Tips for Picking a WordPress Theme

If you’re starting out with WordPress, picking a theme for your website is going to be one of the most challenging and un-enticing tasks there is – it’s a roadblock most website owners don’t discuss. Simultaneously, it appears deceptively straightforward to novices. In short, there are plenty of WordPress themes, and people will spend 90 percent of their time looking at options, and almost no time identifying their real needs.  

The result? Several frustrating weekends, a redesign or two within a couple of months, and a lot of trial and error – after which a percentage of website owners will burn out or just quit.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. To prevent you from being stuck in a rut and to assist with the overwhelming range of choices out there, here’s a walkthrough of picking a WordPress theme for your website.

What to Look for in A WordPress Theme?

Before starting the theme selection process, it’s crucial that you take note of the essentials that you’re looking for in a theme. Doing so helps in narrowing the choice, so you can more easily spot what you’re looking for. Mentioned below are some key factors that every website owner should consider.

  • Responsiveness

Surprisingly, there are still options out there that don’t include responsive design. And picking one of them is like setting yourself up for suicide. After Google’s huge mobile announcement, your website should be mobile-friendly if you want to rank well.

Most themes/templates will have it mentioned whether or not they’re mobile-friendly, implying they adjust to different screens so that your website appears as great on your tablet or phone as it does on your laptop. That said, it’s a good idea to open the example site to ensure your theme reacts the same way as the vendor said it would.

You can do this by previewing the site on your phone or by dragging your browser’s side in and seeing how the preview happens. If nothing happens, it’s time to close the window and look for something else.

  • Anticipated Loading Time

Fast website-loading speed does not just enhance the customer experience of website visitors; it has also been said to improve SEO rankings, click-through rates and, thus, conversions. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that we recommend evading sluggish themes (no matter how beautiful they are) like a plague.

Knowing the cause is the first step in prevention. So, what factors cause a theme to put website a site’s loading time down the drain. Primarily, it comes down to the following:

  1. A plethora of elements: Be wary of templates that boast 50 preinstalled plugins, 20 slides and plenty of animations. While such options look appealing, no site that gives HTTP requests to 30+ JavaScript files will function optimally.
  2. Large media formats: The focus word is “large,” which could be a bit subjective. Nevertheless, steer clear of WordPress themes that include background videos, full-width pictures, etc. The less, the better.
  3. Poorly written code: Inline CSS injections, poorly scaled images, etc. A poorly written code has a significant impact on website loading. Also, poor code often means its developer hasn’t updated a theme since long, so remember to check update history of the themes that interest you.

To figure out how bloated a template is, use the Pingdom Website Speed Test. Launch the site, enter the URL of the template demo and see how long the theme takes to load and the number of HTTP requests made. Of course, if you plan on launching a video streaming, e-commerce, or vlogging website, you can expect to do fine by sacrificing fast loading time to some extent.

  • Customization

pick a WordPress theme, the probability is high that there are multiple, or hundreds, of other sites out there with the same theme, installed. That means you’d want to customize it to ensure it incorporates your branding while coming off as unique.

And we’re almost sure you don’t want to recruit a developer, and you’d prefer to customize the sidebar, background, etc. yourself.   f so, then you’ll have to see if there is extensive documentation or video-based tutorials, that can walk you through the setup and customization process of your selected theme.

The best pre-made templates are basic in their default state, allowing your creativity to drive their feel and look. You should be able to upload your logo, edit the font, maybe the colors too. See examples of how those themes are being used in the wild to judge how adaptive they will be.

  • Customer Support

When you’re planning to deploy a WordPress theme alone, you’ll prefer very detailed and clear instructions for installing it. Before you buy a theme or waste time in downloading a free option, go through the installation instructions and identify what support options are available for users. The “help” or “support” section of a template is the ideal place to find such information.

Also, if the theme offers it, check out customer reviews too. Is the section filled with customers fighting to win bragging rights? Or frustrated website owners struggling to get the theme up and running?

