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How To Choose A WordPress Theme

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This post is for new bloggers who want to learn how to choose a WordPress theme wisely.

When it comes to starting a blog, WordPress is a great option out there. It’s one of the best blogging platforms which powers more than 42% of all the websites on the internet.

WordPress has given us countless themes & plugins to choose from and hence it leaves you in a complete daze when it comes to choosing a suitable theme for your blog.

In fact, it happened to me many times. And if you’re encountering the same problem, then you are in the right place.

In this post, I’m going to share the 11 things that you need to consider to find a suitable theme for your blog/website.

Before getting started, I would like to talk about consequences of choosing a random WordPress theme.

 

Consequences of Having a Random Theme

One of the most common drawbacks is that you can install a theme that either has excessive features or has limited features. It makes your site look full of features or lack of functionality.
The second result could be “slow loading speed”.
And the third most dangerous consequence is that you install a theme that is outdated, buggy and vulnerable and can easily be compromised.

I know you never wish to have these consequences. So it’s really important to be careful while it comes to WordPress themes.

And I’ve prepared this guide to help you find a suitable theme without any hustle. So stay tuned!

Let’s begin…

1. Jot down Essential Features

Before installing a WordPress theme, take note of all the features your blog or website needs.

And you can follow these two steps to make a list.

#1. Decide the Type of BLOG/WEBSITE

Is it an informational blog, service website or e-commerce business website? You have to figure this out first as it can radically narrow down your options.

For example, if you decide to start an ecommerce website, you will need a theme that can showcase your products and services.

#2. Niche –

Knowing about your blog niche can help you figure out what type of content you need to produce.

For example, if you have a blog about health, you are going to create informational content about health and wellness. And for that, you don’t need any fancy themes to display your content. A simple blog theme can do wonders.

On the other hand, showcasing your photos and portfolio are the primary features of a photography blog theme.

So, these two factors can help you sort the critical feature from the whole lot of features.

For your convenience, I’ve list out the features that a primary theme can have…

The Features a Primary(Basic) WordPress Theme Can Have

  1. Responsive
  2. Cross Browser Compatibility
  3. Light weight
  4. Live customizer
  5. Basic customization options
  6. Retina Ready
  7. Menu display options
  8. Font awesome icon
  9. Typography
  10. SEO optimized
  11. Extended Documentation
  12. Color combination & styles
  13. Widget options
  14. 404 Page
  15. Social icons
  16. Google font support

Above is a list of features a primary WordPress theme can have. These are the basic types of features that you will find in every WordPress theme.

And these features are more than enough to start a simple blog like story blog, hobby blog and personal blog.

But if you want to start a restaurant website, you will need some additional features. And below is a list of advanced features you would like to have.

  1. Ultra-responsive
  2. Light & Dark version
  3. Shop/product pages
  4. Mega menu
  5. Infinite loading
  6. Portfolio layouts
  7. Compatible with woo-commerce
  8. Shortcodes
  9. Header & Footer options
  10. Types of header and footer
  11. Translation and WPML/RTL – multilingual ready
  12. Custom post layouts
  13. Sales/landing pages
  14. Compatible With WHMCS Integration via WHMCS Bridge
  15. Parallax Background
  16. Revolution Slider
  17. CSS3 Animation
  18. Icon library
  19. Header Menu Styles
  20. Creative block layouts
  21. Custom templates
  22. Footer options
  23. Blog layouts of page and single entries
  24. HTML 5 & CSS 3
  25. Ready for page builders like Elementor
  26. Advanced customization options
  27. Child theme ready
  28. 404 Page & Coming soon page
  29. Powerful theme options
  30. Regular updates
  31. Drag and Drop page builder

And this way you can sort some of the useful features by niche and type of blog/website you are going to start.

For example, if you decide to start a local e-commerce business in your city, your theme may include drag and drop page builder, page builder blocks, support for Woo-commerce, geo Google MAP, schema markup, Custom post types, and more.

 

2. Responsive

Responsive have been a universal feature ever since mobile overtook desktop.

