WordPress, being the most widely used Website CMS, comes with a pool of over 10,000+ themes & this makes it a little complex for us to choose which WordPress theme would be right for my website or blog.
A theme is basically a group of files (graphics, CSS, etc) that control our website’s overall feel & appearance.
Not all themes available in the WordPress theme directory are good, & not all themes that look good are actually good.
We live in a tech-savvy world, we are modern, we expect modern interfaces with intuitive designs.
On the other hand, the ever-evolving SEO game makes it critical nowadays to thoroughly test a theme before owning it.
For example, it is mandatory to have a responsive website if you are planning to leverage SEO.
Similarly, there are a lot of factors to consider before sticking to a theme for your website.
What are those factors?
Don’t worry, this blog post has got you covered.
I’ve listed all the important points that need to be taken into account before finalizing a theme for your WordPress blog/website:
Things to Consider When Choosing a WordPress Theme
1. Determine Your Website Purpose & Features
Before searching for your website theme, it is important to determine what type of website you are looking for & what all features you’d want to be incorporated.
For example, a service offering business website will require different layouts, structures & features, while, a simple blog would not need many customizations at the beginning.
On the other hand, if you wish to enable Ecommerce features, you’d want a WooCommerce theme that is well suited for Ecommerce operations.
Just in case you wish to create an eCommerce website using WordPress, I’d suggest you go to a different article that is solely created to help users choose the right WooCommerce theme.
Here are some types of Websites you can create using WordPress:
- Business / Services Website
- Ecommerce Websites (Using WooCommerce)
- Digital Magazine
Once you know what website you are going to need, it’s time to utilize WordPress feature filter
Determine Your Niche
There are many WordPress themes that offers a wealth of customizations.
Depending on your target market (niche), you can search & get themes that include features/functionalities related to your niche.
For example, if you’re into Real Estate, you will see some themes that allows features like Property Listing, Agents Managements, Google Maps Integration & many more.
Utilize Feature Filter
Most of us may not notice this, but while searching a theme for your blog, WordPress allows you to use some filter so that you get a theme as per your requirements.
As a beginner, I understand it feels amazing to have many features as my website can.
But, being in marketing for over 5 years made me realize that less is always more, so stick to less features.
The more features your website will have, the heavy coding your theme files will contain.
2. Get Some Demo Content to Start With
There are a lot of free & paid wordpress themes available in the official wordpress directory.
You can’t just finalize a theme at first place if you have done no research on theme or whatsoever.
Since there are a lot of themes available, it is best to preview those themes only after you have some demo content to start with.
This way you can preview, install & play with the themes you like, using dummy content.
Having some demo content allows you to test the themes you like & play around with dummy content to see how the final version of your website will look like.
Some WordPress themes come with demo content import Kit, but not all.
The easiest & best way to create demo content is by yourself. Here’s what you will need in demo content to start testing your website theme:
- 3-4 Demo Blog Posts (With Featured Image)
- 2-3 Demo Pages (With Featured Images)
- Add Some Categories For These Posts
- Create Menus & Widgets
3. Analyze What Customizations Your Theme Offers
Right after you install your theme, take some time to visit every features available to customize your website.
What we need to look here is for small features like
- Does my website allows me to change font? (In case the theme fonts are not good)
- Does my website allows me to change website theme color? (In case you wish to create brand visuals)
- What features I can embed at the Homepage?
You can quickly analyze what features your theme is offering by going to WordPress Dashboard > Customize Your Theme
Remember: Avoid those themes at any cost that does not allow you to tweak or customize the code files. You must have the liberty to do so because this is your website, even if you think this feature is not necessary, keep in mind what I am telling you 🙂
4. Check The Theme Speed
Not to mention, the website speed has always been a critical key to improving overall performance of your Website, & hence the SEO.
And so is the importance of checking the theme’s speed before choosing it for your next project.
Some WordPress themes are cleanly coded that loads quickly, with minimal delay on sending/receiving requests, however, the pool of WordPress themes is vast, hence, not every theme that appears to be good is actually not good.
You need to do some homework by testing your theme’s speed on various speed testing tools.
Some of the tools I use are, there are plenty of other tools too.
Once you do some speed test, it will help you understand what
5. Checking For Browser Compatibility is Important
Cross browser compatibility is a part of responsive web design testing.
Responsive web design testing focuses on website design adaptability while cross-browser testing focuses on functional ability & interoperability.
As the name suggests, cross-browser testing revolves around what browsers the visitors are using while responsive design testing focuses on what device visitors are using.
At the end, both are aimed at offering seamless user experience to website visitors, irrespective of the device or browser they are using.
Hence, it is very important to execute cross browser testing on the theme you have chosen.
In general, theme developers perform strict cross-browser compatibility testing using various tools, however, it is also important to perform some tests at your end.
TO do this, you can either simply access your website on different browsers or use any browser compatibility testing tools on the web.
6. Color & Typography
The modern audience demands visually appealing website with amazing readability.
This is where your theme color palette & font type comes into consideration.
Once you finalize a theme, take one or two minutes to see what color options your theme is offering.
Just in case you already have brand color palette for your next blog/website, it’s better to stick with theme that offers color customizations (font color, background color, mouse hover color, button color etc)
7. Theme’s Responsiveness & Mobile-Friendliness is Must To Check
A responsive website automatically adjusts its design, content & elements to match the screen size on which it is viewed.
The ultimate goal of responsiveness is to avoid unnecessary efforts like zooming, resizing, etc to read the content of a web page, irrespective of the device used.
