It’s easy to become overwhelmed when you’re selecting your WordPress theme, to begin with, there are thousands of options available, both free and paid. You scroll through the options and its never too long before you’re completely confused as to what theme will work best for your new website.
So how do you choose a WordPress Theme? What should you be looking for in terms of features and how do you narrow the thousands of options down to a shortlist? We’ll explore ten things you should think about when you’re looking for the best WordPress Theme for your site.
Three Facts About WordPress:
- WordPress is used by more than 60 million websites
- WordPress is one of the most popular content management system solutions in use today.
- You can easily spend days searching for the perfect WordPress Theme!
Your WordPress theme is the face of your website, its the first thing a visitor sees when they visit your site, although they may not recognise that fact initially. If you have a theme that complements the content you write, the user will stay and spend time on your site. Use a theme that’s distracting and you can bet your bottom dollar your visitor will move on as soon as they can. The same goes for Google!
The hard part is finding a theme that’s complementary to your content, pleasing to a visitors eye AND loads quickly to appease Google who prefers to rank faster websites higher.
So what should take priority when your searching for the best WordPress Theme? What should you look for in a WordPress Theme before adding it to your shortlist?
Its gotta be Responsive…
These days more than half of your website’s traffic is likely to come from a mobile device of some sort, be it a smartphone, laptop or tablet, your WordPress theme needs to be responsive to make sure visitors coming to your website from a mobile device are able to interact with it.
Responsive themes adjust the layout of your site across different screen sizes and devices. The good news is that most WordPress themes are responsive by default, however, there is still the odd fixed-width layout out there and you should avoid these if at all possible.
Another reason to chose a responsive theme is that Google shows mobile-friendly sites at the top of the mobile search results. If you want to make sure the theme you’re considering is indeed mobile-friendly plug the URL for the themes demo page into Googles Mobile-Friendly test page. Warnings like text too small or content wider than screen should ring warning bells for you.
The simple fact is no matter what your website content, you simply cannot afford to miss out on 50% of the web traffic that’s out there. Get a responsive theme!
Is it compatible?
As I mentioned above, it’s more than likely that 50% of your web traffic will come to your site from a mobile device – Smartphone, laptop or tablet, the other 50% will obviously come from desktop computers. Each visitor will be using a different browser to view your site, some will use Chrome, some might use Firefox, others could be using Internet Explorer or Safari.
The main browsers you should test your theme over are:
- Google Chrome
- Internet Explorer
There are a ton of alternative browsers out there but the bulk of your web traffic will come from these five.
The good news is that most theme developers test their themes using browser compatibility testing tools… but there is no harm in testing the theme across different browsers and devices yourself. Make sure you’re happy with the way your site looks in each browser type.
Plugin the Power!
There are literally thousands of WordPress Plugins, there is most likely a plugin for absolutely anything and everything you could ever want your WordPress website to do… and more!
This is where WordPress truly comes into its own and why it’s such a widely used platform. That been said you want to make sure the WordPress theme you’re considering is compatible and supports popular plugins.
If you have any doubts ping a message to the theme developer to find out what works and what might not.
Is there Support?
It’s almost a given that somewhere along your WordPress journey you’re going to break your site. It could be that you have a plugin conflicting with another, set up a plugin without knowing what exactly it’s going to do to your site OR perhaps you get a little too confident and add a bit of code in that throws the entire site out.
You may not think you’ll need support right now… but trust me there will come a day when you least expect it that you will.
If you choose to go with a free WordPress theme it’s likely there will be very little to no support available for you, of course, if anything does go wrong you could always find and pay an expert to sort your issue out for you. If this is you a great place to start the search is Fiverr OR figure the issue out yourself.
If you go down the Premium (read Paid) Theme road no doubt you’ll have detailed documentation and access to support that can solve any issue you come across.
Depending on your budget it’s worth thinking about the cost difference between paying for a premium theme Vs finding an expert on Fiverr. More often than not paying for the premium theme is the better way to go and works out cheaper!
Pre-installed Page Builders are a No-No!
