How to Choose the Best WordPress Theme [Beginner]

Choosing the right WordPress theme for your blog can be daunting, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the platform.

And it gets worse.

With thousands of themes available, getting lost in the sea of options is easy.

However, by understanding your needs and assessing the features of each theme, you can narrow down your choices and find the perfect fit for your website.

Key Takeaways

  • Understand what a WordPress theme is and how it affects your website.
  • Assess your needs and consider your website’s niche, target audience, and goals.
  • Choose a theme that aligns with your goals and functions well.

What is a WordPress Theme

A WordPress theme is a collection of files that control a WordPress website’s layout, design, and functionality.

It is like the foundation of a house, providing the framework for the website’s appearance and behavior.

Themes work by using a combination of HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and PHP to create a visually appealing website that is easy to navigate and use.

There are thousands of WordPress themes available, both free and paid, each with its own unique design and features.

Some themes are designed for specific industries or niches, while others are more general and can be used for any type of website.

When choosing a theme, it is important to consider the website’s specific needs and select a theme that is well-suited to those needs.

Importance of Choosing the Right Theme

Choosing the right WordPress theme is crucial to the success of a website.

A well-designed theme can help to establish a professional and trustworthy online presence, while a poorly designed theme can make a website look unprofessional and untrustworthy.

A theme that is not well-suited to the needs of the website can also make it difficult for users to navigate and find the information they need.

In addition to the website’s visual appearance, the theme can also impact the website’s performance.

A theme that is poorly coded or bloated with unnecessary features can slow down the website’s load times, which can hurt user experience and search engine rankings.

Assessing Your Needs

When choosing a WordPress theme, it’s important to assess your needs to find a theme that meets your website’s requirements.

This section will outline two sub-sections to help you assess your needs: identifying your website’s purpose and outlining your design preferences.

1. Identify Your Website’s Purpose

Before choosing a WordPress theme, it’s important to identify the purpose of your website.

Is it a blog, an e-commerce site, or a portfolio site?

Different themes are designed for different purposes, so choosing a theme suitable for your website’s purpose is important.

For example, if you’re creating a blog, you might want to choose a theme designed for bloggers.

These themes typically have features such as post formats, author boxes, and social media sharing buttons.

On the other hand, if you’re creating an e-commerce site, you might want to choose a theme that is designed for online stores.

These themes typically have features such as product pages, shopping carts, and payment gateways.

Read also: How to Pick a Blogging Topic: Pick the Perfect Niche

2. Outline Your Design Preferences

Once you’ve identified your website’s purpose, it’s time to outline your design preferences.

This will help you choose a theme that matches the look and feel of your website.

Consider the following design elements:

  • Color scheme: What colors do you want to use on your website? Do you want a bright and bold color scheme or a more muted and subtle one?
  • Layout: What layout do you want for your website? Do you want a full-width layout or a boxed layout? Do you want a sidebar or no sidebar?
  • Fonts: What fonts do you want to use on your website? Do you want a serif font or a sans-serif font? Do you want a script font for headings?
  • Images: What type of images do you want to use on your website? Do you want large hero images or smaller images throughout your content?

By outlining your design preferences, you’ll be able to choose a WordPress theme that matches the look and feel of your website.

Theme Features to Consider

When choosing a WordPress theme, it’s important to consider several key features to ensure that the theme meets your website’s needs.

The following sub-sections outline some of the most important features to consider.

a. Responsive Design

A responsive design is crucial for any modern website.

A responsive theme will adjust to fit any screen size, from desktops to smartphones, ensuring your website looks great and functions properly on all devices.

This is especially important since mobile devices account for over half of all internet traffic.

b. SEO Friendliness

An SEO-friendly theme can help improve your website’s search engine rankings.

A well-coded theme optimized for SEO can make it easier for search engines to crawl and index your website, which can help improve your visibility in search results.

Also, a theme that is optimized for speed can help improve your website’s SEO.

c. Browser Compatibility

Your website visitors will be using various browsers, so it’s important to choose a theme compatible with all major browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer.

This will ensure that your website looks and functions properly for all visitors, regardless of their browser.

d. Support and Updates

A good theme should come with reliable support and regular updates.

This will ensure that any issues or bugs are quickly addressed and that the theme remains compatible with the latest version of WordPress.

Look for a theme that offers support through various channels, such as email, phone, or live chat.

e. Ratings and Reviews

Finally, check the ratings and reviews of a theme before making a purchase. Look for a theme with a high rating and positive user reviews.

This can help ensure that the theme is well-coded, reliable, and meets the needs of other website owners.

Checking Theme Quality

Quality should be a top priority when choosing a WordPress theme.

A high-quality theme ensures your website is secure, performs well, and looks great.

Here are two essential factors to consider when checking the quality of a WordPress theme.

#1. Code Quality

The quality of a WordPress theme’s code is critical.

Poorly coded themes can cause security vulnerabilities, compatibility issues, and slow down your website. To ensure that a theme’s code is of high quality, consider the following:

  • Validation: Check if the theme’s code is validated by the W3C standards. Validated code ensures that the theme is free of errors and follows the best practices.
  • Clean Code: Look for themes with clean, organized, and well-commented code. Clean code makes it easier to maintain and customize the theme in the future.
  • Security: Ensure that the theme is secure by checking if it follows the WordPress security guidelines. A secure theme protects your website from hackers, malware, and other security threats.

#2. Page Speed

Page speed is a crucial factor that affects user experience, search engine rankings, and website performance.

