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Selecting the Perfect WordPress Theme – 9 Things to Consider

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.

Selecting the perfect WordPress theme - 9 things you should consider

Why is it Important to Choose the Right WordPress Theme?

WordPress can be used to create all kinds of different types of websites.

There are a lot of themes that cater to different markets like WooCommerce themes, membership site themes, and even multi-purpose themes that can be customized to fit nearly any type of site. 

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.

To get started, you’ll also need good WordPress hosting and your own domain name.

We recommend using Bluehost because they’re an officially recommended WordPress host and one of the largest hosting companies in the world.

Bluehost

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

Illustration of simplicity or minimalism

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

Make sure your WordPress theme is customizable

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.

You can also use a WordPress drag and drop page builder plugin like SeedProd to create completely custom pages, or custom WordPress themes, from scratch.

3. Responsive and Looks Good on all Devices and Screen Sizes

Your WordPress theme should be responsive and look good on any size screen

Today more than 60% of website traffic is from mobile devices. This number will differ depending on your blogging niche, but you need to make sure your WordPress website looks good on mobile devices.

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

Use a WordPress theme with quality coding

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.

Last updated theme date

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.

WordPress plugins let you do things like create a contact form on your site, generate leads, run giveaways, and much more.

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.

Theme star rating example

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.

Theme customer support example

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.

Then, you can use a WordPress SEO plugin like AIOSEO to further optimize your website to rank in the search engines and get more traffic.

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.

Select feature filter button

Then, select ‘Translation Ready’ from the drop down.

This will bring up a list of themes built to make translation easy.

Select translation ready drop down option

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.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

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Reader Interactions

89 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. There are so numerous themes available that almost everybody can get the best one to meet their requirements with a slight customization. I usually like to choose the simple and clean themes but with a sophisticated and smooth navigation. I’m one of those readers who loves when a website content is pretty clear to read. I am always looking for those themes where I can apply large headers on the first page, so I then prefer go to chose the design I use for my site.

    The primary thing I check for is the color structure. I favor a crafty color, white or somewhat ivory colored texture for me. I’m still squeezing things, but I prefer the Magazine theme most. I like the appearance of Magazine themes; the fonts are impressive, and the entire arrangement seems very fine with basics – lists, widgets, and the combination of black+gray+white. Then after implementing the theme, I examine its simplicity.

    No matters, currently I am looking for an excellent theme, so this article is helpful and suitable for me now. Habitually, I like to design my own themes and want to tweak and customize it in the way I wish to have a custom look. I’m a newbie in the blogging industry, but I’m getting lots of new info more & more every day.

  2. I was just confused what to do with the theme problem on my site

    after reading all your steps given in article

    I have followed all your steps
    and now I have a good and attractive site

    thnx a lot

  3. I, like others, am having a difficult time deciding which theme to use as far as simplicity, reliability and support. I need a basic Staffing Agency (or Multiuse) platform. Just when I think I have found one I come across reviews of it being too complex or bad support or needing tons of additional plugins. How can I truly find a trusting theme that is simple to use, without additional plugins and good support if needed. I don’t mind paying for a premium theme if that is what is necessary.

  4. Hello WPbegginer,
    I am diving into my first website/blog and my last experience with web design was changing colors on myspace 12 years ago. I have already decided to go with a self hosted Word Press site but got caught up when I arrived at picking a theme. I quickly found Genesis and all its glory and understand the benefits. My question stems from the fact that a portion of my motivation behind starting a website/blog, is learning the new skill (web design, basic coding, marketing, etc). So my question is, am I hindering myself, and my educational process long term by not starting with simply WordPress, a free theme, and adding plugins to learn that side of it? I am afraid that by jumping straight to Genesis I am skipping some steps? Let me know your thoughts

    • Hi Luke,

      When you are self-learning online you have the freedom to set your own pace, choose your own goals, and learn based on your own preferences. If you feel comfortable that you will be able to learn more by starting with a framework, then feel free to give it a try. You can always study other themes by installing them locally on your computer. Hope this helps :)

      Admin

  5. Hi guys,

    I am intending to use wordpress for an e-learning portal I am going to build. Can anybody suggest which free wordpress theme with learning management system that includes membership plug-in?

  6. hi,

    thanks for a great website… I’m a bit overwhelmed here, theme-wise…
    I have been a web developer for many years.. have always hand-coded…
    learning WP is hard when you’ve been hand-coding for about 20 years!!! :-o

    it’s hard to decide on a theme if you can’t test it beforehand… (& make sure it’s responsive… & find out what important plugins it supports (I will need cc processing for my site…))

    the site I have to build is for a wholesale jewelry seller… a one-person business….
    as mentioned, it will need credit card processing, which scares me….. I have never implemented this functionality all on my own..

    if you could in any way recommend some themes (free) I would appreciate it very much….

    thank you…..

    • Hi Francisca,

      All standard compliant WordPress themes use best practices that allow them to work with any WordPress plugin. You can preview a WordPress theme with your site’s content by simply installing it and then clicking on the preview button without activating the theme.

