How to Choose a WordPress Theme for your Website?
One of the hardest tasks when a rookie is developing a WordPress website is choosing the right theme. Your chosen theme will determine not only the design that your website will have but it will also be it’s core.
Should I invest in a premium theme or download one for free?
Probably you already have a great idea about your website, but you are not sure if a free theme will be the right pick? There are many major differences between free and premium WordPress themes and I will try to explain the biggest ones in the next bullet list:
- Free themes do not get frequent updates and some of them are even abandoned by their authors. When you are not updating your website and your theme you are exposing it to possible security vulnerabilities and even hacking. Most of the premium themes however are being updated frequently, because they are created by a team of developers which are trying to improve their product every day.
- Paid WordPress themes have support – trough a public forum, live chat or a ticket system every premium theme has people ready to help, if needed. Most of the free WordPress themes on the other hand are completely missing support and you are on your own.
- Free themes are massively used by others and it will be much harder for your website to be unique in terms of design. Free themes also lack many modern design features which you will find in most of the paid ones.
- Premium themes often have complete documentation and step-by-step instructions, most of them also have helpful FAQ section to ease you even more. This is very uncommon with the free themes.
- Some of the free themes often need to have credit backlink to their author’s URL in the footer of the websites that use them. With paid themes there is no such thing, which is completely wrong in terms of SEO.
- All of the free themes that you can download from WordPress have gone trough a security validation by the WordPress team. This is made to ensure their quality and security.
In the end if you plan on earning money from your website it is best to choose a premium theme, because with the free ones this can be a more difficult task. And most of the great premium themes are priced $39 – $69, so this should not be a big issue for most businesses.
Main rules before choosing the right WordPress theme
The first rule when you are making a decision on a theme is to always see it’s demo. Some of the free themes have demos and all of the premium ones do, so be sure to check it out before buying or installing it on your website.
The next thing is to try out the theme demo via different browsers, to be sure about it’s browser compatibility. I often do this using Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Edge and Safari, which are the most common browsers out there.
It is very important that your new theme is with a responsive design and looks great on phones, tablets, laptops, desktops and wide-screen, so be sure to check these aswell.
This is actually very important these days because Google is giving big ranking credit for websites that use mobile-friendly and responsive themes.
The last thing I check is if the theme is performance optimized, with clean code. Now, this is tricky because most of the demos out there do not use caching and it makes it difficult to understand their optimization rate when cached properly. You cannot check it with Google PageSpeed because it will get low result, because of the non-optimized caching on the demo server. The best way to do it is to use GTMetrix and see if there are many big resources, how much requests it makes and how fast is your current experience with it.
Final thoughts about choosing the best theme for WordPress
Do not rush things when you are choosing your theme and follow my advices. This way you will find the best theme – free or premium. In the end I want to point out that there are many themes which are made for different, specific topics – photography, portfolio, ecommerce, restaurants, hotels, tourism, etc. Those specialized theme have included functionalities and OpenGraph tags which ease the display of your content and make it’s design stand out.