It’s easy to swap themes in and out of your blog but if you’re a beginner it this can be overwhelming. 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? In this article we discuss the different factors that make for a great WordPress theme.
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?
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.
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 one theme.
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:
- add and activate the new theme
- go to Google Page Speed Insights
- enter your blog’s URL and click the “analyze” button
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.