Choosing a theme for your WordPress website is exciting, but can quickly feel daunting. With so many themes to choose from, it helps to know what to look for when reviewing your choices. Some themes are free, some have one-time fees, and others have yearly fees. In this article, we’ll discuss a few tips and guidelines for picking the perfect theme for your WordPress site.
Consider your needs
Before you start searching for themes, take a moment to consider the purpose of your site and the tone you want to convey. If you’re making a blog about parenting tips, you’d have a very different look than say, a blog about metalcore music.
Some themes are designed to suit a particular niche or style, such as law firms, medical practices, or magazines. Some focus on a light or dark aesthetic. Other themes are a blank slate that are designed for you to heavily customize theme to suit your specific needs.
If you’re newer to WordPress and not familiar with designing websites, you may find having a theme with a more opinionated design is beneifical to you. If you’re comfortable working with websites and have played with themes and web design before, you may find a less opinionated theme more to your liking.
Review supported features and compatibility
Many themes are designed to extensible and work with many different plugins and services. Page builders are commonly used with WordPress websites to help make building pages with fancier layouts easier. If you’re interested in using a page builder, such as Visual Composer, Beaver Builder, or others, the theme you use should ideally have support for that page builder. In this case, “support” for something means that the theme was built to be compatible or work well with a certain thing. So if a theme lists itself as “Visual Composer Compatible” the theme author likely took extra steps to ensure Visual Composer will work well with their theme.
WordPress now includes a page builder solution of its own: Gutenberg. You should make sure the theme you choose supports Gutenberg if you’re interested in trying to use Gutenberg as your page builder. Since Gutenberg is new, some themes may not work with it as well as others. Most (if not all) themes that support Gutenberg will include additional blocks to add additional elements to Gutenberg’s arsenal. This allows you additional capabilities for your pages which may provide you more usefulness than just customizing Twenty Nineteen (the default WordPress theme at the time of writing).
Do you need a premium theme?
While many WordPress themes are available for free, some have an associated cost. Themes that cost money are generally referred to as “Premium” themes. The cost model for premium themes typically falls under of the following:
- Pay Yearly for Support & Updates
- Pay one lifetime cost for updates, pay for support every 6/12 months
One of the main benefits to choosing a premium theme is support from the theme developer. Typically this is just email support, but sometimes you may get support through a forum. While support may not seem like a big deal, it can come in handy if you’re having a problem and don’t want to pay a developer to fix it.
Like with most technology decisions, you should consider if a premium theme represents a large enough value for you to buy it. Does the theme have some killer feature you really want? Does the theme include plugins that normally cost money (and therefore save you from buying them yourself)? If the answer to any of those questions is yes, you may consider purchasing the theme.
Envato runs a WordPress theme marketplace called ThemeForest. At the time of writing, ThemeForest has over 47,000 themes available for purchase. This can be a great place to find themes, but not all themes are created equal. Make sure you check reviews and carefully consider the features inclucded to decide if the premium theme is a good fit. Themes purchased from ThemeForest include a one time cost for the license with optional upsells to purchase additional support.
Determine if the theme author is trustworthy
Determining how trustworthy, reliable, or otherwise legit a theme developer is can be tough, especially if you’re not a developer yourself. In general, you should treat this matter just like any other indicator of consumer confidence and consider reviews and feedback from people who have used the developer’s products.
Even if the site the theme is being sold from doesn’t have reviews for the theme, a simple google search can often lead to insight into how well a theme is regarded or if it has a bunch of problems. Additionally, its always good to ask other people you know about their experiences with themes. This allows you to benefit from their experience the theme(s) you’re considering.