There are many things to consider when choosing a WordPress theme for your website. With more than 10,000 themes available, how do you make an informed decision?
Buying or downloading WordPress themes
There are several marketplaces from which you can download or purchase WordPress themes. Some large marketplaces allow anyone to submit and sell themes, while others have strict criteria that the developers have to meet.
The adage “You can’t judge a book by its cover” applies to WordPress themes. While a theme may look good and claim to offer useful features, it’s what’s behind the scenes (what you can’t see) that can get you into trouble. Poor quality themes can have bloated features, bad coding, limited flexibility, and problems updating.
Five tips to keep in mind when choosing a WordPress Theme:
1. The theme must be mobile-friendly
First of all, we surf the web using a wide variety of devices. Consider the size of the screen on a mobile device compared to the display on a desktop computer. The pixel size and aspect ratio on these two devices are completely different. Without a mobile-friendly theme, users have to zoom in and zoom out, scroll left and scroll right to see the entire webpage. When mobile users encounter a site that isn’t mobile-friendly, they are likely to get frustrated and annoyed.
Consider this compelling statistic from Google,
“50% of people said that even if they like a business, they will use them less often if the website isn’t mobile-friendly.”
Therefore, if you want to cultivate and cater to your users’ needs, your WordPress theme must be mobile-friendly. Mobile-friendly themes adjust the layout to give the user the best experience for their device.
2. Keep it simple
The purpose of most websites is to provide the user with information. When choosing a WordPress theme, remember that complex layouts and animation can be a barrier. Users landing on a page with a complex design may find it difficult to locate the information they’re looking for. Consequently, we recommend simplicity over complexity. Find a theme that will present your information with a clean and simple format, without too many additional features.
3. Is the theme compatible with the plugins you need?
WordPress plugins are bits of software that give your site added functionality. Need a calendar? There’s a plugin for that. Need online forms? There’s a plugin for that. Without knowing your project, it’s impossible to say exactly which plugins you’ll need, but some that we use on almost every site are Yoast SEO, Jetpack, WP Smush, WP Mailto Links, and GA Google Analytics. If you’re not sure whether the theme you like is compatible with the plugins you need, ask the theme developer.
4. Does the theme developer offer technical support and documentation?
Every WordPress theme is different. For that reason, if the theme you choose does not have adequate support, you’re on your own if you get stuck. At a minimum, the WordPress theme you choose should have good documentation.
5. Read the theme’s ratings and reviews
The WordPess community allows anyone to develop and distribute themes and plugins. Consequently, it is important that you carefully select a quality theme. One of the best ways we have found to evaluate themes is to read the reviews. To get a sense of whether the feedback is meaningful, pay attention to the number of users and the number of reviews. What do the reviewers say? Are there reoccurring issues? Is the developer responsive? Is the software supported? When was the last update distributed? Choosing a WordPress theme is easier when you pay attention to the reviews.
Where to start
We recommend you start by looking at the themes available from the official WordPress theme directory or, for ecommerce, from WooCommerce. Furthermore, if you find a theme you like, but need additional features, look for a premium theme from the same developer. The WordPress Theme Review team examines each theme submitted to the official directory to ensure that it meets a range of requirements, including accessibility, code quality, core functionality and features, presentation, documentation, licensing, and privacy.
Finally, if you’ve found a theme you like and need help getting it set up, give us a call at (518) 392-0846 or email [email protected]. And if you can’t find a theme that fits your requirements, we can help. As experienced web developers, we create custom themes to meet our clients’ specific tastes and needs.