      As for payments, there are a number of solutions that you can use. You can use PayPal, Stripe, Braintree, 2Checkout, and countless others.

      Admin

  7. I have checked the demo page of the theme I am looking at with the W3C Validation page. It gives a handful of errors. I know I don’t need to worry about warnings, but what about errors?

  8. I am trying to find theme or plugin for the following need. So please help in directing me towards right them. I will really appreciate that.

    I am developing my own website. I am trying to develop collaborative website for my community of potters. And In that, I want to add following functionality.
    I want to be able to create unique link which I can send to a member of my group for participation. S/he can open the link and write his/her view on that particular topic with pictures and videos and audios. Once she complete, she can hit the Submit or Complete option below. Then, as admin I will get notification for approval and once approved, it will be seen on website.

  9. Actually you’re pro that’s why i love to follow your all articles, I love to read selecting the perfect theme for WordPress

    Cheers,
    Hashim Nisar

  10. To whom it may concern,
    I am building my first website.
    I am searching for the best free theme for wordpress.
    My goals are as follows;
    1. call to action.
    2. fill out form.
    3. ask for a quote.
    4. ask for advice.
    5. ask for explanation of the process

  11. I would like to thank you for the article, it is a bit helpful. But at the same time, its hard not to get frustrated. I have no background in HTML or the like and its been hard trying to get my site to look the way it looks the past few days. I am new to WordPress.org and I have heard every speech about how it is the way to go. But I am frustrated because I feel like I can’t make my blog look the way I desire it to. I am doing a sports blog and it seems like nothing will come together. And I am trying to find what theme suites my content best. It is a bit intimidating but I am going to try to hang in there. Any suggestions?

    • Hey John,

      We can totally understand. Many of our users start out as absolute beginners. It can be a bit overwhelming for beginners at first, but you will soon get past this phase with a sense of accomplishment :)

      Admin

  12. Hello. Thanks for the wonderful post. I have bought several themes thru Theme Forest. But I am getting frustrated. Prices have gone up significantly. Tech support is an additional fee. And worse of all, in order to sell units, the authors have added so many bells and whistles, and continue to do so, WordPress now has a new learning curve, even for experienced users. I wish you would list a few of the most user friendly and secure themes. Thanks again! Dave

  13. I am looking for a suitable theme with simple features, tried many but could not find suitable one, please suggest me right theme for me.

    1. It should be free theme (if it is successful, I can look at buy option also)
    2. I will use PAGES only, (Posts – will not be used)
    3. Want to disable side bar, if any (left / right)
    4. Comments at the bottom of each PAGE (I enabled comments from Settings / Discussion, but most of the themes not showing any box to post comments). Login not required for comments.
    5. Search bar required.

  14. What is the reason for the obvious blaring omission that the Automattic backed WooThemes is not listed among your recommended premium theme development shops?

  15. Hello,

    You mention in the beginning of this article that some WP themes are fast, some are slow :
    “On the other hand, some WordPress themes that look really great can actually make your website incredibly slow.”

    How can one test – before choosing a theme – whether it will be slow or fast ?

    Thanks for all the great information. L.

    • Hey Lauren,

      The only way to do this is to install the theme on a staging environment and run the tests. This way you will get to see exactly how slow or fast the theme will work on your website.

      Another thing you can try is to test the theme demo with page speed tools like Pingdom or Google Page Insights. Results will not be able to accurately predict the performance impact of the theme on your website but you will be able to see some useful information.

      Admin

  16. Librarian looking to curate,
    I know is it’s dangerous to choose the wrong theme. I know what I want the page to do: using it for an online history exhibit so I will need a timeline that will take pictures, a way to have other contribute to the timeline, search, etc. I have searched across the web for similar sites I want to do (can’t find one). Search terms: site:. edu and anniversary, memory book, etc. Can you request something? Or I am hoping you know of a databases where I can filter by features so I can hone in on possible themes…
    Thank you

  17. Hi,
    Thanks for the articles on pagebuilders and how to choosea WP theme.
    Thing that I wonder is this: My experience until sofar is that once you have a WP Theme you are stuck to use the typefonts that the theme delivers. Would a pagebuilder solve that problem (that I can use more fonts/does it come with additional fonts?)thanks for the answer,
    Jan

    • Hey Jan,

      Yes you can use Google Fonts with some page builders. You can also load additional fonts if you need. Please see your preferred page builder plugin’s documentation on how to change fonts.

      Admin

  18. Hi … thanks a lot for the tutorial and links, really excellent. I’m totally new with WP, we’ve bougth the service from GoDaddy to build a website for our small company (automation and industrial robotics programming) . We have only industrial clients, our website only shows information about our services, no sales, no blog, chat or lot of pictures… we only need good SEO.
    Any suggestion about a institutional, clean and a little techno theme for us (free or not).
    Thanks one more time!

