What is WordPress Theme?
WordPress themes help you as a site owner to build your website without coding it from scratch. This means you can activate a theme from the WordPress directory or purchase it via a third-party shop and upload the file to your WordPress admin area.
A theme can drastically change the design of your website with theme features such as:
- Navigation menus.
- Custom headers.
- Custom backgrounds.
- Post formats.
Why is it Important to Choose the Right Theme for Your WordPress Website?
Many WordPress themes come with many customization options and If they are not coded properly, then these options can make it difficult for you to change themes or use other WordPress plugins. This means you will be locked into that theme or will have to hire a WordPress developer to help you switch.
You also need to understand that some WordPress themes that look great can also make your website incredibly slow. Having a slow website will hurt your search engine rankings and user experience.
The theme you choose is what users will see first when they visit your site and it plays an important role in how users and search engines perceive it. When looking for a theme you should set your priorities right and so this article will discuss how to choose the right theme for your WordPress website.
#1. List Your Requirements in Terms of Features
The first step to choosing a WordPress theme is to decide what is important and what is just a desire. Think about the aim of your WordPress website. For instance, do you need it to have a blog page on your website? Do you want to embed videos on your site? Are you thinking of offering sign-ups or capturing customer data?
Once you have a clear picture of what you need from your theme, you can make the first steps to shortlist potential options. If you skip this step then it will not make any sense to go ahead to look at WordPress themes when you don’t know what you want yours to provide.
You will also need to think about the kind of budget you are working with. If you are on a tight budget, you can go for the free theme options especially if your requirements are fairly basic. On the other hand, you can go for paid-for themes. The prices for paid-for themes are different and the cost can increase quickly for feature-rich WordPress theme options.
If you don’t know where to start you can look at existing WordPress websites that are similar to what you want to create and are operating within your niche then evaluate their themes. Think of what you like from their themes, and what you think could be improved. By doing that you will be able to create your theme ‘checklist’, and work from there.
Related: Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Website with WordPress
#2. Opt for Simplicity
When choosing a WordPress theme, you can be easily tempted to go for fancy-looking designs that are full of cool quirks and features.
WordPress themes come with various color, font, animation, and layout options that may look exciting to you, but on the contrary, can be a turn-off to users.
When choosing a theme keep in mind that you are doing this for your audience and not for yourself. Think about how you would feel or react if you were trying to read content on a website that was filled with annoying animations and pop-ups, or that used different colors and fonts throughout.
If you have a lot going on within your theme, you will end up confusing your audience. This can make it difficult for them to find the content they are looking for, and decide to leave to look for what they need on another website.
Having a website that looks good is important, but remember what the main aims of your website are, and make sure the theme you choose isn’t hindering your online goals.
#3. Make Sure it Supports Plugins
To provide the best functionality and user experience, you need to choose a theme that supports key WordPress plugins. It is also important to remember that it’s often plugins that will help to elevate a theme and provide the functionality you’re looking for.
WordPress plugins are very important since they help improve various aspects of your website, including design and performance. Some of the most popular and useful WordPress plugins you can consider include:
- Yoast SEO (Help improve the overall SEO of a website).
- Jetpack (Includes spam filter, website analytics, and automated social media posting).
- Woocommerce ( which transforms your WordPress website into an online shop).
- WP Forms (which creates a contact form with a dynamic drag-and-drop interface).
Ensure any theme you choose supports the above WordPress plugins and any other plugin that you consider important to your website. If you are not sure, contact the theme developer and ask which plugins your chosen WordPress theme supports before you commit.
#4. Read the Reviews
When buying anything online it’s always a good idea to read the reviews before deciding to make the purchase. The same applies to choosing a WordPress theme.
Reviews are very important since they give you first-hand feedback from people who have used the service or product before. Therefore you have to make use of them to help you choose the right theme for your WordPress Website.
Once you find a theme you like, take some time to read the reviews to see what real-life users have to say about it. You would be frustrated if you downloaded and installed a theme only to discover it’s outdated or full of malicious code.
Low-quality or out-of-date themes can leave your website vulnerable to cyber attacks, or even affect performance elements of your website, such as your page load speed.
If you come across a theme with no reviews, it’s best to avoid it and choose a different one. The more high-rated reviews a theme has, the better since it gives you confidence that it will enhance your web presence.
#5. Check if it’s Regularly Updated
It’s important to ensure the theme you choose for your WordPress website is regularly updated. Core WordPress software is constantly being tweaked, so ensure the developers of the theme you choose, keep it up to date accordingly.
