If you have considered writing something online in the last decade, you have likely considered WordPress. If not, you should skim through our short article: Which Content Management Tools Should I Use, WordPress, Joomla, Drupla, Shopify…?
Below is a list of the slightly more obvious things you should consider when selecting a theme:
- Overall: Does the theme look like what you want? There is no point in trying a theme that does all the things you want if you hate its look.
- Responsive: Is the theme “responsive”? Responsive means it automatically adjusts the pages and menus to the size of the screen it is being used on (i.e. 5″ cell phone vs 24″ PC screen)
- Slider: Does the theme a slider? That is the moving graphic header usually at the top of the home page. Also, if it has a slider but you have limited skills with graphics, can you turn the slider off so you don’t have to deal with it?
- Colors: Can you adjust the colors to what you want?
- Menus: Do the menus appear in the location you want and does that menu area leave enough room for the menus you need?
- Support: Does the developer support the theme. Most themes have no official support and there is nothing to stop a developer from leaving the business tomorrow. You can minimize your chances of being left in the dark by considering our #10 item below.
- e-Commerce: If you need to sell something on your site, you can use any theme and them plug in Shopify or some other site, but if you are small you may want to consider using a theme that comes with at least basic e-Commerce tools. In December 2018, it was reported that 40% of all online stores run on the WordPress plugin WooCommerce.
- Popularity: If your theme is being used by tens of thousands of other sites, it is much less likely to be abandoned. I have heard companies say they want to use an obscure WordPress theme so it looks different from the others, but with more than one billion websites way back in 2014 and about 50,000 WordPress themes available today, I don’t think obscurity is an issue.
- Updates: One of the reasons WordPress is so popular is because it keeps up with the times. In 2004 WordPress sites did not look particularly good on mobile devices like cell phones, but today especially if you have a “responsive theme” it looks great. The point is that the world keeps changing and WordPress brings out changes every few weeks, so your theme had better keep up or you could be left with an expensive investment in time scrambling trying to find a new theme because your old one looks like Hell on the latest device or version of WordPress.
but there is one more item that everyone want to know and you should definitely give some consideration to BEFORE selecting a WordPress theme if you want to avoid problems in the future:
10: Should I Buy A WordPress Theme or Use a Free Theme?
This is not as straight forward as you might think. For most people and companies, a free theme just makes sense. However, paid themes usually offer much better support.
On the other hand, if you have to buy the theme to use it you can not test it and really know how it operates before you have paid. Getting a refund is a pain and often the developers are justifiably unhappy to give you that refund. After all you downloaded it and used it for a while and the the cost is usually less than USD $50 so there is little room for the developer’s overhead to process a refund.
After years of struggling with this we now have a policy on all our sites that if there is not a free version of the theme to demo and play with first, we just walk away.
The best combination is a free base theme that has a paid option which usually includes worthwhile enhancements, like color controls and sliders.
In recent months we have had to changed the themes on all our sites and that was painfully time consuming. After playing with dozens (not exaggerating) of themes we have a lot of current experience with themes. However, after this effort we found two theme developers that provided excellent support and were friendly with us through some tedious efforts and we think their good work deserves a reference:
Our very popular Commodore.ca (yes, the old Computers) theme is now running on AkisThemes Atlast Business theme which is the most complete theme we have ever used. Also the developer @archimidism has provided the best quality (fast, friendly, consistent) support we have ever received.
Note that we have not been paid for these references.