Let’s start with some numbers:
- WordPress powers 43% of all websites on the internet with knows CMS’es
- 500+ new WordPress websites go live every day
- The WordPress directory features 55,000+ plugins
The point I’m trying to bring home with these statistics is that WordPress is the world’s most popular CMS today, and, sure thing, there’re reasons for that:
With its limitless collection of free and paid themes, this content management system is easy to customize and use for any business or personal needs. WordPress has made online presence affordable for people of any skill level, and it offers tons of features to suit every niche, taste, and budget.
The only challenge here:
When setting up a WordPress site, you get it with a pre-installed default theme. It’s a no-brainer that you want to customize and personalize its look the best way possible. For that, you go to the WordPress library and start choosing the most beautiful theme to install right here and now.
But there’s a catch:
With hundreds of options available, it’s not that easy to do. A beautiful WordPress theme design can’t serve as a core driver if you plan your website to work well and bring results. A few more elements are worth checking before you switch to a desirable WordPress theme and layout.
After reading this article, you’ll know the core factors to consider and check when choosing the most suitable theme for your WordPress website.
Seven questions to ask before choosing a theme for your WordPress blog
Does its visual look meet your business goals?
Depending on the content you’re going to publish on your WordPress website, make sure your chosen theme visually matches it. Whether you need a blog, an online store, an online courses website, or a website for a SaaS business, each business will have some goals. Such goals can be a newsletter subscription, the purchase of a good/service, a course enrollment, a demo registration, and more. Make thorough research and create a minimum wireframe for your site, before choosing a theme.
Now, what you should know is that not all themes allow you to make significant design changes. Some things might differ between the free and the paid plan.
For example, maybe you can’t make changes to the colors and typography. And this is a total no-no.
Choosing a WordPress theme that will help communicate your brand identity to the audience is essential. Color and font psychology matter a lot, and they need to complement the layout you choose. In the example below, you can recognize the logo colors even inside icons. Color consistency across a website with the purpose of enforcing the brand is a must for brand recall. Here, you can even see custom-made visuals in the brand colors…but this is something you will need to figure out later in your web design process.
Source: Bid4Papers.com blog
Some WordPress themes look better when used for culinary blogs, others — as clothing stores, and some will fit business landing pages perfectly. If you doubt whether your chosen theme fits your brand type and identity, feel free to “spy” on a few competitors or draw inspiration from your favorite websites.
Also, please check if a theme is too heavy with animations, complex layouts, and other interactive elements. Not only can it look messy to visitors, but it will also negatively influence your website’s loading speed and overall performance.
Think twice if those extras do matter and if your system capabilities can handle that. Fancy websites can attract visitors, but they won’t return if they can’t use them. Do your best to choose a simple yet elegant, not overly complex theme that will meet your goals.
Is support for this theme reliable?
With so many free WordPress themes available, it may be tempting to choose one and save some cash on a website’s launch. The problem is that such themes often come with no technical support: Once you have issues with setup or whatever, you won’t have anyone to contact for assistance.
When choosing a theme, check if customer support is available, whether it’s free or not, and how long you’ll get it after assigning.
Most paid WordPress themes come with several months of premium customer help, which you can renew monthly or annually afterward. Do your best to assign a theme with solid support and documentation to ensure you’ll get reliable assistance if any problems appear.
Is a theme customizable enough to suit your requirements?
No matter how beautiful the default layout of your chosen WordPress theme is, it will unlikely meet all your demands. That’s why it should be customizable enough to suit your brand identity and your requirements.
So, when choosing a theme, check if it’s possible to change its elements, update page components, and modify its layout one way or another.
A customizable WordPress theme is your chance to build a website that will be appealing and responsive for users. If you want to level up the theme’s options, you can use a page builder. WordPress website builders come up with pre-designed content sections and templates, and give certain themes drag and drop options. Take Kubio website builder for example. It works on top of the latest WordPress experience, and it allows a full-site block-based web design.
Was it updated in the last six months?
As a webmaster, you’ll have to deal with your WordPress website theme’s updates and changes. So, when choosing it, check the date of its last update:
Therefore, you’ll know whether WordPress specialists continue working on this theme’s improvement and whether it’s free of bugs able to influence its overall performance.
Updates are critical for WordPress themes: Not only do they signal a theme’s security and stellar performance, but they also introduce new features you can use for a website’s improvement.
By choosing the up-to-date theme, you’ll ensure that your website is 100% compatible with the latest WordPress releases, all the major plugins, and the newest browser and mobile devices updates.
Is it compatible with all the plugins you’re going to use?
While the WordPress directory features thousands of different plugins (55,000+, in fact), you need to ensure your chosen theme supports the ones you’ll need for work.
Check if a theme’s codebase functions with plugins like contact forms, advanced SEO, social sharing, eCommerce functions, and so on; you’ll need them if planning to use WordPress for more than fundamental blogging.
It’s worth noting that all the most popular and regularly updating WordPress themes are compatible with those plugins. But if you decide to choose something lesser-known to stand out from the competitors, make sure it still supports all the plugins you’ll need.
Otherwise, you won’t be able to use it to the full.
For example, let’s say you want to create an online store for your hand-made crafts. Your theme needs to be Woo-Commerce ready. It needs to support WooCommerce, the WordPress plugin that gives you the eCommerce features you need. Also, it will need to allow customizations.
If you want to build an online courses website, you will need to be able to integrate a Learning Management System (LMS) such as Thinkific, Learn Dash, or others.
Is it SEO-friendly?
Please do your best to check the SEO aspects your chosen theme supports to decide whether it will be enough for your website’s promotion in search engines.
The thing is that some WordPress themes have no optimization for search engines like Google or Bing. If you choose such a theme, your efforts to promote the website online will be vain, and both users and the online rank tracker won’t see it.
The problem may be in a theme’s HTML coding, and the catch is that it’s challenging to analyze for SEO compliance on your own. And yet, WordPress theme developers can give you a brief checklist of its SEO aspects.
Is it compatible with your browsers?
While most WordPress themes support all popular browsers, there’s still a slight difference in their compatibility.
For example, Google Chrome is the universal one to choose for work: Statcounter says it has more than 60% of the market share. With that in mind, WordPress themes designers may test new layouts on Chome but “forget” about the compatibility with other browsers like Mozilla Firefox, Safari, or Microsoft Edge.
When choosing a theme, make sure it’s compatible with all the most popular browsers, not Google Chrome only. As said, 40% of users still prefer other options, and the big chances are that your target audience is among them. So you risk losing visitors (read: traffic and conversions) if all those users can’t reach your website because of its incompatibility with their browsers.
You can find the information about the browsers your chosen theme supports on its page in the WordPress theme library. But even if it doesn’t state it, feel free to use automated tools for testing: They’ll help you verify if the theme works well.
To wrap things up, the WordPress theme’s design, with color palette, spaces, and fonts, do matter for user engagement and experience. And yet, when choosing a WordPress theme you need to look beyond the visual side. Frequent theme updates, plugin compatibility, SEO-friendliness should be challenged as well.
Lesley Vos is a text author, blogging at Bid4Papers.com and specializing in content creation and self-criticism. In love with words, coffee, and foxes. In the hope of mastering the art of proofreading before she hits "send."