WordPress is undoubtedly the most popular website platform on the market, so it is quite understandable that 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. When you take the time to select a theme for your website, you will have that theme for a while. So, normally, 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 be a right fit 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 a great pick for specifically your website.
Steps for Choosing a WordPress Theme for Your Website
You have below a list of things everyone must pay attention when choosing a WordPress theme.
Step 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 have to find the exact theme that fits yours. In order to do this, you should first 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 is wrong. If you want to create a website that 'clicks', you need to do this the other way around. The trick here is to take a look at the features of the theme 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. There are now content curation themes available, making this process even easier.
Step 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, complex and simple layouts. In most cases, website owners do not need all of these, so try to stick to the things you actually need.
Your choice of theme should be a design that looks good, is simple and makes the website usable. A style that is too complicated will confuse and overwhelm the users, instead of helping them find the information they need.
Step 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 the number of 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 the optimization of your website.
'Most WordPress themes are responsive by default, but you must know that there are still some sellers who create bad layouts. If you want to keep your website alive and reach all those people on their mobile phones, you must make sure 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.
Step 4: Check the Supported Plugins
One of the biggest reasons why WordPress is so popular among website owners is the existence of a variety of plugins. There are thousands of plugins on WordPress, making it possible for you to do almost anything with your site.
Of course, you cannot expect to find a theme that supports every one of these plugins but look for one that supports all the popular ones. These are necessary for a great functioning of your website.
Step 5: Test the Browser Compatibility
It is a fact – your users won't be using the same browser. Some of them will use a browser that makes your website look amazing, others will use a browser that makes it look terrible.
This is why you must pay attention to the browser compatibility. The majority of theme developers for WordPress will do some rigorous testing for compatibility by using sophisticated tools, but you can easily make a mistake and select a theme that is not compatible for all browsers.
Even if this is mentioned on the website where you found the theme, the smart 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!
Step 6: Look into Page Builders
Page builders are basically plugins on WordPress. These allow users to create layouts for the pages by using a drag-and-drop user interface.
Most of the premium themes will come with the features pre-installed, but other themes will not. Interestingly, in some cases, choosing the second is a better option. If you want to be smart about it, you should look for either 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. If you ever decide to change your existing theme, you'd have to spend a lot of time cleaning up the pages.
Here is a list of some of the most popular page builder plugins you should look for in a WordPress premium theme.
Step 7: Select a Translation and Multilingual Ready Option
Online shopping makes it essential for many businesses to translate the website into a different language. Even if this is not your plan at the moment, you may want to create a multilingual site in the future. So, why not think ahead and have a multilingual ready option?
Make sure the theme you choose is translation and multilingual ready (your theme should support the popular multilingual WordPress plugins).
Step 8: Your Theme Should Be SEO Friendly
SEO content is vital for the optimization of a website, and everyone knows it. But, what happens if you choose a theme that does not support the essential SEO plugins? When you already made this mistake, there is no turning back. You'd have to go through the entire process all over again and buy a new theme.
As a website owner, you cannot allow not to make your content SEO friendly. A good-looking theme can generate traffic, but not without SEO content. A poorly coded HTML can easily affect the performance of your site on the search engines.
Luckily, most premium Word Press theme developers inform the users on such details, i.e. whether the pages are SEO optimized. If they don't you can check the page by using the W3C Markup Validation service.
Tip: Check the demo of the theme 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.
Step 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 end up having to pay a third-party developer to solve even the smallest problems.
You will have to make an investment, but having a support option is very important if you want to have a good website. Make sure to choose a theme with good support options and documentation. The premium themes often offer detailed documentation, as well as a period of approximately 1 year of support.
Step 10: Learn the Difference between a Theme and a Framework
This part may make things a bit complicated, 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 have to install two themes, since frameworks work off their 'parent themes'. If you want to control the 'child', you need to go through the 'parent.
In order to make things clearer, check these lists of characteristics:
1. 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
2. Child themes on WordPress
- Require two different themes installment
- Do not require a high level of knowledge in coding language
- You can find a theme with support and communities online
Step 11: Seek Organized and Easy-to-Use Settings
Are the settings for your theme organized? Some developers tend to make a mess out of the settings, so you may end up having to look throughout WordPress, struggling to customize and manage the site.
A good theme has all settings organized nicely, preferably in a single tab on the dashboard. The best themes have a single settings page that allows you to do everything without having to navigate around the dashboards.
Step 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, it is best that you 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.
Step 13: You Will Need Customizable Fonts and Colors
In order to present your product or service in an appealing way, you need highly customizable fonts and colors. So, don't go rushing into getting the theme that just 'looks perfect' for your blog or business website.
The fonts may look professional right now, or interesting enough to grab the attention of a visitor, but can you change them afterward? You may not like them later on, or simply 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 option is a theme with many available fonts and colors, preferably one with unlimited font and color changes.
Step 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? In some cases, 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 very handy.
Step 15: Always Check the Reviews and Ratings
This is the best thing about the internet and purchases nowadays – you can actually read about other people's experiences with a product. The same applies to the themes for your website.
Once you find a website that has everything we mentioned above, read the reviews and ratings it has before purchasing it. You should find many customers 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!
Olivia is an independent journalist and passionate explorer. She likes to write about everything that can positively affect people’s life. When not searching for a new topic to write on, Olivia prefers to take a camera and enjoy the beauty of nature. Find her on Facebook and Twitter.