Choosing the perfect WordPress theme is a very important step in your website building process. By choosing a fitting theme for your website, you can offer an excellent quality website to your visitors. On the other hand, choosing the wrong theme can create all kind of problems for you or your website.
In today’s post, I will share some practical tips about choosing the perfect theme for your website. These tips are based on my real-life experience as both a theme developer and a regular theme buyer. I hope these tips will come handy for you too.
Choose a WordPress Theme that is Built for Your Industry
First of all, you should select a theme which is closely related to your industry. Different industries have different requirements and your chosen theme should offer relevant services for your industry. For example, photography themes require an attractively designed gallery, portfolio themes require best project showcasing and e-commerce WordPress themes should come with excellent product display options. These days, most WordPress themes specify their target audience or the industry type. Make sure that you are choosing a theme from the right category to fit your needs.
Check out the Live Demo
Nowadays, all the theme companies and marketplaces, such as ThemeSnap.com, offer live demo of their themes. By viewing these live demos, you will be able to see the themes in action. The live demos include various designs for the home page, often also including lots of variations for the portfolio, contact, and other featured theme pages. With the help of live WordPress theme demo, you will be able to identify whether your chosen theme offers the design and features that you are looking for to match your business or personal needs.
Read the Customer Reviews or Ratings
This is another very important factor for finding out the perfect WordPress theme. This is especially true if the theme developer does not have an established portfolio. If you are considering a WordPress theme from a relatively new theme developer, make sure that you have checked out the user reviews before you take the final decision. It is even better if you check the customer reviews of established developers too. Doing this will help you in avoiding poorly designed themes and amateur theme developers. If the theme looks promising but the author is new, then you can also take a few minutes to ask any questions about the WordPress theme, the support from the author directly, or any other questions to establish that the author is, in fact, active and can help with any potential bugs that may be found in their theme. Sometimes a new author can have a great one or more themes, despite not have been listed for very long in the marketplace.
Check Browser Compatibility
When it comes to browser compatibility of WordPress themes, you can be pretty sure that one browser will create the most problems, which is Internet Explorer. And in some cases, some advanced features may not work as intended in some browsers. Therefore, if you have chosen a theme for any special feature(s), make sure that the feature(s) work perfectly in most modern browsers. Otherwise, you may have to spend more time and money in getting that feature working on all browsers.
Choose an SEO-friendly WordPress Theme
While the final SEO results depend on lots of different things, your website structure plays an important role too. For that reason, you should choose an SEO-optimized theme for your WordPress site. However, without using a theme in real life, it is very hard to tell whether that theme is SEO-friendly or not. Again, you will have to focus on customer reviews for getting this information. Your chosen theme should also work perfectly with popular SEO plugins like the Yoast SEO Plugin or the All in One SEO Pack.
Responsiveness and Mobile Optimization
This is an obvious one. Actually, it is rather hard to find a theme which does not have a responsive, mobile compatible layout, these days. This is unless we are talking about a really old theme that has not had updates to make it mobile friendly. However, these things are so important that I am still including them in the discussion. Before making the final decision, you should test your chosen theme in various screen size and resolutions. Especially, if most of your visitors are likely to visit form their mobile devices, it is very important to choose a mobile-optimized theme which loads quickly. When you’re ready to check the responsiveness of any WordPress theme, you can do so on services like Screenfly or CyberCrab, among others.
Ease of Customization
This is another crucial factor for any good WordPress theme. When you first install and activate a new WordPress theme, your website looks like a blank sheet of paper. You have to add various elements, sections and content to develop your website gradually. Simple, easy customization options will help you a lot in this regard. The theme options panel and the Theme Customizer should have all the necessary options for customizing your website. For more unique customizations you may need to jump into adding or altering code. Please note that most of the time an author will not support unique customizations made by a customer, as the product is typically sold as-is. Sometimes the author of the product might provide a few hints or direction when asked about customizations. But don’t expect that your coding or customization questions are going to get any thorough answer at all from the author.
Does it Follow the Coding Standards?
Following the WordPress coding standards along with being W3C validated is very important for a WordPress theme. Complying with these guidelines means the theme is following all the best practices and therefore, has less security problems. It is better if you can make sure about that before purchasing the theme.
WordPress Theme Support, Documentation, Forum
Last but not the least, you should also check out the customer care and the support forum of the theme developer. A quick look in the support forum will tell you whether the support team is active and helpful or not and what the customers are saying. The theme documentation should be clear and precise. It should also contain clear explanation about the general and special uses of the theme.
Well, those were the things that you should definitely check out before selecting a WordPress theme. What else do you consider when you are looking for a new theme? Also, please let us know what you think about the tips discussed here.