  19. Great page! I’m a newby and a bit of an IT phobe, but want to ttry WordPress. I need a themw which is easy to set up and change. I am a 1 person business, but I offer different courses and services. I need to change course dates regularly. I need an easy to read theme- which is a good one? Woud Iidly do?
    Thanks :)

  20. We need a theme that accomplishes the following goals:

    1. Is W3C compliant
    2. Enables us to export our website to another hosting service
    3. Enables semantic language markup
    4. May support multiple language (bonus feature)
    5. Can accommodate a chat feature for support or pre-sales
    6. Supports google analytics and other SEO plug ins

    Any thoughts on how to find that?

  21. A simple question:

    May one use, for example, BeaverBuilder, to do your OWN theme from scratch, assuming that you just don’t like anything “pre-baked?” Or does one need to start with an existing “canned” theme as a starting point and THEN use a page builder to make any wanted adjustments? Just not clear on that.

    Love the site, by the way. GREAT resource for newbies or the veteran.

    • Hi H.G.T,

      BeaverBuilder is a page builder plugin, which means you will still need a WordPress theme to build your layouts. BeaverBuilder is compatible with most popular WordPress themes and even has their own basic theme that you can use as an starting point.

      Admin

  22. Great article
    Please how to “Make sure that your WordPress theme is translation ready and supports multilingual WordPress plugins.”?
    Thanks in advance for replying.

  23. please, i can i edit the footer of my wordpress theme. i am using woocommerce storefront theme and i want to change the phrase “storefront theme designed by woocommerce” to my own specification. my site is

  24. I am a total beginner and everything I read makes me more confused. I bought BlueHost and I also bought a theme called Lotus and even had it “made to look like demo” but now I have absolutely no idea what to do. I can’t figure out how to customize it and since I bought it I’ve been told I should have bought something on the Genesis framework. I don’t even know what that means. I could really use some help.

    • Hi Carla,

      Your theme developer should have documentation on how to customize your theme. Remember customizing a theme is different than adding content to your theme. The theme only controls appearance of your website.

      Admin

  25. Could you please give your opinion of which wordpress theme you recommend for my site which is half done and my url is. Im using theme but it seem complicated and Im just a beginner, thanks.

    regards

    Anthony hearing impaired

  26. Nice article specially for newbies! I’m looking for a template that has a video instead of a header banner (or a way to this!) and I cannot find it. If you guys know something like this please get in contact :)

  27. Undoubtedly it is very difficult to find a theme that suits your niche. This article is very helpful to select the best theme.

  28. Great article and very help, I have just started a new website and this has helped me in picking my intended theme.

  29. Awesome !! Thank you for your tips. With it, I found for myself a beautiful theme:

    Thank you again and could I share your post on my social?. I thnk it will be helpful for more people

  30. I’m totally new to wp. I’m using siteground as my host. In wordpress, I selected a theme (iThemes Paige) and have begun using it for my site. If I go to the iThemes website the theme I chose has a price to download it.

    Is this a free theme or not? WP let me apply it without notifying me it had a cost.

    Under wp settings menu, I see that it says that “Builder Paige” is not licensed.

    How does this all work? Thank you!

    • I have been finding the same thing. Even when purchasing from the host site, a price of say $49 shows up, then I get a message that I will have pay… I am also wondering how all of this works!

  31. It would help your credibility if your own site passed Google’s mobile friendly test. It doesn’t.

  32. Very good tips for a theme shopper. Installed a free theme on my site and have developed it as far as I care to having seen the limitations. Now that I have a good “basic” understanding of word press I am ready to find and pay for a theme.

    This article has very good points to consider and I new feel I can go shopping with a much better understanding of what to look for.

    Thank you.

  33. best ever tutorial !
    I am an absolute beginner ,saw all other sites about word press and they do not compare ! many thanks.

  34. Hi. I am using customizr at my site from last 5 years, I’m not web developer by profession but i keep updating site after reading tutorials. I have installed many plugins like Yoast SEO, wemaster tools, I also added meta tags, i have social share options and many other works. Presently, i am having an issue that my custom made menu is not up to my satisfaction. Menu Item 1 is ok and if there is 1.1 – 1.5 the next 1.1 doesn’t go exactly at right side. Someone suggested that it is builtin in theme. I thought of changing theme. If i change theme, will all my existing work stay with site? like current menu, added social links, removed breadcrumbs etc.

  35. All the tips you have given may help blogger to choose those themes for website.
    Thank you for sharing these tips us..

  36. Thanks Syed,
    Planning a theme change and this article along with the linked resources is everything I need.
    Stay well
    Ian

  37. Can you recommend W3C compliant themes that have been validated both CSS and HTML?
    they are very hard to find, most of the theme developers don’t validate the themes and tell you they are up to the W3C standards and they do not pass the test.

  38. You forgot about accessibility – a very, very important component of websites – it is required like with responsive design. Accessibility is also required by disability laws and WCAG.

  39. Thanks for the link to “Things you should do before changing” themes. It came at the right time. I’m always fearful of changing. BTW… the saying is, “All that glitters is not gold.”

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