While developing a WordPress blog is easy, choosing the most suitable theme for your site can be a bit challenging. In fact, a majority of beginners feel overwhelmed when it comes to choosing their theme.
Since there are literally hundreds of free and premium themes available, each theme may look better than the other. But knowing how to choose the best theme for your website is where newbie bloggers can struggle. Honestly, the answer is relative to your needs and can vary from website to website.
In today’s post, we have pulled together some tips for choosing a perfect WordPress theme which will help you save plenty of time and effort in the long run.
1. Identify your website’s purpose
The most important thing is to know what the purpose of your website is. If collecting email addresses is important to your business, then you probably should choose a theme that will help grow your email list, such as Focus Pro, Just Landed, or Nova.
If you are planning to create a travel blog, Travelo, Traveler or City Tours may attract your attention because of their soothing colors and fun design.
WordPress offers a wide range of theme categories. From choosing a professional corporate option to a simple health & medical theme, it will allow you to find the perfect theme no matter your website’s purpose.
2. Make a list of desired features
Unless you are planning to make a lot of changes in the code after installing and activating, it’s always a bright idea to make a note of all the features you are looking for in your theme.
There are certain additional features a theme should include such as a range of page templates, retina display support and a powerful admin panel to name just a few. However, more advanced features like page builders, sliders, custom post types etc. can be supplied via separate plugins instead of through your theme’s major features. This allows you to bring the flexibility and versatility to your theme without getting locked into a particular theme’s functionality.
So, before you plunge into shopping for your theme, ensure you have a list of features you desire.
3. The navigation / menu bar
The menu bar may not seem as an imperative element on your website, but it actually influences how your visitors see you and your brand.
You may find it challenging to add additional menus to your website if you are not familiar with PHP (a programming language). If you are looking for a theme that lets you add more than one menu bar, ensure you choose one this offers this features.
One such example is the Genesis Lifestyle Theme that allows its users to add two menus (above and below the header). You can conveniently turn them on and off as you need.
Also, if you want to add a drop down menu, it will let you add it right from the menu area. Not all themes are this flexible and offer these features. So make sure you’re getting what you want!
4. Responsiveness is the need of the hour
The evolution of mobile devices is on the rise. In fact, various networks have given rise to many powerful new devices in a variety of forms, ranging from smartphones to tablets to laptops.
A significant number of your blog’s traffic is sure to come from smartphones and other handheld devices. Depending on your website’s niche, this number can even go higher than 45%. Also, Google has made it mandatory to have mobile friendly websites, regardless of your blog’s niche.
Responsiveness is no longer optional. If you want to stay in the league, you have got to have a responsive website.
Responsive themes adjust their layout according to the screen size and make your website look presentable on almost every device available out there. Even though a majority of WordPress themes are responsive by default, you will still encounter developers who are building and selling ones with fixed width layouts that are non-responsive. Make sure the theme you are considering has a responsive layout and looks good on every device.
5. Free theme vs. Premium one
Choosing a free or premium theme completely depends on your budget. However, you’ll likely see a lot of WordPress users choosing premium themes over free ones. The main reason is free themes often come with little to no support, which makes it difficult for the bloggers to fix a bug they encounter.
Undoubtedly, premium themes come with a price but free themes also make your pay in the long run in the form of security threats and bugs. So make sure you know all the risks involved in using a free theme if you decide to go that route.
6. Supported Plugins
The real power of WordPress lies in its plugins. From adding a simpler slider on the homepage to making your website SEO-friendly, you can do anything with your blog with the help of these plugins.
While you will need to install additional plugins on your website, the selected theme should support all popular plugins. If you aren’t sure if the theme you’re choosing does, ask the theme developer.
7. SEO Friendliness
Your WordPress theme plays a vital role in improving your website’s SEO friendliness. A visually stunning theme may have poorly coded HTML, which can severely influence your website’s performance on various search engines.
Since it may be difficult for you to examine a theme’s source code, a majority of premium theme developers mention it on their theme download section. It will say something like the theme is optimized for SEO and speed. You can also make use of W3C Markup Validation service to check whether or not the theme generates proper HTML5.
Note: The W3C validation checker usually generates various unnecessary errors which are nothing to be worried about.
When looking for a WordPress theme, whether for a new project or an existing website, there are many factors to be kept in mind besides its visual appearance. By digging deeper into the less-obvious traits of the theme, from its performance to customization options and integrated features, you can ensure that the theme checks all the points on your checklist.
Jason is an expert WordPress developer having years of experience in working with various web development technologies. Currently, he is working for WordSuccor Ltd. And providing PSD to WordPress Theme Service to global clients. He is always trying to share his intangible knowledge with others on the web.