6 Key Factors to Consider When Choosing a WordPress Theme

By August 13, 2015 June 3rd, 2019 Web Design, WordPress

With thousands of WordPress themes available to choose from, it can be pretty overwhelming when you somehow have to find the one that suits your project. Even though the variety is great, it does mean that a lot of people end up making wrong decisions and consequently settling for low-quality themes.

So to help those in need of a decent WP theme, here are six crucial factors that are worth considering when searching for your perfect theme (and in case you’re wondering, this site was also made using a theme).

1. Price: Comparing Between Free and Paid Themes

Not that long ago, the price of a WordPress theme was considered to be a trusted indicator of its quality and dependability. Typically, free themes were characterized by poor coding and were known to often capture sensitive data from sites. Luckily, that is no longer the case with thousands of reliable free themes now readily available online.

This places both the free and paid themes on par (to some extent). Nonetheless, each of the two choices comes with its pros & cons.

The Pros of Premium Themes

Consistent and regular updates
This is perhaps the key advantage that premium themes have over their free counterparts. WordPress is regularly updated and thus having a theme that keeps up with its evolution is imperative, especially in fixing security flaws that frequently come with new WordPress versions.

Waaaay more flexibility
It’s not uncommon to find a particular free theme being used by thousands of websites. On the other hand, premium themes are less popular, and combined with better flexibility, this gives you the chance to create a completely unique design.

More detailed and documented
Most paid themes come with a detailed PDF (or online documentation) that shows you how to make the best out of the theme. This is pretty rare with free themes.

Readily available support
Most premium themes developers are often available to offer support through a combination of live chats, email ticketing system, and even public forums. For free themes, you are most likely to only have a public forum for any questions or problems you might have.

The Cons

Can be expensive
Usually, you’ll need between $40 and $140 to buy a premium theme.

Can be a bit more complex to setup
Most premium themes include their own custom administration panels that require a setup, and this can be challenging if this is a once-off project for you.

Can be unnecessarily bulky
A majority of premium themes include numerous unwanted features such as multiple slider plugins, extra skins, portfolio managers, etc. Despite these features serving great purposes, they are likely to slow the theme down to some extent.

In a nutshell, weigh up the pros & cons, and always read through the customer reviews before making a purchase. The reviews will help you understand various aspects such as how responsive its developers are to customer queries and the kind of issues customers are already experiencing with the theme (also try and check the update log to see how often the theme gets updated).

2. Responsiveness

Smartphones and tablets are quickly overtaking desktop and laptops as our favourite online devices. This has made the use of responsive themes more critical than ever before.

The good news is that nearly all reputable themes today are mobile friendly and thus there is no reason for you not to use one. It is important though, that you at least run the theme’s demo through Google’s mobile-friendly tool to test it.

3. Speed: Light or Feature-Heavy Themes?

Page load speed is a central factor in enhancing your website’s retention rate and thus your conversion rate. For this, you may want to run the demo-site through a variety of speed test tools such as Pingdom to determine whether it is fast enough. Buyer reviews & comments can sometimes also hint at how fast the theme is. Keep in mind that your WordPress host plays a big role in speed as well. Better hosts, like managed WP hosting companies, allow for heavier themes without slowing down the site.

For a more comprehensive article on improving the speed of your wp site, check this out -> https://www.cloudliving.com/speed-up-wordpress/

4. SEO

WordPress is regarded as a very SEO-friendly CMS, especially when combined with a great SEO plugin. When you’re searching for your theme, it’s important that you go for those that are ‘SEO optimized’ or ‘SEO ready’ as outlined in their description.Though keep in mind that it’s up you to do due diligence to determine whether the theme designer had considered SEO when developing it.

5. Ease of Customisation

Most themes today come with a customisation dashboard that significantly saves users the hassle of having to make changes directly to style sheets.

Some plugins like Visual Composer can ease your work when building complex page structures, as they allow you to build pretty complex pages without having to do any coding, just drag and drop. There are actually quite of a lot of these types of plugins that give you this functionality. If you want to know more, the guys over at Authority Hacker did a great job listing, and reviewing, the best visual page builders on the market, check it out!

Before purchasing a theme, always have a play around with the the demo site, test the flexibility.

6. Design and User Experience

One of the main reasons to get a specific theme is of course the design itself. Personally I find all my themes on Themeforest, and if you check under the WordPress -> popular category, most of those are highly rated and get updated regularly.

Conclusion

I’m sure there are a few more points to consider when searching for a decent theme, but these 6 are the ones I check every single time. I also think there is no such thing as a perfect theme, unless you hand-code one from scratch, though that usually comes with a price-bump of a few $1000…in the case of buying a theme vs creating one, it’s really down to budget & expected ROI. Anyway, I still prefer themes as they work plain and simple. So grab a cup of coffee and have yourself a fun theme-hunt!