Looking for the right template for your WordPress site, but do not want to get lost in the rich variety of offerings available on the web? How do you find a reliable provider who will give you exactly what you are looking for? Let’s take a look at the key points that you should consider when choosing a theme for your WordPress site.
WordPress is well-known for its flexibility and high level of customization. The huge WordPress community has developed plenty of smart plugins and extensions that will make your web project shine. Now comes the part that is no less important when planning to get your business online effortlessly – choosing the right WordPress template. Let’s take a closer look at the key points that you need to consider when choosing a WordPress theme for your site.
Free or Premium Theme – Which to Choose?
The first thing that many people think about is whether they should consider a premium or a free WordPress theme which will provide them with enough functionality for a quick start. Everything depends on your budget and the features that you will need to present your business on the web. As a rule, small businesses, startups and personal projects are on a limited budget, and that’s why a free WordPress theme will be the best solution for them. The leading theme developers like TemplateMonster, WooThemes, ElegantThemes, InkThemes, etc. update their galleries with free WordPress templates on a regular basis. So, chances are that you will be able to find a cool design that includes enough functionality to let you look amazing on the web.
Compared to free solutions, premium templates tend to offer more functionality. Also, they are relatively cheap, with prices starting from some $50-$70, depending on the theme provider that you choose.
- Due to the stiff competition, theme providers are working hard to keep on improving their products all the time, enhancing their dashboards with unique customization features, which are often simple and intuitive in use, thus making their products easy-to-use for beginners.
- Premium themes are more reliable. Due to the regular updates, these gain more advanced functionality, which allows you to tweak designs in so many ways.
- Premium themes pay attention to details, coming loaded with special offerings that will be of great use for a specific niche.
- As a rule, theme developers provide tech support for their products. In that way, you can always ask for help when you have any issues during the installation or modification of the design. Detailed documentation, video tutorials and step-by-step guides are commonly included as well.
- In order to help you with decision-making, most premium sellers provide ratings, user reviews and forums, etc.
It’s up to you to decide which of these two options to choose. Pick the most lucrative offer depending on the size of your business and the amount of data that you are going to share. From my perspective, premium WordPress themes are more reliable and attractive than the free ones. Taking into consideration that they are not available for free download, chances are that your theme will contribute a unique appeal to your website.
Simple vs Multi-purpose Template
The concept behind a multi-purpose WordPress template is to create a universal design that can suit any type of brand, company or organization. Multi-purpose templates come loaded with a rich assortment of features that can turn an ordinary WordPress blog into a powerful business or eCommerce web page. As a rule, such offerings come with fully responsive layouts, support multiple browsers, feature social media integration, are SEO-optimized, etc. In a word, multi-purpose WordPress themes feature everything that you need to expand your reach and gain more loyal fans.
Simple WordPress themes are less powerful than the multi-purpose ones. They lack the wide range of the theme options that the latter offer and are commonly intended to build a specific type of web resource. Of course, you can always expand its functionality by means of multiple plugins and extensions that the WordPress community has on offer. But in this case you will spend more time, money and effort on transforming, say, a WordPress blog theme into an eCommerce product.
To add weight to these comments, let’s take a look at one of the popular multi-purpose WordPress themes that was issued back in July 2015. Released under the impressive name of Monstroid, the theme includes a pack of smart functionality, making it the optimal solution for beginner and pro web developers. Running on the latest Cherry Framework 4, the theme provides access to all of the smart features of the latter, in addition to several premium plugins that Monstroid users get for free. For quicker and more effortless customization, MotoPress Content Editor was included in the pack. Full integration with WooCommerce, multi-lingual support, a set of pre-designed product pages, a collection of child themes that is updated weekly, free support right from the dashboard, lifetime updates, and a number of other cool options were all included into a single pack.
