When I created my first WordPress website, my understanding of themes is very much limited to the theory of colors and designs. For me, it’s all about the aesthetic factor and I really thought I got it right. So imagine my disappointment when a fellow blogger commented on my poor selection of theme for my then 9 month old blog.
“But I thought it looked nice!” was my first argument. “It’s not just about the look,” he clarified. “There’s more.” Really? Here’s what he shared on how to select a good WordPress theme for a website.
(1) What Is the Website All About?
You see, a theme used by an art blogger, for example, is likely less suitable for an engineering company’s website. Often times, a blog-based theme can be converted to a business site, but it seldom works well the other way round.
Besides, you should also consider the anatomy of a website and the function of each segment. Is the layout generally clean and easy to navigate? Does it allow you to add image slider, sign up forms or accommodate ads on the sidebar? Some themes are limited when it comes to certain features so research on what you wish to achieve through your website before deciding on a theme.
(2) Is the Theme Compatible?
Apparently, not all themes are a ‘one-size-fit-all’. A theme that looks pretty to you might look very different on another person’s PC. A theme compatibility generally relates to these 3 aspects;
Behind every theme design is a set of CSS coding and layout principles that aren’t readily understood by general web-users. These are the technical language used by theme developers to communicate with web browsers. A theme that uses ‘broken codes’ will display incorrectly in certain web browsers and you will require someone with coding experience to fix the error.
Strange, but true. Not all themes build for WordPress will work on WordPress. Themes are written by developers and if they aren’t updated frequently, they usually perform poorly with the latest version of the software.
Search Engine Compliance
All WordPress sites sit on a theme and if the theme isn’t ‘favored’ by search engines (most likely due to the codes – my guess), it might result in poor ranking within the SERPs. Don’t believe me? Do a quick Google Search on whatever topic you like and check out the websites on the latter result pages. They are usually non-updated themes with lots of encryption errors.
This is how a poor performing theme can hurt your online presence in the long run.
(3) Is the Theme Responsive?
Theme responsiveness generally mean, how a website appears on different screen devices, from wide-screen to handheld smartphones.
This feature is becoming increasingly important, especially where user experience is concerned. It has been reported that mobile users close a website within 5 seconds if it fails to show up properly on their devices. Imagine the significant impact it will have on your website traffic! So how do you check if a theme is responsive or not?
1 – A classic method is to minimize by dragging the right corner of your browser and see how the website realigns. If the website automatically adjusts to compliment your viewing, then it is a responsive theme.
2 – Enter the website URL into this online tool and find out how a theme looks like on various screen widths and devices.
When checking for responsiveness, take note that the display can change the orientation and navigation of the web content. These changes will help to make your site more mobile friendly.
(4) Can the Theme Be Customized?
Say, you don’t want a certain widget to appear on the sidebar or don’t like the color of the menu tab. Can you change that? The short answer to this is yes, if the theme allows customization.
Although tweaking HTML and CSS coding isn’t something that most website owners will want to do, it pays to learn a few customization tricks so that your website doesn’t look like everyone else’s. You can always change the appearance and content navigation the way that you wanted.
(5) Does the Theme Provide Technical Support?
A theme is a digital product that needs maintenance just like any other electronic devices. Having a team of experts that continues to upgrade the codes will ensure the compatibility and responsiveness of the theme as a whole.
Besides the common email contact, support should ideally be extended in the form of FAQs, video tutorials and detailed instruction manuals. Generally, premium themes offer better support over free themes.
(6) Are There Any Positive Reviews?
Before using a product, it’s always worthwhile to read some reviews about it first. Start by checking out the developer’s site (if there’s any) to watch some live demos yourself. This will give you a better idea on what to expect when installing the theme.
When reading positive customer reviews, don’t just look for glossy comments. Look out for constructive comments that offers an insight on how errors are moderated between the developer and the users. This will reflect the quality of the overall theme support.
For example, premium themes like Genesis are very popular among bloggers and online business owners when it comes to creating a WordPress website.
The Best WordPress Theme Is …
If all this sound too complicated for you, don’t worry. Just start with a basic theme and go from there. As your content becomes more developed, you’ll gradually come to learn which theme suits your niche the most. Just remember to do content backups before you change to a new theme.
Interested to experiment with different WordPress theme? Simply create a website using SiteRubix to learn more.
“What separates design from art is that design is meant to be… functional.”
– Cameron Moll
Do you have any thoughts or questions about this topic? Feel free to leave your comment below and I’ll get back to you.