Once you have the WordPress software installed and ready to go, the next big step in setting up a successful website is choosing a WordPress theme. While there are thousands of themes to choose from, it’s important to keep a few things in mind when shopping around to cut down the list of options.
Put another way, how much easier is buying a bottle of wine when you know that you prefer reds and that your favorite red is Australian Shiraz? This small amount of knowledge cuts a choice between 500 bottles in a store down to 10.
– Marcus Taylor, Smashing Magazine.
No, this is not to say that you should pick a simple black-and-white theme. What this means is, pick a theme that aligns well with your goals and is not filled with unnecessary features that could bog down your site’s performance. You’ll quickly notice that most themes fall within a common category such as Blogs, Portfolios, Magazines, etc. This immediately helps minimize the list of themes to sort through.
- Quality and Care
Free isn’t always good. There’s a significant amount of maintenance that goes into a theme, and in many cases, free themes are not maintained as frequently as they should.It’s important to do research on the theme and that the developers behind it are updating frequently, offering less recognizable designs and offering ongoing support.
You definitely want your personal brand to show on your page and the best way possible is to customize the theme. Be sure to sort through the specifics of the theme to ensure you have enough flexibility to make changes.
Having a website that isn’t responsive is like driving a car that has a cassette player. You will quickly be dissed and dismissed if your website is not adaptable to tablets and mobile devices.
- SEO Friendly
While it’s not as vital as responsiveness, you should keep in mind if a theme is designed with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in mind. This will help give a tiny boost of traffic to your site.
- Compatible with All Browsers
The theme better be compatible with the 4 browser Gods: IE, Chrome, Safari and Firefox. Be sure to test out the demo on all four browsers before you purchase.
- Supports Plugins
If you have some plugins in mind for your site, make sure the theme your interested in will be able to support them. In many cases, the description will include if it’s compatible with most common plugins. If it doesn’t, you can always reach out to the developer to get a confirmation.
- Highly Rated and Reviewed
I’m a review junkie. I definitely want to know “the good, the bad, the ugly” when it comes to everything I purchase… themes are no exception. Most theme sites will have a reviews section, so be sure to take a look at some of the reviews. While a theme may have a high rating, it’s important to reach the feedback that user’s have posted as it might point out strengths and weaknesses that the theme has.
One last thing to note is that it’s just as important to research the developers behind the creation of themes. These themes are a reflection of their brand, so they take great pride in creating them, maintaining them, and addressing any concerns. The last thing you want is someone who isn’t quick to respond to concerns or who isn’t open to feedback.
I hope these tips help slash your list in half and make the shopping process less painful. Happy Searching!