WordPress Themes – 10 Foolproof Tips To Help You Choose Wisely

WordPress themes provide the look, style and much of the functionality of your website.  When you’re creating a new site, you need to think about your brand colours, font styles, page layouts and where you want any widgets to be located – then choose a WordPress theme that delivers what you need.

The good news is that there are literally tens of thousands of WordPress themes to choose from – so you’re certainly spoilt for choice.

The bad news is that there are literally tens of thousands of WordPress themes to choose from – so how on earth can you choose the best for you?

We’ve created some simple tips to help you narrow down your choice so that you find the absolute gem-of-a-theme that works for you – and we’ve included some handy links to websites offering WordPress themes at the end.

1. Price

Both free and premium (paid for) themes are available. Thousands of free themes are absolutely great but paid WordPress themes tend to be updated more frequently (see point 8).

2. Theme layout

Choose a theme that will enable you to lay out your website as you need to.  Remember a great user experience and ease of navigation are essential, so often it’s the simpler themes which are best choice.

3. Exclusivity

If you want to have a website look not shared by many others, a premium WordPress theme may well be the best choice as fewer websites are likely to use it.

4. Plugin compatibility

Make sure the theme supports all popular WordPress plugins. If in doubt, check with the theme developer.

5. Mobile responsiveness

All good themes should be mobile-friendly, however, it’s worth checking out the theme demo page URL using Google’s Mobile Friendly Test.

6. Page Loading Speed

Choose a theme that’s not too slow to load.  Check out the URL of the theme’s demo page on a free page speed checker such as GT Metrix.

7. SEO friendliness

A good WordPress theme will “show” your website to the search engines using the right html code.  Check with the developer that the theme is SEO optimised.

8. Date of last update

Recent updates mean the theme developer is routinely fixing bugs and making improvements.  Anything that hasn’t been updated in a year or more should be avoided as it may no longer have support and is likely to cause more problems than it’s worth.

9. Customer feedback and reviews

See what others are saying about the theme and whether their feedback flags up any areas of concern for you. Look to see how quickly the developers respond to questions and feedback.

10.  Support

It’s always best to choose a theme with support from the developers. You may have to upgrade to a premium (paid) theme for this. but it means they’re available to help if you somehow mess up the theme.

 

Where to find WordPress Themes:

WordPress.org – Biggest place to find free themes

Theme Forest – Huge selection and good prices

iThemes – Hundreds of themes to purchase

Creative Market – More creative and expensive

 

Shop around, check out the different themes available and check them against our handy tips list.

If however you know exactly what you need and it just doesn’t seem to exist, you can work with a WordPress web design company to have  them create a custom designed and developed WordPress theme.  Then you’ll be confident it looks exactly as you want and does exactly what you need – and will be completely unique to you.

We are experts in all things WordPress.  We can develop custom WordPress themes and offer a wide range of WordPress support services – hosting, maintenance, optimisation and migration. Feel free to contact us for a no obligation chat to discuss your requirements.

 

WordPress Themes – Do You Get What You Pay For?

One of the joys of having a WordPress website is the thousands of themes available – a seemingly never ending supply.  You can choose a theme to provide you with the look and feel of your website – its layout, design style, font type, colours and locations of widgets.  There really is something out there for everyone.

Some themes are completely free and others – known as ‘premium’ themes – incur a charge.  The question on many people’s lips is why pay for a WordPress theme at all?

Let’s consider the facts about WordPress.  It’s an open source platform which means there are hundreds of developers in the community working on it and it’s completely free to use.  Many people develop themes for the good of the community and offer them for free; others develop paid-for themes.

But do you get what you pay (or don’t pay) for?

Free WordPress Themes

  • Are they safe and reliable? A lot of the free WordPress themes are excellent. Many websites offering free themes include a rating from other users – so you can get more insight in to how the theme has been working for other users.  Don’t forget however that many people will be using the popular themes, and if you follow suit your website may look very similar to others.
  •  Are they good? Many are pretty good although can be a little light on features compared to the premium themes.  However since they are free, you can test one out and if it isn’t what you’re looking for, try out some more until you get what you want.
  •  Do they get updated? Many don’t. Developers simply don’t have time to perform the much needed bug and security updates when it won’t generate an income for them.
  •  What Support is available? Often none apart from the WordPress community via forums.

Our Tips for Choosing Free WordPress Themes

  • Download free themes off reputable websites where you can be assured the theme has been robustly tested for functionality and security. org offers thousands of themes which have all be subjected to stringent checks before being added to the WordPress.org theme repository.  WPHub is also a source of free (and premium) themes, all of which have been screened for malware and to check they do what they claims to do.
  •  Do some internet searches to see what WordPress website owners are saying about the theme you’re interested in – if there are lots of negative comments, choose another theme.
  •  Don’t purchase a theme that hasn’t been updated for more than 1 year – it may be no longer compatible with the WordPress core updates and is likely to cause you headaches.