Source: StatCounter Global Stats – Platform Comparison Market Share


And due to the explosive growth of smartphones, it is really important to have a theme that is responsive to all devices.

Smartphone users from 2016 to 2021

3. Do Consider Choosing a Freemium Theme

My suggestion to go with a freemium theme is that a freemium theme has a free and paid version. And this type of theme is professionally designed and updated from time to time to keep pace with the latest technology.

Not only this, the freemium templates come with premium functionality, compatibility, and a better user interface.

Most of all, you can upgrade to unlock more features for better user experience and functionality without having to switch to another theme.

Astra is a great example of a freemium theme. It is made for any type of website or online store.

Astra wordpress theme

Although I have been using the free version of Astra, it still receives regular updates and keeps adding new elegant layouts and functionality from time to time.

astra theme updates

In a nutshell, whenever it comes to choosing a FREE theme, always go with a freemium one.

 

4. Cross Browser Compatibility

Different browsers have different capabilities to render a webpage’s CSS and JavaScript. And because of this, at times, the content and functionality of your blog may not remain the same across all browsers and devices.

This leads to poor user experience, slow loading speeds, and low search rankings.

Therefore, I always recommend you to install a theme that is fully compatible.

But the question comes that how do you know whether your theme is compatible or not?

Simple… you need to run a Cross Browsing Test.

In short, it is a process of testing your theme to see how well it looks in many different browsers, screen sizes, OS and devices.

To get started, first go to CrossBrowserTesting.com. It’s a paid tool, but you can sign up for a free trial to get free access to run some trials for a limited time.

Once you have logged in to your test account, go to ‘Live Test’.

CrossBrowserTesting tool for theme check JPG

Once you’re in, enter your web address and then select operating system, choose browser type and run your test.

Website Compatibility live test JPG

This this what you see…

Theme testing

Theme compatibility test

Thus you can check cross-browser compatibility to compare the layout of your theme to make an informed decision.

Additionally, you can use the built-in WordPress theme customizer option to view your site on desktop, mobile, and tablet before going live. It gives you a little more sharpness to see if the theme is compatible with all devices.

TIP: In general, WordPress themes follow the standard core “browser support” best practices. It means that if you install a theme from WordPress theme library, it is more likely to be compatible with Android version, Chrome Android version, Chrome version, Firefox version, Safari version, iOS version, Edge version and Opera version . In fact, many freemium themes are used to add cross-browser compatibility support lists to their documentation.

 

5. Speed Check

Ever since speed has become a ranking indicator, it has become one of the most important factors when choosing a theme.

In fact, a website that takes 5 seconds to load, can seamlessly increase the bounce rate to 38%.

But if you can somehow manage it for 2 seconds, the bounce rate will drop to 9%, which will greatly enhance the user experience and ranking.

Remember, the loading speed of your site does not entirely depend on your hosting server, your WordPress theme is also responsible for the loading speed.

Therefore, I highly encourage you to examine your theme for speed before installing onto your server. You can use the Pingdom tool to run a simple speed test.

It is a free web tool that you can use to test the loading speed and performance of your site. It generates a complete report that shows you site speed and performance insights.

Now let’s try to examine the loading speed of Astra Theme. In order to run a test, first get demo URL of Astra theme (Visit Official to grab starter template URL)

First go first go to ‘Pingdom website speed test’, enter the theme demo URL.

How to check a wordpress theme for speed JPG

Choose your location. (Let’s takeNORTH AMERICA – WASHINGTON D.C’ as an example)

And hit enter…

In a matter of seconds, you’re going to see a performance report. (check above screenshot)

And from the performance report, you can clearly see that the load time is 536ms. Which is pretty crazy. Correct?

By analyzing this report, I’ve found that the reason why the loading speed is great is because the theme has fewer HTTP requests, smaller media files, and fewer DNS lookups.

In a nutshell, a web page with a fewer HTTP requests, DNS lookups and fast server response time is more likely to load fast.

