How to Choose a WordPress Theme – 9 Simple Steps and Factors to Look for [2021 Update]
How to choose a WordPress theme so that it fits your requirements and business brand perfectly? It’s easy but it comes with its fair share of considerations.
There are plenty of options for you to choose from. As of this writing, there are 11,000 themes on the vendor ThemeForest alone! It’s a huge industry catering to a diverse range of individuals looking to brand themselves or their businesses online.
The themes themselves range from free to paid, each varying in the level of functionalities they provide. Knowing this, how will you choose the best theme for your site? In this post, we’ll guide you on how to choose a WordPress theme and walk you through the nine factors to look out for.
1. Keep It Simple, Never Complex
You might have seen plenty of WordPress themes with a wide variety of layouts, customization, animations, and colors.
While those are good for some users, you don’t necessarily need them for your site. Chances are if you just want a common theme for your website, the glitz, and glamour of these additional features are only going to get in the way.
First and foremost, you need to pick a theme that’s in-tune with your business persona and is customizable enough for you to add your brand colors. Also, the theme should be easy to navigate for your users.
Too much complexity will only slow down your web design efforts. Choose a simple theme, get the job done, and have plenty of room for customization.
2. Responsiveness Is Key
Mobile devices, nowadays, cater to more than half of the world’s website traffic.
Making your site work all devices, therefore, is an essential need of modern times. If you can’t make your website responsive to users on different devices, you’re losing a massive chunk of potential web traffic.
Gone are the days when users had to zoom in to a website to see its content correctly. Fortunately, we’ve come so far that most modern CMS, including WordPress, now offer fully-responsive themes.
Whether it be a mobile phone, or a tablet, with a WordPress theme, you can rest assured that it’ll look perfect on every medium.
While improving the user experience is a major benefits one can gain from having a responsive website, it doesn’t end there. Site responsiveness is a significant part of Google’s SE algorithm. By having a site that’s accessible on different devices, you will rank better on Google SERPs.
Testing for Responsiveness
An essential first test would be to resize your browser and see if the site resizes itself along with it. If the design, content, and images adjust with the screen’s width, then your website is responsive.
To test the theme at a more technical level, you can copy and paste the demo page of the theme onto the Google Mobile-Friendly Test tool.
Now, this test is likely to show a few errors. Be sure to see any problems with the widths, content, and other associated problems with the theme.
3. Plugin Compatibility
WordPress’s popularity is a major reason for the myriad of plugins you can use for different purposes. The list of available plugins is endless from creating eCommerce websites, SEO, image-optimization, speed, security, digital marketing, and page building.
If you’re facing a WordPress related problem, chances are, there will be a plugin available for that purpose.
Now, apart from the plugins that fulfill a special purpose, there are some key plugins that every WordPress user must have on their site. An SEO plugin like Yoast, a caching solution like W3 Total Cache, and a security plugin like WordPress are some of the most common must-have plugins.
When selecting a WordPress theme, try to ensure that it is compatible with the list of plugins mentioned above. While most popular themes come with support for these plugins, if you’re skeptical, it’s best to ask the theme developers if it supports them.
4. Ready for Ecommerce
This step is aimed at individuals looking to open up an eCommerce store using the WooCommerce WordPress plugin.
If you’re planning to sell products online, then the choice of theme would revolve, ensuring whether or not it is compatible with WooCommerce.
Again, the majority of themes would be compatible with WooCommerce, even the regular ones. That said, there are plenty of themes built specifically for eCommerce users. An excellent example of this is the storefront theme.
Tip: Before deciding on a theme, regardless of the business you’ll use it for, it’s best to view the demo to ensure whether or not you’re using the right theme.
If you do happen to pick a free theme, then you should try it by adding a few products and seeing the basic layout of your store.
Read our analysis on free versus premium WordPress themes.
5. Does it Support Multiple Languages?
If you’re going to operate at an international level, then we would suggest you try a multilingual theme for your store. While English is the primary language of the internet, the case is not the same for other countries.
If you’re not too inclined to use such a theme, then it’s best you try to use a plugin that helps you translate your site content to other languages.
6. Is it SEO-friendly?
We mentioned SEO plugins like Yoast in a previous example of “must-have” plugins for your store. SEO is an important concern for all online businesses. It is also equally important for the theme to support your SEO efforts.
The role of your WordPress theme in your SEO efforts is important. Sure, a theme could have an amazing UI, but search engine bots work with what’s under the hood. If the theme has a poor codebase, then your search engine rankings can take a serious hit.
To analyze the codebase of your theme by yourself, we would recommend you go with the W3C Markup tool. If it’s not well-written, it will show you some warnings. Besides that, it’s a good tool to have for general code performance check.
If you’ve installed the theme but want to check its SEO performance, you can visit Google PageSpeed Insights to check its SEO score when the tool has finished analyzing your site.
7. Is It User-Friendly?
Having a user-friendly theme precedes all other factors in your theme selection process. A good design, and easy-to-navigate site can make the lives of your customers (the people who matter) a lot easier. The best way to find out whether or not a site is user-friendly is to test its demo out. Try to analyze the ins and outs of the theme for user-friendliness before you go about selecting it.
As a rule of thumb, you should analyze the theme’s navigation, content-readability, and whether or not the site fits with your business or blog idea.
With all said and done, focus as much as you can on simplicity. You need user-friendliness first and foremost, anything too fancy will only hinder it.
8. Checking for Customizability
If you don’t want some heavy-duty work done on your site, then you can opt for a regular theme with regular features. However, there will be certain users who would be less inclined towards keeping the regular layout of the site. They want to customize the theme according to their preferences or brand. If you’re one of those users, then we suggest you go for a more customizable theme than others.
Fortunately for you, the majority of WordPress themes are customizable. However, if you want some specific customizations and functionalities, you can contact a WordPress Theme Developer that helps you design your site according to your preferences.
9. Check Ratings and Reviews
When selecting a theme, try to see its ratings and reviews. These are good metrics to look at since they are essentially public opinion about a WordPress theme. You can see the ratings below the Preview and Download buttons on your WordPress installation. WordPress has organized its ratings in a table showing stars (from 5-star to 1-star).
If you’re looking for a premium theme, then you can always read the reviews. Note, however, that you will most likely encounter a couple of long-winded reviews that basically bad mouth the entire product or the theme providers. The problem with such reviews is that some people will never be satisfied with the product. Some might not even be able to figure out the product, and as a result, they leave such bad reviews. As a general rule, then, go for the majority of reviews rather than focus on the small minority.
Installing the Theme on your WordPress
- Installing a WordPress theme is pretty easy.
- From your WordPress Dashboard, visit Appearance > Themes > Add New.
- On the Add New section, you can add a new theme from the theme store, or if you’ve downloaded a theme, select the Upload Theme option.
Clicking this selection will bring you to the Choose File section, where you have to upload the file from your computer onto your WordPress. Once you’ve uploaded it, finish the process by clicking on the install now button.
Conclusion – How to choose a WordPress theme
From what we’ve discussed here, it might seem as though the theme selection process is a bit tough. In reality, it is not. It’s a rather straightforward process. However, there are certain things you need to consider before you go about blindly selecting a theme.
A poorly designed, or poorly organized theme can have serious repercussions for the future of your website. The nine considerations we’ve discussed in this article are designed to help you make your decision-making process more informed and more organized.