There are literally thousands of WordPress themes available. So, when you begin to search for a theme for your website, you will probably be overwhelmed by the vast array of options.
So, how do you pick one theme from the plethora of options? Here are ten tips to help you choose the best WordPress theme for your website.
1. Premium or Free?
The first decision you must make is to decide if you want to spend any money on your WordPress theme. Some great WordPress themes are available free, and there are multiple publishers out there with premium themes that can cost anywhere from $25 to $120 a month to license.
So, you might be thinking, “$25 to $125 a month? Why on Earth should I spend money when there are so many free themes available.”
Well, there are indeed tons of free themes out there, and many of these themes look great and are well-designed. However, free themes may not have the degree of support you need to deploy them effectively and securely. If the theme isn’t regularly updated, it could cause security issues and compatibility problems in the long run.
Meanwhile, premium themes are constantly evaluated and revised to ensure their compatibility with the latest versions of WordPress core, as well as many of the most commonly used plugins.
Additionally, free themes often lack the functionality of premium themes. Therefore, you might find yourself more reliant on plugins. Not only can too many plugins slow down your website and cause poor performance, but the cost of premium plugins can also easily add up to – or exceed – what you would have spent on a premium theme.
2. Look for the Best Fit Theme
The best WordPress themes are customizable so, you can easily change things like the colors, images, and fonts, as well as add or remove sidebars and add functionality with plugins. However, customization takes time. And, if you are a bit of a perfectionist, you could end up spending days tinkering with a theme. You’ll also want to learn how to choose the right image file type.
It is best to begin your search with a clear idea of how you want your site to look and what specific functionality you are going to need. Once you have a solid picture in your mind, start looking around for a theme that meets your needs as closely as possible straight out of the box. Ultimately, a few hours of research can help you build a more efficient WordPress site. We have a simple guide to WordPress plugins that might help you add more functionality.
3. Simple is Best
You will probably come across a few themes that come pre-built with flashy visual effects and animations. While these visual effects are great for catching the eye of visitors, you need to ask yourself whether dazzling graphics are going to be the best way to communicate your brand and key messages to potential customers. Keep in mind that most people visit websites to find information or make a purchase, and a design that is too flashy may be more of a distraction than an asset.
Our advice is to look for a theme that looks slick and professional without going over the top. As mentioned in the previous section, it’s best to select a theme that meets most of your requirements straight out of the box. However, it would be advisable to avoid bloated themes with tons of design features that you may never use. Themes overloaded with features could slow down your site and potentially expose your site to security vulnerabilities in the future.
4. Check the Theme is Responsive
The need for a responsive, mobile-friendly website should be pretty obvious. After all, more than 50% of website visits now occur via mobile devices.
Believe it or not, there are still some WordPress themes out there that are not truly responsive. So, it is best not to take the author at their word. Instead, check that the theme works properly on mobile devices yourself.
You can check how a theme will look on a mobile device by using the Google Developer Tools. First, visit the theme demo site. Then, press F12 on your keyboard, and the Google Developer Tools panel will open on the right of your browser. At the top of that panel, you will see an icon that toggles between various mobile devices and the desktop view.
5. Check Browser Compatibility
While Chrome is incredibly popular these days, there are lots of people out there that prefer to use Safari, Firefox, Edge, and other browsers. While various browsers may appear similar on the surface, each of them uses different code and handles web elements slightly differently. So, you need to ensure your website looks and performs exactly as it should on all browsers.
Most theme developers will test their themes on various browsers. Even so, it would be best to check how your WordPress theme looks on a range of browsers by using tools like CrossBrowserTesting or BrowserStack.
6. Read the Ratings and Reviews
A good indication of a theme’s quality will be found in the ratings and reviews. So, take the time to read some of the reviews, both the positive and the negative.
User reviews and star ratings can be found on a theme’s WordPress page. Or, if you are looking at a premium option, you will find reviews and ratings on a third-party marketplace website or the author’s website.
Ratings and reviews will highlight any significant issues with the theme. Keep in mind, any WordPress theme or plugin will have some negative reviews. So, a handful of negative comments is nothing about which you need to be overly concerned. Indeed, if all reviews were glowing testimonials, you would be right to treat all that praise with some suspicion.
7. Review the Support Agreement
One of the significant advantages of buying a premium WordPress theme is that you will get support. Now, you might argue that if you spend money on a top-class WordPress theme, it will be user-friendly, and there shouldn’t be any major bugs. However, should you later come across an issue, the support of the author will be invaluable.
But, support services are not all the same. So, it would be advisable to check the terms of the agreement and for how long support is provided. And check the support forum for the theme to see how quickly and well the author responds to support questions.
8. Check When the Theme Was Last Updated
The core WordPress software is constantly being updated. So, themes and plugins need to be updated, too. If a WordPress theme is not kept up to date, you could have compatibility issues with the latest version of the core software.
You will usually find the last update date on the marketplace site the theme is sold on or on the author’s website. The latest update date also appears in the top right-hand corner of the theme’s wordpress.org page.
A well-written theme that has had been around for some time will have had any initial bugs ironed out and may not require updating too often. So, don’t worry if a theme hasn’t been updated for several months. However, if there have been no updates for six months or more, this could become an issue.
9. Search for Niche-Specific Themes
As mentioned above, there are thousands of themes available for WordPress, so your hunt for the perfect theme for your website could take a good deal of time. But you can find the best WordPress theme for your needs faster if you search for options designed specifically for your niche.
So, suppose you need a website for a restaurant business, for example. In that case, a Google search for “restaurant WordPress themes” will lead to ready-made themes for your niche. And, you will likely find independent reviews of some of the best WordPress themes for that niche, too.
Narrowing down your search in this way will not only save you time but also yield better results. For example, themes developed for photographers will have all the features needed to promote a photography business.
10. Choose a WordPress Optimized Hosting Platform
While GoDaddy, AWS, Google Cloud, and others are focused on one-size-fits-all hosting solutions, managed WordPress hosting – like Pressable – offer a platform that is custom-designed for the needs of WordPress (and WooCommerce) websites. This includes automated WordPress core updates, 24/7 online support by real-world WordPress experts, a global content delivery network (CDN) for enhanced performance, and other features designed to make your site run better, as well as save you time and money.
Additionally, when you host with Pressable you get free Jetpack Security Daily for enhanced security and website speed, free SSL certificates, free WP101 WordPress training, and an unprecedented 100% network uptime guarantee!
Want to see Pressable’s cloud-based hosting platform in action for yourself? Schedule a demo with our friendly sales team today. Ready to get started with Pressable? Take a look at our affordable WordPress hosting plans.
Jessica serves as the Director of Operations for Pressable and spends her days focused on creating the best managed WordPress hosting experience possible. She's been using WordPress since 2008 and has been serving in WordPress-focused roles since 2010. When she's not working, you can find her spending time with her family, serving in her community, watching hilarious dog videos online, or brewing a pitcher of iced tea.