Beginners often feel overwhelmed when it comesto the theme for their WordPress site. There are pages upon pages of free and paid options with each theme looking better than the last and many changes in mind. We share with you our nine tips to consider when choosing the best WordPress theme for your site.
Why Should YouBe Careful When Choosing a WordPress Theme?
Every WordPress theme caters to a different market, due to the sheer number of websites on the WordPress platform. Your theme needs to compliment the content within your site. If you’re starting a site to sell t-shirts, readability is not necessarily a consideration, however images would be.
All WordPress themes come with tons of customization options or you can even code your own if you have the know-how. Some of these themes however lock you into that theme or you will need to find a WordPress developer to help you change or optimise the site. On the flip side, some themes look immaculate, but take too long to load and so Google ranking is negatively affected.
How search engines and users perceive your site is important and your theme is the face of the site meaning, it’s the first thing users see and use to base their overall opinion of your company on.
Having said all that, take a look at the steps we put together to help you make the most of your WordPress theme.
- Simplicity is key
Some WordPress themes come with lots of colours, complex layouts, flashy animations, and whilst some of them are required, most of the time you do not need all the bells and whistles. Search for a simple theme that supports your site’s purpose and end goal without impacting negatively on your SEO plans for the future.
Make the purpose of your site to help users find the information they require rather than distract them from the end goal of making a purchase or interacting with your content. If your users cannot navigate to the information they need easily, your design is not a winner.
- Responsive is not an Option
Your new website theme must adjust its layout tosuit different screen sizes and devices.
Mobile web traffic is generated at far higher rates and is only set to continue to rise. So, if your site doesn’t render according to the device, you could lose up to 50% of your traffic.
Google already indexesmobile-friendly websites at the top in their mobile search results; regardless of the site’s topic and demographic.
While most WordPress themes are already responsive make sure that the theme you are choosing for your website is mobile friendly.
Testing Mobile Readiness
The simplestway to test your new theme for responsiveness is by resizing your browser screen. As you resize your layout should adjust itself to the screen width. If it doesn’t, this isn’t the theme for you. This test will also show other warnings within the theme, regardless of how good a theme is, any red flags like text too small, content wider than thescreen, etc means it may not be the best choice.
- Not all Browsers are equal
Your theme will not appear the same in every browser and this can spell disaster for your site. Most theme developers will test their themes and make it known which browsers they are compatible with, if not, you can always run your own tests.
Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, are the most common web browsers used and not necessarily in that order. You will also need to remember to test on different mobile browsers as well. This is where having a responsive site, comes in handy.
Plugins are the backbone of WordPress and can make easy for you to optimise your site in just about every way. It’s always good practice to make sure your site theme supports at the very least the popular and must have plugins. If you’re not sure, you can always ask the developer.
- Global Languages
It may seem obvious, but not all themes are created equally. If you are planning to have your site in a language other than English or have it translate to the local language with plugins, make sure your theme supports the plugin and readability across languages.
- Page Builders
If you want to move certain elements around your WordPress site by dragging and dropping, you will need to ensure your theme either has Page builders plugins installed or is at least compatible with them. re WordPress plugins that allow you to create page layouts using drag and drop user interface.
Using a page builder to create landing pages can produce a lot of unnecessary code. If you ever switch themes, then those pages will require a lot of detailed work to clean up.
- Supportfor your theme
One thing some free WordPress themes do not include is support if you break something. Some developers do offer support, however a number of them don’t. You could find yourself needing a third-party developer to clear up the tiniest of problems, wasting precious time and money.
Be sure to select a theme that has either good documentation or support or both.
- SEO Checks
Your theme impacts your SEO ratings and rankings. It may look amazing, but if there are a number of holes or gaps in the coding, or its poorly done, your site performance will be impacted and in turn search engines will not like your site to index it favourably.
Beginners cannot be expected to analyse a theme’s source code and understand everything immediately. This is why premium theme developers will stipulate their pages are optimised for SEO.
- Ratings and Reviews
We check ratings and reviews for purchases we make elsewhere, why would we not check them when deciding on a key element of our site?
Almost everything can get a few bad reviews. but if the number of bad reviews outweighs the good, then you should carefully consider the theme and whether it will work for you. Make sure you read the reviews carefully and make your decision from there.
With plenty of free WordPress themes available and new ones released daily, it’s easy to be overwhelmed with the choice. However, support is one of the most important factorsin theme selection. Make sure you are comfortable with the level of support that comes with your theme.
How to Install a Theme in WordPress
Installing a WordPress theme is super simple; you’ll need to download the zip file for your theme and run it through the Themes section of the Admin interface.
At the top of the themes admin page, you need to click on the “Add New” hyperlink. You can either search through the themes here to install but if you have already downloaded your theme, you will simply need to upload the theme via the Upload theme link at the top of the screen.
Click on choose file button in the upload box to select the theme zip file you saved earlier and then select Install now.
WordPress will now do all the hard work and install your theme against your new site; when it’s all done, you will see links to view the site or to activate the theme.
If you’re just looking at the theme for now and don’t want to use it right away, click on the live preview button to see what your site could look like. You will need to activate to use it for your site.
How to Safely Change WordPress Themes
New WordPress sites are relatively easy; you can select the right theme and away you go. Established sites however have a little more trouble. With established sites, switching themes can wreak havoc on your SEO, site performance and Google ranking.
You will need to understand just what will and will not be affected by a switch in theme and which settings will disappeat and need to manually be readded to your new theme. This is where Developer support comes in handy.
We hope this article gave you some helpful hints, tips and tricks to help select the right theme for your WordPress site.