A fellow called me yesterday because he had some questions about my book and wanted to know more about what it covered and if it could help his particular situation. We had a great conversation and I encouraged him to get back to me if he had other questions, which he did. What follows are his questions to me and my response. I hope this might help you also.
Hi Tom, My Name is Lewis and we talked yesterday on the phone. I was telling you, that I must have my wife and friends website up in the next two weeks, because her GoDaddy account will expires then. For the WordPress site she using Catalyst: http://catalysttheme.com supposedly, one of the best Themes for WordPress. I like to use it since we paid for it, but we can’t I like find a WordPress Theme that is easy to use and works well with the search engines. Do you have any suggestion? ~Thanks, Lewis
Hello Lewis, thanks for the good questions. First off, all WordPress Themes work well with search engines. The WordPress platform, enhanced by certain Plugins, is what interfaces with search engines. It might help you to think of WordPress as the engine and chassis of a vehicle and the Theme is the bolt-on body. Auto manufacturers will take one frame & engine and mount different body styles with various options and sell them as unique models. That’s what happens with Themes and “Child Themes”.
They all utilize the WordPress engine and create different models to address unique applications. There are themes that are geared to photo portfolios, magazine style layouts, e-commerce applications, product showcases and of course the traditional essay style blog. The Themes control the look & feel, page placement of text and image blocks, font type, size and color, width and a host of other design-related options.
I am not personally familiar with “Catalyst” in that I have never used it. From looking at their website it appears that this is a theme platform or framework, vs. a generic WordPress Theme. There are a number of such theme framework/platforms that operate this way such as Thesis, Genesis, etc. Their claim to fame is that they offer the ability to customize the entire presentation.
The best part about themes is that the content you create never goes away. The text and images (posts and pages) that you create over time work like they are part of the WordPress platform if you will. While the Theme will rearrange that content relating to its placement on the page, colors, fonts, etc.
Most WordPress Themes work ‘out-of-the-box’ and require little or no customization to display your posts and pages. The problem is that we seldom can find a Theme that addresses our needs 100% of the time, that’s where the customization comes in. The problem with the high-end packages like Catalyst, Thesis, Genesis, etc. is that they can offer you hundreds of customizable options, but most come with a steep learning curve.
Additionally, there are free themes that offer excellent customization options, but they also require that you spend time learning how to customize the Theme. One perfect example is a favorite of mine, the Atahualpa Theme by Bytes for All. I have used this Theme for dozens of my customers’ sites and a number of my personal sites. It did take me a while to learn how best to customize it, but that investment in time has paid off tremendously.
The picture below shows just one screen of the many customizable options in Atahualpa. The left-hand column shows some of the main items and the right-hand pane is where tweaks and adjustments are made.
If you can invest the time, I recommend that you choose a Theme that can be highly customized and learn it. You’ll find that it can be adapted to almost any website building project and the more familiar you become working ‘under the hood’, the more rewarding it will be. If you want to find a theme where someone else has done the work to customize it and you’re looking for an off-the-shelf solution, I’d recommend that you browse some of the low-cost Theme collections such as:
I hope this helps you with your search for the Theme that fits your needs. Remember that the best part about WordPress Themes is that you can upload and try out new Themes all day long and it won’t affect the most important part of your site…the content. Good luck to you and let me know if you have other questions.