The Do’s and Don’ts of Selecting a WordPress Theme
One of the most challenging parts of building or rebuilding a WordPress website is selecting the WordPress template. With so many WordPress themes available, it’s not financially practical nowadays for a small business to create one from scratch and that is how we came to the challenge of selecting a theme!Your domain name is, of course, important but once that has been decided, the template or design of the website is one of THE most important. Your website design is the basis for everything – the look, the functionality, and the features – and is therefore VERY important. There are almost 12,000 free WordPress themes to choose from as of 2024. In addition, there are as many, if not more, paid themes available through third-party websites. No one has the time to look through ALL of the templates in existence. At the same time it’s not smart to grab the first theme that you review. So it’s no wonder why choosing a theme can be completely overwhelming. But that is where ATC Web Solutions can help. We work with you to narrow down the selections and help you decide which template is the best one for your business or organization. As the selection process progresses, below are highly suggested do’s and don’ts to help you narrow down your choice of the best WordPress theme for your company or organization.
Choose a theme that supports the latest version of WordPress
The theme you choose needs to work with the most current version of WordPress so that it’s functionality and security are secure.
- Your WordPress site features may not work the way you want it to if your theme isn’t fully compatible with the latest WP release.
- If you choose a theme that doesn’t support new versions of WordPress, you may decide to stop updating WordPress, and that can create security vulnerabilities that lead to crashes, data breaches, site defacement, and other problems.
- If the plugins you use for your site require the latest version of WordPress you may not be able to update your plugins because of your theme and your site functionality problems could grow.
Do NOT choose a theme that’s no longer updated
Make sure the themes you are considering have been recently updated (i.e., the past few months). Check out the “Last updated” line in the info box.A theme that works with the current version of WordPress but hasn’t been updated in more than a year might not be able to get any more updates — and that means sooner or later it won’t work with the latest version of WordPress.
Choose a theme that works for your website goals
It’s so easy to go down the rabbit hole of looking at hundreds of themes, but that can lead you to get attached to a theme that looks awesome but doesn’t really do what you need it to do for your organization or business goals.
Stay focused by searching for a WordPress theme with the features you REALLY need for your company or organization. For example, do you need a membership login, or are you a restaurant that needs a menu and the functionality that allows people to order food online? Maybe you are an artist or a photographer needing a portfolio to show your work with a login for people to download their photographs. Or maybe you need a feature where the client can make appointments online.
Whatever your organization requirements are, ATC Web Solutions can help facilitate finding the right template for you.
Make sure you select a WordPress theme that is Responsive (websites easily seen on a phone)
Be sure to view the demo template on your phone (or just shrink the laptop browser down to the width of a phone).Almost all WordPress themes nowadays are responsive design. Responsive design means that the website displays beautifully on different devices. The website knows when it is being viewed from a desktop or a phone and adjusts its appearance to look equally good on the phone, on a laptop and on a tablet.
Why so much focus on phones? That’s where the most website traffic comes from, per Statista. Your site’s appearance on desktops and laptops still matters, but phone user experience also matters, and it may matter a lot more as time goes on.
Be sure to choose a theme that has positive user reviews
Click “See all” reviews when you are looking at templates.
If you found a few themes with you like, be sure to check the reviews. Reviews can also link to support threads, active topics and unresolved topics so you can see what the theme’s issues are (if any) and how responsive the publisher is.
DO NOT select a theme from an unknown source
Don’t pick a theme from an unknown source. There are plenty of reliable publishers that list their themes on WordPress.org and on paid theme sites such as ThemeForest and Envato Elements.
Stick to known and well-regarded sources — and check reviews! This will help you avoid the risk of downloading a theme that contains malware.
Try to choose a WordPress theme that’s lightweightWhat does lightweight mean? It means the theme is built to use as few resources as possible so that it loads fast when people visit. Learn more about the importance of page speed.
Choose a theme that’s built for SEO
Using a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) friendly theme can save you a lot of time on behind-the-scenes site optimization, and it can help you do better in search results sooner.
How will you know if a theme is optimized for SEO? Often, theme developers will highlight the features they’ve included for SEO, like a URL structure that’s easy for search bots to crawl, fast load times and mobile-friendly design.
Choose a WordPress theme based on quality, not just price
Don’t just look at the price when shopping for a WordPress theme.On one hand, a completely free theme can be a great option if you’re on a super-tight budget. But look out – it may not have all of the features you want or need.
On the other hand, a paid theme will usually give you the features you need to grow your business or organization and it may come with more customer support options than a free version. Be sure to factor in your long-range website goals, your level of WordPress savvy and the value of your time as you make your decision to finally decide on which WordPress template you select.