Wondering how to choose the right WordPress theme as a beginner? No worry, I have created an ultimate step-by-step guide to learn everything.
WordPress is undoubtedly the most popular website platform on the market, so, understandably, the number of themes available for use has increased so much in this past decade. And while more choices are always appreciated, choosing the right one for your website can cause a lot of frustration.
Website owners, especially beginners, do not only choose a website theme – they commit to it. So, when you take the time to select a theme for your website, you will have that theme for a while. So, usually, you want to do this step right.
Whether you are looking for a theme for your blogging website or want to cater to a completely different market, the theme must fit perfectly with everything else on the site. Of course, you can always look into the most popular WordPress themes at the moment, but if you want to do this right, the best marketing strategy is to select a theme that is an excellent pick for your website specifically.
15 Steps for Choosing a WordPress Theme for Your Website
You have below a list of things everyone must pay attention to when choosing a WordPress theme.
1. Choose a Theme that Matches the Content
People use WordPress to create a variety of websites. Knowing this, you probably understand why each of the themes offered caters to a specific market and why you must find the same theme that fits yours. To do this, you should look for a theme that complements the website's content, not the other way around.
Most website owners match the content based on the theme's demo. This doesn't seem right. If you want to create a website that 'clicks,' you need to do this the other way around. The trick is to look at the theme's features and see if its capabilities pair with the already curated or planned content.
Look for a theme that fits the content you have already curated. In addition, there are now content curation themes available, making this process even more accessible.
2. Simplicity is Sophistication
Leonardo da Vinci once said: 'Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
When choosing your WordPress theme, remember this quote. Strive for simplicity. While searching, you will stumble across many colors, flashy animations, and complex and simple layouts. In most cases, website owners do not need all these, so stick to what you need.
Your choice of theme should be a design that looks good, is simple and makes the website usable. An overly complicated style will confuse and overwhelm the users instead of helping them find the needed information.
3. Search for Responsive Themes
What is a responsive theme?
A responsive theme will adjust all layouts across different devices and all screen sizes. This is extremely important nowadays since mobile traffic has increased to the point where customers are equally, if not more, likely to buy your products or services on their phones, not the computers and laptops.
Depending on how well you handle this step, the number of purchases can double or even triple. And not only that. Google started to penalize sites that are not mobile-friendly, so in addition to this being important for increasing sales and traffic, it is also key to optimizing your website.
'Most WordPress themes are responsive by default, but you must know that some sellers still create bad layouts. If you want to keep your website alive and reach all those people on their mobile phones, you must ensure that your website theme is mobile-friendly. In my opinion, this is the most important thing.' – says Olivia Tribbiani, HR manager at Aussie Writings.
Tip: Once you have chosen a theme for your website, test for mobile readiness. You can do this simply by copying your URL or the theme's demo page into Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test page.
4. Check the Supported Plugins
One of the biggest reasons WordPress is so popular among website owners is the existence of various plugins. There are thousands of plugins on WordPress, making it possible to do almost anything with your site.
Of course, you cannot expect to find a theme that supports all of these plugins but looks for one that supports all the popular ones. These are necessary for the excellent functioning of your website.
5. Test the Browser Compatibility
It is a fact – your users won't be using the same browser. Instead, some will use a browser that makes your website look fantastic, and others will use a browser that makes it look terrible.
This is why you must pay attention to browser compatibility. Most theme developers for WordPress will do some rigorous testing for compatibility by using sophisticated tools. Still, you can easily make a mistake and select a theme incompatible with all browsers.
Even if this is mentioned on the website where you found the theme, the intelligent thing to do is run some basic tests to check the compatibility. In addition, you can always test the website on different browsers on your mobile!
6. Look into Page Builders
Page builders are plugins on WordPress. These allow users to create page layouts by using a drag-and-drop user interface.
Most premium themes will come with pre-installed features, but other themes will not. Interestingly, in some cases, choosing the second is a better option. However, if you want to be smart about it, you should look for a theme with a GOOD pre-installed page builder plugin or one that doesn't have any.
Why is this?
Some theme creators will use one specific page builder, which in time, can produce unwanted code. In addition, if you ever decide to change your existing theme, you'd have to spend a lot of time cleaning up the pages.
You can look at some of the most popular page builder plugins in a WordPress premium theme.
7. Select a Translation and Multilingual Ready Option
Online shopping makes it essential for many businesses to translate their website into a different language. But, even if this is not your plan, you may want to create a multilingual site in the future. So, why not think ahead and have a multilingual ready option?