Long time ago when the responsive web design approach was not introduced, website owners had to design multiple website versions for different devices.
We are now living in a multi-tech society. People are using a variety of devices (Mobile, Tablets) to browse the internet.
Since you never know what device your target audience might use to access your site, it’s important to prepare your website design to be appropriately viewable across as many devices as possible.
Also, Google has been very strict with User Experience
You can use Google Mobile-Friendly Test to see if your website is responsive or not
8. Be Aware of Bloated Monstrosities Themes & Developers
Not all theme features you might think good are actually not required.
Focus on delivering minimal aesthetics & don’t get attracted to themes offering a wide functionalities & features.
If you wish to cover more features at once, you will end up with a slow website.
I would also like to take this moment to put a shot on some overloaded WordPress themes you might find on Themeforest occasionally.
Remember: Don’t fall into the trap of their reviews, I’ve pretty bad experience with Themeforest. I do not like their rating & reviews policies, i.e., if you ask for a refund /money back, they will delete your reviews.
This means, all the people who have figured out the theme is not good, are no longer able to aware users of that theme.
I am not pointing my gun at all theme developers, but, some to of the bloated monstrosities whom this shoe fits well.
As a beginner, it’s best to stick with WordPress official directory themes & stick to minimal features.
Minimal is the best always, no matter what.
9. Do Not Ask Search Engines or Other Source To Give You The Best Theme
Is WordPress secure?
The answer to this question is simple – “As long as you follow WordPress best practices, it’s very much secure”
There are many WordPress security issues that hackers can take advantage of.
One of the most common ways that hackers use to find vulnerabilities is by targeting websites with poorly written & outdated code.
Since themes (and plugins also) can be a potential source of this security vulnearability, it is strongly recommended to choose themes for your website only from the official WordPress themes respitory.
Just in case you wish to opt for premium themes from outside WordPress, make sure to do a thorough check on the business you’re dealing with.
Many times, you might also think to download & install a free torrented version of a premium theme – avoid this at any cost.
These pirated & free version of WordPress themes might contain malware or malicious scripts, therefore, comes at an expense of your websites’ security.
10. Free Theme vs Paid Theme: Expert’s Opinion
Important things first: If you are using a free theme WordPress theme, it is very critical to stick with the official WordPress theme directory as I mentioned earlier too. This is advised to you to not download & install any WordPress themes (or plugins) that are distributed outside of the WordPress platform.
The comparasion between free & paid wordpress themes is subjective.
What I would consider as disadvantage for my website, may not be a concern for you.
Here are some common disadvantages of using a free WordPress theme:
- Limited or very less customer support
- Limited features & functions
- Not so visually tempting
- No warranty – if something goes wrong, you are on your own
Now, let’s see some of the advantages of using Premium WordPress themes:
- More features & customization options
- Dedicated & priority customer support (which is important if you scale)
- Streamlined functions like drag & drop homepage elements, multiple layouts, shortcodes, etc
- Premium themes are unique & visually appealing
However, there are some disadvantages of using premium themes too.
For example, too many features might slow down your website.
Does this mean you should opt for premium WordPress theme?
No, as I said earlier, this answer is very subjective & you need to rethink of your goals & objectives.
Below are some questions to ask youself if you are confused between paid & free theme:
- Do you really need a lot of features and customizations that premium themes are offering?
- Can you troubleshoot & edit WordPress theme files on your own, if required?
- Do you need a professional looking website to improve conversion rate? or a basic website would suffice your initial needs?
If you are a small business, I would recommend you to opt for a premium theme as it will give you a better design, more customization/features & peace of mind whenever you need support.
However, if you are just starting out with WordPress, a free theme would suffice your needs.
11. Do Some of Your Research
If there is a pro, there are chances of cons too.
Same goes with the website themes.
The best way to avoid any critical problems in the future is to do some research on the theme & see how the experience of people has been with this theme.
If using WordPress themes from the official WordPress directory (recommended), you will find theme rating & reviews on the theme page itself.
You can also type in the theme name on Google & check if someone had faced any bad experience with the theme that you must be aware of.
This way, you can have a solid idea of what theme you are using.
12. Consider Theme Documentation & Customer Support
Before choosing a theme for your WordPress website, it is important to keep in mind the support theme developers will provide you.
Usually, with free WordPress themes, there is poor theme documentation, very less or no customer support.
In such case, you will end up losing money on a third party developer if you mess up with the theme files.
However, if you go for a paid theme, you will get good theme documentation & priority customer support for long run.
Not only this, with the paid themes, you can be assured of the code quality because the developer must have taken many things into account before making the theme paid.
13. Spy For Competitor’s Website Themes & Plugins
How about spying to make your website better? Sounds cool!
Peeking at other killer websites to see which theme & tools they are using is a great way to make big moves with your WordPress website.
Being a blogger, it is common to get blogging inspirations & ideas from other websites. Many times, we see certain features or themes these websites are using & want them on our website too.
In this case, WordPress website theme detecting & spying tools come really handy, that helps you discover new themes & plugins.
Here are some good WordPress theme detector & spying tools that you can use for free:
Top WordPress Themes with Free Versions [2021 Updated]
- SiteOrigin Unwind
It is not easy to find a good theme quickly for your WordPress website, especially if you are a beginner.
Hopefully, this blog post helped you get a better idea of what to look for while choosing a theme for your WordPress website.
As mentioned above, certain quality tests/checks like Mobile Responsiveness, Theme speed are a must to do.
However, other opinions are entirely subjective & depends on your goals/objectives.
Was this article informative? Do you think there should be a few more factors to consider before finalizing on a theme?