Documentation is where you can find it
Good documentation is the basis of a strong support environment. If you have access to clear documentation, you can find a work-around for any problem. In the world of Free Themes, even those from the WordPress Theme Directory, actual documentation is rarely provided. However, high-rated themes with active user support forums often have some documentation, it just may not be particularly well-organized and best reached through Google queries.
When I could not find a link to Responsive Documentation on the WordPress Directory, I decided to see if I could find some documentation on the CyberChimps site. I did a Google search for [“Responsive-Theme”+CyberChimps documentation] and retrieved: http://cyberchimps.com/guides/
I was very please to find an outstanding online Guide to the Responsive Theme. This guide was keyword searchable and well written.
My first though was, if they do this good a job for the “free” version, the support for the Pro version must be great. Which is exactly what I am sure they had in mind. If I were new to WordPress, and after my research decided that the Responsive theme was the best choice for my new site, I would be thrilled to find the level of support the online documentation gave me. And, when my site expanded to match the projected growth of my business, and the CyberChimp folks offered me an inexpensive, easy to execute, path forward with their Pro version I would be a loyal customer.
I noticed another feature on their ‘How to Navigate the Guides’ page. They offered a helpful research tip for those new to the “track the documentation’ game. They explained not only how to use the Guide but gave a helpful ‘How to Find It in Google’ tip with a link.
“Simply browse the tabbed listings of guides to the right or search for the information you need.
Don’t forget, the forums themselves contain thousands upon thousands of solutions. If you’re not having success searching onsite, why not try the most powerful search engine on the planet:
Some last thoughts about making a popular theme your own…
Using a popular, well-supported theme adds another question to your research notes. It is a good idea to find out what other businesses are using the theme you are considering. Are they in the same kind of business as you? How are they using the theme? Finding a theme with a large install base is a double-edged sword. It cuts both ways. You have the comfort of a well-supported theme with an active user-group; but unless you find a creative way to use the theme, your site can come off as a “me-too” imitation of some of the other sites built on the same theme. For a beginner, who does not yet have the skills to modify the appearance of the theme, creative use of images can help separate and individualize your theme.
A side note about images: There are thousands of royalty-free images available through Creative Commons. Sometimes searching for royalty free images can be time consuming. If images will play an important part of your site’s identity, it might be cost-effective to become a member of a professional stock photo site, like shutterstock. Annual membership is usually a couple hundred dollars and over the course of a year the time savings may prove to be a worthwhile investment.
If you confine your theme choices to those offered in the WordPress Theme Directory, you have assurances of clean code, that has been checked and inspected, against the rigorous WordPress theme standards. You can be assured that the theme you choose is not only free, but also safe, clean and ready to support your successful WordPress site.