How to Choose a Good WordPress Theme

Business Owners

How to Choose a Good WordPress ThemeWordPress themes come in all shapes and sizes, including various levels of quality. Choosing the right one can be difficult, especially if you don’t know anything about coding, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. Here’s a few things you should check out before you buy a theme.

What is a quality WordPress theme?

Before I get into HOW to find a quality theme, let’s quickly go over what a good theme is and why it matters. When we talk about the quality of a theme, we’re not only talking about how it looks or works, but also about how it’s coded. Since I’m guessing you already like how the theme looks, let’s skip straight to the programming.

Within programming there are guidelines called “best practices”. These can include anything from how a comment is added to the coding, to the way you pull something from the database, to how you set up the admin area of a WordPress theme. There are “best practices” for pretty much anything to do with programming.

These aren’t just a random set of rules, though. “Best practices” can effect how fast a site loads, how easy the theme is to use, or even how well the website moves from desktop to mobile views. All three of those will effect your business, so it’s important to find a quality WordPress theme – or a theme that follows “best practices”.

How to Choose a Good Theme

At around $60 a theme, buying a bad theme can set you back a few lattes. Here’s a few “cheat” methods of finding a good theme before you shell out the money.

View the Demo

Most themes have a demo or live preview available that you can take a look at. Particularly on sites like ThemeForest.com, the live preview will be easily found. Within the live demo you’ll want to look out for two main items.

First, check if the text is written in an easy-to-understand way. Remember, whoever wrote the text here probably did the documentation. If you find a lot of spelling errors or confusing directions, take that as a warning.

Second, move through the pages and check its cohesiveness. Do all the buttons have the same style? Does any animation work well? Does it work in other browsers? How does the page look on your mobile phone or tablet? Does it have all the page templates you need? If the answer is yes to all of these, you’re looking good.

Check the Comments

Comments are tricky because a bad comment could mean a bad theme, but it could also mean a bad customer. Ignore (unless they relate directly to something you want to do with the theme) any comments having to do with added functionality, say, adding an icon next to the title. Instead, focus on comments that are looking for basic setup help. If you have a ton of people asking how to set up the homepage, it might be a confusing theme to work with.

Next, look for comments that are dealing with problems. Things like, they set up a page and it suddenly stopped working, or the homepage slideshow won’t play. These can be signs of bad coding. Make sure you read the responses to those issues as well. There are lots of reasons coding doesn’t work; it might just be a plugin they installed was incompatible.

Finally, take a look at the response time on the comments. If there are people leaving comments like “I contacted them 3 days ago and haven’t heard back”, keep in mind that the customer service won’t be great. Comments that have responses on them within 24 hours are good signs!

Glance at the documentation

Sometimes you can get a hold of the documentation for a theme. If you can (it might be available on their site), then take a look at how things are set up. If it makes sense to you and seems well-written and comprehensive, that’s another good sign.

Confirm the Features

Finally, don’t forget to confirm that all the features you want are offered in this theme. The features are generally listed on the main page where you can buy the theme. You don’t need it to include everything – plugins can cover things like menus or staff – but if you need the top slideshow to support video, make sure it does before you buy.

Summary

Buying a theme is never a 100% sure thing, but a little work before you buy can save you a ton of headaches in the future. If you already bought a theme and need some customization, contact me for a quote!

 

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