When you set up WordPress, you need to choose a theme to determine the look and feel of your site. However, with tons of free (and paid) themes available, you might not know how to choose a WordPress theme.
However, it’s easier when you know the key factors to look out for in a WordPress theme. That way, you can install a high-quality option that’s responsive, SEO-friendly, and has all the features that you need. 🧑💻
📚 Table of contents:
- Customization options
- Compatibility with plugins
An introduction to WordPress themes
A WordPress theme is essentially the face of your website. Therefore, it helps visitors form a first impression of your brand. However, while some themes look great, they might be difficult to edit, conflict with plugins on your site, or be slow to load.
Slow loading themes are particularly troublesome since they can have a major effect on the User Experience (UX). For example, bounce rate can increase by 32% when page load time goes from 1 to 3 seconds .
And, since speed is a ranking factor for Google, you can lose visibility in the search results and miss out on vital traffic. Therefore, it’s important to find a theme that’s fast and lightweight.
Better yet, you can find tons of specific themes like membership or WooCommerce themes. Or, you can install a multi-purpose layout, and then customize the design with your brand colors, fonts, and logo.
How to choose a WordPress theme in 2023
Now that you know why it’s important to find the right design for your site, we’ll show you how to choose a WordPress theme by considering eight crucial factors.
1. Design 🧩
The first factor to consider is the design of the theme. Each theme comes with a certain number of templates for key web pages like your homepage and blog. So, while you may be able to alter the stylistic elements, you’ll still want to make sure that you’re happy with the general layout.
Most importantly, you’ll want to choose a theme that matches your website’s purpose and target audience. This way, you can find a layout that resonates with your visitors and goes well with your content.
For example, you can install a multi-purpose theme, or opt for a specific industry theme like photography website themes or small business themes. As such, you can land a design that immediately matches your user’s expectation.
Lastly, consider whether the design reflects the personality of your business. If you’re a quirky brand that uses lots of humor in your messaging, then a theme with clean templates and professional typography may not be the best fit.
2. Mobile-ready 📱
Mobile web traffic accounts for more than half of total global web traffic . Therefore, it’s more important than ever to choose a responsive WordPress theme.
Fortunately, most WordPress themes are designed with mobile in mind. So, you should find yourself with a layout that adjusts seamlessly across desktop, tablet, and mobile devices:
However, it’s still a good idea to preview your theme first to make sure that it’s up to scratch. All you need to do is switch the device type and see how the theme responds.
You can also test the theme using a handy tool like Google’s Mobile Friendly Test. Simply enter your website’s URL and the platform will generate an instant report to inform you how well the theme performs on mobile devices.
3. Customization options 🖱️
If you’re wondering how to choose a WordPress theme, it’s vital to consider the level of customization on offer. Although you’ll get access to a pre-designed demo template, you’ll likely want to swap out certain elements to make the layout unique to your brand.
For that reason, it’s important to find a theme that lets you make all the changes that you want. For instance, some themes may let you alter the color scheme and typography. Meanwhile, others can give you control over the widgets and layout.
Typically, if you’re looking for a theme that needs minimal work, then classic themes make a great option. With classic themes, you can install a starter site design.
However, if you want a greater level of control over your site’s design, block themes are the best way to go. They provide a high level of customization, enabling you to edit template parts like your header and footer.
Neve FSE is a performance-focused theme that suits a range of website types:
Once activated, you can set up global styles to speed up the editing process. Then, you’ll make your edits in the Full Site Editor (FSE) which offers a greater degree of flexibility than the Customizer.
4. Features ⚙️
As we mentioned, you’ll want to secure a theme that suits your exact website needs. Therefore, you should pay close attention to the list of available features that the theme provides.
If you’re running a WooCommerce store, you can find themes that offer built-in product filters, product quickview, and live search. Meanwhile, for affiliate marketing sites, you can look out for features like product carousels, comparison boxes, and countdowns.
You might find that some themes offer a free and paid version of the layout. These are known as “freemium themes.” Often, the paid version will include additional templates, features, and dedicated customer support. So, if your budget allows, it can be a good idea to upgrade.
Additionally, it’s important to remember that more isn’t always best when it comes to features. Instead, prioritize essential features over those you won’t need. This way, you can avoid themes that are likely to create a bloated UX and slow down your site.
5. Quality ⭐️
Although you want to find a theme that looks good, it’s equally important to choose a theme that’s high-quality. That way, you can keep your website light, fast, and experience minimal issues.
The easiest way to determine a theme’s quality is to check out the customer reviews. While the rating is helpful, have a thorough scan of the comments to find out what real users have to say about the layout.
What’s more, you can visit the Last Updated section to see how frequently the theme is updated:
This is very important because out-of-date themes can cause conflicts with the WordPress core software and plugins on your site.
Lastly, it’s a good idea to find out what level of support is available with the theme. As we mentioned, most premium themes offer 24/7 support and dedicated help desks. But if you’re looking at free WordPress themes, you can check out the support forum.
6. Compatibility with plugins 🔌
When most people think about how to choose a WordPress theme, they forget about practicality. Of course, your theme will determine the look of your site, but you’ll need plugins to take care of the functionality.
Hence, it’s a good idea to make sure that your theme is compatible with the plugins you need to install:
For popular plugins like page builders, this information may be listed under the theme features. Other times, you might see that a customer has highlighted a compatibility issue in the reviews. Or, you can always reach out directly to the developer.
7. SEO-friendly 💡
When talking about how to choose a WordPress theme, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a key factor to take into account. An SEO-friendly theme can make your site more discoverable since it enables you to rank highly in the search results.
What’s more, there are a number of factors that can help you evaluate whether your theme is SEO-friendly. Does it support schema markup? Does it provide options for meta tags? Additionally, check whether the theme supports any popular SEO plugins like Yoast SEO or Rank Math.
8. Translation-ready 👩💻
If you run an international website, you should make sure that your website caters to visitors that speak different languages. As such, you’ll need to choose a WordPress theme that is translation-ready.
If you’re browsing free themes, you can use the Feature Filter to apply the Translation Ready filter to your search:
However, if you’re looking at a premium WordPress theme, you can usually find this information on the theme page:
One of the largest concerns for new website owners is how to choose a WordPress theme. With so many options available, it can be difficult to make sure your preferred theme looks great and suits your exact needs.
However, it’s easier to choose a theme when you consider some key factors. For example, while you want a theme with a stunning design, it’s good to make sure it’s SEO-friendly and translation-ready. Meanwhile, have a thorough scan of the documentation and reviews to determine the quality of the theme.
Do you have any questions about how to choose a WordPress theme? Let us know in the comments section below!