For personal or hobbyist websites where hiring a professional can be considered as a bit of an overkill, Do-It-Yourself WordPress users face at least a couple of options.
Option A: getting a feature-rich theme with a crammed options panel bursting with different layouts, hundreds of shortcodes, infinite color options, etc.
Option B: getting a lean, clean theme and adding features only as needed.
Option B is my favorite, and in this post I’m going to explain why. Also, I’m going to put this approach to the test by showing how to customize the Home page of an attractive but simple WordPress theme, adding some extra features and nice enhancements, without any coding.
The Drawbacks of WordPress Themes with Tons of Feature
I see a few drawbacks to using bloated WordPress themes, apart from the bloat.
The first problem is that users can feel confused with having to deal with countless settings. Also, it takes quite some time to have them all figured out. Besides, who does really need tons of features!
But what I consider the main issue is theme lock-in. This means that, once you change your theme, you also lose all the features your website enjoyed, and you might not like the feeling: information may be lost as a result, you may want to keep the fonts your old theme had, or simply you’ll have to learn and adjust a plethora of new settings to get the result you want.
The Benefits of the Lean WordPress Theme
A lean and clean WP theme is, in my view, the preferred approach. First, you do away with the bloat and keep only what you need.
As nice as this is, you might object: what about customizations? Do I need to hire someone to do the job?
My answer to this is: for professional sites, only a hired professional can give your website the polish that makes your website shine. However, for personal websites, there’s no need for this. Use plugins!
Add Features Using Plugins
There are tons of plugins out there that can add all sorts of bells and whistles to your simple theme. And I’m not only talking about functional plugins like shopping carts and such like. I’m also talking about plugins to add shortcodes, Google fonts, etc.
The main benefits are:
No steep learning curve: you just learn to set up the options you care to add to your theme, no more and no less.
No theme lock-in: changing theme won’t make your website’s features disappear. In fact, those features depend on a plugin, not the theme. You’re free to deactivate and activate a new theme as many times as you like and still keep all your nice features. Also, when you decide that you don’t need a feature any more, you’re free to deactivate and uninstall your plugin. It’s up to you!
Here’s how I customize the Home page of a beautiful, simple WordPress theme.
Sobe WordPress Theme
Shortcodes Ultimate plugin
Easy Google Fonts plugin
Mooberry Show Latest Posts plugin
Simple Custom CSS plugin
Symphony pattern by Subtle Patterns
To Sum Up
In my view, using a lean and simple WordPress theme, with a few key options, preferably in the Customizer, is a better alternative to using bloated, features-crammed themes. No theme lock-in and only add what you need when needed.
For professional websites, better hiring a professional.
AND YOU, WHICH APPROACH DO YOU TAKE WHEN CHOOSING THE THEME FOR YOUR WEBSITE? I LOOK FORWARD TO YOUR FEEDBACK IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!