One of the biggest problems with choosing a WordPress theme is that you are spoilt for choice. With over 2,600 themes in the WordPress repository and thousands more available from individual developers, it is quite possible to spend countless hours searching for the right theme and still be unsure which one to pick.
To help you make the right choice and to save you time looking, we’ve put together some useful advice that will make it easier to understand which themes are best for you.
- Choose a theme that is designed for your business
Different businesses have differing needs when it comes to their website, so it is absolutely vital that the theme you choose is designed to perform the functions that you require. If, for example, you are going to sell products from your website, you will want a theme that provides a shop layout where you can display and sell your products. If you are producing a local business directory, you will require a theme that lets customers list their businesses and allows users to search for them. There are a wide variety of themes on offer and they are becoming increasingly available for specific business types or niches, as you can see in the image below. Before you decide upon a theme, you should make a comprehensive list of all the things you need your website to do. Once the list is completed, prioritise the items and use them as the criteria for choosing a theme.
- Make sure your theme comes with good technical support
No theme is perfect and sometimes you need technical support to help you solve problems. You can need support for a wide variety of things bugs in the software, incompatibility with plugins, issues with images and layout or you may even want support with tweaking the code to customise the theme itself.
If you choose a theme from the WordPress repository you will generally find that there is a lot of online support from the WordPress Support Forums. At the time of going to press, there were over 250,000 theme related topics and almost a million posts on the support forums. You should check that there is plenty of support available for your particular theme. If you choose a theme from a third party developer, you need to check carefully what kinds of customer support they offer. Some offer excellent, lifetime support whilst others provide only basic assistance over a specific period.
- Read the reviews
With so much competition in the theme market, developers have become very clever at advertising the benefits of their themes. However, it is always best to get a second opinion by reading customer reviews. For themes in the WordPress repository or on stores like Theme Forest, you can find reviews next to each theme when you do a search. To get the greatest benefit, don’t just look at the star rating as these can be misleading; it is better to read a sample of reviews including both five-star and one-star comments. For themes sold directly from developers, you need to be more cautious with reviews. In general, they do not put reviews on their own site and so the only other option is to search for them, however, many of the reviewers actually earn a commission if you buy a theme they review and so, in most cases, the reviews will be biased.
- Check out the demo version
Nearly all good theme developers will provide you with the ability to check out a demo (demonstration) version of the theme you are considering. This will give you the chance to see how the actual theme looks and works. You should take the time to explore the demo in detail before installing. This is especially important if it is a theme you are paying money for.
If you are choosing a theme from the WordPress repository you can even see how the demo works with your own content. You can do this simply by hovering the cursor over the theme you are interested in and clicking on the preview button.
- You have to choose a responsive theme
We are increasingly a world of multi-gadget internet users and no longer rely solely on our laptops to browse the net. For this reason, it is important that the theme you choose has what is known as a responsive design. This means the theme will adapt its layout to suit the device on which your website is viewed.Older themes, which are not responsive, just shrink the website to fit the screen, resulting in pages of tiny print and often overlapping images. These can be so difficult to read on small screens that they make potential customers leave your site. Google now down-ranks websites which are not responsive, so if you opt for a non-responsive theme it will affect your site’s ability to rank well in search results.
- Make sure your theme has full browser compatibility
Something that many website owners aren’t aware of is that the performance of a theme can be affected by the browser (Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, etc.) that it is viewed upon. This is true even for different versions of the same browser; a modern theme might work perfectly well with the latest versions of Internet Explorer but not with older versions. A good theme should function perfectly with all browsers. The reason this is important is that there are lots of different browsers out there and if your theme will not work with some of them, your audience is reduced. You are potentially losing money. This is true for older versions of browsers too. There are still many millions of internet users surfing the net on old computers with old browsers and you need your theme to work on their machines.
Most developers will test their themes on a variety of browsers, but if you cannot find information about browser compatibility on their website, you should contact the developers before installing the theme.
- Choose a theme with the right design options
Your theme controls how your website looks, including the layout of the pages and the colour scheme. When searching for a theme, make sure it offers the colours, fonts, page layouts and other properties that fit well with your branding and the image you want to portray to your audience.
When choosing from the WordPress repository, it is possible to filter the results to find a theme that has the design elements you are looking for. You won’t need every single option available and sometimes it’s not possible to find a theme that has every option you are looking for. However, if you can’t find a theme with everything you want, don’t worry, there is usually a plugin which will do the job for you.
Your theme is an important element of your website and choosing the right theme can have a positive impact on your business, affecting the way customers relate to and interact with your site. From reading this article, you should now be aware of the importance of choosing a theme that:
- matches your business type
- has good technical support
- has good customer reviews
- is responsive
- is fully browser compatible
- has the layout and design features you require
If you have taken these factors into account, you should be far more successful in choosing the right WordPress theme for your website.
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