7 Steps to Choosing Your Perfect WordPress Theme

Posted in Blog, WordPress Theme

While WordPress is a great platform for any user, in the end it’s the theme you choose that will determine the look and usability of your site. Deciding on the right theme can be a confusing process for many. After all, there are thousands of options out of there and many of them look great. To prevent you from spending hours and even days browsing around before making this sometimes daunting decision, here is a step-by-step guide to choosing your perfect WordPress theme. It should make the entire process a lot easier and faster, allowing you to get straight to content creation and traffic building.

1. Decide if You Want to Go Free or Premium

It is generally recommended to go with a premium theme, if you can afford one. There are plenty of reasonably priced options out there, and for a one-time fee, you get to use it for as long as you like to. Premium themes are generally updated on a regular basis, come with customer support, and as a rule have more features than the free ones. If you do decide to buy your theme, consider such marketplaces as WooThemes, ThemeForest, ElegantThemes or Mojo Themes. Some marketplaces will let you buy individual themes, while others work on subscription basis, where you pay a monthly fee and can choose from any themes you like.

2. Determine Your Needs and Skills

What is it that you want your site to do? Would you like it to act as your business profile, a blog or a full-featured online store? While you can customize pretty much any theme out there, you don’t want to spend too much time doing this. And adding a multitude of features can slow your website down in the long run. For this reason, it’s always best to go with a theme that matches your needs as closely as possible from the very start, and only needs minor tweaks or plugins to make it just right, if any. Put down a list of your needs before you start browsing around. This list will be a good reference point for you to come back to, should you get diverted by appealing designs or features you don’t necessarily need.

Additionally, if you are planning any customization of the theme in the future, make sure that your skill level is appropriate for the job, or that you have someone on your team who can do at least basic coding and has prior experience with WordPress. Alternatively, you might want to consider outsourcing such as task, in which case you should budget accordingly.

3. Look for Themes Relevant to Your Niche

When you start browsing popular themes, you might get overwhelmed by the amount of options, a lot of which look and sound great. To save yourself some time, narrow things down to only the themes in your industry. If you run a coffee shop, for instance, you might want to enter “top WordPress themes for coffee shops” into the search engine, rather than looking at the much bigger pool of generic themes. The themes customized for your niche will already have a lot of the features you need, be it a gallery for photographers, reservation system for restaurants or ticketing system for event sites. Whatever features you think you might need to add to your site are probably already included with a lot of the themes in your industry, if you only narrow your search down to what’s relevant.

4. Consider the Look and Customization

One of the things most people want for their sites is an aesthetically pleasing look. It’s important to find not only a theme that looks great, however, but is also simple enough not to take away from the main focus, which is your website’s content. Consider the designs that are classy and clean, keeping in mind that the themes that are light on graphics usually mean faster loading time. Simple themes also require less work when you need to make any modifications.

Another thing worth looking into is how unique your theme is. A lot of the free themes are used by multiple sites out there, and even some of the premium ones have the same issue. To ensure your website will have a unique look, check what types of customization options the theme has. There should be various templates, color schemes and fonts to choose from, letting you personalize your website to match the look you are trying to create and tie it up with the overall style of your brand.

5. Check for Responsiveness and Browser Compatibility

Having your website respond well to any screen size and device type is a must these days. Any theme that’s not fully responsive is usually either too outdated or not given enough consideration by its designers. And while most of the theme descriptions will indicate whether or not the theme is responsive, you might still want to give it a test drive to verify how well it looks on different devices.

In addition, it’s always a good idea to ensure the theme you select is compatible with all browsers, including the less popular ones and even the outdated browser versions. You might think that nobody is using IE 6 anymore, but some people still are, and you don’t want to exclude this group from your audience, no matter how small.

6. Check for Technical Support and Updates

This is another important step that should be given enough attention during your theme selection process. Make sure that technical support is available, especially if you are paying for the theme. Some themes will come with email support while others will only have a forum available for questions. Decide which option you prefer and whether you’d be OK waiting for the response in the forum, or if you need a more time-sensitive communication method. It’s also a good idea to check when the last update of the theme came out, as well as how many updates have been made altogether since the theme was released. To be safe, only go with current themes. Look for development teams that are active in both making updates and responding to user questions in forums. You don’t want to pay for a theme and have it break your site when the new version of WordPress is released, because the designers did not update it on time.

7. Read Reviews

Finally, you should always read user reviews and check the theme’s amount of downloads and star rating before making your final decision. No matter how great the theme looks, a bad rating usually indicates that it has a lot of back-end issues, like compatibility or installation problems, and you don’t want to waste any of your time resolving these when there are plenty of other good options out there.

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