Top Five WordPress Theme Mistakes

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Five mistakes I saw over and over again as I looked for a new theme.

I’ve been looking around for a new theme. I don’t mean to be so picky about my theme, but I am.

Over the past few days I’ve looked at probably 100 themes. I’ve checked out dozens through “Live Preview”, and I’ve tried at least a half dozen live on my site.

As I’ve surveyed these themes, I’ve noticed some common mistakes. These were big reasons why I decided to not use a particular theme.

If you make themes, you might want to see if your themes have any of these issues.

If you are looking for a theme, I will list some of the themes that have these issues. That should help narrow down your search and save you some time. I’m here to serve.

Here are the top five WordPress Theme mistakes I saw.

Double Images

The problem I ran into was that in order to get thumbnails of the pictures on the category pages, I had to use featured images. But when you went to the actual page itself, the featured image showed up twice. So I would have to go back through all my posts and delete the actual image and just use the featured image, but then featured image would always be at the top of the page. Also, the thumbnail images on the category pages aren’t thumbnails, they are full pictures and sometimes way too large.

Themes that had this problem where Desk Mess Mirrored (which I really liked otherwise), Rockers Theme, Multi, BoldR Lite, Sigma, zeeVision
Related to this, several of themes I tried had category pages that did not provide images. This was true regardless if the page had a featured image or regular image. SmartOne (another theme I really liked) and several others had this issue.

Full Posts

The problem with these was that the category pages displayed the full post. There is no reason for a reader to ever click on the post itself. The reason I want them to drill down that far is so I can see which posts (individual articles) are the most popular. It will give me a clue as to what is resonating with my readers. All I can tell with these is what categories are resonating. There may have been a way in the options to fix it, but without installing the theme on my blog I couldn’t tell so I kept looking for other options.

Rundown, zeeStyle, Belle, Destro, Thea, zeeVision, Paradise and Snips were guilty of this. Likely all the Destro child themes will have the same issue. zeeVision double dips and has both Double Images and Full Posts, but I really did dig the font.

Font that was way too small

Fonts are trending toward bigger, not smaller. 14 point is the new 12 point. I think these themes went back to 10 or maybe 8. I want my blog to be readable.

WP-Creatix, Celestial Aura, Intrepedity, Organic

Too Spartan

I don’t want a hugely busy theme, but these themes swing too far on the other side of the pendulum. They look like a Word document, straight black on white. They don’t give that professional feel and don’t look cool or exciting.
Hybrid, Brightpage and zeeFlow had this issue.

Technical Issues

I’m going to break this down into a couple of issues.

Menus

My menus weren’t readable. It had brown text on a brown background. You could only read them if you moused over them. Nope. Titan was deleted because of this.
The menus didn’t stack well. They weren’t in nice rows and columns but jumbled all over the place. Chun had this issue.

Pluggin Problems

Some themes are incompatible with some plugins. I’m more likely to find a new theme than to try to find a new pluggin. Win7Blog was one of example of this.

Fail Live Preview

WordPress is trying to get better at letting you test drive themes. They put in a new “Live Preview” feature which lets you navigate blog and see some of the changes the new theme would make. I’ve used it extensively. Unfortunately, not all themes play nice with it.
SHAAN, and Jenny both failed when I tried them with Live Preview.

Other Issues

Header Image

I decided that I wanted a custom a header to better match the new business / social cards I had made up for WordCamp. I understand the tension between full control of the look of the theme and the user’s desire to add their elements. I respect the choice that some that some of the theme makers made, but it meant I had to eliminate any theme that didn’t support custom headers. Social and several others were voted off the island.

Default

Nothing quite says “New Blog!” like one of the default WordPress themes. I do like to keep a couple of these installed in the event of an emergency. Twenty Fourteen, Twenty Thriteen, Twenty Twelve, Twenty Ten are the default themes. Speaking of emergencies…

Trust

For a long time, Mantra was my favorite theme. It still is the most customizeable theme I’ve ever seen. Then, on the day my guest post on Patrick’s Place went live, it broke. It’s like a nice car that broke down on the way to an important date or interview. You still really dig the car, but you don’t trust it anymore.

 

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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