One of the best things about WordPress is how flexible it is. You can easily switch up the look of your website with simple-to-install themes. But let’s be real – it is not a piece of cake to choose the best WordPress theme.
There’s a whole bunch of choices out there, and if you’re not familiar with them, it can be pretty overwhelming. So, in this post, I’ll try to share some helpful tips to guide you on how to choose the right WordPress theme, whether it’s for a blog, business site, or personal project.
Before you choose the best WordPress theme, consider your budget. You’ll be weighing the options between free and premium themes. The latter usually falls close to a few dozen dollars, and it’s quite uncommon to find options priced above $100. You can also get efficient and well-crafted premium themes from your hosting provider by purchasing WordPress Hosting.
But here’s the thing – is it worth paying for a theme? What makes premium themes a better choice than the hundreds of free WordPress themes?
Let me break it down for you:
- Quality – Premium themes are top-notch. There’s fierce competition in the market, and creators can’t afford to have any flaws. So, when you purchase a WordPress theme, you’re getting a much more polished and refined solution.
- Support – You’ll get one year of technical support included in the price. That means you’ll have someone to turn to if you encounter any issues or have basic questions.
- Security – Authors of premium WordPress themes regularly update their products, ironing out any bugs and enhancing the security of your website.
- Documentation – Most premium WordPress themes come with well-prepared documentation, user manuals, and detailed feature descriptions. If you choose a free WordPress theme you will have to install and configure it by yourself.
- Uniqueness – Free WordPress themes are more common, making it hard to stand out. With premium themes, there’s still a chance that multiple users might buy the same theme, but they’re not as widely accessible.
- Affordability – Let’s be honest, premium WordPress themes are reasonably priced, and in many cases, they offer the best bang for your buck. Spending a few dozen dollars for a fully functional website is a smart investment that won’t break the bank.
Where to Find WordPress Themes?
The market is extensive and fiercely competitive, providing an abundance of options that can be overwhelming. When you search for “WordPress theme” on Google, it suggests over 50 million pages! But don’t worry, there are a few places you should check out first when you’re looking for the best WordPress theme.
The most popular websites with WordPress themes include Theme Forest, TemplateMonster, Elmastudio, Elegant Themes, My Theme Shop, and The Theme Foundry. You can also explore theme aggregators like Best of Themes or dedicated aggregators for free WordPress themes, such as Theme Cards.
And if you want to choose a specific WordPress theme that you saw on a website, you can check for information using the WordPress Theme Detector tool. It will tell you which solution the website’s author is using and where to buy or download it.
There’s no denying it – appearance is the first and most fundamental criterion for evaluating a theme. Users notice the layout, colors, images, and more. Especially when the technical details seem like black magic to them.
All too often, the theme selection process focuses solely on aesthetic aspects. While it’s responsible for the site’s look, it’s also the backbone that determines navigation, layout, structure, and content guidance.
A good theme should not only be visually appealing but also highly functional. Both aspects should be evaluated together. So, don’t be swayed by flashy graphics or pretty colors. Even the most beautiful packaging won’t help if your site is difficult for users to navigate.
Make sure to assess the artistic impression of the WordPress theme and see if it aligns with your expectations for the new site:
- Is it user-friendly?
- Does the menu layout make sense?
- Will the page templates accommodate the content you plan to publish?
Fit for Content
You can choose a fantastic WordPress theme, but not everyone is versatile enough to suit every type of website. Even if you love a particular design, it might not align well with your content.
When evaluating appearance, it’s essential to do so without letting emotions cloud your judgment. Demo versions showcased by the authors are often polished and presented in the best possible light. However, once you upload real content and add your photos, the theme may lose its initial charm.
This issue is particularly relevant for layouts based on images. Demo versions usually include great photographs that create a positive impression. However, your content may not be as ideal or relevant. It’s essential to assess the WordPress theme based on the resources you have and intend to use rather than solely relying on what the author showcases in the demo.
Your website might present various types of content, but text will likely remain a priority.
First and foremost, avoid projects with small font sizes and very long lines of text. Such formatting strains the reader’s eyes. Aim for a font size of at least 16px and ensure that lines do not exceed 80 characters. Additionally, proper line spacing is important, providing paragraphs with enough breathing space.
Look for different header styles, bullet points, and highlight options. These elements prove to be very useful when formatting posts. On the other hand, it’s best to avoid using strange and exotic fonts. While they might seem interesting or atmospheric, they can strain the eyes and affect the overall readability of your content.
Apart from appearance, user-friendliness is a crucial aspect when you choose a WordPress theme. Creators often add new features, but more isn’t always better for the user. So, what should you pay attention to?
If you plan to use the theme on a multilingual website, it’s worth checking for available translations and font compatibility. While English doesn’t use any diacritic marks, other languages do. Many creators offer various language versions or design the editor to support independent translations.
