The theme you are going to use is crucial to your blog or website’s success.
Now, when the attention span of visitors is smaller than ever, the WordPress theme you are using means success or failure.
Your visitors may leave your site and never return if your theme is slowly loading, the content is not easily accessible or is hard to read.
That’s why you have to choose the best WordPress theme that has an eye-friendly layout, multiple customization options, is secure and have some other characteristics that you will find in this article.
- 1. Does the theme fit your niche?
- 2. Does it load fast?
- 3. Is the theme responsive?
- 4. Can you configure it easily?
- 5. Is the theme updated and maintained regularly?
- 6. Does it follow the coding standards?
- 7. It follows security standards and good practices?
- 8. Does your theme come with documentation?
- 9. Is the developer answering fast to requests?
- 10. Is your theme popular?
- Recommended themes
1. Does the theme fit your niche?
There are themes designed especially for specific niches like web agencies, news sites, magazines, recipes websites, fitness clubs etc. That’s mostly because each niche has its own particularities like focusing on pictures versus text, fonts, icons etc.
Also, there are specific functions like portfolio list for web agencies or booking scripts for clubs and hotels.
JustFit theme from MyThemeShop.com – Theme created for fitness clubs.
Authority theme from MyThemeShop.com – Theme created for authority bloggers.
Extra theme from ElegantThemes.com
Choosing a theme created especially for your website type and niche will save you many hours of configuration, tweaking settings and looking for plugins for missing functionalities.
2. Does it load fast?
Website speed is now confirmed by Google, for being a ranking factor. Also, visitors tend to leaves websites that don’t load in a reasonable timeframe. According to a kissmetrics study about website loading speed, a 1-second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.
So when you choose a WordPress theme for your website use the following tools to see if it is optimized to load fast. There are more things that can influence the loading speed. Some of them are: the hosting company, the number of plugins, the quantity and sizes of images but the demos offered by the creators should be enough to get an idea.
Google Page Speed – This tool check how well the theme is optimized to meet the Google Standards of Websites speed and what you can improve. Some things you can fix by installing different plugins but others can not. You should aim for at least an 85 score.
GTMetrix.com is another tool you should use to test the theme and see if it follows the best practices for fast loading.
You should use these two tools before launching the blog as well and make sure you fix as much as you can. Website loading speed is an important factor of your blog success.
When your website is ready, check our guide on how to speed up your WordPress website.
3. Is the theme responsive?
Most of the themes nowadays are responsive but if yours is not you should change it immediately. People visits websites from mobile phones, web TVs, tablets, laptops or even Playstations so is crucial that your website looks good on all these devices.
There are several tools you should use to make sure your theme is compatible.
AmI.ResponsiveDesign.is is loading your website on 4 devices (tablet, mobile, desktop, and notebook) in real time.
Google Mobile Friendly Test is a pretty compressive tool that tests your theme for mobile devices.
4. Can you configure it easily?
The admin panel of a theme is the place where you configure everything: logo, header, menu, typography, colors etc. You need to make sure the theme you are going to use have an admin panel full of features so you can tweak the settings as you wish.
Otherwise, you will end up with a theme that looks exactly like the creators wanted – the demo but if you want to change anything will be a pain as you have to edit the code. If you’re not a developer you need to make sure the theme has many options you can choose from.
5. Is the theme updated and maintained regularly?
WordPress is such a successful CMS because it is easy to use and is regularly updated and maintained. However, themes creators need to keep up with all the changes, new features added and all the released plugins that add functionality.
If you choose a theme that is not updated quite often you may have to wait way longer to benefit for all functionalities offered by new WordPress versions. Also on a worst case scenario, your website will no longer work because after an update the theme is no longer compatible.
That’s why you have to make sure the theme creators are still maintaining the theme and keep it up to date.
6. Does it follow the coding standards?
I can’t stress enough how important are the coding standards and why the developers should follow them. A theme that follows coding standards (HTML, CSS, WordPress) will get better SEO scores, will load faster and will not break your website on updates or when you install a plugin.
If the theme you chose have a free version or you already bought it install the Theme Check plugin and see the report. If there are errors you should inform the developer to make the necessary changes and make the theme compatible.
W3 Validator will inspect the website against HTML standards. Add the theme demo and see if it is compatible. If there are many errors I would avoid using the theme or send the report to the developer and see if he’s willing to make the necessary changes to the code.
7. It follows security standards and good practices?
Getting hacked is a painful experience for every blogger. You can lose all your files, the database, have your website dropped from Google or labeled as spreading malware. Also, it may get your hosting account terminated if the hacker sends SPAM using your website.
As it so widespread, WordPress is a target for hackers so you follow several good practices to keep your website secure. Regarding to the WordPress there you’re going to use you should make sure it is coded correctly, it doesn’t have backdoors or open holes that can be exploited.
Below are three tools you should use to make sure theme your theme is secure.
- Theme Authenticity Checker is a free plugin that scans all of your WordPress theme files for potentially malicious or unwanted code.
- Exploit Scanner is another free WordPress plugin that is much more robust than the Theme Authenticity Checker because it search all files and database of your WordPress install. It checks for signs that may indicate if your installation has fallen victim to malicious hackers.
- WordFence is a plugin that checks your website deeply (database, all folders, etc) for backdoors, exploits or settings that affects the security of your blog.
If the theme supports auto update you should enable it and always have the most recent version. If it doesn’t you should regularly check the developer’s website for updates and install them.
8. Does your theme come with documentation?
It doesn’t matter if you’re an experienced WordPress developer or this is the first theme you simply need documentation and tutorials. Otherwise, you will lose many hours trying to figure out how to configure the theme, replicate the demo or add some nice content.
Check the developer’s website for the documentation and Youtube for tutorials on how to configure and use the theme you want to use. If you can’t find much my advice is to skip it.
9. Is the developer answering fast to requests?
Support is crucial for WordPress theme and trust me at some point you will need support from the developer. It may some functions that do not work as expected, some conflicts with the plugin you are using or some changes that you need.
That’s why I suggest you to go with a theme developer that is offering support to the theme and is willing to listen to the customers for improvements.
10. Is your theme popular?
It may sound a little bit odd at first because for branding reasons you may think that choosing an underused theme should be best.
However, a popular theme comes with some advantages that are very important, especially when you just start a blog:
- A popular theme is used by many bloggers so bugs are faster reported to creators and fixed.
- A popular theme means that bloggers and visitors enjoy that theme (layout, colors, typography etc)
- Popular themes, especially paid ones encourage creators to maintain them and add new features faster than for other themes.
- The support is faster and better.
If you answered yes to all these 10 checklists, congrats, you have found a great theme. Otherwise, you should check the providers below that I can vouch for.
Here are several developers of themes that I used to develop websites for me and my customers and have had good experiences:
ElegantThemes – Considering the awesome quality of most themes as well as their unbeatable price, the overall rating for this premium WordPress theme provider is excellent and highly recommended for both personal and business sites.
MyThemeShop – Their theme gallery is full of stunning looking WordPress theme, which will give a modern look to your blog. Overall as a premium theme club starting from $35, Mythemeshop is a great choice for your WordPress blog. In case if you are not in the mood to spend money right now, you can always choose from their free theme options here.
What other themes follow all these practices and you recommend? What is the best WordPress theme in your option?
I’m really eager to find out so wait for your comments.