One of the best features that WordPress offers is custom themes: premium and free. These are templates for your site that allow you to implement a functional, coherent design to your pages and posts. Like anything user-made, however, the templates are not all created equal.
When you decide to start a WordPress blog, you’ll be faced with a choice of themes fairly quickly, and you’ll have a lot of options at your disposal. Choosing a WordPress theme that is poorly constructed or intended for a different type of site can be a major blow to your success. That’s why I’m going to show you 7 things you should consider before you make this decision.
1. Responsive Design
Responsive design refers to a theme’s ability to change its layout based on the device someone is using to access the internet. The website should look different (and more importantly, readable) on a desktop or on a mobile device such as a smartphone.
As of 2016, over 56.1% of mobile phone users accessed the internet from their smartphones. That number is expected to grow to over 63.5% by 2019! On top of that, Google has made it clear that it prefers mobile responsive sites. A responsive theme therefore could also be beneficial to your SEO.
If you want to ensure that your chosen theme fits what Google is looking for, you can check out Google’s mobile friendly test tool. This tool will quickly judge if your site meets the company’s standards.
2. Consistent Updates
WordPress itself is constantly improving. As it progresses, everything else should progress with it. When there’s a new WordPress upgrade, there will usually be one for your plug-ins soon after. Your theme should be consistently updating as well.
The last thing you want is website errors or glitches because your theme is outdated. When choosing a theme, look for one that has been updated recently and has a solid backlog of consistent updates. Then you will know that proper care is being given to ensure it remains compatible with the latest version of WordPress.
3. Keep It Simple
When it comes to web design, you don’t want something cluttered or overly complex. After all, the average attention span of someone online lasts for only eight seconds. You want to get your point across quickly and do so without any confusion.
To that end, follow this advice from the great Leonardo da Vinci:
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
Your chosen theme should look nice, while also offering a clean and user-friendly layout. Looks aren’t everything, so make sure your theme is also intuitive to use before you decide on one. If you need help finding one that meets these criteria, check out these 37 simple WordPress themes.
4. A Fast Loading Speed
The way a theme is built affects how quickly it will load web pages for your users. It’s hard to see how page loading time affects your site since it’s not a tangible element you can see, but consider these statistics:
● 47% of customers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less.
● A 1 second delay in your loading time can cost you 7% in conversions.
● 40% of people will abandon a website if it takes more than three seconds to load.
If your web pages are loading slowly, you’ll have a tendency to rush to figure out if your site or your theme is causing the issue. However, you need to calm down. First and foremost, you should use a tool like Pingdom to check your website’s speed. This resource will give you a good indicator of how your site is running.
While your theme can potentially slow down your site, there are other factors that can do so as well. When browsing through potential themes, look at the user reviews to see if there are any complaints about the coding in relation to website speed.
You can also check other sites that are using your theme. For an extra layer of preparation, use Pingdom to test their speeds in comparison to your own.
5. Cross-Browser Support
As much as I think everyone should just give in and use Chrome, people access the internet using a lot of different browsers. The way they experience your site could potentially change depending on how your theme interacts with specific web browsers.
Many WordPress theme creators will test their theme’s compatibility themselves and make a note of the results in the description. However, you can easily do the same tests with the proper tools. You should also check that those tests have been done with browsers on mobile devices.
6. SEO Friendly
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a subject that comes up in any conversation about web development or blogging on WordPress. The theme you choose has an effect on SEO and ultimately an effect on your success.
A poorly made theme (even one that looks great on the exterior) can hurt your SEO. Because many factors and moving parts determine your ranking, you don’t want your site’s design to be working against you. When you are searching for a WordPress theme, look for guarantees that the theme is optimized for SEO.
7. Ongoing Support
Themes can sometimes include ongoing support from the developer in case you have any questions or you run into issues. Ongoing support saves you the hassle of having to pay someone else to fix any problems you encounter.
Support isn’t something exclusive to premium themes either. Some free theme developers will happily assist you with any obstacles. Make sure you look for the ongoing support feature when choosing a theme. If you don’t have web design experience, one issue could be a major setback.
Many of the greatest blogs in the world run on WordPress, and all of them started with a great theme. It’s amazing how important choosing one is for your continued success.
By using the above considerations to narrow down your choices, you can make an educated decision, whether you’re opting for a free WordPress theme or purchasing a premium one.
What do you look for in your WordPress themes? Let us know in the comments!
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- 7 Things to Consider When Choosing Your WordPress Theme - August 13, 2016