Theme selection does not seem to be a difficult task at first glance. Although there are so many lovely templates available in the marketplaces; the problem arises when you have to pick one out of the vast theme collection.
Every theme may look great on your eyes but if you look carefully, you will notice that they are not exactly similar to each other. They are built with different features and purpose. So if you choose one randomly for your website, you are probably going to run into a huge problem later.
You need to keep in mind some key points in order to make your theme selection process successful. It will save not only your money but also your precious time. In today’s post, let’s discuss some of the most important things you need to consider while selecting a perfect template for your WordPress website.
How to Choose a WordPress Theme?
Premium Themes vs. Free theme
The WordPress community is huge, and they are doing an excellent job supporting each other to some extent. You can find a lot of free themes with an incredible look and functionality in the WordPress theme directory. But the question is should you go for a free theme available from many different unofficial sources? Most of the successful online business owners, if not all of them, use premium themes for their business. There are some reasons behind it.
In most cases, free themes do not provide quality customer support. That means if you run into a problem with the code, you will not receive instant help from the developer. Free themes are sometimes susceptible to “breaking” as well. It means if WordPress upgrades its current version; your theme may not be compatible with it. However, the biggest worrying factor is security. Free themes tend to include codes that are less secure than the codes of premium themes. Even if any security issue arises with the premium themes, you can instantly contact the theme author, and they will resolve the issue for you.
If you are a newbie who wants to learn more about WordPress or, run a simple blog, free theme are an excellent option. But if you are looking to run a complex site or, professional business, I would strongly suggest you to go for premium WordPress themes.
Selecting a Niche Specific Theme
Planning ahead will serve you greatly in the future. You need to draw a list of features that you want in your website. The most important point is to select a theme related to your business. It’s so obvious that you may not even consider it for this discussion. But newbies often neglect this issue. They are often unaware of the problems that random theme selection can create.
Most of the WordPress themes comes with specific purposes. They target particular niches and offer features that are best suited to these products. If you want to introduce a new online store but selected a theme for your WordPress site that does not support e-commerce; you are going to waste your money and time.
There are some very popular multi-purpose themes available in the marketplaces. While they could be used to develop any websites, the developing process with them is significantly higher than targeted themes. For that reason, we still prefer to go with niche WordPress themes than the all-in-one packages.
Responsiveness & Mobile Compatibility
A large portion of web visitors come from mobile devices. With the popularity of mobile devices soaring up, the amount of visitors from mobile devices is likely to increase further. So a mobile-first web design is a necessary feature for your website. Most of the new themes support mobile device compatibility. You need to make sure your chosen theme is sufficiently responsive.
You may use some free tools on the internet like Screenfly that will show your theme’s performance on different user interfaces. Most themes provide a live preview website for its customers. Test the preview site before buying a new theme.
Cross Browser compatibility is an imperative factor for improving user experience. People around the world use different browsers. They are not going to change their browsers only for visiting your site. Instead, you need to build a website that looks great on most browsers. Also, you need to ensure that your chosen theme supports mobile devices. We will talk about mobile compatibility in the next section.
Before you buy, don’t forget to check cross-browser compatibility of your template with some free tools like Browserstack. In most cases, websites break on older versions of Internet Explorer. So, make sure you are choosing a theme that supports the earlier versions of different browsers as well.
It is highly likely that you will use many plugins in your website. It is one of the reasons we love WordPress so much, right? If you already have a list of WordPress plugins you are going to use in your new website, make sure that they work perfectly with your chosen theme.
Experienced developers prepare their themes to be perfectly usable with popular plugins. Browse the forum, do a Google search for any known compatibility issue of the theme before your take the final decision.
Ease of Customization
Your chosen theme should also be easy and simple to customize. An ideal template should not require an extensive amount of coding for basic customization jobs. Even better, professional themes provide options for customizing these things in the options panel.
If the developer offers a live preview of the theme, try to customize it online before finally purchasing it. If possible, read the previous customer comments to get an idea about the ease of customization. If your chosen theme won’t let you customize it easily, you should look for another one.
WordPress Coding Standards
The WordPress coding standards include PHP rules and file structure. Like every standard platform, WordPress also has specified coding standards. Although all themes available on free WordPress repository are required to follow these coding standards, many available for free downloads from various other sources across the web fail to oblige. It is, therefore, recommended to run a theme check to make sure all coding rules are followed correctly.
W3C Code Validation
Design simplicity is one of the critical factors in theme selection, but that doesn’t mean that you have to defy the W3C coding standards set for HTML5 and CSS3 codes. It is better to validate your code from a free tool available at W3C website and make sure all code is written with latest standards, error free and without many warnings.
Codes are the main ingredient of a theme. A theme package consists of lots and lots of code blocks and other files. Therefore, the performance of the theme depends solely on the code quality and code optimization skills of the developer.
The page loading speed of your WordPress website depends partially on the theme you are using. If the theme uses appropriate functions and other techniques for a faster page loading performance, it will offer a speedier page loading experience for the visitors. Before you make a purchase, try to give it a speed check by using these free speed testing tools.
The fundamental SEO aspects of your website depend largely on your chosen theme too. In order to have the best possible results over search engines, it should use proper SEO-optimized codes and latest SEO practices. It should also work closely with the available SEO plugins.
Web technologies get updated quite often. Along with the regular updates of WordPress itself, updates in browsers and programming languages can affect the performance of your template. Make sure that your developer is willing to provide consistent theme updates to the core files as well as to the design enhancements.
Documentation & Customer Support
Themes come with a license documentation that needs to be taken carefully. Before you buy, take some time to go through the terms of service. We often fail to provide proper attention to it. But this is paramount. It’s a legal agreement between you and the theme owner that should be noted carefully.
Along with TOS, make sure the developer provides significant support in case you broke your template code accidentally. Check the marketplace profile of that theme or the developer. If the developer is slow in providing customer support, you will obviously see some negative remarks in the comments.
There are so many theme providers but with our experience of 4+years in WordPress industry, here are some recommended developers who are famous for their awesome customer support.
Theme selection is not difficult if you know what you are looking for. The idea is to find out a theme that offers all the features you need and do not overwhelm you or, your visitors with unnecessary stuffs. Find out a theme that focuses on the main contents of your site, but not impede your future purpose too.
Users love easy navigation and quick functionality. If they can quickly find what they need, they will keep coming back to your site. So choose a theme that is easy on the eye with smart functionality.
In case, you need any help while selection of your theme, we are here to help.