A slow website can lead to high bounce rates, low conversion rates, and poor SEO. To ensure that a theme is optimized for speed, consider the following:

  • Page Load Time: Check the theme’s page load time using tools like GTmetrix or Pingdom. A fast-loading theme ensures that your website loads quickly and provides a smooth user experience.
  • Optimization: Look for themes that are optimized for speed. Optimized themes use clean code, compress images, minimize HTTP requests, and utilize caching to improve page speed.
  • Mobile Responsiveness: Ensure that the theme is mobile-friendly and responsive. A responsive theme adjusts to different screen sizes and ensures that your website looks great on all devices.

Considering the code quality and page speed of a WordPress theme, you can ensure that your website is secure, performs well, and looks great.

Making the Final Decision

Once you’ve narrowed your options and have a few WordPress themes in mind, it’s time to decide.

This section will cover two key strategies for making the final decision: trial and error and taking your time.

Trial and Error

One way to determine if a WordPress theme is right for your website is to try it out.

Many themes offer free demos or trials, allowing you to test out the theme’s features and functionality before committing to a purchase.

This is especially helpful if you have specific requirements for your website, such as custom post types or advanced search functionality.

During the trial period, take note of any issues or concerns you have with the theme.

Is it easy to customize?

Does it offer the features you need? Is it compatible with your other plugins?

If you test out the theme, you can better understand how it will work for your website and make an informed decision.

Taking Your Time

While it can be tempting to rush into a decision, choosing the right WordPress theme is important.

Rushing into a decision can lead to a theme that is not well-suited for your website, resulting in wasted time and money.

Before making a final decision, consider the following factors:

  • Compatibility with your website’s plugins and software
  • Customization options and ease of use
  • Design and layout
  • Customer support and documentation

And taking the time to carefully evaluate each theme based on these factors can make an informed decision and choose the best WordPress theme for your website.

Remember, choosing the right WordPress theme is crucial for the success of your blog.

Best Places to Find WordPress Themes

When it comes to finding the best WordPress themes, there are a few places you can look. Here are some of the best options:

1. Theme Directory Theme Directory

The Theme Directory is a great place to start your search for a WordPress theme.

It’s a free directory of themes reviewed and approved by the WordPress community.

You can search for themes by category, features, and popularity. Once you find a theme you like, you can download it for free and install it on your WordPress site.

Third-Party Marketplaces

Third-Party Marketplaces

There are also many third-party marketplaces where you can find WordPress themes.

Some popular marketplaces include ThemeForest, Elegant Themes, and StudioPress.

These marketplaces offer a wide range of free to premium themes and often have more advanced features and customization options than the themes in the Theme Directory.

Theme Clubs

Theme Clubs

Theme clubs are another option for finding WordPress themes.

These clubs offer a subscription-based service where you can access a library of themes for a monthly or yearly fee.

Some of the most popular theme clubs include ThemeIsle, MyThemeShop, and ThemeFuse.

These clubs often offer more support and customization options than the free themes in the Theme Directory.

How to Install WordPress Theme

Once you’ve found your theme, it is time to install it.

There are two ways to install a WordPress theme:

  • Using the WordPress theme directory
  • Manually installing a theme

Using the WordPress theme directory

This is the easiest way to install a theme. You can find thousands of free and premium themes in the WordPress theme directory.

To install a theme from the WordPress theme directory, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to your WordPress dashboard.
  2. Go to Appearance > Themes.
  3. Click Add New.
  4. In the search bar, type the theme name you want to install.
  5. Click Install.
  6. Once the theme is installed, click Activate.

Manually installing a theme

If you want to install a theme unavailable in the WordPress theme directory, you can manually install it.

To manually install a theme, follow these steps:

  1. Download the theme’s ZIP file from the theme’s website.
  2. Extract the ZIP file to your computer.
  3. Upload the theme’s folder to your WordPress website’s wp-content/themes folder.
  4. Go to Appearance > Themes in your WordPress dashboard.
  5. The theme should now be listed in your themes.
  6. Click Activate to activate the theme.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the most important factors to consider when choosing a WordPress theme?

When choosing a WordPress theme, there are several factors to consider. Firstly, it’s important to consider the purpose of your website and the type of content you will be publishing. Secondly, you should consider the design and layout of the theme, ensuring that it is visually appealing and easy to navigate. Other important factors to consider include the theme’s compatibility with plugins, its mobile responsiveness, and its loading speed.

How do I know if a WordPress theme is high-quality and reliable?

To ensure that a WordPress theme is high-quality and reliable, it’s important to do your research. Look for themes that have been developed by reputable companies or developers, and read reviews from other users to get an idea of their experiences. You can also check the theme’s ratings and download statistics to get an idea of its popularity and reliability.

What are some popular and well-reviewed WordPress themes in 2023?

Some popular and well-reviewed WordPress themes in 2023 include Astra, Divi, Avada, and OceanWP. These themes are known for their flexibility, ease of use, and extensive customization options.

Can I customize a WordPress theme to fit my specific needs?

Yes, most WordPress themes can be customized to fit your specific needs. This can be done through the use of plugins, custom code, or by using the theme’s built-in customization options. However, it’s important to note that some themes may be more customizable than others, so it’s important to choose a theme that offers the level of customization you require.

What are some common mistakes to avoid when selecting a WordPress theme?

One common mistake to avoid when selecting a WordPress theme is choosing a theme based solely on its appearance, without considering its functionality and compatibility with plugins. It’s also important to avoid choosing a theme that is too complex or difficult to use, as this can lead to frustration and wasted time. Additionally, it’s important to avoid using pirated or unlicensed themes, as these can be unreliable and may contain security vulnerabilities.

Are there any free WordPress themes that are worth using or should I invest in a premium theme?

There are many free WordPress themes that are worth using, and some may even offer similar functionality and customization options as premium themes. However, premium themes often offer more advanced features and support, and may be better suited for larger or more complex websites. Ultimately, the decision to use a free or premium theme will depend on your specific needs and budget.