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It can be really overwhelming to choose a WordPress theme since there are so many available for free.

Or is it?

How do you know if you’re installing a great WordPress theme when there are so many options available? And should you buy a theme or use a free one?

Read on and you’ll be able to answer all of these questions and more!

A Great WordPress Theme Accommodates Your Blog’s Needs

You can do so many different things with WordPress from building a blog to an e-commerce store. As such, it’s important to understand your blog’s needs before choosing a new theme.

What’s more important to your blog? Displaying lots of imagery in a whimsical manner, or improving legibility? Do you need to have a more complex layout or will something simple be better for your blog? Do you need to do lots of customizations or not?

Your blog’s appearance is the first thing people will judge so if you don’t choose a great theme, your visitors might not come back.

Evaluate the purpose of your blog and pick a visually appealing theme based on your blog’s needs.

A Great WordPress Theme Leverages Plugins and Widgets

Depending on how a theme is coded, you might get locked into using it. Great themes are built to make use of the vast WordPress plugin ecosystem; they allow you to use different plugins and widgets to customize your blog. If a theme isn’t coded to take advantage of plugins or widgets and instead does its own thing, you might be stuck using that theme.

Themes that provide their own functionality and don’t leverage plugins and widgets are difficult to change. This is because that functionality is not universal, and is specific to only that one theme.

Choose a theme that allows for customization with plugins and widgets.

A Great WordPress Theme Loads Quickly

Everyone hates a slow website, but the Internet is full of them. As you evaluate themes for your blog you will come across lots of pretty themes but many won’t load fast. You can determine how fast a theme will load by installing it and asking Google for its opinion.

To do this all you need to do is:

On the next page Google will tell you what they think about the performance of the blog theme you chose. Errors are important and must be fixed. Warnings are less important than errors, but should still be fixed if you can. Do not neglect this because page speed is one of the many factors Google considers when ranking your website!

Note: with a bit of work you can speed up pretty much any theme, and I’ll write a tutorial on how to do that, but for now try to pick a theme that’s fast without needing to be modified. If your theme scores 60 or up, you’ll be in pretty good shape.

Choose a theme that loads quickly without any modifications.

A Great WordPress Theme Works on All Devices

It’s long past 1999 and people browse the Internet on all kinds of devices these days. In fact, it’s common for websites to have more traffic coming from mobile devices than traditional computers. This means that if a theme doesn’t look great on all devices then it shouldn’t be used. Period.

Need more convincing? Usability is yet another factor Google considers when ranking your website. If you want Google’s opinion on how usable a theme is on mobile devices, you can use their “mobile friendly test” tool.

Is your theme legible on all devices? Can you click links and buttons easily without clicking the wrong thing? Try out a theme on as many devices as you have; if it’s difficult for you to read or use, then it will be for others too.

Choose a theme that looks good on a laptop, a tablet, and a phone.

A Great WordPress Theme Works on All Browsers

There are a variety of web browsers out there for people to use including Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge. Each of these browsers has their own set of quirks that might make something look broken on a different one.

It’s essential that a WordPress theme works well on all of the different browsers available. Often the theme developer will advertise that their theme works across browsers. This is usually a good sign, but you should also check the theme’s reviews. The best way to find out, though, is to test it yourself on different browsers and devices.

To test various mobile browsers you’ll need to check your phone’s respective app store.

Download all of the desktop browsers here:

Note: If you’re on Windows you won’t be able to download Safari, and if you’re on MacOS you won’t be able to download Microsoft Edge. If you want to test your website out on either of these browsers you could use a paid service like BrowserStack.

Choose a theme that looks great on all browsers.

A Great WordPress Theme Lets You Build Layouts With a Page Builder

Changing your page’s layout isn’t a big deal if you know how to write code, but if you don’t then you’re stuck! Your options are to either have a crummy layout, or to hire someone to build a layout for you. Enter page builders.

A page builder lets you change the layout of a page without having to write any code. A great theme will come bundled with a page builder, or at the very least a recommendation for which one to use.

Choose a theme that comes with a page builder.

A Great WordPress Theme Comes With Support

Something will eventually happen that will require you to get help with your theme. Many themes (free or premium) are updated regularly to address issues that pop up. Additionally, many themes come with some amount of technical support. If you don’t know how to write code then you should definitely try to use a theme that comes with tech support because the people that made the theme know everything about it. In the long run getting support from the theme author will be cheaper than hiring someone that’s unfamiliar with the theme to fix something.

Choose a theme that comes with support

Divi Theme

On this website I’m using the Divi theme built by ElegantThemes.com. It satisfies all of the requirements I listed above and it’s been a real treat to work with.

I paid $250 for lifetime updates and support, which you might think it expensive, but when I considered that my rate as a freelance software engineer is $100/hour I thought it was worth it. Even better, I get support and free updates so for $250 I basically have a staff of engineers working on stuff for me.

The best part about the Divi theme is that it comes with a ton of prebuilt layouts, so if you’re visually challenged or just need a quick starting point Divi’s got you covered.

Note: If you choose the Divi theme for your blog I’ll be able to help you troubleshoot issues.

Choose the Divi theme if you want to buy a high quality theme that will make your life easier.

Closing Thoughts

It can be a daunting task to pick out a theme, but if you follow the guidelines above it should be a bit easier. If you want to choose a high quality theme that’s really customizable, then pull the trigger and buy the Divi theme.

Remember, a great WordPress theme:

  • Accommodates Your Blog’s Needs
  • Leverages Plugins and Widgets
  • Loads Quickly
  • Looks Great on All Devices
  • Lets You Build Layouts With a Page Builder
  • Comes With Support

When you choose a theme, let me know which one you chose!