WordPress themes for business – your complete guide

Choosing WordPress themes for business can be quite overwhelming. You need to make sure that the theme you choose has all the features you want, and looks good.

In this post I’ll talk you through exactly what a theme is, what to think about when choosing one, where to find one and more.

What is a WordPress theme?

A WordPress theme is a set of files that tells the browser (Chrome, FireFox, Safari etc.) how you website should look. Things like background colours, text colours and layouts are all controlled by the theme.

When talking about themes, I like to use the analogy of decorating a room.

The walls are the content on your website, and the wallpaper or paint are your theme. You can redecorate and change your theme as often as you like, it won’t change your content. Not unless you go in there with a sledge hammer anyway.

What to look for in a theme

Not all themes are made equal and there are a few things to bear in mind while you search for one.

  1. Responsiveness – any theme you choose must be responsive, meaning that it should adapt to different screen sizes. In a world where mobile is becoming more and more of the norm, it’s essential that your website looks good on a mobile phone.
  2. Simplicity – all singing, all dancing themes might look fancy, but the reality is that your website has one single purpose – either to get visitors to buy something or become a subscriber. The last thing you want is a theme that looks good but is hard to navigate, because your visitors will just go elsewhere.
  3. Support – some free theme developers will help you if you have a problem with their theme, but this is an exception to the rule. Try to choose a theme that is well documented and has a support option, for this you’re probably leaning more towards a premium theme.

Free vs premium themes

You get free themes and paid-for themes, often called premium themes.

Premium themes tend to have more options to customise and may also come with special plugins called page builders.

Page builder plugins

Page builder plugins, as the name suggests, are plugins that help you build pages on your website.

They let you drag and drop elements on your page and add different features and effects that otherwise you’d need to use code for.

Some page builders are specific to the theme and done work with lots of different themes.

If you decide you want to use a page builder with your theme, ideally you want one that works with lots of themes.

Sometimes they add extra code that might look weird on a different theme and you won’t need to get used to using another one.

Some good all round page builder plugins include:

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Where to find WordPress themes for business

There are loads of places to find WordPress themes for business.

The first place to look would be the WordPress theme directory. You can search the directory by heading over to the Add Theme screen via your WordPress dashboard.

Here you can search by keywords and category and also check out the more popular and the latest themes.

You can also find free themes at Just Free Themes. This site also lets you search for features within the business theme category – so definitely a good place to check out if you don’t have any budget to spend.

There are a few places to buy themes too. Including:

How to install a WordPress theme

You can search for a theme on the themes screen and install it from there or download one and upload it to your website.

Through the WordPress dashboard

This is where you’d go to install a free theme from the WordPress directory.

You’ll find that you’ll be able to upgrade a load of these themes to premium versions that have extra features.

In the WordPress dashboard click appearance > Themes.

Search for the theme you want in the search box on the right side of the screen.

When you’ve found the theme you want click install, and when you’re ready to make it live on your site click activate and you’re done.

Download from another website

This is how you’d usually install a premium theme like X theme.

Depending on where you bought your theme you might need to go to a website to download it or you may have been sent it attached to an email.

Either way you should have a zip file.

Go to the WordPress dashboard click Appearance > Themes.

Click Add New, browse and then find the zip file that you downloaded and upload.

When you’re ready to make the theme live click activate.

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Child themes

What are child themes?

Child themes are really useful if you want to make changes to your theme and still be able to keep your theme updated.

They’re basically a theme that gets it’s behaviour and styling from another theme, called a parent theme. Child themes allow for your theme to stay up to date whilst making sure those updates don’t affect any changes you’ve made to your theme.

So if you’ve made changes to CSS or added any code to your header for things like Google Analytics tracking or a Pinterest verification code, ideally you want to be using a child theme.

This is because when a theme updates, it overwrites existing files.

When should you use a child theme?

If you add new functions to your functions.php file or add new styles to your styles.css. This way you can be sure any updates to the parent theme won’t override your changes.

Not updating your theme isn’t an option. Updates include performance and security updates, so not having the latest version installed can be a security risk.

How do I get a child theme?

If you’ve bought a premium theme, you should have the option to download both the main theme and a child theme. But if not, or you’re using a theme from the free theme directory, don’t worry it’s really straightforward to create one yourself with the use of a plugin.

Installing a child theme

So if your theme came with a child theme, upload it on the Add Theme screen like you did when you installed your main theme and activate it. Then you’re all good.

Creating your own child theme

Otherwise, we can create a child theme really easily using the Child Theme Configurator plugin.

Before you go any further, make sure that you have a backup of your site. Usually your host will take daily backups, but if not check out my guide on taking backups yourself.

Before you go any further, make sure that you have a backup of your site. Usually your host will take daily backups, but if not check out my guide on taking backups yourself.

Install the Child Theme Configurator plugin and activate it.

2. In the left hand menu, hover over the Tools menu and choose child theme.

3. Scroll down to section 8 and check the Copy Menus, Widgets and other Customizer Settings from the Parent Theme to the Child Theme checkbox – this will make sure that any menus, widgets etc. are copied from the parent theme to your new child theme.

Click Create New Child Theme – you should get a message to say that the child theme has been created successfully, but don’t activate it yet.

4. If you’ve made changes to any of the template files in the theme, like header.php or footer.php, select all the ones that apply. If you haven’t made any changes, move on to the next step.

5. Now we need to copy any styles that you’ve added or changed in the parent theme over.

The easiest way to do this is to download a copy of style.css from your parent theme. Find the changes that you made in here and copy them into a separate text file. Use a text editor like notepad.

6. Now that you’ve got all your changes in one place, click the Query Selector tab and copy everything from your text file into the Raw CSS text box at the bottom of the screen and click the Save button next to the text box.

7. Go to Appearance > Themes in the left-hand menu of the WordPress dashboard and click Live Preview on your new child theme. It should show all the changes you made to your parent theme correctly (if you made any), if not then go back and do steps 4 and 5 until it does.

8. Uninstall the parent theme, and then re-install it (click Add New and search for the parent theme name). Then test the live preview again. If there’s something wrong, you might need to restore your backup and start again.

9. If everything looks good, activate your child theme and you’re good to go. You can now make changes to your child theme without worrying that updating the parent theme will overwrite your changes.

Once you’ve installed your child theme, the themes screen will look similar to this.

WordPress themes for business – verdict

There are a lot of things to think about when it comes to WordPress themes for business.

It needs to look good, be simple, do what you need it to do and also match your budget.

There are literally loads of places out there for you to find themes – free and paid for, so you should be able to find something you like.

Page builder plugins are a great way to add special effects and elements to a free theme.

Child themes are a great option if you find a theme that’s almost as you want it but you’d like to tweak it a bit.

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