A Standalone WordPress Theme vs a Framework
To make things easier, let’s find out what comprises a standalone WordPress theme and what is called a framework. As the name implies, a standalone theme is built to work off the core WordPress technology. You can expand its functionality with plugins and extensions, with the purpose of making it look unique and one-of-a-kind. A standalone theme is a ready-made product that is available for the public to download an unlimited number of times. It provides you with access to any of the theme options, a number of which can be rather hard to tweak.
A framework is a parent theme that has plenty of child themes behind it. So, in fact you need to install two themes at a time. As a rule, such products are easier to use and are oriented towards beginner users. Another stunning option that frameworks include are drag-and-drop content editors that do not require any coding skills in order to tweak the layout (e.g. Cherry Framework 4 with MotoPress Content Editorsupport).
It is important to have access to a technical support team at any step of your work with the chosen theme. Some providers guarantee free 24/7 support via email, chat or by phone. Some others do not include technical assistance in the pack or, alternatively, make it available for additional cost. So, make sure you double check everything carefully when you choose a WordPress theme for your site.
Tastes differ and at the time when someone would prefer getting in touch with a customer support team via live chat, some others would make better use of the written documentation or watch step-by-step tutorials in order to understand better how everything works. If free lifetime support is not provided by all premium theme developers, then detailed documentation is an indispensable part of the package. If the theme that you are going to buy lacks it, we would suggest you go and look for a better alternative.
Is the Theme Responsive?
This should be your #1 priority when choosing a theme that can make your WordPress site a success. The fact that web users are shifting from desktop to handheld devices globally is not new. So, why would one choose a template that cannot make your site go responsive?
Moreover, Google favors websites that are mobile-friendly, placing them higher in search results. In that way, you will not only provide your visitors with a more pleasant browsing experience, but also expand your reach online. If you are not sure if the theme that you are going to purchase is responsive or not, make use of Responsive Design Checker, an online tool that will help you find out how good the theme will look on various devices and screen sizes.
Is the Theme SEO-friendly & Crossbrowser Compatible?
It goes without saying that your website should be SEO-friendly and run properly on any browser. However, some theme providers either forget or simply do not want to make their products more competitive while enhancing their features with these indispensable components.
What makes a theme SEO-friendly? This is all about the proper use of niche-specific keywords in titles, URLs, meta descriptions, posts, etc. Yoast WordPress SEOand All in One SEOplugins will help you significantly improve your site’s SEO.
Cross browser compatibility, in its turn, means that no matter what app your visitors use to access your site content, all pages will show equally well in Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Internet Explorer, etc.
How to check if the theme is cross browser compatible? Make use of this free online tool. Browser shots will make screenshots of your web page across different browsers and operating systems.
As a rule, premium products are built with valid code, however there are always exceptions, so it’s always better to double check. Why is it important to have a well-coded theme? The answer is simple. The amount of time that you will need to fix issues will equal the effort that you will need to create everything from scratch.
What does code validation mean? Let’s compare it to English grammar rules. Having a WordPress template created according to valid W3C standards is like writing a sentence according to the rules of English grammar. One mistake or more can change the sense and make the whole sentence useless.
WordPress, just like any other OpenSource platform, is constantly changing and being enhanced, so you will need to keep track of the trends and improve your website all the time. Or you can get a ready-made WordPress template that includes lifetime updates. Nothing in this world is perfect and it’s very likely that even a theme polished to perfection will have some minor bugs that should be fixed for it to function better.
Downloading a theme that was released a year ago and hasn’t had any updates since then is like buying a pig in a poke in that it is both risky and inconvenient. That’s why we recommend that you choose a theme that includes lifetime updates. This means that paying once you will get a product that will always be kept up-to-date. Bug fixes, new and improved features as well as security updates will be always delivered to the dashboard.
Social Media Integration
We have already said a lot about ready-made WordPress plugins and extensions that play a significant role in enhancing the look and feel of your site. So, in order not to clutter your WordPress site with too many plugins, we suggest that you choose a theme that is already integrated with social media widgets and options for sharing your posts, leading people to your official Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn or any other page. As a rule, it is expected that premium-quality themes would include social media buttons. Still, don’t miss an opportunity to double check it.