The theme you choose has to be updated regularly to solve any bugs or security issues and to also make sure that it’s running at its optimal performance level.
I would recommend you go for a theme that has been updated in the past six months. That is a confirmation that the developer keeps the theme regularly updated, and you can be confident that you won’t be installing something on your website that’s already out of date.
#6. Choose Something You Can Customize
One big benefit of using WordPress for website creation is that you can customize almost every theme to your liking. The right theme for your WordPress Website will offer you the option to customize elements such as fonts, colors, images, layout, and pages.
When you can customize your theme, introducing your brand to your website is easy. This also allows you to ensure that your business’s colors and style run through every page.
A customizable theme also allows you to decide exactly which pages your website includes. You may decide to have your blog page as the main focus and ignore an about page. Whatever navigation layout you prefer, you can create it if you choose a customizable WordPress theme.
#7. Ensure it’s Responsive
A responsive theme should be able to look and perform to the same standard on a mobile device as it would on a desktop. Around 92.6% of the 4.66 billion active internet users in the world use their mobile devices to access the internet.
Responsive themes adapt to fit the screen of whatever device a visitor is using to access your website, without losing any of the functionality or quality of the user experience.
A theme that is not responsive can make you lose a lot of potential traffic. With a responsive theme, you will be confident that all your website visitors have a good experience no matter how they have chosen to access it. This will also make them much more likely to return.
Another reason why you need to ensure your theme is responsive is that in 2019, Google announced it would be moving to “mobile-first” indexing. This simply means that the search engine will use the mobile version of your website to index and rank it. This means if your website is not up to scratch, you will have minimal chances of appearing in Google’s search results.
#8. Ensure It Has an Active and Helpful Customer Support Team
You might have a lot of knowledge and skills about WordPress but at some point, you will need to rely on support. Different WordPress themes have different support options.
For instance, most free WordPress themes don’t offer guaranteed support while others offer regular support. If you go for a free theme, ensure you check how active the support channel is on the theme’s WordPress.org listing page.
Most premium WordPress themes offer between 6 to 12 months of support and updates after purchase, with the option to renew. Premium themes usually have customer support through their website.
#9. Optimized for the Search Engines
WordPress theme plays an important role in a site’s SEO friendliness. Imagine having a good-looking theme that generates poorly coded HTML. This will affect your site’s rankings in search engines.
It can be difficult for you as a beginner to analyze a theme’s source code on your own and that is why most WordPress theme developers let you know that their themes are optimized for SEO.
A lightweight and fast-loading theme is also great for your site’s search engine rankings. You can also use a WordPress SEO plugin like AIOSEO to further optimize your website to rank in the search engines and get more traffic.
#10. Ensure It’s Ready for Translation into Different Languages
WordPress powers over 40% of the internet which means the platform has website owners from different parts of the world. As a result, some website owners would like to build their site in their language or cater to an audience that speaks a different language from theirs.
#11. Keep color in mind
So much of online marketing is based on visual appearance. The colors used in a site also increase brand recognition. If you have a logo, try to align your website colors with the color scheme of your logo.
Even when you want your site to have a neutral color, adding a hint of color here and there will do more benefit than harm. WordPress makes it super easy to change the appearance of a theme, including colors, by going directly into the file or entering in custom CSS.
According to statistics, site visitors prefer lighter-colored websites. However, a dark website design isn’t an absolute no, but if you choose to opt for a dark color, you might be decreasing readability and the opportunity for more conventional design elements.
#12. Test the theme thoroughly
Well, apart from using reviews you can tell if a theme is great by testing its efficiency. This can be done by installing the Theme Check plugin to check if it is up to all current WordPress standards.
After you are done with all the tweaks and have uploaded all of your content, ensure you review your site before announcing it to the world. Reread all of your content, and check out your site on mobile, to make sure all of your images load properly.
You should also consider installing a child theme plugin since it helps modify existing themes while still maintaining their design and code. Lastly, invest in a hosting solution that provides staging environments.
There are thousands of WordPress themes to choose from, but not knowing how to choose the right theme for your WordPress website can be overwhelming.
The theme you choose will have a major impact on your WordPress website and so you have to think carefully about what you need and why you need it.
There is more to choosing a WordPress theme than its appearance. Think of the many important factors discussed in this article. Hopefully, the above information will help you choose the right theme for your WordPress website.