Choosing a WordPress theme is not just about the look and feel of the website. It’s more than that. For anyone new to this business, choosing the right theme is some task.
So what are you supposed to look for in a WordPress theme before giving your website to it?
What are the minimum requirements that need to be fulfilled?
From more than 10,000 free and premium WordPress themes out there it is a cumbersome task to go look for the best one for your site. On the contrary, what you can do is look at a few themes you like and then refer to this list to see if it fills out all the boxes. I’ll also add a quick checklist at the end of the post for you to refer to when going for your next WordPress theme.
Before we start, we are talking about free and premium themes for WordPress.org.
So what is the minimum you can’t ignore when going for a WordPress theme?
1. Know what you want
There are a ton of themes out there with and without the functionality you want. The best way is to first sit down and list all your basic requirements from your website. Define your most crucial features without which your website will just not be that functional.
It could be a nice grid for showcasing your portfolio if you are a designer or photographer. Or perhaps somewhere you can nicely place your recipe card if you are a food blogger. And so on.
So, before you get more excited seeing all those beautiful themes out there just make a list of what you need.
2. Design and Interaction
Your users are everyday people who need a good website experience to interact with your website. If your theme is not designed keeping the basic user psychology in mind, chances are it won’t work that well for you in driving traffic and eventually sales.
It should be user-friendly.
Must have a great user experience.
It should be easy to navigate.
The fonts should be readable and big enough.
Space should be balanced.
Should not be bloated with too much design.
3. Easy to Customize
If you are not going to hire a professional WordPress developer/designer for your website, customizability is your headache. While many websites look good on the front end, they are very hard to handle at the back end.
For some themes, you might need to have some CSS knowledge to make appropriate design changes. This could be for the essentials too like fonts and colors.
There are many options for theme customization. Some are WordPress standard and others involve page builders. You might need to have some learning to do there if you are doing it for the first time.
Your website needs to be responsive. You just can not ignore this today. Responsive websites adjust according to the screen size. They are mobile-ready. A user who reaches to your website via a mobile phone will not have to zoom in to see the contents of your website. The website will automatically adjust to the screen to give the best user experience.
With the advancement of 5G technology and internet being accessible everywhere more and more people are using their phones to access the internet. This means more than 80% of your traffic is most likely to come from a mobile device.
In today’s time, no one will want to zoom in to a website just to see its contents. They will bounce back to another website with a stronger user experience.
5. Lightweight/ Faster Load Times
Your theme should be lightweight. This is because we want lightning-fast speeds to load the website. Your website should load in 1-2 seconds. A theme with a lot of extra functionality that you are not using or bloatware you did not get rid of is a curse for your speed.
While this may also depend on your hosting, you still must make sure your theme is not outrageously heavy.
Read about these 12 Factors affecting your website speed in 2020.
Simple is love. There was a time themes were designed like we dress South Asian brides. But now the simpler it is the better. Your users are busy they don’t have time to navigate a fancy website unless your niche makes profit out of being a bit too fancy.
Make navigation and user experience your priority. Even if you feel like going for a very densely designed theme consider simple first.
7. Browser Compatibility
Even if you love using Chrome, like myself, don’t forget there are half a dozen other browsers out there that other people might prefer over Chrome. Your website should function well in all those browsers as well.
The best way out is to open your theme’s demo in all of the famous browsers out there before you make the payment. The browsers you should look into are:
- Internet Explorer
- Microsoft Edge
- Opera Browser
Not to forget there are many browsers on smartphones as well. Do look into them as well. Here is a list to start:
- Duckduck Go Private Browser
- Microsoft Edge
8. SEO Ready
Search engine optimization is a real game. Having a theme that is not optimized for SEO will result in having a website that is just like a motel on the highway but completely hidden behind tall trees and heavy bushes. No one will know how to look for it. Sad. All that energy spent for no traffic to your website.
So if your theme accommodates SEO, you will be more than happy to have it on your website.
SEO is must for your theme in 2020.
9. Plugin Support
There is a risk of your theme not supporting some important plugins you might need for your website. It is wise to ask the developer to confirm if your theme is compatible with the most popular plugins out there.
There is a lot you might need to tweak in your theme. The best way out is to use well-written documentation. Make sure your theme comes with handy documentation which you can use to make the necessary changes.
Bonus: Customer Support
When nothing works you head over to the customer support. Good themes come with good customer support. Don’t forget to look into this before you finalize your theme. Dormant customer support is only a headache once you land into a grave problem with your theme.