How to Choose the Perfect WordPress Theme

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Many WordPress users feel overwhelmed when it comes to selecting a theme for their Website. There are thousands of free and paid options available from many different outlets. Many themes offer additional functionality and customisation options, but how do you select the perfect WordPress Theme? In this article we will share some of the things we look for when building bespoke WordPress Websites.

Selecting the perfect theme for Your WordPress site

Why You Should be Careful When Choosing a WordPress Theme?

WordPress is most popular CMS system used today and as such there are thousands of premium themes that offer additional functionality and options that could compliment your business.

You should always try to select a WordPress theme that will complement the content of your website. For example, if you are starting a feed based website (like you may want a theme that caters for advanced social sharing etc.

Many premium (paid) WordPress themes come with extended customization options from within the WordPress Admin interface. If your theme has not been coded properly, these options and other advance features can cause conflicts and make it difficult for you to change themes or use other WordPress plugins. You could end up stuck with a theme you are not happy with or having to pay the theme developer to help you sort out the issues.

Some WordPress themes that look stunning can actually make your website incredibly slow and contain security flaws that offer hackers easy access to your website and data. A slow website is the number 1 reason for a website having a high bounce rate (Where a user visits the site and leaves either before the site has completely loaded or shortly after.) and a slow site will affect your Google rankings as the search engine promotes websites that load faster.

Although your theme is an extremely important part of creating your WordPress website, no matter what theme you use, RMW Consultants are able to help you customise your theme in anyway you wish and can help add any type of functionality you wish. Alternatively, our expert WordPress developers can build a custom theme for your website that contains exactly what you need – contact us for more information.

Even if you do decide to have a web developer assist with building your new website, it’s always a good idea to research WordPress themes that will work for you and that look perfect for you, so let’s take a look at the things to look for to make sure that you select the perfect theme for your WordPress website.

1) Layout and Navigation

Many WordPress themes come with complex layouts, multiple navigation options and hundreds of customisation options but a lot of the time you may not need it all. Look for a theme that has a layout that supports the goal of your website. Your Website should look outstanding but that shouldn’t compromise on readability or userbility.

The same goes for the navigation options, make sure the different navigation options shown on the theme demo are not too confusing or limiting and that there is a preset you are happy with, if you are not comfortable with editing the PHP code in the theme files.

If a theme looks the part but fails to help you achieve your goals or is confusing to navigate then I would recommend giving it a miss.

2) Responsive / Fluid

Choose a Responsive or Fluid WordPress Theme.
Responsive themes adjust depending on the screen size they are being viewed on. Nowadays websites are viewed on a plethora of different devices which have every screen size imaginable, so therefore its imperative your website looks amazing no matter what device is being used to view it.

Google also shows mobile friendly responsive websites on top in their mobile search results. Regardless of your site’s SEO scores so all websites need to be responsive and not just for mobile devices.

Most WordPress themes are responsive by default. But there are still many available (both free and premium themes) that contain fixed width layouts that are not responsive at all. Make sure the theme you are choosing for your website is fully responsive and not just mobile friendly.

How to test a Theme for Mobile Readiness
The easiest way to test whether a theme is responsive or not is by resizing your browser screen. As you resize your browser screen, you will notice that the theme’s layout will adjust itself to the screen width.

For more thorough testing you can copy the URL of theme’s demo page and paste it in Google’s Mobile Friendly Test page.

3) Browser Compatibility

Browser compatibility testing
Your users will be (hopefully_ visiting your WordPress website from all over the world on various devices and using different browsers. Your theme may look perfect on your browser, but the same website could look terrible in internet explorer, if the themes coding is not cross browser compatible.

Most WordPress theme developers test their themes rigorously by using sophisticated browser compatibility testing tools.
They may clearly mention this on the sales paege. But if they don’t, then you can always run some basic tests to check the theme on various different browsers like Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, etc.

4) Supported and included Plugins

Supported plugins
The real power of WordPress comes with WordPress plugins. Plugins make it possible for you to add any type of functionality imaginable to your WordPress website.

While there are plenty of WordPress plugins, some are must-have WordPress plugins for every websites. We have a set list of plugins we install on any WordPress installation we work on as standard, these include Security, Malware, Speed, SEO, Admin Functionality and more – a theme that has conflicts with any standard, popular plugin is normally a bad sign and again, I would stear clear!

Whats the best way to check your perfect WordPress theme supports all of the most popular plugins? We would recommend getting in touch with the theme developer and asking, most will be happy to provide you with full details.

5) Translation + Multilingual Ready

Multilingual and translation ready WordPress themes
A large number of WordPress sites are not in the English language. You may be creating a website in a language other than English. Maybe you have plans to add additional language versions of your website later in the future. In order to do this you need to make sure your theme is translation ready and supports the use of multilingual WordPress Plugins.

