Many people (like me) write about Choosing The Perfect WordPress Theme For Your Web Site. But we often overlook good advice on what should NOT be included in a WordPress theme.
The idea is very simple. If there is a feature in a theme which cannot be transferred to a new theme (should you ever want to make a change), then you absolutely do not want that feature in any theme you select.
Two major features stand out that you don’t want as part of your theme.
1. Built-In SEO
I’m not talking about refraining from using themes which say things like they are “SEO friendly.” That’s something you want. SEO friendly means that the theme was coded in a way that takes into account conventions used by Google (and other search engines) to help it scan (index) your site so your pages can be properly entered into its system.
So that’s fine.
But, if the theme’s developer goes a step further and lets you enter SEO data into your site, that’s not good. By SEO data I mean adding things like SEO Titles, Meta Descriptions, keywords for each page, and links to your SEO tools, like Google Analytics.
Do You Like This?
If you change your theme down the road, that SEO information will not be carried over to your new theme. It would be a huge waste of time reproducing all of that lost information.
Fortunately, there is a great common sense, simple solution. Always use an SEO plugin for your site!
Three very well known SEO plugins come to mind. They probably make up over 90% of the WordPress SEO plugin space:
When you use one of these plugins, there’s no problem if you ever change your theme. That’s because your SEO data is not dependent on your theme. Plus, a side bonus is that if you ever want to change your SEO plugin, it is easy to migrate your SEO data from one plugin to another.
You can have your cake and eat it too. EnJoy!!
2. Built-In Custom Post Types
When looking for a theme, many people have very specific needs in mind. For instance, say you own a small real estate agency. It would be logical to look for a theme which caters to the needs of the agency. That would mean the ability to create, for example, content that could fall under sections like Listings and Our Agents.
But what would a listing page be? How would you do a page for someone who works for the agency?
That’s where Custom Post Types come in.
The listings or the profiles of the sales force aren’t really pages or posts of a blog. They are custom content.
It seems logical to look for a theme that has Listings and Our Team pages built in. But that’s not a good idea.
That’s because if you ever need to change your theme – and this comes up all the time – the content you created in the Listings and Our Team sections will not transfer over to your new theme.
That’s exactly why you DO NOT want to use a theme that is very specific to a given industry. It’s tempting, it makes sense, but it’s a terrible futureproof idea.
Here Are Your Two Options
All is not lost. You’ve got two very smart options to choose from.
First, you should look for a plugin that will do the trick of allowing you to create the custom content. Since I’m using a Real Estate Agency as my example, you could use the plugin Essential Real Estate . One of its features lets you create and manage listings.
Now, if you need to change your theme, that’s no problem as the information you input using that plugin is not tied to any theme you are using.
But what if you couldn’t find a plugin that will let you set up a Custom Post Type (such as Property Listings) as the Essential Real Estate plugin does?
That’s where an all purpose plugin, Custom Post Type UI comes in. This is your second great option.
Just What Is A Custom Post Type?
Custom Post Types happen to be a key component of WordPress and is a huge reason why WP became the number one CMS on the web.
Let’s start with what you may already know. WordPress has, by default, 5 Post types, 2 of which are Pages and Posts. (Yes, I know it’s confusing but Posts – the content for your Blog – are a Post type.)
What if you want something like a blog but not to be a part of the blog. (Remember, posts are the “pages” which make up the blog.) Say you have a site where you do Conferences & Events. You may want to organize the content into past, upcoming, and future events by having pages for each. That is exactly what you can do with the Custom Post Type UI plugin. You can also assign categories and tags for the content in your Conferences & Events section.
Think of this as having a separate blog for your site that is just dedicated to Conferences & Events. Of course, with the plugin you’re not limited to just making a Conferences & Events section. Depending on your site, you can use the plugin to set up sections for Our Team, Testimonials, History of the 1960s, Podcasts, etc. You name it. Any group of content can be organized using the Custom Post Type UI plugin.
But remember, there are plugins, like the Essential Real Estate plugin, which already use custom post types. Same is true for plugins that turn your site into an eCommerce platform, a learning management system or a membership site, to name a few. You don’t have to start from scratch with the Custom Post Type UI plugin.
So, can you use a specific plugin for your industry and the Custom Post Type UI plugin?
More cake please!!
Moral of the story. Stay away from themes which cater to a specific industry. An all purpose theme is usually the way to go.
Best approach is to use a specific plugin to turn your site into what you need it to be and/or use the Custom Post Type UI plugin.