Make sure your theme is translation and multilingual ready (your theme should support the popular multilingual WordPress plugins).
8. Your Theme Should Be SEO Friendly
SEO content is vital for optimizing a website, and everyone knows it. But, what happens if you choose a theme that does not support the essential SEO plugins? When you have already made this mistake, there is no turning back. You'd have to go through the entire process repeatedly and buy a new theme.
As a website owner, you cannot allow not make your content SEO friendly. A good-looking theme can generate traffic, but not without SEO content. On the other hand, poorly coded HTML can easily affect your site's performance on search engines.
Luckily, most premium Word Press theme developers inform the users on such details, i.e., whether the pages are SEO optimized. You can check the page by using the W3C Markup Validation service if they don't.
Tip: Check the theme demo and see how fast they load. If the pages load slowly, this is not good for SEO. Also, check if the theme supports the SEO plugins you plan to use and whether it has <h> tags.
9. Choose a Theme with Support Options
Unfortunately, free WordPress themes do not have support options. This is one of the downsides of choosing a free theme for your site. Even if the provider says they will provide you with support with a free theme, you can have to pay a third-party developer to solve even the most minor problems.
You will have to invest, but a support option is significant if you want a good website. Make sure to choose a theme with good support options and documentation. The premium themes often offer detailed documentation and a period of approximately one year of support.
10. Learn the Difference between a Theme and a Framework
This part may complicate things, but did you know that themes are not your only option?
The other option is the child themes or the so-called frameworks. If you choose this option, you must install two themes since frameworks work off their 'parent themes'. To control the 'child,' you must go through the 'parent.
To make things more transparent, check these lists of characteristics:
i. Standalone themes on WordPress
- Have plenty of settings, and you can make many changes
- Some items are hard-coded, depending on the designer of the theme
- You can find a theme with support and many communities online
ii. Child themes on WordPress
- Require two different themes installment
- Do not require a high level of knowledge of the coding language
- You can find a theme with support and communities online
11. Seek Organized and Easy-to-Use Settings
Are the settings for your theme organized? Unfortunately, some developers make a mess of the scenes, so you may have to look throughout WordPress, struggling to customize and manage the site.
A good theme has all settings organized nicely, preferably in a tab on the dashboard. The best themes have a single settings page that allows you to do everything without navigating the dashboards.
12. Don’t Forget about Social Media
You may want to try out everything at first, but eventually, no website owner wants a clutter of too many plugins on their site. Therefore, you should have those built-in integrations and social media widgets that allow you to share the posts without the extra trouble.
Leading people to the pages you have on social media by using these widgets is standard on the premium and other good themes, but make sure before you make the final decision.
13. You Will Need Customizable Fonts and Colors
You need highly customizable fonts and colors to appeal to your product or service. So, don't rush into getting the theme that 'looks perfect for your blog or business website.
The fonts may look professional right now or interesting enough to grab a visitor's attention, but can you change them afterward? You may not like them later on or want to make a small change.
If you can't change the fonts and colors after you purchase a theme, look for another option. A preferable alternative is a theme with many available fonts and colors, preferably one with unlimited font and color changes.
14. Appearance is Very Important Here
You may go through all these steps and find a theme that fits all your requirements, but the truth is – you must like your theme. Many are so focused on the steps that they buy a theme, upload it, and finally realize the theme does not look that awesome.
What will your website look like if you choose the theme you have in mind? Sometimes, the websites do not look exactly like the theme demo because not all themes are as good as they look when you check them out.
Your best bet is, of course, to look into the theme. Ask around and see if this theme would be a good fit for your website and whether they believe it would fit the content. The last step should also come in very handy.
15. Always Check the Reviews and Ratings
This is the best thing about the internet and purchases nowadays – you can read about other people's experiences with a product. But, of course, the same applies to the themes for your website.
Once you find a website with everything we mentioned above, read its reviews and ratings before purchasing it. You should find many customer reviews, as well as ratings.
If the theme you are considering is being sold on a third-party marketplace, you can check the rating section below the download button.
When doing this, remember that you will probably find some bad reviews for almost every theme, and this is normal. As long as the number of bad reviews is not high and that of good reviews is, you are looking for a good WordPress theme.
There you have it – the ultimate step-by-step guide for your WordPress website theme. Good luck!
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