When it comes to choosing a WordPress theme, you’re almost spoilt for choice. There are thousands of themes for WordPress out there, but how do you know which one is best for your needs, and for your website?
Choosing the right theme is important. If you’re a blogger you want your content to stand out. If you have a photography website you want a theme to accentuate your images. If you are going to sell products online you want your theme to be e-Commerce capable.
That could still leave you feeling overwhelmed and not knowing where to look. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Every day website owners agonize on which theme to choose because it can play a critical role in the success of your website. Check out the information below to help you make the right choice when choosing a WordPress theme.
Read the Reviews
It goes without saying that reviews play a big role when making purchase decisions. The same is absolutely true when choosing a WordPress theme as well.
If there are many thousands of reviews for a theme, you know that there are lots of other people who have the theme installed on their website. This is positive social proof. Even better, is that when the majority of those reviews have five stars. Taking the ratings for the theme pictured above, I would be pretty confident in installing the theme on my website.
If a theme has a low amount of reviews, but are still positive, I would be cautious. Read those reviews in more detail before making a decision. That’s maybe one you remember for the future, but don’t install right away.
Create a List of Needs
Think about the type of content you’re going to be creating. If you’re a photographer you should be looking for a theme that brings out the best in your images. If writing is going to be the main content type, you’re probably going to be looking for a more minimalist theme that brings attention to your writing with different layout options.
Don’t get lost in the options. There are a few main things to think about when choosing a WordPress theme:
- What is the main purpose of your website?
- Who is your audience?
- Is SEO important to you? (hint: it should be)
- Do you need custom features added?
As an example, the theme I use for this website is Monochrome Pro. I wanted a minimal, content-first design that would allow my content to be a priority. Through my website host, WPEngine, this theme is included as part of my monthly fee and includes the Genesis Framework.
Think Mobile Friendly
It’s important when choosing a WordPress theme to remember what devices people are using to visit your website. Visitors can now visit your website on the laptop, desktop, smartphone, and even their gaming device, so your website has to be able to display your content to all of those device types.
This is known as a theme being ‘responsive’ and mobile friendly. Which means that regardless of device, a visitor to your website can have a great experience and that the content is optimized for whatever device they’re on. Why is this important? According to Google Analytics Data, 50% or greater of web traffic comes from mobile.
Is it Easy to Customize?
The ease at which you can customize your website should be a high priority when it comes to choosing a WordPress theme. I’m not talking about developer level changes – I’m talking about being able to change the text in your footer, having different layout options – for example, one column or two, or what kind of landing page options do you have?
Other considerations could be does the theme integrate with your newsletter provider, the ease of implementing your analytics tracking, changing the color of links in the body of your content, implementing widgets to add different functionality.
One of the reasons I love building and optimizing sites in WordPress is that the possibilities are endless – even for a WordPress beginner. There are so many options to tinker with that even with a basic theme, you can have a professional looking website within hours.
Free vs. Paid
When it comes to WordPress themes, the old saying ‘You get what you pay for’ rings true. Be wary of free themes that aren’t in the WordPress Theme repository. There are many websites out there that have themes available for free. While this is tempting, downloading a free theme can cause multiple issues with your website:
- They aren’t updated to latest WordPress releases and haven’t been updated in months (huge red flag).
- They use shortcuts in the code that doesn’t take security or accessibility seriously and opens up your website to hackers.
- Low level of support which means that when something goes wrong, there’s no one to help you.
- They are built using old coding standards so aren’t optimized for SEO.
While there’s a cost to premium themes, they generally come with a high level of support, are updated often, and are optimized for SEO. More often than not these themes are mobile friendly, so you can be sure that your content can be found in search engines and can be viewed on multiple device types.
I encourage you to do your research before choosing a WordPress theme. Check out the reviews, contact the developer, ask other users of the theme what their experience is like. if all of these are positive, then you’re on to a winner!