As a WordPress user, you probably already know that there are thousands of themes in existence. The number’s so big that it can take you months to go through them all. While choosing the perfect theme for your site is crucial, how can you narrow them down to display just the best ones for your business? The best solution lies in executing WordPress theme best practices.
Before investing your efforts into customizing a theme from scratch, or buying a premium one from the marketplace, be sure to read our WordPress theme best practices for 2021. Let’s do this, shall we?
1. Be responsive
Opting for a responsive design is essential. With the number of smartphone users set to increase by a significant number in 2021, it’s vital to ensure that your website is smooth to use – not just on PC, but on handheld gadgets. In plain language, it should be compatible with smartphones and has widgets and sub-menus that are simple to navigate.
A practical example of a responsive WordPress theme can be a design that fits easily on the display of the iPhone without hiccups. Also, in case you want to make your existing theme responsive, there are plugins that’ll help convert your website for smartphone users.
2. Test waters with a demo
Before buying or deploying a theme on your website, try its demo! Some of the things you should take into consideration include the use of interactive content, the size of the font, the available navigation, and the unique grits.
It’s also a good idea to take the demo version for a spin to see if it is suitable for your branding and easy for you to use. If you don’t find any issues with its functionality, feel free to press that Download button.
Pro tip: Don’t buy themes that don’t provide you with a “live preview,” because there’s a risk that the theme isn’t mature enough to bother with enhancing the user experience.
3. Look for developer support
If the theme you’re planning to buy comes under the paid/premium category, it’s likely to have some kind of developer support. Help can come through places like email, forums, or self-help knowledge base. If you’re facing issues with the WordPress theme that you paid a good sum for, the creator should be able to provide a resolution.
However, free themes rarely come with backend customer support, and it makes sense as it would be unfair for a developer to spent all their time serving users of a free product. With that said, some developers who post themes on WordPress.org are quick to respond to enquires and support questions.
4. Check if the theme will receive regular updates
Just like smartphone software, a WordPress theme requires frequent updates to stay in good health. Over time, colors need to be enhanced, security needs to be updated, and so on. Therefore, steer clear of any themes that won’t be receiving regular updates.
How can you update an existing WordPress theme? It’s quite simple. Just look for a message in the top fold of your WordPress dashboard. It should inform you about the latest available version of your theme. Click “update now” and WordPress will automatically get your theme updated. And while this won’t affect your content, image database, or SEO, it’s always a good idea to create a backup of your data before applying an update.
5. Analyze the download numbers and reviews
In addition to customer support and updates, you also want the WordPress theme to have hundreds (or thousands) of downloads. This indicates that others have also used the theme on their site. For newer designs, the first batch of people to download the themes unknowingly become “beta testers,” and having a lot of beta testers means that the theme has been tested (and probably refined and improved).
Besides the number of downloads, you’ll want to know what others are saying. WordPress theme reviews no only help buyers understand a theme’s quality, but they also show that a lot of people have had good experiences with the design. Do note that there is bound to be some negative reviews, so just try analyzing the general trend. If the number of bad reviews outweigh the positive ones, it’s better to look at other options.
6. Aim for flexibility
Do you have access to the logo you want to incorporate in the template? Many WordPress themes are easy to configure, but still, you’d come across a few that require coding skills. So, if you want to have some aspect of your branding incorporated in the theme’s design, you can check how it’s matching with the template.
The rule of thumb is to select a theme that comes with an easily configurable navigation bar and simple-to-edit elements. This will ensure that you can modify the pre-installed design to match your needs. Also, ask yourself, what industry is your website for? Do I need an online store? By answering all of such questions, you can establish a plan of action for the amount of flexibility you’d like in a WordPress theme.
7. Ensure the theme allows you to monetize
In this day and age, almost all website owners are looking to make money with their WordPress website. As such, the theme you use should allow you to monetize the traffic you drive through organic, social and paid search. For the purpose, make sure there’s some space for advertising banners (2-4 blocks should be sufficient).
Also, ensure that the theme has some whitespace around the advertising blocks, because heavily monetized websites can also be penalized by Google’s algorithms. In other words, the theme should have a balance between monetization and user experience.
There is no perfect theme in existence, but following these tips will help you secure a great theme. Only choose ones that have great customer support, positive reviews, responsive design, and flexibility to accommodate monetization blocks.