NOTE: Your server response time & HTTP requests are also responsible for loading speed, which means if you run the same test after installing Astra onto your server, you’re going to see a slightly different report than the one I have shared here.

 

6. Be Careful With Bloated Themes

A bloated theme usually comes with a lot of features that aren’t really needed.

Unfortunately, the WordPress theme library is full of bloated themes. And because of this many times, beginners install these types of themes.

And it can literally affect site performance, loading speed, and user experience. And more importantly, these themes are poorly coded, thereby less secure.

So the bottom line is, always try to avoid bloated themes.

 

7. Use “THEME CHECK” Plugin for Latest Insights

WordPress releases new updates from time to time to keep the entire ecosystem secure and less vulnerable.

And whenever developers add new themes or plugins to WordPress, These all must support the latest WordPress theme/plugins standard and best practices.

But if you are not sure whether a theme complies with the latest WordPress standard, you can use the “Theme Check” plugin to get the latest insights on it.

Theme check plugin

8. Check for Ratings & Reviews by Other Users

One more indicator for measuring the quality of a theme is its ratings and reviews provided by existing users. For example, see Astra theme ratings…

How to choose a WordPress theme

It clearly indicates that this theme is a great choice to make. You can also check for reviews on third-party theme marketplace or blogs to learn why this is a great option for your business or blog.

This can definitely be going to help you choose a WordPress theme wisely.

 

 

9. Avoid a Theme with a Bad Font Style

Often, you install a theme just because you like its design and completely ignore the type of font it contains.

Listen, the main purpose of your blog is to inspire people to read your content. And a bad font or typeface can hurt readability, discourage users from reading your article, and increase bounce rates.

This means that if users can’t read your article, does it serve the purpose? It is not…

So, the point is, always try to keep your font style simple and readable. Even if you have a theme with a bad font, try using a plugin to replace the existing fonts or you are also free to change your font by going to Appearance > Customize > Typography.

How to change the font style of a wordpress theme.jpg

How to change the font style of a wordpress theme1

How to change the font style of a wordpress theme2

 

 

10. Translation + Multilingual Ready

Having a translation + multilingual ready WordPress theme makes your site reader friendly. It can help people all over the world consume your content.

And the best part is that you do not need to care about the nationality of the users and the language spoken by them.

This feature enables you to translate your site’s content into many different languages.

For example, if someone comes to your blog from Brazil, your content will be translated into Portuguese for that person.

How cool is it?

TIP: Use WPML plugin to make your blog translation ready.

WordPress WPML plugin set up

The bottom line: This can literally help you get international audience. Resulting, more traffic and revenue.

 

11. Support Page Builder

A page builder allows you to add more design and functionality to your existing theme without any coding skills.

You can design a theme’s homepage, single post page, popup, newsletter form and much more with the help of the page builder. Also, you don’t need to switch to any other theme in future.

For example, I am using the Astra theme which supports the Elementor page builder. It gives me endless design options to come.

Bottom Line:  Always choose a theme that is customizable with a page builder.

 

That’s it!

By paying attention to these 11 things, you will surely come up with a great theme for your blog.

Before I conclude, I would like to list some of the benefits of having a suitable theme.

Benefits of Having a Suitable WordPress Theme

A good theme can help you achieve…

  1. Better search indexing
  2. Better SEO score
  3. Improved User Experience
  4. Decrease the bounce rate
  5. Fast Loading speed
  6. Flexible
  7. Security

I hope this post helped you learn how to choose a theme like a pro. And if so, then do subscribe to our newsletter to get excusive updates about blogging and make money online right in your inbox.

And also don’t forget to share this post with someone who is struggling to find an appropriate theme for.

Do you have any question? speak your thoughts… (I read all comments!)

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Shailesh Shakya
Shailesh Shakya

I'm a Professional blogger, Pinterest Influencer, and Affiliate Marketer. I've been blogging since 2017 and helping over 20,000 Readers with blogging, make money online and other similar kinds of stuff. Find me on Pinterest, LinkedIn and Twitter!

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