When you first sit down to create your Drupal website, you have plenty of decisions to make. What are your first blog posts going to be? What kinds of marketing materials do you need to help your website convert? What is your SEO strategy to boost your SERP position? These are all important, and we highly recommend that you consider each point before you launch your first website.
But those are details. The most significant decision you’re going to make is what theme you’ll use. Think of your theme as the building block of your website. It’s how users are going to perceive your site, interpret your content, and engage with your products or services. You want a beautiful, interactive, intuitive, and easy-to-browse website that pushes customers to think, engage, and consume your rich creatives.
Here’s the problem: there are thousands of Drupal themes. When you first look through the avalanche of bright colors, minimal panes, and unique content configurations, it can be dizzying. How do you pick a theme with that certain something that sets you apart?
Here are some criteria to help you sift through the tsunami of designs on the market.
How Important is Your Drupal Theme, Really?
At some point, you need to pull the trigger. But how soon should you go with your gut instinct? After all, is picking the “perfect” theme really that important? In today’s hyper-redundant theme ecosystem, it’s easy to think that website design is a secondary factor in your website build process. Many websites today have eerily similar themes, and you may be looking to copy-paste that minimalist, white-space-heavy style that your competitors probably use.
Don’t make the mistake of minimizing the importance of the theme. Your competitors may use cookie-cutter themes, but you shouldn’t. Here’s why:
- 38% of people will flat out refuse to engage with a website if its looks aren’t appealing to them.
- 88% of people won’t return to your website ever again after a single bad experience.
- 75% of customers make a judgment call on your brand’s credibility based on your website design.
- Given 15 minutes to read content, people would rather view something beautifully designed than something plain-looking.
- 94% of negative feedback regarding your website will be design related.
In other words, your customers are going to judge the efficacy of your brand based on your website’s design. Remember the phrase, “first impressions are everything.” Well, 94% of first impressions are based on design—you want something stunning. Obviously, design is still a highly personal experience. Some people like quirky and weird, some like minimal and smooth, and others like aggressive and animation heavy. It depends on your end user and who you are as a brand.
So how do you go about picking the right one? After all, there’s a lot at stake. Your theme is going to be the first thing customers see when they click on your website. Here are the three core components of website themes you should consider before you make your choice.
1. Your Brand’s Identity
We all know that branding is a big deal. 89% of marketers say that branding is their top goal, and branding is the first thing that 89% of investors look at when deciding whether or not to open their wallets. So, when it comes to your design, brand should be front-of-mind. Who is your company? What does it stand for? And, most all, what does it look like?
Your Drupal theme is a powerful branding tool. Every single component of your website is an opportunity for branding. We could get overly complicated diving into website branding, but we’ll stick with the simple stuff. Let’s talk about color. Seems simple enough, right? Check this out:
- Color alone improves brand recognition by 80%.
- 93% of people focus on your brand’s color when buying products.
- When people make subconscious decisions about your product, 90% of that decision is related to color.
Ok! So color is obviously important. But what about all the other “stuff” on your website? Does the position of content boxes, navigation menu, and blog posts really matter? You bet! Consistent brand representation across content boosts bottom-line profits by 33% on average. And 80% of people think content is what drives them to really engage and build loyalty with brands.
In a nutshell, think about branding when you look at themes. 90% of users expect you to have consistent branding across all channels. If you can’t find a theme that screams, “you,” that’s ok! If you can’t find one, build one.
The theme you choose will have a direct impact on your website’s performance. Unnecessary components, visual clutter, and poor frontend coding can all increase load times and disrupt website accessibility. Obviously, some of your performance capabilities happen on the backend (e.g., caching, DB Query optimization, MySQL settings, etc.) But your theme still has a sizable effect on how your website performs.
Overly large CSS files, redundant coding for modules, blank spaces, and other issues can all increase time-to-load, create visual issues, and create stop-points for your users. To be clear, performance is a significant component in both lead generation and retention:
- A 100-millisecond delay drops conversions by 7%.
- Increasing the number of page elements from 400 to 6,000 drops conversion rates by 95%.
- 79% of shoppers that encounter a website with poor performance will never return.
Always test out themes for performance. The aesthetic qualities of a website are important, but performance is a necessity.
We like to call UX the “hidden performance.” It’s how your users will engage with and consume content throughout your website. The theme you pick will dictate a significant portion of your UX. Before you choose a theme, build out your information architecture strategy, create mockups for UI (or at least find UI examples that you enjoy), and plot out your broad content strategy. Then, choose a theme that compliments your strategy and information architecture.
Here’s the most important thing: always evolve your UX. Consider applying agile to your theme building and choosing practices. Even after you select the right theme, constantly make improvements to your UI/UX to breed consistency and customer-centricity. You can purchase a pre-made theme on the Drupal marketplace, but you still need to customize the theme to fit your brand and conform to your UX framework. You don’t want to choose a cookie-cutter theme on the marketplace and fail to maximize its value. Not only will your website look nearly identical to thousands of other Drupal sites, but you also won’t truly build an experience-driven website. Give your customers home-cooked steak and potatoes—not a microwaved frozen dinner.
Are You Looking for the Perfect Drupal Theme?
If you want a theme that’s hyper-branded, built for performance, and created using brand-specific information architecture, you won’t find it on a pre-built theme website. You need to create it. At Mobomo, we help public and private entities create breathtaking Drupal themes specifically for their brand and their users. Let’s build your brand something amazing.
Contact us to learn more.