Having the website of your dreams starts from paying close attention to the theme for your WordPress site. There are quite a number of beautiful themes available for WordPress, so it is important to know exactly what you are looking for. Before you choose a theme, there are certain questions you should ask. First thing to note is that, every theme focuses on different markets so your theme should reflect what your blog or website is about. Your theme reflects your WordPress identity and can be responsible for how search engines perceive your site or blog. Now let’s get to it.
1. Should I get a free theme or a paid one?
You might be wondering why you should pay for a theme when you can get a beautiful one for next to nothing. Your choice of free or paid WordPress themes depends on what you are looking to achieve with your site. There are varieties of free themes to choose from, and if your free theme isn’t cutting it, you could purchase a premium one. However, both free and paid themes have their good and bad sides.
Paid themes get updated more frequently than free themes, so you need to consider if you want frequent updates of your theme. If the answer is no, then sticking to a free theme may be the better option. Since the WordPress platform itself keeps getting updated, a frequently updated theme may mean better security. Free themes are beautiful but because they are free, you might have other sites sharing your theme. In addition, some free themes contain some attribution links acknowledging the author. This is becoming less common however. If you prefer to have an even wider pool of options, there are lots of paid themes to choose from. What you should be looking for in a theme, be it paid or free is Code quality. If the code quality of a theme is bad, it can affect your site negatively and you wouldn’t want that.
2. Should the theme look simple or a bit advanced?
Your theme should resonate with the goal of your site or blog. It should look charming but not too complicated. While simple themes are easier to use and work with, you need to consider the bigger picture. The main goal is to interact with the rest of the world. If your theme is fantastic but users are unable to maneuver easily then what’s the use?
3. Do I need a mobile responsive theme?
In this day and age where more mobiles are made than babies are born, you cannot dispense with having a responsive design. Laptops and desktops are now almost restricted to official use, while many users surf on smartphones and other handheld devices. You therefore need to ensure that your theme is mobile friendly. There are far more mobile users surfing the net now than before. The best way to find out if your theme is mobile responsive (especially the free ones) is to copy the URL of your theme’s demo page and paste it in Google’s Mobile Friendly Test page.
4. Is it compatible with all browsers?
Remember that your visitors will be using different browsers, you should therefore ensure that your chosen theme is compatible with all browsers. Do a test run of your theme on Google Chrome, Mozilla, Safari, Opera Mini, Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer, using desktop (and laptop), tablets and other mobile devices.
5. How secure is it? Security isn’t just about web hosting!
Presently, there are hackers everywhere and many things such as hosting, password strength and plugins may affect a website’s security. However, web hosting companies are constantly reinventing strategies to protect their clients’ websites. Brendan Wilde at Umbrellar web hosting and cloud backup company advises choosing a theme that will not weaken the security of your site. A good way to test the security level of themes is to check it on sites such as theme forest where you can get objective reviews on its security and performance. Many people think that website security is down to the hosting company. The reality is that it is the theme and plugin compatibility that often play the main role.
6. Does it support plugins?
Without plugins, you cannot enjoy the power of WordPress. With Plugins, your WordPress site objectives have a better chance of being achieved. Your WordPress ‘must’ support the popular plugins such as yoast, SEO and W3 Total Cache. If you are unsure, please ask the developer or search for the indication on the demo.
6. Is it all language friendly?
Even though your WordPress site will most likely be in English, you really don’t know what the future holds. You may have subsidiaries of your business in other countries and you’ll want to stick to your theme as part of your brand. You should be proactive by ensuring that your theme supports both translations and multilingual plugins.
7. Is it SEO Friendly?
Your WordPress theme can determine how Google reacts to your site and how you rank in search engines. For your site to be well optimized, you must choose a theme that’s absolutely SEO Friendly. Most premium themes are SEO friendly, but there is no guarantee that the free themes are. When choosing a theme, the developer will usually indicate that it is ‘SEO optimized’ or ‘SEO ready’ within the description part of the theme.
However, you can install Mozbar extension to check that the theme is indeed SEO friendly or verify its HTML5 generation by checking it with W3C Markup Validation.
8. Is there access to ‘Support Option’?
Most free themes do not come with support options if you need help with anything relating to your theme. Although rare, some developers will offer support for free. Choosing a free or paid theme with support option means you will be assisted when the need arises.
In conclusion, no theme is exactly perfect, and the pointers above are to guide and keep you aware of what to look out for when choosing a theme. You should also check the ratings and reviews of the theme you want to choose so that you can tell if it suits your needs or not.