise. However, at the very least the theme I chose for this website was going to need to adhere to the following small list of requirements:

  • It needed to be responsive.
  • It had to possess an ideal way to represent my portfolio.
  • It had to allow categorization of the portfolio contents.
  • It had to allow multiple images/video per portfolio project.
  • It had to allow the easy incorporation of a PayPal purchasing system.
  • It needed to have a nicely integrated contact form.
  • It needed to have social media contact buttons available on every page.
  • It needed to conform to my specifications for a nice looking website.

As can be seen from the list above, I had several pieces of the puzzle that needed to fall into place in order to have my website present my desired content to its viewers in a format that I found pleasing. Although many of the criteria can be met by utilizing any number of themes on the market, the last one is a tougher requirement to meet. The pleasing appearance of a website is going to be as subjective as artwork itself and therefore I was looking for a theme that first and foremost looked nice to me.

After exhausting all the free possibilities I could find, I came to the conclusion that I was going to have to begin looking for themes that would require purchasing. Because of this, I needed to add some additional criteria to my list. If I am going to pay hard-earned money for a product, there are some things I want to see.

  • Is the theme under active development?
  • Is support offered?
  • Is the theme’s designer quick to return support questions?

After many hours of searching, I eventually arrived at http://themeforest.net/. The sheer number of WordPress themes offered on the site is incredible and all of them are very unique. The one that caught my eye and ultimately became the theme to represent my website, however, was the WowWay theme from Ruben Bristian.

The theme is currently being developed and refined which means it is always possible a desired feature might get incorporated into the theme if requested. It also means that bugs and improper functionality will be addressed quickly. Ruben has a dedicated support forum to answer any and all issues related to WowWay and is very quick to answer questions. Since Ruben lives in Romania and I am in the United States, one has to account for the time difference when it comes to response times but I have always found that support is offered in a very timely manner.

In addition to being in active development, it was important to me that the theme be responsive. This simply means that the theme will reformat itself based upon the screen size of the device being utilized by the viewer. In other words, I was looking for a theme that would reformat and have a pleasing appearance on a mobile device while not requiring the user to continually pinch-and-zoom in order to view content.

There are always going to be users out there that believe their devices are so superior that they don’t require special mobile formatting. In the past, dedicated mobile versions of websites often omitted some of a page’s information and I can see that those types of sites aren’t going to appeal to the aforementioned viewers. With the conception of the responsive website, however, 100% of the information is still presented to the viewer, it is just being reformatted and the text re-sized to make it more legible while preserving the look and feel of the website’s theme. In my mind, this is a much better approach than forcing the user to pinch-and-zoom on every page of a website or to present a simplified or generic mobile version. I wear bifocals and some websites are simply too difficult to view since every page must be enlarged and I often have to scroll around the page in order to read the text because the pinch-and-zoomed text doesn’t totally fit on the screen. To say that it is awkward, is an understatement. Although there are many who will disagree with my philosophy, it is my website and I want to present the information to the viewer in my way. In my mind, most browsing situations should never require pinching-and-zooming in order to view a website’s content and responsive websites are soon going to become the future of mobile website browsing.

WowWay VideoIn addition to providing a nicely formatted version of my website regardless of viewing platform, the WowWay theme presents some other nice features. It allows my portfolio to be displayed in the manner I desire, keeps the layout simple and neat, and allows multiple images of a painting to be displayed in a lightbox format without requiring complex additional navigation. While the last one might not seem necessary, it is a very nice addition that presents many image display possibilities. Although I don’t generally present more than one image of a painting on my website, I do occasionally produce videos of the production process and it is convenient for a customer to be able to admire a painting, and then view a video of the painting’s creation without necessitating navigation away from the current lightbox. I could see this feature being utilized for close-up images of a painting as well. Only time will determine how I will eventually maximize this feature’s possibilities.

WowWay PortfolioIn conjunction with the aforementioned image display flexibility, the portfolio lightbox provided by the WowWay theme creates a nicely formatted text area for image descriptions and with the incorporation of a simple free WordPress shopping cart plug-in, creating and displaying purchasing buttons for each painting is a simple endeavor which requires nothing more than a single line of WordPress shortcode.

In my humble opinion, the WowWay theme’s $45 price tag, is very minimal considering the multitude of features, polished look, and excellent support that Ruben Bristian offers. Since the incorporation of the WowWay theme during the conversion of my website to the WordPress format, visitation to my art business site has increased by nearly 80% and we all know that increased visitation directly equates to increased sales.

Are you an artist or photographer that has an affinity for a particular WordPress theme? If so, let me know about it in the comment section below. I would love to visit your website and see how you are presenting your art portfolio to the world.

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Comments (1)
  • Jameson Winters October 25, 2012

    I love this theme! Thanks for the information!

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