Do you want to select the perfect theme for your new WordPress site?
There are thousands of different free and premium WordPress themes to choose from. You want to make sure you choose a WordPress theme that looks good, has the features you need, and is also high quality.
In this article, we’ll share the most important things you should consider when selecting a WordPress theme.
Why is it Important to Choose the Right WordPress Theme?
WordPress can be used to create all kinds of different types of websites.
Many WordPress themes come with tons of customization options. If not coded properly, then these options can make it difficult for you to change themes or use other WordPress plugins. You will be locked into that theme or will have to hire a WordPress developer to help you switch.
On the other hand, some WordPress themes that look great can actually make your website incredibly slow. Having a slow website can hurt your search engine rankings, user experience, and more.
Your theme is the face of your WordPress site and plays an important role in how users and search engines perceive it.
Your goal should be to find a WordPress theme that has a design you like, is fast, and can be easily customized.
Before You Choose the Perfect WordPress Theme
Before you choose the best WordPress theme, there are a few things you’ll need in order to build your WordPress site.
First, you need to make sure you’re using the right version of WordPress, since there are actually two versions of WordPress.
There is WordPress.com which is a limited hosted platform. Next, you have the popular WordPress.org, which is the self-hosted version.
To understand the difference, see our comparison of WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
We recommend using WordPress.org because it gives you the freedom to create any kind of website and gives you access to every WordPress theme and all the features right out of the box.
We recommend using Bluehost because they’re an officially recommended WordPress host and one of the largest hosting companies in the world.
Plus, they’re agreed to offer our readers a 69% discount on hosting, a free domain name, and a free SSL certificate.
Simply click the button below to get started.
Once you’ve signed up for web hosting and set up your domain name, you need to install WordPress. Luckily, with Bluehost, WordPress comes pre-installed.
Most other hosting companies offer a 1-click WordPress install option. If you’re using a different hosting provider, then see our guide on how to install WordPress, which covers every major hosting platform.
With that said, let’s take a look at the most important things you need to keep in mind when selecting the perfect WordPress theme.
1. Simple and Minimalist Design
Many WordPress themes come with many colors, complex layouts, flashy animations, sliders, and more. Sometimes you may need those things, but in most cases, you don’t need all of those additional features.
Look for a theme with a design layout that helps you support your goal. It needs to look good without compromising on usability and simplicity.
Make sure the theme’s presentation style is not overly complicated. The purpose of your website is to help users find the information they need as quickly as possible, while highlighting relevant information about your business.
If a theme looks great but doesn’t help you get new customers or email newsletter subscribers, then it is not a good theme.
Overall, the theme you choose should be as simple as possible. If you want to add new functionality to your site, then you can use WordPress plugins.
2. Easy to Customize and Make Changes
When you’re choosing a WordPress theme, you’ll want to make sure it’s easy to customize, so you can truly make it your own.
Even if the demo theme is exactly what your want, you’ll still probably want to make specific changes to make the theme match your unique brand. Most changes will be made through the WordPress theme customizer or theme options panel.
Some themes also let you make more customizations than others, so you’ll want to choose a theme that lets you customize the aspects of your site you want to change.
Generally, you’ll have control over the theme color scheme, font choice, layout, custom logo, widgets, and more.
3. Responsive and Looks Good on all Devices and Screen Sizes
Most WordPress themes will have a responsive design. This means the theme will adjust the layout based on different screen sizes and devices.
However, just because a WordPress theme is responsive, it doesn’t mean the theme does responsive design well.
You’ll want to preview your theme in all screen sizes. You can do this easily by adjusting your browser window and seeing how the theme adjusts.
You can also test your new WordPress theme in different browsers to ensure it works correctly across all browsers too. For more details, see our guide on how to test a WordPress site in different browsers.
4. Updated Frequently and has a High-Quality Codebase
Your WordPress theme will form the foundation for your website. Beyond the overall design, you want to make sure it loads fast and is regularly updated.
The size of your WordPress theme can have a big impact on your speed and performance. Your loading speeds will influence everything from your user experience to WordPress SEO, so you’ll want to ensure your theme is lightweight and has fast loading speeds.
You can always run a website speed test to see how fast a theme loads. For more details, see our guide on how to properly run a website speed test.
For free themes, you can simply install the theme and run a speed test. With premium themes, you can run a speed test on the demo URL, which will give you some idea of how well the theme performs.
Another thing to look for is the last time the theme was updated. There are constantly new versions of WordPress being released, so you’ll want to make sure your theme is up to date.