Check how to translate your WordPress theme to foreign language in this article:
WordPress themes equipped with built-in page builders are gaining popularity. These allow you to create pages using pre-designed blocks without the need for design or programming skills. However, they may have stability issues or be challenging to use. It’s wise to consider projects that work seamlessly with well-known tools like Gutenberg or Elementor.
It can be challenging to choose a good WordPress theme, as you have to rely on the appearance of the demo. The most critical aspect is its ability to enable easy page editing and future changes without having to rebuild the entire site.
Keep in mind that achieving a demo-like appearance can be time-consuming. Additionally, it’s best to avoid WordPress themes with numerous features, as more code increases the risk of errors and security vulnerabilities. Every additional function means losing it after switching to another theme.
The creators try various tactics to entice you into making a purchase. Some features may seem appealing, but you might not need them. More options require more attention and can lead to various issues.
You can easily fall into a classic trap – paying for something you won’t end up using. I recommend following the “less is more” principle. Overloaded themes often require frequent updates, may have unexpected issues due to inadequate testing, lead to lower performance, and result in usability problems.
Therefore, it’s best to focus on solutions that match your current needs – you won’t choose a WordPress theme for a decade. With the current pace of trend changes it should last for 2-3 years. Investing too much time and money in it for such a relatively short period would be a waste.
Aside from what you can see on the surface, what happens behind the scenes is equally important. Technical aspects are more challenging to evaluate, leading to many questions and problems. Here are some methods and tools to assist you:
Your website must display well on all devices. Thus, it’s essential to test the demo version in different variations. You can do this by simply running it on various available devices, but there are also useful tools for verification:
- Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test assesses how well the website performs on mobile devices, which impacts its rankings.
- Responsinator provides previews for the most popular devices and checks compatibility with them.
Performance and SEO
A good theme should be well-optimized for search engines. Test the demo version with an SEO Site Checkup. It will analyze the code and indicate if the author has considered essential aspects.
Page load speed is becoming increasingly crucial as well. Users are more impatient and dislike slow loading times. Moreover, a heavy page consumes a lot of data on mobile devices, slowing down the loading process. It also negatively affects search engine rankings. How can you assess this parameter?
- PageSpeed Insights – Google comes to the rescue again. With their tool, you can check the performance before you choose a specific WordPress theme.
- Pingdom test – an alternative to Google’s tool. It analyzes speed and suggests areas that need improvement.
The security of your WordPress site depends not only on the theme you choose but also on the hosting. Don’t compromise on the performance, speed, and security of your site, and choose hosting services from Ultahost.
Code vulnerabilities can expose your website to dangerous attacks. Even if the theme appears to work fine at first glance, there might be errors in the background that compromise security. Evaluate it for susceptibility to known vulnerabilities that hackers could exploit to breach your server, as well as overall security.
Tools like Sucuri or Perfect Dashboard can help identify suspicious areas in the website’s code.
Remember that WordPress security requires regular updates. When you choose a WordPress theme, pay attention to the number of additional plugins needed for its proper functioning. Each plugin requires regular updates. Moreover, the more extensive the theme’s codebase, the higher the risk of security vulnerabilities.
The quality of its code also influences the overall evaluation of a WordPress theme. Different approaches can achieve the same effects, but only certain solutions are correct and secure. You can conduct a simple CSS test:
- How many CSS files does the theme include?
- Check their organization and structure.
- How many lines of code are present in all CSS files? Several hundred lines are still acceptable, but when the number reaches four or five digits, it’s time to steer clear. The theme will likely suffer from poor performance, complicated code, and difficulty making changes.
- How frequently does “!important” appear? In most cases where this tag is used, you can replace it with more concise code. Overusing “!important” may suggest that the author was not a front-end expert.
Opinions and Popularity
Some theme shops, such as ThemeForest, provide user reviews. It’s worth checking them to identify potential issues. The responses from the authors also indicate their approach to support and helpfulness.
The most valuable information comes from reviews with an average rating. Extremely negative reviews often result from user ignorance or malice, while extremely positive ones are usually brief and not very informative, like “great theme.” The number of reviews also matters. A rating of 4.5/5 based on 500 votes carries more weight than a 5/5 rating based on three votes.
Themes, by definition, are universal and accessible to everyone. It is a significant advantage, but it also affects uniqueness. On one hand, highly popular themes are extensively tested, but on the other hand, there is a greater chance that a competitor’s website will look identical to ours.
Choosing the right WordPress theme is no easy task, but it’s essential to make your website stand out and perform well. While the vast array of options can be overwhelming, considering your budget, evaluating appearance and usability, and paying attention to technical aspects can guide you toward a suitable choice.
Remember, choosing the right WordPress theme requires thoughtful consideration, but with the right approach, you can create a visually appealing, user-friendly, and high-performing website that effectively meets your needs. Happy theme hunting!
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