If I had a penny for every time someone asks, “which theme should I use for my WordPress website?” I’d be reasonably rich by now, it’s safe to say.
You might already know that I’m Team WordPress and you can find my reasons here.
And chances are, if you’ve landed here it’s because you’ve already picked your domain and hosting (or check out web hosting 101 if you haven’t).
So the next pain point on your list will probably be which theme to choose. I know. I’ve been there. There are hundreds of themes. And hundreds of equally naff posts about how to choose a theme to go along with them.
But fear not, because I’ve pulled together the 18 most crucial points to consider when choosing your WordPress theme for your website:
- Responsive themes are non-optional
Google recently announced that it will be using a mobile first index. So if your site is not mobile friendly, say goodbye to ever being on the first page of Google. When picking your theme, double, triple, quadruple check that it offers responsive design.
- Drag and drop page builders for a unique look
Most themes are pretty much a case of what you see is what you get. The sales page shows a nice clean looking site with a few place holder images, a blog page and a contact page. Install the theme and spend hours tearing out your hair over the ONE thing you just want to move to the left-hand side of the page, or delete, or swap out or…you get my point. With a drag and drop page builder, you can quickly and easily move things around without having to learn lines of code.
In short, complicated websites = complicated levels of coding = more faff and junk when not executed well. Look for a theme that boasts about using good clean code, without loads of bloated features so that your site has less chance of conflicts, and more chance of performing faster with page speed/load times.
- Supported plugins
There is nothing more soul destroying than spending hours picking a theme, and then hours picking one particular plugin that you absolutely need…only for the plugin to break your site. When you’re choosing your theme pay attention to wording surrounding supported plug ins, add-ons or extensions so you know that the theme author is conscious about the functioning and behaving well with popular plugins. (I say popular, because not all plugins are made equal!)
- Browser compatibility
Flicking backwards and forwards between browsers to check your theme’s got its’ shit together across Chrome, Firefox and IE? Ain’t nobody got time for that. Choose a WordPress theme that boasts browser compatability as one of it’s main features, so you can spend time on more important things like writing your copy. (Or browsing gifs…)
- SEO friendly
Some themes are not SEO friendly. Fact. If there’s no mention of SEO on the theme’s sales page, it’s off the list.
How many 5 star ratings does it have? How many reviews? How many purchases? When was it last updated? If a theme is dead in the water; look for the warning signs: low number of reviews, low star rating, hasn’t been updated in months. Although, I have to say: if a theme hasn’t been updated in months, even if it has 50,000 purchases – I wouldn’t buy it. The interwebs are constantly evolving and updating – so if I make a purchase I want to know I’m paying for future proofing, too.
- Site speed/performance
See point 3. Nothing will turn your visitors away like a slow loading site. A theme with bloated code and poor design will have an impact on your website performance before you’ve even got any content on it.
- Aesthetically pleasing/not easily recognisable design
Although this point may seem obvious – I want to emphasise this point because popular themes are recognisable. Those that do not use a drag and drop page builder are, at least. If someone recommends a theme to you and it doesn’t utilise a drag and drop page builder, you need to be happy with the knowledge that many, many other sites are going to look very similar to yours.
- Customisation options
Can you change the site width, layout and spacing? Does it have easy to customise colours and fonts? Are there options to change the header or add in extra widget areas?
- Support when you need it
No one wants to waste hours Googling questions. Look for a theme with a well-managed support forum (and by that I mean, not just the one developer that made the theme who pops in to the forum every now and again on his lunch break). Good support will also give you a good indication of whether a theme is being actively improved/developed. (See point 7.)
Does the theme come bundled with a child theme? (SO you can make updates without breaking that shit) Is it compatible with ecommerce platforms like Woo, can it facilitate a membership site or an evets section? Does it have integrated social media sharing features or will these have to be added on separately? What special features does it have that no other theme has?
- List growing options
Finding a theme that supports a hello/info bar, integrates email marketing software like Convertkit and is compatible with lead generating plugins can be a challenge. Look through the themes sales page for screenshots and information – don’t neglect growing your email list because of an incompatible theme.
- Landing page features
Why spend extra $$ on services like leadpages when you can find a theme that has landing page options? What about an under construction page whilst you build your site or a maintenance mode when you want to make quick updates?
- Translation ready
Need your site in two languages? Or more complicated still one with a left to right language like English and one with right to left (e.g. Arabic)? That’s no small task and often themes that are translation ready will offer this up as their unique selling point and have little else in the way of features.
- How many templates does the theme offer
If a theme has just one look going for it, in my humble opinion, it’s not worth paying for. Pick a theme that has endless customisation options. That has a drag and drop page builder, oodles of demo content and even more options for customising them.
- No attribution links
If you’ve paid for a theme, you don’t want to have to attribute the developer – but double check because this isn’t always the case.
- How much do you want to pay?
Like all things in life, you get what you pay for. Expect to pay between $60-$90 for a premium theme with even just some of the features listed above.
So what’s my recommendation?
>>Affiliate link coming up<<<
I love X Theme and would be seriously, desperately lost without it, so I want you all to know how great it is too. X Theme can do everything I’ve listed above, and more.
It has over 30 standard demos (wireframed content) and 8 complete demo sites (that’s entirely complete, 100% ready to go out of the box websites)
It has hands down the best support and dev team behind it, who have plans to keep growing and developing the theme for years to come. (Seriously, they want WordPress theme domination!)
It is easy to use, and easy to make a beautiful, unique website without any headaches or hair pulling (promise).
It’s available for just $64 (plus taxes and fees) and will seriously rock your world.
I run two IT businesses with my husband and we use X Theme for our own websites, our customer websites, and we recommend it to people who want to take on their own website design themselves.
Purchase X here. (Affiliate link)
I could gush about this WordPress theme like it was an 8-week-old kitten for hours because seriously, it is that good, and you need it in your life.
Are you planning/about to make your own website? Let me teach you how using the awesomeness that is the X theme in – Make Your Own Website: how to make your own WordPress website like a boss! Check it out here.
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