A Beginner's Easy Guide to Choosing a WordPress Theme

In our last article, we wrote a comprehensive guide to choosing WordPress plugins to enhance your site’s features. In our quest to help beginners get their site up and running, we decided to continue this series and write this article about WordPress themes.

If you’re still on the fence on what theme to use for your website, we encourage you to take the time to read these tips when shopping around for themes.

What is a WordPress Theme?

A WordPress theme is a collection of files that transforms the overall design and layout of your WordPress site. It’s the first thing that your visitors see when they browse your site on the Internet.

It incorporates all the site’s visual elements such as font styling, colors, typography, page layout, widgets and other specific design details. It primarily consists of two files: PHP (the main template file) and CSS (main style file).

WordPress has several default themes which are free to download. But, if you want better options, styles, and layouts, then it’s better to purchase a premium WordPress theme.


Why It’s a Must to Choose the Right Theme

WordPress is known the world over for its versatility when customizing a site’s look and feel. Since it comes with a wide selection of customization options, there’s bound to be a theme for all types of niches—whether you’re starting a blog or an ecommerce site.

If your theme is riddled with poor coding, chances are that it will be hard for you to modify it or add plugins in the future. When that happens, you might need to hire a web developer to help you fix this issue or switch to another theme. It should allow you to change themes without losing its functionality of the site.

You’ll find that most themes on WordPress look great, but some of these might be loaded with tons of files to compensate for its beautiful design. These files are often the culprits of why web pages are slow to load.

This post from Copyblogger explains how important it is to have fast-loading websites as it improves user experience and increases your chances of ranking in the top search engine results.

Since a theme is the proverbial face of a website, here are some steps you can take to ensure that you choose the best theme.


Relevant to Niche

While some theme options look incredibly stunning, it might not have the functionality and niche focus that you’re looking for. Only you will know what works best with your niche.

So, say you want to start a photo blog, a theme we recommend is something that showcases your photo portfolio front and center with minimal text layout.

If you have a fashion blog, an elegant magazine theme will be more appropriate than a corporate theme. Make sure to choose a theme that’s niche-specific so you won’t miss out on the audience you are targeting.

Related: How to Create Your Own WordPress Website without Any Coding Background

Visually-Appealing Design

We can all agree that nothing beats a website that exudes a modern, elegant design. It should be something that you can live with for a long time without the need of any major overhauls. Take note of these design elements the next time you’re shopping for a WordPress theme.

  • Excellent font settings
  • Clean and uncluttered layout
  • Intuitive interface
  • Good color combination
  • Modern but simple design

All these elements combined should bring consistency to your branding which your users can easily recognize and appreciate.

You may have come across themes that dazzle you with all the flashy colors, animations, extended layouts and more. But do you really need all of these? See if your theme choice do not compromise usability for aesthetics. Make it is simple for users to find the information they need and navigate around the site.

To fully grasp what your site will look like, take advantage of the theme’s demo function and review other sections like the home page, single post, and blog section. All these sections should remain consistent with its design.


Security and Performance

More theme features don’t equate better security and performance. In fact, adding a lot of heavy elements on your theme might cause web page slow-down and other performance issues.

So, how do you ensure that you choose a high-quality theme? 1.) Buy premium themes from reputable theme developers, 2.) Read their reviews and support forums and, 3.) and try out their demo sites to know what it looks like when it goes live.

Some of the most recommended theme vendors you might want to try:

They provide well-coded and beautiful themes, regular updates and stellar customer support.


Optimized for SEO

Beyond the aesthetic aspect of web design, themes play an important part to your site’s SEO. If your website is slow, it means that it will be harder for search engine spiders to crawl all your web pages. This may have a negative impact on your indexation, as well as user experience.

Go for a WordPress theme that’s already SEO-friendly. This means that the codes are up-to-date, compatible with popular browsers, faster load time, well-structured navigation, has social media integration and optimized for schema markup.

A schema markup is a method that enhances your site’s code to ensure that your content is not only visible, it is also understandable by search spiders.

Mobile Responsive

A theme is said to be responsive when it automatically adjusts the layout depending on the size of the screen or device used. According to a study done by We are Social, there are about 4.92 billion global mobile users in 2017. So, it makes sense to optimize your website for mobile to cater to the growing web traffic from mobile users.

Most of the WordPress themes available are, by default, responsive. However, there are theme vendors who still offer themes with fixed-width layout. Avoid them at all cost and stick with vendors that offer mobile-friendly themes so that your website will render well on any screen size.

To check if a certain theme is mobile-responsive, copy and paste the theme’s demo page to this site – Google Mobile-Friendly Test.


Customer Support

One aspect to consider when going for free WordPress theme is the fact that they don’t offer customer support. So, if you mess up your theme, you would have to fix it on your own. Or, you may have to pay for a website specialist to help you fix these issues.

If you have the budget for it, we recommend you choose premium WordPress themes because they will most likely offer detailed documentation and customer support.


Theme That’s Built for Success

Choosing a WordPress theme can prove to be challenging at first, especially if you have many options at your fingertips. By following the tips outlined in this article, you will have an idea what type of theme will be more suited to your website.

We encourage you to look around and play with as many theme demos as you can until you find the right one for you. What’s important is that you can seamlessly change themes without disrupting your website’s basic functions.

If you have any questions or if you want to share your experience about any WordPress themes, let us know in the comments below.