It’s REALLY tough if you’re a new coach and you’re thrown in the wonderful world of WordPress and you want to find a great theme for your website. There are so many options which boast so many features – it can take hours to days to find your way.
When it comes to themes for your website (themes are ready-made designs for WordPress) you may be wondering, which is best, which is cheapest, which do you recommend? Which works best for coaches?
All are great questions and sadly, there’s no one best answer simply because there are too many variables involved. They can all work to some degree or other.
In this article, I will share with you my experience, thoughts, and suggestions to help you find your way through the forest.
There are loads of themes out there, and me, an expert website designer, have seen quite a few. But you may be surprised, that I do NOT spend 24/7 tinkering with all of the toys out there. There’s more technology out there than I could possibly know in a lifetime – plus, in a year’s time, things will evolve and change. I can’t say which is, hands down, the best. But I can give you some guidance.
One quick warning as you venture to find the perfect coaching WordPress theme: Graphics. Graphics can suck up your time – big time! And new coaches go for the eye candy. But after hours upon hours of searching and doubly more hours trying to tweak a theme (I think some of the appeal of a theme is “playing with it”), you’ll likely find yourself settling for a far less than perfect visual design. Beware not to get too hung up on visuals.
My biggest suggestion is to focus more of your efforts on the strategy (how will your website convince visitors you’re a great coach and contact you), the content (is it easy to understand, motivating and presents you like an expert?), and getting out there (getting traffic). I wrote lots about this in The Coaching Site Guide for you to use as you build your WordPress website.
Let me share with you the top themes I’ve seen and my experiences with them.
I’ve used them a few times with clients and while their themes are beautiful, their customization options are very limited. That’s great when you want to think less and just go with it. However, a few basic customizations you’ll want to make, like getting your logo into the header or a making a prominent opt-in box can be tough – especially for a non-techie coach.
Elegant Themes is inexpensive. Use them if you want something nice looking and are willing to skip customizing. Warning: For a low fee you get ALL the themes, so you may find yourself playing around with them too much.
Quick Tip: SimplePress is one of their themes that I’ve used. If you try it out, get rid of the sliding images on the home and get your content up higher on the page.
Support seemed to be ok the one time I used it. But again, the theme is designed to be minimal when working with it.
Lots of gurus promote this theme. And while they are a little more costly, nearing 100 bucks, their designs are nice and strong and people tout the search engine marketing tools within.
The minus, way back, I’ve been inside their themes few times and found myself, as I do with all themes, spending too much time figuring out the environment. I don’t like big ramp up learning curves. Simple is always better (just like how Google beat Yahoo).
It’s been a while, and probably worth another look as I run across them in from time to time in various coaching circles.
I’d recommend Studio Press and the Genesis Framework if one of their themes grabs you, if you have a developer who is already familiar with them, or have some sort of support or training on hand.
Back in the day when they first came out, I poked around. They tout good SEO abilities, and they may have a few nice tools and features, but in my SEO experience, it’s more about your strategy than any individual theme.
I’ve felt their buzz quiet over the years. I haven’t spent much time with them in the last five or so. I couldn’t say more about them, except they are still out there, plugging away.
A quick look at their sales page tells me they’ve gone into more visual appeal in their designs. Every coach wants a great looking website without spending loads. I do like their web 2.0 style (a move to simplicity) of their sales page. If you have used them, I’d love to hear from you.
I’ve used them for a few years and all I can say is, what a mess. And by that I mean too complicated on the inside. Too confusing with their “double names” … which is it? PageLines? or PlatformPro? I got so confused. They need to ditch “PlatformPro” or name it something that sounds more like a theme than a theme company.
The themes look nice, clean, minimal. They do boast a “drag and drop” framework, but last time I toyed with that, about three years ago, I don’t recall it making life any more amazing. I left them for WooThemes.
They are definitely famous for BackupBuddy, a nice piece of software for automated backups.
One time, several years ago I used a theme by iThemes. It was complicated. Also, their website is complicated due to their promoting their sister sites which you’re probably not interested in. I abhor complicated!
Their theme names are confusing to me as well. Some of their themes seem more like platforms or parent themes rather than full-on workable themes by themselves. Already it’s getting too confusing. I dislike confusion.
They may have some good themes, but I resist exploring.
I haven’t used them but I did peek into their themes a while back. I took a fresh look at their home page and they’ve got pricing “starting at $1”.
They are providing something of a market place for theme authors and buyers (you). Web designers can go there sell their themes (nice). You can rate them (cool). But when it comes back to my likes in a theme provider (save time and good for client-attraction), you’ll probably struggle here.
You’ll struggle because there are so many themes and are authored by various people. My gut tells me support might not be consistent.
I’ve run across a handful of websites from good coaches who have used this nicely. I’ve messed around with their stuff a long time ago and I recall it being a positive experience. I do wish their homepage didn’t feel cheeky – but I don’t discount fun/cheeky because good talent often comes with a fun sense of humor.
They do center their marketing message around drag-n-drop for business owners, designers, freelancers, and hobbyists.
What I like
- They don’t sell multiple themes just their site building structure. It’s simple.
- They have a ginormous page of example sites, many for coaches, on their customers page. Totally worth a look.
I can’t say more about them, and they are worth another look. If you try them out or are currently using them, please post below. Love to hear what your experience has been.
So yes, I know that’s quite a bit to take in. The main thing I’d suggest you pay attention to is your time. Choose a theme provider that will save you time. Which means …
- Find a theme that’s easy-to-work-with.
- Ensure there’s good, responsive support around.
- Try not to fuss with the design too much, just choose one that looks good, and focus on copy and strategy.
- Aim for themes that are simplistic and not too flashy, else things get confusing and messy fast.
- Again, a reminder to spend your time mostly on content, strategy and how that will play into your marketing.
Surely, have fun with it. Designs, creation, and your dreams are worth a journey of enjoyment – but beware that themes and technology can send you down a time-draining rabbit hole that distract you from your big picture coaching biz dreams.
Oh, and if you don’t have a solid plan for pages, content, and strategy, then …
You’ll want to check out these articles.
- 6 Big Questions Every Coaching Website Should Answer
- How to Get 10 Ongoing Paying Clients from Your Website
- 11 Traits of a Coaching Site that Works
- 11 Great Images for your Coaching Website
And grab a copy of The Coaching Site Guide to help you turn your theme into a client-attraction machine.
I’d love to hear your comments.
Have you gone cross-eyed? What themes have you tried? Are looking to try? What have you found to work and not work? What advice would you share from your experience? I’d love to hear from you! Comment below.