Choosing WordPress theme can be a tough decision to make because you have so many choices out there and it’s hard to differentiate between a good theme and a bad theme for beginners.
So, what can you do about it? How do you choose the best WordPress theme for your website, blog, or for your client? No worries! Because that’s exactly where I come in. I have been in the WordPress industry for over six years. I have seen my fair share of good and bad themes. Which is why I am going talk you through all the key points which are important to note while choosing a WP theme. So, let’s get started.
Choosing a WordPress Theme
When it comes to choosing a WordPress theme, a majority of you spend your time browsing for the best of the lot. Because the internet is overwhelmed with so many themes (both free and premium), that it is just near to impossible to unwind each one of them and find an optimal choice for your website.
I’m sure you must have come across several blog posts guiding through the characteristics which a theme must possess. But I will try to fill in the gaps here by stepping ahead a little beyond the traditional tips for choosing a WordPress theme. All the tips which you’ll read throughout this article are based on my personal views and past experiences.
Multi-Purpose Themes Are Not So Purposeful
The concept behind the development of multi-purpose themes is to serve one-to-many. Such themes aim to cater several niches from a single web template and contain a rich feature-set that is mostly not needed by all of their users. Which we developers like to call bloat.
In 99 out of 100 cases, I’d recommend you to avoid opting for a multi-purpose theme. The reason is that these are not only big and complicated but also messy. Such themes are likely to have more bugs and can result in many types of problems. You will experience, slow websites, which ultimately renders your efforts useless.
Likewise, multi-purpose themes may contain several code routines and files which are not needed in all the cases. E.g. setting up a portfolio website does not require features of eCommerce, pricing tables, etc. So, why have it when you don’t need it? I have yet to find a reason for using Multi-purpose themes. Seriously, there is none. If anything, you should take home after reading this article, it’s that you might not need a multipurpose theme.
What Kind of Theme Do You Need?
Before selecting a WP theme, it is necessary to answer this question; What kind of theme do you need?
By saying so, I refer to the web layout; the way a website is built and appears on the screen. Over the years, web design has been refined, and new design concepts have introduced which may or may not get acknowledged. Most of the times, you will find the following two types of templates:
- One-Page Themes
- Parallax Themes
One-Page themes are a perfect blend of simplicity and preciseness. It provides exactly to the point information which a user requires. The theme has no additional pages (like about, services, contact) unlike a normal template and focuses on to delivering the core content on a single page.
One-Page themes bear a navigation bar, and when clicked, it directs you to a particular part of the main homepage. So if you need to showcase little information, then one-page templates work spot on.
Parallax themes are named so because of the optical illusion it creates on the front-end. Being more technical, one can create this effect by handling several layers of images at variable speeds which give the impression of depth. The result is when users scroll down a screen; they experience different layers of a website scrolling at a different speed.
So, if you want to go with a complex yet a creative approach, then parallax scrolling themes are a viable option. But beware of getting too complex. A subtle parallax effect is something you should go along with. Any theme that has one too many scroll-jacking features; you should definitely avoid that. Simplicity wins every single time. And simple themes are hard to be developed which means they are inherently better. Because a lot goes into making things simpler.
NICHE THEMES FOR THE WIN
After reading recommendations like these, sometimes beginners are overwhelmed by what they should and shouldn’t do. Most of them ask about a thumb rule to follow; when it comes to WordPress themes. Well, I have got you covered. Look for niche themes. Niche specific themes are the themes built to serve one and one purpose only.
I discussed the complexity and haphazardness which is attributed to the multi-purpose themes. A far better counter approach is niche specific themes. To put it in a nutshell, NICHE THEMES ARE AWESOME.
Niche themes are specifically made for building a particular type of website. Most of the time niche themes are well researched and well equipped to deal with the niche they are built for. A multipurpose theme is focused on catering needs of everyone, which is why it often ignores what matters to a particular niche. Whereas a niche theme is always well researched.
E.g. A food recipe theme is a much better place to start a food blog than a multi-purpose blogging theme. A real estate theme should be preferred over listing or multi-purpose directory themes, in all kinds of scenarios.
So, before an early jump towards a multi-purpose theme, I’d recommend you to find a niche-specific theme. Over time you’ll come to appreciate for how much focused, to the point and purposeful niche themes are. If I were you, I’d buy a niche theme in 99 times out of 100. This is exactly, opposite to what I said about the multi-purpose themes.
Say no to redundant functionality Plugins
It is a good idea to follow a modular approach and build a plugin for your theme. That’s why a lot of developers rely on putting some of the theme’s functionality into a few WordPress plugins.
But this can both be good or bad? How?
Well, what do you need three different kinds of slider plugins for? That’s a major no go for me. You should really question the themes which make use of redundant functionality plugins that are meant for one and the same purpose. Having a slider built in with three different slider plugins only means that the developer was not able to decide which one to go for.
And again, this is the multi-purpose approach which I would recommend you to avoid. Any theme with such plugins should be avoided. While having plugins is a good idea, having more than one plugin for the same functionality is not.
Working With Child Themes
Child themes offer an incredible solution if you want to make any changes in the default theme’s code. You can create a child theme out of any parent theme and use it to modify your website, without any fear of losing your updates when the parent theme author updates the parent theme. That is why today most commercial themes contain child themes as a part of their theme package. Always ask for a child theme, and consider it as an important factor while choosing a WP theme.
Things to Do Before the Theme Setup
Market analysis is one of the key parameters that can assist you to choose a better WP theme. Go through all the theme reviews. You can also post questions for the support team or seek an opinion from the WP community. Similarly, one should also toy around with the theme demos. Because they give quite a bit of an idea about the theme you’re thinking to choose.
So, read the reviews, get in touch with the support if you have any questions. Read the bad reviews as well.
WordPress Theme Portals
The WordPress community is agile and with every passing day several people get affiliated with this CMS. Developers are building themes and showcase them both on their personal websites and on commercial theme platforms.
Talking about the free themes, then the most reliable source is the official WordPress theme repository. ThemeForest leads the premium themes portals followed by several other names. At InspiryThemes we offer some of the best handcrafted WordPress niche themes which are well researched and built specifically for disciplines like Real Estate, Restaurants & Food Niche, Medical & Health niche, Political themes, eCommerce Store for bakeries, Blogging themes etc.
Apparently, the process of choosing a WordPress theme is not quite simple which is why you should care. I’ve pointed out some of the key factors which can help you with your research. If you have any suggestions, do let me know.I’d love to hear your views about this in the comments box below or reach out to me at Twitter @MaedahBatool.