WordPress themes are the the crux of the entire platform, and one of the biggest benefits of choosing WordPress web hosting. While so much customization happens via the WordPress dashboard, your chosen theme is the result of all the back-end work you’ve put in. There are over 2,000 themes in the WordPress free repository alone, and thousands more from third-party developers and designers. With such a wide variety of options available, deciding on the right theme for you can be a little daunting. However, with the right guidance, you should be able to narrow your choices significantly to choose the perfect theme.
Plan A Structure In Advance
Not every theme has a structure that’s applicable to the type of content and imagery you want. Before you begin the hunt for themes, start to plan out how you want your site to look. Many WordPress users make the mistake of searching for themes too soon, and then molding their business to fit the theme provided. Truthfully, it should be the other way around: the theme should work around your site. For example, maybe your website will be very content-heavy, and you need a theme that supports this type of design. Or, you’re working on a portfolio that requires large, edge-to-edge images. To avoid trying to fit a square into a round peg, sketch out a rough layout of your ideal theme situation.
There are tools on the market that allow you to create a website blueprint before you begin. Website planning tools like Jumpchart and Slickplan allow to develop simple site plans, organize content, and create design mockups. Once you’ve fully realized the features, functions, and styles that matter to you, you can begin making a list of themes that capture those requirements.
With so many themes in the marketplace, it’s important to choose one that comes from a developer that’s well-rated and updates their themes consistently. WordPress updates happen fairly often, and WordPress themes need to readjust as necessary to stay compatible with WordPress changes. Check out theme and developer ratings and reviews, and pay special attention to when the theme was last updated. Additionally, check out the Comments section to see what other users are asking about, and how those questions are being addressed by the support team.
Choose A Responsive Theme
With more than half of all search engine queries now coming from mobile devices, if your website isn’t responsive, you’re losing out on a chunk of your audience. Today, responsive themes are industry standard. These themes cater to all types of devices and screen sizes, reformatting your website for the optimal user experience regardless of where your visitor comes from. The majority of themes you’ll find during your hunt are responsive, but every once in a while, you’ll still likely come across a beautifully designed theme that appeals only to desktop users.
Understanding Customization Options
Not all themes are created equally, and how some developers handle customization varies. As the site owner, you likely want to be able to control various aspects of the theme, like text and image placement, menus, and widgets. You should be able to personalize your entire theme without touching code. Many developers allow you to play around with customization options in live demos. Otherwise, a full description of customization options should be available in the description, as well as images of what the back-end looks like when personalizing.
Fit Your Niche & Find Inspiration
Fortunately, there are likely hundreds of themes on the market that fit your industry and niche. And even if none of those work for you, it could also serve as inspiration for what you do expect from your theme. Opening up a salon or barbershop? Here’s a list of themes catered to salons. Starting an online ecommerce store? Here’s a few themes for ecommerce, too. A quick Google search of themes in specific categories will generate a plethora of results for you to choose from.
You can also look for inspiration from others in your industry and niche. Let’s say you’ve started a travel blog. This list of travel blogs that use WordPress themes offers a great start for the travel-minded entrepreneur. Additionally, you can analyze any website you admire to see if they’re running on a WordPress theme. Usually, you can check out the footer of the website to ensure it’s powered by WordPress and if so, who the designer is.
If no footer information is available, you can investigate the page source to find additional information. Simply right click and choose “View page source”, and then use the search function to search for the word “theme.”