I guess one of the biggest purposes of any modern business is reaching out to the international community. For example, you run a blog in English, but you know that someone speaking German or Italian frequently reaches your web page in search of something new. Since they do not speak English, chances are that they will simply leave without coming across the desired data. In order for this not to happen, make sure a theme that you consider installing on your blog or site is WPML-ready, like Monstroid. Having your site presented in 2, 3 or more languages will improve the overall user experience for those visitors who don’t speak your language.
Is the Theme Easy to Customize?
When you buy a theme that is supposed to be easy to customize and ready to go out of the box, it really should include such options. Hence, what’s the reason of paying for a product that is impossible to tweak on your own? If you are not a pro web developer, the ease of modification and intuitive structure of the dashboard are of the highest priority. Changing fonts, colors, logo, header or footer elements, adding and managing images shouldn’t be rocket science. How to find out whether you will be able to tweak the theme on your own? Read the description, look through its screenshots, and don’t forget about user testimonials. Fellow shoppers will tell you the full the truth about the template. And if it were a bad investment, believe me people will not keep silent.
Is the Theme Provider Reliable?
With the growing demand for WordPress themes, more and more providers are appearing on the market. Such a tendency results in two perspectives. On one hand – the competition is very tough, so each of them tries to win the hearts of the web audience with more lucrative offers. On the other hand, it can be a challenge to find a place where professional web templates are being sold. If you are uncertain about which company you can trust, this detailed overviewwill help you figure this out.
Does the Theme Look Trendy?
Trends come and go. A few years ago the web was flooded with Flash sites and skeuomorphism. Now the situation is somewhat different. Today, a user is pleased when the web page looks clean and minimalist, when the content is brought to the foreground and nothing distracts their attention from enjoying the read. While 2015 is slowly approaching its end and in 2016 we will have a number of new trends that will be dictating web design fashion, there are still some trends that will remain in demand for a long time. These include:
- flat style
- long page scroll
- full-screen photos and videos, etc.
Take a look at this blog post. It will tell you how to make your site look trendy and competitive on the modern web.
Is the Theme Related to Your Business?
If you are looking for a niche-specific WordPress template, then pay attention to its functional filling and don’t forget about the visual presentation. If you are planning to build a business web resource, then a theme created in neutral blue, grey and white colors will be your best choice. When working on an entertainment project, such a color scheme won’t work. For that it would be better if you opted for brighter and more cheerful palettes.
Besides the color scheme, the theme should also include such niche-specific elements as property listings for real estate projects, gallery pages for online portfolios, booking forms for hotels, etc. In addition, premium WordPress templates are commonly loaded with images that are intended for a specific business field. In that way, you will have quality visual content that you can safely use on your web resource for free.
Concluding our guide on how to choose the best WordPress template for your web resource, we would like to introduce you to this beautiful and comprehensive infographicthat presents all of the facts that we discussed previously in this post and even more in a nice and easy-to-understand manner.
As you can see, making the right choice is not as easy as it may seem. You always need to do some research and compare the offerings of different theme providers. Valid code, responsivity, compatibility with the latest web design trends, features and elements with which it comes loaded, and many other options should be on you check list. And do not forget to start your search by planning carefully if you need a niche-specific of a multi-purpose template. This will narrow down your search and help you find the best template for your WordPress project.
What other guidelines do you commonly follow when choosing a template for your site? Do you prefer to go premium or does a free product sound like a more lucrative offer to you? Please share your thoughts with us below this post.
Lastly, if you need to focus more time and energy on marketing, you can hire a team of experts to manage the technical aspects of your WordPress site. One such service is provided by WP Buffs.
If you’re looking for a theme for your first site, check out First Site Guide for free resources and guides for newbies.