6) Page Builders

Drag and drop page builders for WordPress themes
There are lots of different page builder plugins for WordPress, some better than others. Most of the latest themes come prepackaged with a drag and drop page builder that is required for the theme to function correctly. (For example the #1 selling theme on themeforest makes use of its own page builder plugin which must be installed for the theme to work correctly.)

Using page builders to create your website can be really useful and speed up the process immensely although there can be some bad points. Most of the page builders rely on additional code in order to display the content correctly. This can be undesirable for many reasons, especially on a landing page or if you ever change to a theme that does not support the page builder you have used, as this will mean all of the pages have to be cleaned of the excess code before they will display correctly.,

Try to ensure you use a theme that comes with a widely used page builder, or purchase a popular page builder plugin separately, so you can use it on any theme you install.

7) Support

Support for your WordPress theme
One downside of using a free WordPress theme is that there is no guaranteed support. A small amount of kind developers do provide excellent support for their free themes, but many of them have no support option or even a way to contact the developer.

If you mess up your WordPress theme, or have a question regarding the theme, then you will have to figure it out on your own or engage a third-party developer to solve the problems.

If possible try to select a premium WordPress theme that has a vast amount of documentation, good support option and great customer reviews. Most premium WordPress themes offer detailed documentation with either 6 month to 1 year of email based support and the option to extend this if required. Please note although the themes come with support, the theme developer will only assist you with theme based issues (ie if the theme breaks or there is something wrong with the themes code – they will not assist with customisation and developing your website.

8) SEO Friendly

Check your theme works well with all of the major search engines
Unsurprisingly, your WordPress them will have an impact on your SEO scores. A beautiful theme can still generate poorly coded HTML, CSS and Javascript that could affect your websites performance on search engines.

If you are not a web developer, it can be difficult to analyze a theme’s source code on your own. Especially if you have no knowledge of HTML and CSS. Many premium WordPress theme developers will let you know that their pages are optimized for SEO, but this is definitely one to double check to save you a future headache.

9) Ratings and Reviews

Check ratings and user reviews for your perfect WordPress theme
For me (before we created our own themes) there were always three deciding factors when I came to purchase a WordPress theme

Number of copies sold
Theme Rating
User Reviews

If the premium themes sold on a third-party marketplace, then you will see all three displayed somewhere on the sales page.

For free WordPress themes, you will find the ratings section just below the download button. It will show the number of reviews and stars given by users. If you click on 5 stars, then it will show you all the reviews that gave the theme 5 stars.

Read theme reviews and ratings by other users as these can be a great indication into any underlying issues with the theme. Of course nearly all themes receive bad reviews (you cant keep all the people happy all of the time!) so I would always read a selection and not just the first few, but if there are a unusually high number or complaints, users asking questions then move on to the next theme.

FREE Theme Recommendations

There are plenty of free WordPress themes available with new ones being released on a daily basis. Some of the popular themes available for free are;

41 Best Free WordPress Photography Themes (Expert Pick)
21 Best Free WordPress Business Themes
37 Simple WordPress Themes You Should Try
43 Beautiful Free WordPress Blog Themes

However, as we have mentioned above that support is one of the most important factor to consider when selecting a theme and although there are many premium themes that come with support, this will only help you with critical theme issues. If your just getting started with WordPress we would recommend you choose your perfect WordPress theme and then consider either a monthly support or bespoke wordpress development package from RMW Consultants, so our developers can help you get the most our of your theme and ensure your website looks exactly how you want.

Going it alone? Here’s a handy guide to help you find out how to install a Premium WordPress theme.

Installing a WordPress theme is quite a simple process. First you will need to download the theme’s zip file to your computer.
Once complete, login to your WordPress admin area and go to Appearance » Themes page.

Themes page in WordPress admin area
On top of the themes page, you need to click on the Add New link.
This will take you to the add new theme page. You can use this page to look for free themes to install. But since we have already downloaded the theme, you need to just click on Upload theme link at the top.

Upload a theme
You will now see the theme upload box. Click on choose file button to select the theme zip file you downloaded to your computer earlier and then click on the Install now button.
Upload and install theme zip file
WordPress will now upload the theme from your computer to your website and install it for you. Once it is done, you will see a success message with links to preview or activate the theme.

Theme installation successful!!

If you do not want to use a theme right away, you can click on the live preview button to test out the theme without activating it.
Please note that you will have to activate a theme in order to use it on your website.

We hope you enjoyed our article and that it has helped you choose the perfect wordpress theme, but if you are having a hard time working out whats best for your new project why not consider a pay per month website from RMW Consultants? We build a bespoke theme to your requirements so you don’t have to choose the a WordPress theme, you have your own that matches your exact requirements!

Share your experience with us! What do you look for in a WordPress Theme? We love to hear your thoughts! If you enjoyed reading and found our article useful please get involved, comment, share and subscribe. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

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