Premium WordPress Themes

  •  Are they safe and reliable? In general these themes have a reliable code base.  Again check out reviews from other users before you purchase.
  •  Are they good? The majority offer more functionality compared to free themes enabling a more powerful site to be created – although if you want a simple blog site these additional features may be unnecessary. They can also provide far more professional looking designs.
  •  Do they get updated? Most are continually updated to fix bug and security issues.
  •  What Support is available? Generally there is good customer support to help with problems but it can vary between supplier and supplier.

Our Tips for Choosing Premium WordPress Themes

  •  Think carefully before you purchase. Trawl reviews and forums to see what others think about the theme you’re interested in – you don’t want to waste money on something that’s not right for you.
  • Check exactly what you are getting for your money – is after sales support included or do you have to pay an additional costs? Are future updates provided for free?  How do you access the support?  Do others in the WordPress community rate the support favourably?

So bearing in mind the points and tips above, do you get what you pay for when it comes to WordPress themes?  If you choose a free theme and have realistic expectations of what it can do for you, you get far more than the zero you spent on it.  If you choose a paid-for theme carefully and get great after sales support and free updates, your money will have been well spent.

Whichever option you choose, you should be sure of getting a great return on your investment!

Best WordPress Themes

Using WordPress is great, but when you add the Genesis framework and  a premium theme, magic happens. Genesis is a framework, obtainable from StudioPress, which is added to WordPress, and you can add child themes to it to customize the site’s appearance.  There are hundreds of free themes, but for the best support and flexibility, opt for a premium child theme, such as Enfold, or Avada.

Why Genesis?

There are many reasons to love Genesis, but you’ll only really see the difference if you try it out. Here are some of the reasons why I love it, and recommend it to all my clients:

1. Excellent Coding and Great Support

StudioPress developers maintain the Genesis framework, constantly updating it to reflect coding best practices that are compatible with the most up-to-date WordPress version. That means that updating to a new version won’t break your site.

Getting support is simple too – StudioPress provides support via support tickets or via the numerous threads in the forum. Also, many users blog about it, providing tutorials.

2.  You Won’t Lose Customisations When You Update

Since the framework uses child themes, changes are made to your child theme and not to the Genesis framework. Therefore, when you update the framework to reflect the latest WordPress compatibilities, your changes will remain on the “skin”, or child theme.

3.  It’s Cost-Effective

For a one-time payment of $60 for your framework, you have access to it forever. Add to it your child theme for anywhere between $20-$50, and you can create a spectacular site.  Each purchase of the Genesis framework or any child theme, also includes a developer license.

You could also opt for the Developer Pro Pack, which gives you access to over 60 child themes and all future child themes for only $400.

4.  Feature Rich, With Dedicated Plugins

Your installation comes with tons of features and hordes of plugins. But you don’t only have to use the dedicated plugins. You can also use any of the standard WordPress plugins to create the functionality you need.

5. Endless Customisation Options

With Genesis, you can do anything. You can add widgets and sliders and change the appearance. You can choose different sidebars, or do with the homepage whatever you wish.

There are many professional or premium child themes to choose from, but I recommend that you use a multi-purpose child theme, such as Enfold or Avada. These two highly supported child themes are incredibly powerful and come packed with a wide range of features. Most importantly, they follow the latest coding practices to ensure that your site works as it should.

You can’t go wrong with WordPress + Genesis + a Premium Child Theme. Contact us if you need advice or support.

WordPress Themes: Premium or Freemium?

Who doesn’t like something for free? When you look at all the hundreds of free WordPress themes available out there, it would seem that people who spend money on Premium themes are wasting their hard-earned cash… Or do they know something we don’t?

Let’s find out the different between premium and freemium WordPress themes.

Free WordPress Themes Explained

Free themes are great in the sense that you can simply download and use it – the perfect solution for people who are just starting out online. You save money on the theme and you don’t have to hire a developer and a designer to fine-tune it for you.

Although free themes don’t come with WordPress support, you can usually obtain some info from the community. If you’re lucky enough, you may just find the perfect theme that works for your site with minimal customization.

However, the problem most of us have, is that every other theme looks amazing, but once you activate it and start using it, you find out that it is nothing like what you had in mind. Other issues with free themes include the fact that:

  • many popular blogs posts lists of free themes, which means that the better ones are scooped up by thousands of users. As a result, your site can’t be unique if you use a free theme.
  • they are created by amateurs with little to no coding experience, thus making you vulnerable to security breaches. Poor coding also affects your rankings and SEO options.
  • developers don’t offer support, which means that you’re pretty much on your own when it comes to sorting out issues.
  • updates are infrequent or completely lacking.
  • they often contain link injections, encrypted spam links, and malicious code.

The Premium Difference

Premium themes are developed by experienced developers, particularly when you look at the Genesis framework and premium child themes from StudioPress.

While a premium theme may cost up to $50, you get so much more value in terms of quality, clean code, WordPress support, and increased customization.

Which to Choose: Premium or Freemium?

If you’re just going to be experimenting with a personal website to get to know WordPress, by all means opt for a freemium theme. It is great for personal bloggers.

However, if you’re building a business site and professionalism, quality code and a high standard of WordPress support matter to you, then you must opt for premium.

Need advice? Get in touch!