When using WordPress, your website’s web design is controlled by your theme. You might want to choose a WordPress theme that matches what you need. Do you want something simple or with added bells and whistles? It can be tricky to choose one if you’re not sure of what you want in the first place.
We know there are a lot of themes out there and that choosing one could be overwhelming. In today’s post, we will share with you some helpful tips when you’re hunting for the next WordPress theme that perfectly suits your site.
Things to Consider when Choosing the Right WordPress Theme
It used be that going for premium themes means that you can expect better performance and quality than with free themes. While this still holds true, things have changed lately. More developers have created hundreds of great WordPress themes that works toe-to-toe with its premium counterparts.
Whether you choose free or paid themes, it all boils down to the level of care and quality of the code since the latter impacts all other factors that will discussed here. Consider these pros and cons when searching for a theme.
Pros for Free Themes
- Well, it’s free. What more can we say?
- Most free themes are likely to be compatible with several plugins than premium themes since they are required to observe certain standards before they are approved.
- More lightweight. Most of these free themes don’t offer additional features that might weigh down the site.
Cons for Free Themes
- Most free themes are not routinely updated because their creators might have completely abandoned them.
- It doesn’t offer support to fix bugs and other technical issues.
- The quality of coding are substandard and are prone to security loopholes.
- While most themes observe normal WordPress features, some may only offer limited features and functionalities.
Pros for Premium Themes
- Technical updates are constantly rolled out.
- The designs are more uncommon compared to free popular themes so it’s easier to stand out among other WordPress-powered sites.
- It offers a variety of support to its customers via live chat, email or through a community forum.
- Premium themes have better documentation to help users take advantage of its features.
- Users are not required to insert attribution links on their websites.
Cons for Premium Themes
- The price for a premium theme can be steep–ranging from $30 to $200.
- There’s a lot of customization options that users need to learn.
- Some premium themes may incorporate useless features (e.g. additional skins, multiple sidebars and sliders) that can bloat the site.
2. Overall Design
The real objective of a theme is to make your site more visually appealing and for your brand to stand out. Where to find amazing theme designs? Here are some tips.
- Search on the web, there are tons you can find. A few of the well-renowned designers are: StudioPress, ThemeForest and Elegant Themes.
- Check out their demos. Play around with features to try out the look. See if its user-friendly, effortless to customize and less cluttered.
- Ideally, you might want to choose a theme that is compatible with all browsers and has painless accessibility.
3. It must be responsive
When a theme is responsive, the site’s layout will automatically adjust to different devices and screen sizes. It’s no secret anymore that a significant number of online traffic comes from mobile devices.
Even Google encourages all websites to be mobile-friendly for them to dominate the top mobile search results. Most WordPress themes are now responsive but there are those who still choose themes with fixed layouts. Make sure that yours is responsive so the layout works on any device.
To test if your theme is responsive, try resizing the browser screen size. As you adjust the screen, the theme layout will be laid out by itself automatically. You can also check out with Google Mobile-Friendly Test to see if your theme has a mobile-friendly design.
When choosing themes, always put security front and center. Website’s security encompasses its web hosting, passwords, plugins, and not to mention, the theme. We recommend that you install themes from a reputable developer with solid track record in theme development.
One way to judge a theme’s security is by reading customer reviews, particularly from community forums. If you go directly to the developer’s website, expect that some of the reviews might not be as transparent as those on the community forums. Of course, the more positive reviews and downloads it has, the better.
When themes have security issues, other customers are more than likely warn others about it. Reviews should be encouraged because this allows developers to fix the bug and update it.
In our previous article, we discussed why it is essential for a website to be optimized for speed and performance. To sum up, a fast-loading website helps improve user experience (the faster it loads, the more satisfied the visitors are), increases rankings in search engines and conversion rate, and ultimately revenues for the company.
But can themes be one of the reasons that slows down a site? Short answer: Yes! Not all themes are created equal. Anything that offers more features than what you actually need can seriously impact your site speed.
We recommend you stay away from themes that’s loaded with too many features. Anything that offers 15 pre-installed plugins or 20 various sliders, background videos and overuse of large-file formats is too much. Poor coding will also strain your website performance so always check if the theme is updated regularly.
Your theme might look pleasant on Chrome but what about when you browse it on Internet Explorer, Safari or Mozilla Firefox? Remember, users use different browsers and it’s best to ensure that your site is compatible on multiple browsers.
Most WordPress theme creators test their themes using different browser compatibility tools. If they fail to mention it, then you can run a test yourself by checking it on different browsers, both desktop and mobile.
7. Customer Support
Again one of the drawbacks of free themes is the lack of customer support options. While some free theme developers may offer one, many do not offer such support. So if something goes wrong with your website, you’re pretty much on your own.
We couldn’t stress it enough how important it is to choose a WordPress theme that offers comprehensive documentation and customer support. You can find this when you subscribe to a premium WordPress theme.
8. Simple Customization
The heart of every theme is the customization dashboard. It is where you can tweak changes to visual aspects of theme without directly editing the stylesheet. If a theme developer offers users with a demo version of the admin panel, use that to your advantage before actually doing anything permanent.
Just like with plugins, themes offer ratings and reviews from their users. Ratings and reviews allow you to gauge the quality of a theme based on other customers’ feedback. For free WordPress themes, you can find the star ratings right after you click on the main preview. For third-party themes, reviews and ratings are shown on their own websites.
No matter how great a theme is, it’s likely for them to get bad reviews from time to time. Use your instincts. Check on the overall ratings and see how many negative reviews they got. If a theme has high negative percentage, then you might want to drill down and read the comments carefully.
Get the Right Theme
We hope this article serves as your primer when choosing a theme. Keep in mind, a good WordPress theme does not have to be feature-rich. You can even do away with things that might only slow down and corrupt your site.
Don’t be afraid to shop around for themes. Play around with themes’ demos until you see something that fits your needs. For starters, you can use a free WordPress theme, then when you’re ready, upgrade to a premium. What’s important is that can change them without losing your website data.