The web is flooded with posts telling you what are the go to WordPress themes, and where you can find, download and use the most quality themes. Actually, on Google you will get around 9,000,000 search results in less than a second.
It is essential that you find a theme that suits your website needs, that’s easy to use and maintain, and most importantly showcases the best parts of your websites. Easier said than done. With over 25 000 different free WordPress themes available (that’s just a rough estimate), finding the right theme is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. This article will try help direct you in figuring out what are you looking for in your WordPress theme.
Barry Schwartz talks about the Paradox of Choice, and that with many options comes the feeling of being overwhelmed. In the interest of keeping you calm when choosing your WordPress theme, let’s start by figuring out what you want.
1. Align the theme aim with your website aim
As WordPress theme developers are always looking to create themes that are flexible, customisable and offer a variety of features, most well developed WordPress themes can suit just about any type of website. However, with the options available, why wouldn’t you look for a WordPress theme that is created for just the type of websites you had in mind.
Pause for thought.
That means before reading hundreds of reviews, looking at all of the plugins that go with the theme, and how you can make it look like the demo website, check what the theme is meant for. WordPress theme developers will tell you what they intended the theme for.
- Professional publishing websites
- Magazine websites
- News outlets
- Personal blogs
- Business blogs
- One- page presentation themes
Select the category your website falls into and start from there. This might seem like an obvious piece of advice, but it will save you lots of stress in the future.
2. Match your WordPress skill level with your theme choice
In the process of selecting the perfect WordPress theme for yourself, you tend to click on lots of demo websites. We all look at them, see what the theme can do and imagine how that will look on our own website. Often we forget that in order to make the theme “do” what we imagined, we need to have a certain skill set. At this year’s WCEU Matt Mullenweg said that the “demo’s are horrible at the moment”, they are not representative of the actual theme core, but are set up with additional plugins and require an extra 5 hours work to get to that form.
We at Meks, try to make it easier for you to get to know the demo websites, and use them on your own. You can do this with one click on our demo importer, which copies our demo for you.
Buying a premium WordPress theme and enabling it on your website are steps 1&2 out of a 100 to creating your dream website. If you are a less experienced WordPresser look for themes that are simple to use and are aimed at beginners. In the words of Albert Einstein “if you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself”, so make sure you choose a WordPress theme that you can make the most out of.
3. Trust word of mouth
An advantage to being a part of the WordPress world is the WordPress community that stands behind it. The beauty of an open source is that everyone can pitch in and so there really are many great WordPress themes, but also reviews that can help you choose the right one. There are a few places where you can go to read more about WordPress themes, a great place to start is WordPress.org, that will give you theme ratings. Consider that WordPress.org is an objective place to pick up reviews, you can also visit WordPress themes websites, but bear in mind that they might be inclined to promote their own. There are websites that sell premium themes, like ThemeForest, where you get customer ratings, Meks for example have a 4.85 out of 5 customer rating.
Another thing to consider before investing (time and money) in a WordPress theme, is asking around on a WordPress forum, you can ask direct question about themes that you are interested in. So, if you have narrowed it down to 4 themes, this a great place to go for some advice. You will be surprised how many people will be happy to point you in the right direction.
4. Documentation and support
The usability of the WordPress theme depends at large on the documentation and support that comes with it. If you are more experienced with WordPress you will need it less, but no two themes are the same, and to be able to take advantage of all of the features available you will need good documentation. Before committing to a theme have a look at the type of support the developers offer. This should play an important part in your selection, as without the right support and documentation you are handicapped.
Most free WordPress themes won’t have guaranteed support, it means that if you have the tiniest of problems you are on your own, and if you can’t fix it you can end up paying a third-party developer. Premium WordPress themes usually offer detailed documentation with 1 year email based support.
5. Theme gadgets
Like all great things, themes come with what I like to call “gadgets”, all the sweet stuff on the side. It’s the 101 things you need to consider when choosing your theme. So here is my gadget list.
- Responsive. I feel like I shouldn’t have to mention this, as around 50% of all web traffic is from mobiles, that’s according to comScore reports. Make sure your theme is responsive.
- SEO Friendly. With a good SEO tool, like Yoast, your website has a great shot at ranking well, but you need to make sure you choose an SEO friendly theme. Look for SEO ready or SEO optimised in the theme description. Don’t trust everything you read, so double check with Chrome extensions like MozBar or SEO Site Tools on theme demo websites.
- Site speed. Having a theme that looks great, but takes a long time to load, will result in 50% of the people not seeing it. First things first, check the theme demo website speed with Pingdom Website Speed Test. Try to avoid feature-heavy bloated themes. Having an optimised theme improves user experience, SEO ranking, conversion rates and as such online revenue.
Have a WordPress theme in mind?
Has a theme checked the boxes? Don’t worry if not, at first it can seem impossible to find a theme that can live up to the expectations. However, all of the above things are interrelated and when a quality theme is created, it will automatically fit the description.
On a different occasion we will take a look at the advantages of premium and free themes, but for now happy searching for the right WordPress theme.