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The Perils Of Changing WordPress Themes

Daniel Scocco recently answered a reader question which asked, How frequently should we change the WordPress theme that we use for our blog?. In one line, Daniel hits the nail on the head with “As seldom as possible”.

This is a topic I’ve been discussing with others regarding the long term consequences of using and changing WordPress themes. Immediately from a branding point of view, you don’t want to change themes every other week or every other month for that matter. It’s best to find a design you can stick with for a prolonged period of time not only to build your identity, but give readers a feeling of expectation. When your design changes numerous times a year, readers are forced to find bits and pieces of information which becomes a frustrating experience.

Another thing you want to consider before plunking down on a specific theme is the way in which you’ll present content. While that 600 pixels you used to present large images to go with your content looks good now, what if you want to change to a theme somewhere down the road which doesn’t have a 600 pixel wide content area? Thankfully, Justin Tadlock published a trick which can be used to mitigate this issue.

Overall, I agree with Daniel in that you should stick to one design for as long as possible and only do a redesign when it’s absolutely necessary or when it’s in your best interests. People don’t like change so in the end, you probably will never win that battle but changing too often too soon is much worst.

Author: jeffc

6 thoughts on “The Perils Of Changing WordPress Themes

  1. I understand that recognizability (is that a word?) and personal branding are important. But keeping things fresh is just as important. I don’t change themes often (i like the layout of my current theme), but I change graphics on the site fairly regularly.

    Being a graphic designer I like to keep things looking a little different while the basic layout stays the same. It gives the reader a sense of familiarity and variety.

  2. I do think though that as time goes on there is more of a need to redesign some aspects of your blog. The longer your blog has been online the more content you will have so you need to try and present this information to visitors in the best way.

    Also, sometimes a redesign is required in order to better integrate advertisements into the blog. I’ve seen many blogs who have just added more and more ads to their blog and it seems overkill but then they get the blog redesigned in a better way and it seems fine, even though the same number of ads are being displayed.

  3. Well, we may have to agree to disagree. While I don’t think one should stick with the same look and feel since it will eventually become stale, I also don’t think major redesigns should be commonplace. I’d rather see someone have a redesign and then just do a rearrangement of material, and perhaps a few color changes instead of a complete reworking of the site.

    Sure, end users shouldn’t stop you from progressing, but I was highlighting the fact that it doesn’t matter what you do when you have a large enough audience, you can’t win. So in the end, it comes down to personal taste and interests and hoping that the same tastes and interest are the same with your audience.

  4. I disagree with this. I don’t think you should stick to the one design for too long.

    Sure, no one likes change, but you can’t let readers stop you from progressing. Facebook recently changed their design and there was an uproar about it but I can think that was more to do about not informing users about it as once everyone got used to the new design they liked it.

    The same can be said about web development sites. SitePoint.com has one of the best designs I’ve ever seen for a community but when they changed it to this design a few years back everyone was pissed off.

    ProBlogger is another good example. Darren changed the design of his blog a year or so ago. The previous design was very good but he still changed it and in my opinion the design is better. TechCrunch have also changed their design frequently over the last year though their changes have been more subtle and have kept the general style and feel of the original design.

    Of course, it’s silly and counter productive to be changing your design every other month. But I think it’s worthwhile changing it once a year or once every two years. As long as readers can still navigate the site and find all your information easily then a rebranding can not only improve your sites design but also increase traffic.

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