How to choose a WordPress Theme: The Dos and Don’ts
We’ve all heard the saying “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”. Well, your website is no different. How you present yourself online will leave a lasting impression with those who visit your site.
Whether you’re building a personal blog or an e-commerce store, the design of your website will play an important role in its success. So, how do you go about choosing the right WordPress theme for your WordPress website?
I’m glad you asked! In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the things you should do when choosing a theme, as well as some things you should probably avoid.
How to choose a WordPress Theme: The Dos
Do: Consider Your Audience
While you may be tempted to choose a theme based on how cool it looks—or how much it costs—you should always consider who will be visiting your site. If you’re running a business blog, your audience is likely made up of potential clients or partners who expect a professional appearance. If you’re blogging for fun, however, you might not want to go with a theme that looks like everyone else’s business blog.
Do: Choose a Theme That Reflects Your Style
If you run an arts and culture blog, for example, it’s unlikely that you’d want to go with a minimalist design. In fact, if it’s arts and culture that you’re interested in showcasing, there are plenty of themes out there (WordPress calls them “Themes”) that allow you to feature multiple images on your home page.
Do : Understand the difference between a theme and a framework
A lot of people tend to confuse WordPress themes with WordPress frameworks. However, they are not the same thing. Themes and frameworks can work together, but they aren’t interchangeable.
A theme controls the design of your website. It includes the images, colors and layout of your site. A framework is a tool that makes it easier to develop themes. It provides a foundation upon which you build your own custom designs.
Do: Use features to narrow down your options
Before you start browsing themes, it’s important to have a clear idea of the features you want your site to have. For example, if you want an online store, look for themes that have e-commerce functionality built-in. This will save you a lot of time and effort later on.
There are several ways to do this:
You can read the theme’s description carefully.
Have a look at the screenshots in the theme’s demo (if available).
Take advantage of filtering options. WordPress.org, for example, has a feature filter that allows you to choose specific requirements such as responsiveness and e-commerce support.
Do: Know where to find good themes
Finding quality themes is almost as important as the theme itself. I recommend sticking with reputable companies like StudioPress, Elegant Themes, and ThemeForest. All three offer a large selection of great-looking WordPress themes, and you will be confident in the quality of their support and documentation.
Do test the theme thoroughly
Before you make a purchase, it’s important to test out the theme to see if it has the functionality and style you need. This can be done on their website or with a live demo of the theme. You should test out all the areas of the theme, including sliders, contact forms, galleries, and more. You should also try out different device sizes (mobile, tablet and desktop) as well as different thoroughly.
Do check for responsiveness
Responsiveness is one of Google’s ranking factors and will help your site’s SEO. A responsive website looks great on all devices regardless of their size. It takes into account how users interact with a page based on their device type and changes its layout accordingly. This makes for a better user experience and will help keep your visitors coming back for more!
Don’t worry about coding skills
One of the biggest selling points for WordPress is that it allows you to create your own website without any coding skills. You don’t have to learn HTML code or CSS in order to customize your site; instead you can use widgets that are already built in to do so much more than just change colors or fonts (which some themes limit).
How to choose a WordPress Theme: The Don’ts
Don’t get stuck into one layout
One of the most dangerous things you can do when building a website is to choose a theme and get stuck into one layout. Your design should be flexible, so that you can test out different layouts, colors, and aesthetics. With WordPress, you don’t have to be stuck into a specific layout.
That’s why I always recommend that you start with a simple, clean theme. In fact, if you’re just starting out with your website – I’d recommend that you start with the basic themes that are provided by WordPress themselves. This gives you the flexibility to change your design and layout at any time in the future.
Don’t choose a WordPress theme with an outdated design
If you are looking for a new WordPress theme for your website, you will be overwhelmed by the number of options available. There are literally thousands of themes that you can choose from.
The worst thing that you as a website owner can do is to just pick any theme and install it. This can have serious consequences for your site.
If you choose a poorly coded theme, it can affect the speed and performance of your website. This could lead to frustrated visitors and even lost sales.
If you pick a theme with an outdated design, it will reflect poorly on your brand and turn away customers before they even see what you have to offer.
Don’t choose a theme with a font that’s hard to read
Many people, when choosing a WordPress theme, don’t pay enough attention to the fonts. This is a huge mistake as a website without a readable font is difficult to read, and you will lose readers in the process.
The first thing you need to do is to find out what fonts your WordPress theme has. It’s very likely that the demo site will have its own font that isn’t included in the theme itself. If this is the case, you will need to choose a different font for your website.
When choosing a font, there are some things to keep in mind:
Don’t choose a font that’s too fancy or artistic. Your font needs to be readable by anyone at any time.
Use no more than three different fonts on your entire website. Any more than that and your website starts looking unprofessional and cluttered.
Make sure your lines don’t wrap too often. The longer the line is, the harder it is for readers to go back to the beginning of it when they reach the end of it. This can be done by using plenty of white space and keeping paragraphs short.
Don’t choose a bloated theme
There are so many themes on the market that it can be tempting to pick one that seems like it has everything you need, from design to functionality.
But a bloated theme is usually a slow theme, and a slow website will cost you visitors. No matter how great your content might be, if your site loads slowly, people will simply leave and go elsewhere.
More often than not, the features included in bloated themes are things you won’t even need. Instead of choosing a theme that comes with everything but the kitchen sink (and then some), opt for a simple, lightweight theme that fits your needs perfectly.
Don’t: Buy a free theme that has been downloaded thousands of times
The first (and most common) mistake I see people make when choosing their WordPress theme is just to choose a theme because it looks good.
The problem with this is that there are several issues that can arise from using a ‘popular’ theme. The most common one is that your website will end up looking just like everyone else’s. Another potential issue is security flaws – if a theme becomes popular, hackers will look for ways to exploit it and infect the sites that are using it.
If you’re looking for a free theme to use, then consider doing the following:
Ensure the theme has been updated recently (i.e.: in the last few months). This helps ensure the developer is still actively supporting it. If it hasn’t, they may not be providing support or updates any longer, which could mean you’re at risk of security exploits and bugs.
Look at the number of times it has been downloaded. If there are thousands or tens of thousands of people using the same theme as you, then there’s a big chance your site will look like everyone else’s who is using the same theme. If you want something unique, avoid these themes!
Don’t choose themes that are so colorful and with too many icons, unless your site needs it
I would advise avoiding any WordPress themes that are too colorful or have too many features and icons. Unless you’re creating a site for children or a site with a lot of interactive graphics, loud colors and lots of animations may actually drive visitors away rather than engage them.
If your website is text-heavy, try to choose a theme that uses serif fonts. Serif fonts are easier to read online than sans-serif fonts because the little flourishes at the ends of letters make it easier for the eye to follow from letter to letter. Times New Roman is a great example of an excellent, easy-to-read serif font.
Try to make sure the font size is sufficient as well – you don’t want your visitors to have to squint at their screens or zoom in on their browsers just to read what you’ve written. 12pt is usually considered the absolute minimum for online font size, but my personal preference is 14pt.
The key to choosing a good WordPress theme is knowing what you want it to do. You can think of this in the same way that a carpenter might think of buying tools – if you are building a bookshelf, then you don’t need a set of power tools. Different themes are designed for different things, so don’t try and push your theme to do something it was not designed for.