Finding a suitable WordPress theme is not so easy these days. As you may have seen, there are many free and paid WordPress themes available these days. In order to have an overview and avoid unpleasant surprises later on, here you will find some useful tips and tricks in this article.
The torment of choice. Just in the wordpress.org themes directory you can choose from several thousands of free themes. A first selection criterion offers you a filter. In “Popular”, the own WordPress themes “Twenty Nineteen” and “Twenty Seventeen” are at the top of the list. Both themes offer a good start, if you want to start with a simple blog, for example. To help you find the right WordPress theme for your own website or for a client project, we would like to give you some tips.
1st Tip: Define the Goals of Your Future Website
It will help you enormously in choosing the right WordPress theme if you think about the purpose of your website from the start. Do you want to start a blog with news and information or your goal is a more complex corporate website?
If you’ve managed to define your website’s objective, focus your selection on the appropriate topics or sectors.
2nd Tip: Requirements. What Should the Theme Be Able to Do?
Since WordPress offers such an incredible range of possible applications, you should also define the performance requirements for your future WordPress -Themes as precisely as possible. For example, if you want to open an online store, make sure the Theme is designed for WooCommerce.
We’ve also compiled a list to help you with the requirements for a WordPress theme:
- Slider: Should a slider be used and already integrated in Theme?
- Blog or magazine: What is the functionality of the blog (meta tags) and in what design?
- Multilingualism: If a page in multiple languages is needed, does the Theme support, for example, the WPML Plugin?
- Sidebar: How many sidebars are needed?
- Ads: If banners or ads are placed on the page, what widgets or shortcuts does Theme offer for this purpose?
- Forms: Should special forms or filters be used?
- Mobile: Is Theme optimized for mobile views, keyword-responsive design?
- Navigation: Do you need extended navigation (mega menu) with many navigation points?
- Formats: Are special postal formats required, eg recipes, portfolio, reservation?
- Online Store: Is Theme designed for WooCommerce?
- Customizer & Options: How to style WordPress -Theme?
3rd Tip: Don’t Be Dazzled by Demo Pages
Naturally, all WordPress -Themes developers are scrupulous about presenting their products in the best possible way. So you shouldn’t let an optimized demo page influence your decision too much. Because the Themes demo is perfectly tuned: Images, colors and typography often result in a seamless interaction. The load time is also already optimized and may look completely different with your later configuration.
So, remember that you will use your own photos later. Demo sites often use high quality stock images, subject to a fee, to give a consistent overall impression. Obviously, theme developers are not allowed to provide licensed image material with the theme.
4th Tip: Test Mobile Viewing!
Also tests the mobile preview of the WordPress theme. This can be done, for example, through your browser’s development tools. We’ll show you how this works:
- Step 1:
Go to “View” → “Developer” → “Developer Tools. Alternatively, you can access the developer console by pressing Cmd + Option + I (Mac) or Strg + Shift + I (Windows).
- Step 2:
Move the development tools down a bit to make the site visible and then click on the phone icon on the left. The default setting is “Responsive”. This allows you to move the view as you wish and directly see how it changes.
- Step 3:
By clicking on “Responsive” you will see the options for different devices and you will be able to test the corresponding visualization.
With your browser’s development console you can also see how many scripts (in the header area) the WordPress theme loads. Too many script files slow down the site’s performance.
If it works, test your selected WordPress theme once on your phone. This will give you a direct impression of the theme’s loading time and responsive preview.
5th Tip: YouTube Is Your Friend
On YouTube, you’ll likely find a review or comparison with one or more WordPress themes. Often in English, but it’s usually a good option to take a look behind the scenes of a topic.
6th Tip: Read Reviews, Ask Questions, Search Forums
Ratings or comments give you more information about how the selected topic behaves with other users. The ratings of free themes on wordpress.org are generally not very significant.
Also pay attention to the “Last updated” indication in the free themes on wordpress.org. If a theme developer update was done more than half a year ago, it’s best to stay away from it.
You can find a lot more information about portals like Themeforest for paid themes. Here you can ask “Presale Questions“. Paid Theme Assessments on Themeforest also provide information on how the theme developer reacts to issues and requests. If questions are not answered promptly, this suggests moderate support.
Good theme developers also have extra support forums for their themes. Here you can also find valuable information about common problems. If the questions are answered here too promptly, it shows that the developers have a real interest in the users.
For example, it also tries to find a so-called “modification log” for a WordPress theme via Google. Here you can see the update history of a theme.
7th Tip: Free Themes or Professional Themes?
When asking if you want a free theme or a paid professional theme, you should keep your goals for the site in mind. The knowledge you have already gained in using WordPress also plays an important role here, as professional themes often offer many configuration options.
Paid WordPress Themes
For example, if you are creating a business website for yourself or a client, consider a pro-Theme. Pago Themes offers more design options, guaranteed support, help and community forums, and usually their own tutorials. If you want to create an online store with WordPress , pro-Themes like “Flatsome” already offers some additional functionality for WooCommerce.
Professional themes often offer a large number of default settings for the entire website design, including its own page builders. You should already have some experience with WordPress and plan a training period. Many professional themes also offer full demo content that you can import with one click.
Free WordPress Themes
However, there are now free Themes, such as “Astra-Theme” or “OceanWP-Theme”, which already bring in the free version many fantastic options for designing your website and offer support forums and tutorials. If the functions are not enough, then there is also a professional version to buy.
8th Tip: Create a “Play Area” for Testing
From our own experience, we can tell you that you should definitely create a test environment for WordPress before putting your website live. Changing a theme is easy, but it can also create a lot of confusion when, for example, a theme creates its own page builder content with shortcodes. This is especially annoying if your site is already online.
For WordPress there are several ways to install a test environment, for example locally on your computer. Programs like WampServer or Laragon create a local web server environment on your computer that allows you to install unlimited WordPress instances.