Choosing A WordPress Theme

Aah, the marketplace of WordPress Themes. There are thousands of them out there, all trying to vy for your attention with their sleek designs and ability to do pretty much anything you can think of that you’d like your website to do (and then some other stuff too).

It doesn’t matter what business you’re in, someone has most likely built a WordPress Theme for it (Yes funeral homes, you too can have a WordPress website).

However, just because someone is charging money for a ‘pre-built’ WordPress theme, doesn’t mean it’s any good. To try and avoid buying what looks like an amazing theme for it then to look like a pile of dog-doo when you’ve put your own content into it, read on…

All WordPress Themes Are Created Equal (Not).

For those of you that have been trawling through various theme marketplaces, you may have come across quite a few WordPress themes which look pretty much the same. But not all themes are equal! How the theme is actually built (i.e. the quality of it) may not be something that you can see, but is of ma-hoo-sive importance.

Badly coded themes can impact page loading times (not good for SEO), interact badly with plugins which may cause bugs and errors, and generally cause web designers who have been tasked with a usually straightforward list of ‘tweaks’ to want to bang their head against the nearest wall.

What To Look For In Your WordPress Theme

  • It comes with some form of support and/or documentation
  • It comes with automatic updates (Some themes through marketplaces don’t and it’s incredibly annoying and unnecessarily time consuming)
  • Does it include the functionality you want? For example, if you want online booking does it give you those capabilities or will you need to purchase a plugin at a separate cost?
  • Inversely, does it include TOO MUCH functionality? If you don’t need all the bells and whistles, you’re just adding extra unnecessary code bloat to your website.
  • It should be responsive. If you’re paying for something, it better well work on a phone and tablet!
  • It works across different browsers – although probably not Internet Explorer 8…for the love of God go and upgrade please!!!
  • If you want a page-builder, check this is included and that you don’t have to purchase a separate plugin. Most come with some form of page builder or another – Visual Composer/WP Bakery is a popular bundled one, but some themes can have ‘custom-built’ ones that range from ‘annoying’ to ‘rage-inducing’.
  • It’s built with SEO in mind – again poorly coded sites will not be good for this.
  • Check the ratings and reviews left for the theme – assuming they’ve not bribed everyone who has downloaded it, some realistic reviews should help you decide whether the theme is right for you or whether someone’s trying to make a quick buck.

My WordPress Theme Recommendation

Ok, so I often build my own themes but sometimes existing themes can do the job just as well.

I recommend the Make Theme by the Theme Foundry – my site is currently built with this until such point I have time to build a theme from scratch.  There’s a free and a paid version, it contains a page builder and it’s well-coded. Unlike the majority of themes, it doesn’t leave behind a trail of littery shortcodes should you *gasp* dare to switch to another theme.

An undoubtedly popular option seems to be Divi, but having been raised as a developer I try and steer clear of it – as I mentioned above, if you want to leave this theme behind you usually end up with a pile of shortcodes littered throughout your content.