That’s where buying a theme from a reputable marketplace or website can be a great asset, as most offer assistance to buyers through the installation process and carry great customer reviews. Go down this route, and you won’t have to fear about things accidentally going awry.

  • Free or Paid

If the theme you’re looking at is “premium” or carries a price tag, it is very likely that it will be backed by premium support, where you’d get help through online tickets, live chat, support forums, etc. If you face issues with a theme you paid something for, the technical staff should be able to troubleshoot for you. Straight and simple.

On the other hand, free WordPress themes are a whole different ballgame. It’s only fair that creators do not invest hours providing support for a product they’ve made available free of cost. However, there’s no harm in navigating forums for a given theme, to see if a creator is quick to respond to support requests and queries.

Likewise, any WordPress theme should frequently be updated. As time passes, bugs need to be addressed, new security patches need to be released, etc. To identify update frequency, go through a theme’s changelog. It usually offers a good insight into how active the development community for a template is.

Where to Find the Best WordPress Themes?

There are several places on the web where you can download premium and free templates. If you want to go with the free option, one of the best sources is the theme repository. The site allows you to filter the themes based on the features that are important to you. It even lists paid WordPress themes that contain particular elements and high-quality designs.

However, we recommend getting a premium WordPress theme from a marketplace. Here are a few of the most popular ones:

1. ThemeForest

ThemeForest is the leading WordPress theme marketplace with more than 10,000 themes. It was created by Evanto (Evanto’s family of businesses also include CodeCanyon) and offers something for everyone. You’ll find everything from corporate templates to versatile blogging themes, but you can also choose highly-specific niche themes that enable you to create, for instance, wedding, church, or spa-themed websites.

Some of the templates available in this marketplace categorize as the top selling WordPress templates of all times. Also, each template is thoroughly tested and reviewed for best practices and code quality before it is listed as buyable. Theme developers offer complete documentation and support for their items; most themes contain a 6-month licenses period that includes updates and supports.

Users can easily read theme rating, developer portfolio and user reviews before deciding to buy.

2. Creative Market

Second on the list is Creative Market, a less popular but up-and-coming themes marketplace. It has everything a business owner needs to design a digital site – graphics, fonts, photos, and, of course, WordPress templates. It has over 1,500 themes, most of which are high-quality designs, and there’s also something for those wanting to design a niche-focused site – including sports, non-profit, and food. The Buy Me Now frame in this marketplace is unique – it doesn’t include a sales pitch and gives users a free hand to test out the features at their own pace.  

Authors of the themes available in Creative Market are encouraged to offer after-sales support but are under no obligation. Most theme vendors mention a link to an external website, and if a user wants to check how a theme author communicates with customer, they can go through the comments on the left side of each template – however due to less footfall than other marketplaces, users may not find a lot of comments from which they could judge an author’s stance on interaction.

3. MOJO Marketplace

This is the second-most popular marketplace for all things WordPress: plugins, services and themes. It has over 8000 articles on sale, including more than 900 premium themes. As in the case of ThemeForest, there are some filters that users can apply to search for specific themes – including eatery themes, sales page, webinar, and real states. In addition to niche names, users can also sort themes by price, sales, and release date. You’ll also find MOJO’s services provided by best WordPress hosting offers such as Bluehost.

All themes you’ll see in this marketplace have gone through a manual process of submission. The marketplace’s review theme does a careful check to ensure coding standards of the highest quality. Its seller offers support for each third-party theme. Each article contains its support forum where users get the option to browse previous threads for past conversations about a theme. For newer WordPress users who might struggle with theme installation, MOJO also provides an installation service for an additional fee.

Final Thoughts

WordPress is an incredibly robust CMS to use for developing a website, but it doesn’t always make your ambition of doing business online quicker or easier, especially when you face the task to choose a particular theme from several high-quality ones out there.

Instead of taking a gamble and picking a theme just because it looked good on another website, use the tips mentioned above to deploy the right WordPress theme on your site, one that fulfills your branding goal while enabling you to stay true to your niche.