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A Beginners Guide: Choosing a WordPress Theme

Shai Elizabeth Searcy

March 24, 2015

choosing a wordpress theme

If you’ve ever taken a peek around Themeforest then you’ve seen for yourself just how unlimited the options are when choosing a WordPress theme for your website.

There are thousands of different themes to choose from… which can be both inspiring, as well as overwhelming when you’re designing a website.

So, below I’ve compiled some things that I wish someone had told me to look out for when I started my first website.

From experience, I am all for going with a premium over a free theme. When I started, I used free themes, mostly because I didn’t want to spend the money, and it wasn’t until I needed to upgrade for clients that I really started to understand the difference. While I definitely wouldn’t suggest spending a bucket of money on your first theme, you’ll soon realize that the support and customization available with a premium theme is definitely worth the dollars.

Detailed Demos, Guys

So, the first thing you want to do is make sure you spend a lot of time looking over the demo. Go through each of the demo pages in detail (don’t skim) and see for yourself what the theme provides and what you will be able to do with it. A good thing to remember when looking over the demo is to make sure you are ignoring the images. Often the images can set the tone for the site, but of course your website won’t use the same images, so you need to make sure you are focusing on the layout and not the (presumable) sexiness of the graphics.

Support is key!

From installation to any potential glitches, it’s important that the theme’s author is readily available to go over any potential issues that may arise. The author needs to be able to answer questions within a reasonable amount of time. Their response should be prompt and detailed. The star rating isn’t always a good indicator of the author’s current involvement in the theme, so try to take a look at the latest comments to see when it was the last time the author responded to enquiries and how long it took them.

Customize It

Being able to customize your posts and pages will be a lifesaver, so if your theme comes with a built in Visual Composer you’ll be much better off. This will allow you to adjust the layout as needed, with a drag and drop function and comprehensive editing options. If you’re just starting out and your HTML and CSS are next to none, this will give you a leg up in customizing your site as you see fit.

Get Social

As we know social media is everything and if you are setting up a website, it (almost) goes without saying that you will need to integrate your Social Media accounts with your site. (If you don’t think you do, we need to have a serious talk.) Your readers need to be able to quickly connect with your Social Media so it’s important to have these linked icons in plain site and easily accessible—in the header and footer is ideal. Also make sure that your content is easily shareable. A heavily shared article that goes viral and brings traffic to your website is a very good thing because this helps your overall marketing efforts covert awareness to leads to sales to ROI… you know how it goes.

SEO Matters

The ultimate goal is for people to find your site and to be able to access it from anywhere, so you definitely want your WordPress theme to be SEO compatible (the hope is that Google will rank your website at the top of the millions of sites on Google) and that it has a Responsive design so it can be read easily on mobile phones and tablets. With 80% of internet users owning a mobile phone, it goes without saying that you want your website to be easily accessible and functioning properly on all devices!

Choosing a WordPress Theme mobile

How easy your theme is to work with, will impact your levels of day-to-day frustrations and reliance on yourself to figure out the possible hiccups (which are pretty much inevitable). While each theme contains loads of it’s own specific and special features, this article will hopefully help you get started in choosing a WordPress theme that will make your website incredibly successful and alleviate some of the headaches along the way.

Now… tell us. What are your top 3 WordPress themes you use?

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