Beginners Guide to Choosing WordPress Themes
How many of you do a full and in-depth research on WordPress themes before buying? Do you evaluate each theme’s pros and cons prior to making your purchase?
Apparently, many web owners do not do a thorough evaluation of WordPress themes and at times, end up regretting their decisions. What happened was that they usually get distracted by the theme designs and more often than not, made purchase decisions based on their emotions and themes’ esthetics.
But that also brings up the question of what are other criteria that we should look for when selecting WordPress themes. Well, here are a few other matters that are equally important when deciding which WordPress theme to buy.
The importance of selecting an appropriate theme
It doesn’t matter whether you are creating your own blog or starting an online store or any other types of website based on WordPress, there are a lot of important matters that require your attention, starting with choosing a suitable theme. Because of the high demand for WordPress themes, there are many themes providers such as the highly popular Elegant Themes and ThemeForest.
While the easy availability of themes is good news, it can be time-consuming and tiring for you to search for the perfect theme. Not to mention sometimes confusing too.
What are the consequences of choosing the “wrong” theme? For instance, you have a blog. You like this WordPress theme that comes with lots of features and options. It was within your budget and without haste, you bought it. After using it for some time, you began to notice that your website was loading really slowly because of all these extra features that you probably don’t use. I know because I have been there.
Tips to choosing WordPress themes
So what should you look for? Here are some tips on what to look for when selecting your WordPress theme.
Does the theme support the latest versions of WordPress?
This may sound weird to some of you but not all themes fully support the latest WordPress versions. WordPress has many features and functions like their navigation menu, widgets, images and the different type of posts.
Read the theme’s description carefully and try out the preview. If you are still unsure, please check with the provider. The last thing you want is to purchase the theme and then find that it doesn’t support your WordPress version!
What is your website’s purpose?
Due to WordPress’ versatility, it can be customized to accommodate different types of websites. For example, while WordPress is a popular blogging application, there are many who use WordPress as an e-commerce software, as a gallery to display their works as well as for a host of other functions.
Hence, there are tons of WordPress themes designed to meet these various demands. If you want to create a corporate website, then you may need a professional-looking theme that has multiple layouts and columns. If you wish to build an online store, then you should look for a theme that supports e-commerce.
If it’s a blog that you want, then theme searching is a little easier. Almost all WordPress themes can be used as a blog theme. For some themes, you may need a few tweaks here and there to achieve the look and feel that you want though.
Do be advised that you should test the theme first or check out their demo to ensure the theme fits your requirements before purchasing it.
What are your design requirements?
Everyone has different taste and expectations of how their website should look. Therefore the first thing to determine is the theme’s look or design. Ensure that you find a theme that matches the feel and look you wanted to create.
Sure, most themes are flexible enough for you to customize them but you should remember that too much changes can affect your theme’s overall design. The rule of thumb is to find a theme that meets at least 80% of your layout expectations.
Does your theme support future WordPress updates?
You should always update your WordPress whenever it is made available. The newer version has more functions and is more secure.
However, this can also mean that your old themes may no longer support this new WordPress version. Therefore, it is important to find a theme that guarantees future updates for the theme. Most popular themes providers offer this updates to their themes for free.
The other thing to note is the frequency of these updates. Most themes have a “last updated” date somewhere on its page. If a theme has not been updated for 6 months or longer, it’s best to avoid this theme.
Do you want a mobile-friendly theme?
Actually, the more appropriate question is whether you need a mobile-friendly theme. You will need to determine whether such a theme would help enhance your visitors’ experience and to encourage them to take action.
If you do need a mobile-friendly theme, then you need to look for a responsive theme. You can check out Elegant Themes responsive themes here.
To help you decide, you will first need to narrow down your target audience or market. If you are selling furniture, you probably would not need a responsive theme because chances are your customers will be doing researches on home computers. But if you own a restaurant, you may want to consider a responsive theme because some of your customers would want to take pictures of their food and share them on/through your site!
How much does the theme cost?
WordPress themes’ prices can vary by quite a bit. Take for example, WordPress themes being sold at ThemeForest can cost between $40 and $60 per theme. However, a Personal membership with Elegant Themes costs only $69 per year and you get access to all 88 of their themes. Now, that’s a bargain!
At the same time, there are themes which cost up to hundreds of dollars too. But don’t just look the price. Look for their refund policy, if any and go through it. If the theme does not work for you e.g. the theme does not support your system, you can then request for a refund.
What about the theme provider’s reputation?
As mentioned earlier, there are many WordPress theme providers. Some provide free themes while others offer premium themes.
Free themes are great but you lose out in terms of functionality (less options and features), updates (most likely no updates) and support (next to none). Without good support, you may end up being frustrated when run into problems with the theme!
When buying from premium theme providers, you still need to exercise caution. Do evaluate the providers’ reputation. Some of my favorite theme providers include Elegant Themes, ThemeForest and WooThemes. Not only do they provide some of the best themes around with updates and great support, their themes are also priced at a most affordable price range.
Now, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of Elegant Themes and ThemeForest.
Elegant Themes is one of the earlier WordPress theme providers, having been establish in 2008. Today, they are a leader in providing professional WordPress themes to tens of thousands of users around the world.
The main reason behind this popularity is because they are one of the most affordable premium themes providers around. At the same time, the design team also comes up with great themes that live up to their name. That’s value for money.
For $69 per year, you are able to access ALL their themes (currently there are 87 themes, and counting) and their updates as well as support. This is less than what some providers charge for a single theme!
Easy to customize
They have many user-friendly features that allow both beginners and advanced users to customize their websites easily and quickly.
Elegant Themes offers high resolution graphics and a wide range of color schemes to choose from, thus allowing users to easily create the style and design they want.
The team is committed to solve any issues you may have. The support forum is very active and has a great number of fellow users.
The membership is renewable yearly and hence, in the long run, it may cost more if you were to renew it year after year but only uses just one single theme. However, in such cases, you can opt not to renew and you still get to keep and use all the themes that you have downloaded.
Loses access when you unsubscribe
While you are still able to keep your downloaded themes once you stop renewing your membership, you will have no access to updates or future theme releases or support.
ThemeForest’s business plan is different from Elegant Themes’. This is a themes marketplace which, like a normal marketplace, serves to connect theme designers and buyers. These designers sell their individual themes to a large group of interested visitors. Once a theme is sold, the designer will share part of the proceeds with ThemeForest as fees for space rental and the management of the transactions.
Thousands of WordPress themes
Themes seekers have lots of choices as there are over 3,000 WordPress themes available on ThemeForest.
Variety of designs
With the huge number of designers that they have attracted, you are bound to find designs that are different from one another.
There is a community-based feedback system, where users are able to rate the theme and its designer. You are highly recommended to read these feedback or comments before making your purchases.
ThemeForest is just a marketplace and is not responsible for support. Support is to be provided by the theme’s designer and sometimes, you may find designers who provide not-so-good support.
Because there are so many different designers selling on ThemeForest, there is hardly ever any promotions e.g. Buy 2 Free 1.
Even though choosing a WordPress theme is only one of the many decisions that you will need to make when creating a new website, it is also one of the most important one. A good theme can even help increase your rankings and let you stay ahead of competition!
Many themes companies are creating more and more sophisticated themes. Obviously, not all these themes are appropriate for all websites. Each website has their purpose and requirements.. and each theme has its own unique qualities. This is why we need to evaluate the themes carefully before making our purchases. The above list may not be exhaustive but it covers a wide range of questions that will help you make your decision.