When man created blog themes, he did not create them equally. There are good blog themes, bad themes and thousands of themes for every shade of gray in between. Sorting through this chaos without knowing what to look for is daunting and usually results in poor decisions. This post will help you save time, money and the frustration that comes with choosing a crappy theme for your indie game blog.
10 Things You Should Look for BEFORE Buying a Theme
10. User Friendliness
Keep your blog’s purpose and readership in mind as you comb through themes. Remember, if you’re a newcomer to the indie game scene, you’re not going to have a dedicated following that will dig around your site for hours. Readers will want to consume information quickly. Focus on clean themes that are easy to navigate. Embrace white space and stay away from three-column, magazine-style themes.
A beautiful theme from U-Design on ThemeForest
9. SEO Optimization
Whether a theme is optimized for SEO or not, will largely determine its success as a marketing vehicle. Some theme sites will list SEO optimization under the theme’s features, but most don’t. Make sure to always ask the theme’s designer about SEO if you don’t see it listed anywhere. Specifically, ask if you can (1) tailor the page’s title, description and header tags to show up in search results better; (2) use permanent links for categories; and (3) have the option to display blog excerpts in a category search, instead of the whole article.
Themezilla lists SEO as a standard on its themes.
8. Works on Mobile Devices
In the U.S., 44 percent of adults own a smart phone…and that number ain’t shrinking. What does this mean for your indie game blog? It better work on mobile devices. Luckily, there are many fantastic themes available that work across devices, including mobile, and many more that are being adjusted to do so. This is another feature you should ask about if it’s not listed under the theme’s specs.
Elegant Themes has many lovely themes that work on mobile.
7. Accepts Google Analytics
To understand the effectiveness of your indie game blog, you need to be able to measure its results, and to measure its results, you need Google Analytics. Good blog themes don’t make you dive into the CSS and HTML to copy and paste your Google Analytics tracking code. Good blog themes should have an exposed field somewhere in the settings to paste your code.
Example of what an exposed field in WordPress looks like.
6. Has Social Sharing Buttons
If you’re going to put the time into creating content for your indie game blog, make sure your readers can easily share it. The more marketing work you can offload on them, the better. Good themes should have social media sharing buttons built into individual posts AND post excerpts. At the very least, there should be buttons for Twitter, Facebook and Google+.
A gorgeous theme called Rapture from Themeforest.
5. Search Enabled
As you write more and more content, users are going to have a harder time finding what they want to read. In addition to things like category widgets, tag clouds, etc., a simple search field can go a long way.
Categories play an huge role in two ways: SEO and navigation. Search engines love categories when indexing and ranking pages. In addition, humans love categories when searching for relevant articles. Make both intelligences happy and make sure your indie game blog theme has categories.
An example of what a categories option page looks like in WordPress.
3. Publishes Pages and Posts
You may start out wanting just a blog theme, then three months down the road wish you could use it to build out a more robust site with pages. Why limit your future self? Choose a theme with some flexibility–one that publishes posts and pages.
An example of what a page and post options look like in WordPress.
2. Has a Subscription Form
Great blogs attract readers by publishing excellent content that is targeted, SEO optimized and so on. Killer blogs convert those readers into email subscribers who can messaged directly. Email subscribers are very valuable to a developer promoting his or her game, but can only be acquired with a subscription form in place.
Think Simple on bTemplates
1. Is Widgetized
The marketing landscape is always changing. The way we share and promote content could be vastly different tomorrow than it is today. Similarly, all optimized blogs will eventually become dated. Widgets are a way to extend the life of your blog by adding up-to-date features without replacing the theme, as well as supplement any features a blog you love may not have.