Having a theme that’s out of date can cause WordPress security issues and conflicts with other plugins on your site.
For free WordPress themes, you can find the last updated date on the WordPress.org theme listing page. Ideally, your theme will have been updated in the last few months and have a consistent update history.
If you’re looking at premium WordPress themes, then you can almost guarantee the theme has been updated to work with the latest version of WordPress.
Since you’re paying for the theme, the developer or development team will have more resources to dedicate to keeping the theme up to date.
5. Compatible with the Plugins You Need
Ideally, when you choose a WordPress theme, it will handle the design, and all additional functionality will be taken care of by WordPress plugins.
Most themes will support all WordPress plugins. However, if you have a poorly coded theme or a theme that’s adding too many plugin-like features, then you could run into a conflict and experience WordPress errors. Also, if you ever want to change your site design and switch themes, you’d lose those features.
That’s why we recommend choosing the simple WordPress theme and adding functionality through plugins.
If there’s ever a feature you want to add to your site, then chances are there’s a WordPress plugin that can help you out.
If you’re looking for some great WordPress plugins to make your site better, then see our picks of the must-have WordPress plugins.
6. Has Solid Ratings and Reviews
Another solid indicator of a WordPress theme’s quality is ratings and reviews provided by its users. If you’re searching for free themes, then you can find the customer reviews by going to the theme page on WordPress.org.
It will show the number of reviews and stars given by users. You can view a detailed breakdown of the reviews given at each star level.
If the theme is sold on a third-party marketplace, then you will see customer reviews or testimonials from users on the theme sales page.
7. Has an Active and Helpful Customer Support Team
Even if you’ve spent time learning WordPress and have some solid skills, there may be times when you need to rely on support.
There will be different support options, depending on the theme you choose. For example, many free WordPress themes don’t offer guaranteed support, while others still provide regular support.
If you’re using a free theme, then you can check how active the support channel is on the theme’s WordPress.org listing page.
Most premium themes will offer between 6 to 12 months of support and updates after purchase, with the option to renew.
Premium themes usually have their own customer support or help desk through their website.
Beyond customer support options, you’ll also want to check the theme documentation. These tutorials will show you how to set up the theme and answer your most common questions.
8. Optimized for the Search Engines
Your WordPress theme plays an important role in your site’s SEO friendliness. A good looking theme can still generate poorly coded HTML, which can affect your site’s rankings in the search engines.
It can be difficult for beginners to analyze a theme’s source code on their own. This is why many WordPress theme developers will let you know that their themes are optimized for SEO.
If you have a lightweight and fast-loading theme, then you’ll be heading in the right direction in terms of search engine rankings.
For more details, see our ultimate guide on how to setup AIOSEO for WordPress correctly.
9. Ready for Translation into Different Languages
WordPress powers over 40 percent of the internet. As a result, there are a lot of website owners who want to build a site in a different language or cater to an audience that speaks another language.
If you’re searching for a free WordPress theme, then you can search for translation-ready themes. To do this, click on the ‘Feature Filter’ menu option in the WordPress.org theme depository.
Then, select ‘Translation Ready’ from the drop down.
This will bring up a list of themes built to make translation easy.
If you’re looking for a premium WordPress theme, then it will typically list its language compatibility on the theme page.
However, you can also create a multilingual WordPress site by using a WordPress translation plugin.
For more details, see our guide on how to easily create a multilingual WordPress site.
Choosing the Perfect WordPress Theme FAQ
Having helped thousands of users start a blog and website, we’ve answered a lot of questions related to choosing a WordPress theme. Here are some of the most common questions we get:
Do you have any WordPress theme recommendations?
Like we mentioned above, there are thousands of different themes to choose from. The right theme for you will be based on the type of website you’re building and the features you need.
That said, check out our list of the most popular and best WordPress themes for some of our top picks.
For creating a custom theme, we recommend SeedProd.
How do you install a WordPress theme?
Once you download a free or premium WordPress theme, you need to install it so you can start building your website.
To learn more, see our beginner’s guide on how to install a WordPress theme.
Can you change WordPress themes?
Yes, one of the great things about WordPress is you can switch to a different WordPress theme at any time. You are never locked into an existing design or theme.
However, if you’ve made a lot of customizations to your site, then you’ll want to be aware of what happens when you switch WordPress themes.
If you’re ready to change themes, then see our guide on how to switch WordPress themes.
We hope this article helped you learn what to consider when selecting the perfect WordPress theme. You may also want to see our guide on how to properly move WordPress from HTTP to HTTPS and our expert picks of the best email marketing services for small business.