While I’m on the subject of Premium Themes I think it only fair to mention that there are Premium themes out there that come with a page builder pre-installed. On the face of it, this isn’t altogether a bad thing right? Well, yes and no.
If you’re going to stick with that theme for eternity there’s nothing wrong with using a pre-installed page builder. The problems arise when you decide to change or update your theme. If a developer has pre-installed a page builder that is ONLY used by that developer then it can lead to a bunch of unwanted code once you change themes, this then needs to be cleaned up so it doesn’t slow your website to a crawl.
The solution is to either avoid WordPress Premium Themes with pre-installed page builders altogether OR make sure the pre-installed page builder is one of the widely used and available ones – Divi, Elementor, Beaver Builder or Visual Composer – you can also buy these page builders separately to use with your theme.
Is the WordPress Theme SEO Friendly?
SEO – Search Engine Optimization – plays a MASSIVE role in making sure people can find your website. Your WordPress Theme can either help or hinder your SEO efforts, even a slick-looking Premium theme can still be badly coded and end up affecting your website’s performance with Google or Bing and in turn affecting the amount of organic traffic you get to your site.
Most premium WordPress Theme developers will tell you that the theme is optimized and in some cases what extra tools they have ”baked in” to the theme to help you get ahead with SEO.
Of course, if you’re a newbie and have no idea about coding or SEO then I’d suggest jumping on Fiverr and having a chat to a WordPress Expert who might be able to suggest the best theme for your needs. I also have a couple of recommendations you’ll find below.
Keep it Clean and Simple
When you’ve spent some time looking at potential themes you’ll soon come to realise that there are thousands of potential candidates. There are themes that have flashy sliders or complex layouts, some come with animations or more colors than you care to imagine. There are widgets for this and blocks for that but do you really need every bell and whistle to have an effective and attractive website?
The answer, of course, is no.
Ultimately, your website is there to sell something, provide some kind of information or get subscribers. Whatever your goal, your visitor’s experience is paramount. If your website visitor can’t find what they are looking for with the least amount of fuss they simply give up, leave and never come back.
On the other hand, if your visitors find what they are looking for quickly and can do what they came to do easily your website goals will be realised a whole lot quicker.
You can have the best looking theme with all the bells and whistles but if your visitors can’t find what they are looking for your theme is standing in the way of your success.
Some of the best websites out there use a clean and simple WordPress theme, one that makes it easy for your visitor to find their way around and what they are looking for.
The more you use WordPress the more you’ll come to understand that as an open-source platform it’s updated on a regular basis. It’s SUPER important that the theme you go with keeps up with WordPress updates if it doesn’t you could end up with a site that simply doesn’t work.
Ask the theme developer how often they update the theme to fix issues or support upgrades to WordPress itself.
Does it Pass the Grandma Test?
It’s easy to build a nice looking website with a beautiful looking theme but something you need to ask yourself before you choose a theme is what will your website look like to someone who doesn’t have a lot of online experience?
Will visitors be able to find their way around your site easily? Is a new users journey through and around your site logical? or do they get lost in those bells and whistles?
Does it Rate?
Finally, check out the ratings and reviews for the theme you’re looking at. You want to make sure your theme has more positive reviews than bad ones right?… obvious stuff! Read through the reviews you can find, does support get a good or bad rap? Has someone else had a bad experience?
It’s hard to find a theme that has 100% positive ratings, almost every WordPress theme will have at least a couple of bad reviews. Make sure you read them, understand whats happened and then ask yourself if this is something you can either avoid or live with.
With new WordPress themes being released on a daily basis there are literally thousands of themes you can choose from. If you follow the above suggestions to at least narrow the list you’ll be on to a winning theme.
If you want a tried and true place to start with a WordPress theme, one that you simply can’t go wrong with then I highly recommend you check out Blossom Themes. They have 12 Free themes that cover topics like Coaching, Travel, Fashion, Shopping and Weddings and each of the 12 free themes has a premium upgrade available. These themes are AMAZING… to prove the point I use their Feminine Pro Theme… as you can see, even though the theme is meant for a more feminine topic it’s customizable for almost any niche or topic.