So, you’ve got a blogsite that you’ve grown out of and now you want to upgrade. You’re in the market for a new WordPress theme, but you’ve never shopped for themes before. What do you look for?
Here are eight things I look for in a new WordPress theme, whether I’m building a new site or redesigning an old one.
There is absolutely no reason to go with a theme that is not mobile-friendly. So much web surfing is being done these days — more than on desktops — that not presenting for mobile is a site killer. Check out the responsive theme demo on your smart phone first. And, be sure it’s compatible with all the right browsers.
2. Site Speed
Speed is another site killer to be aware of. If the theme is so bloated with code that it takes more than four seconds to load, pass on it. Test a prospective theme’s demo pages in Pingdom.com and see what it times in at. Figure more time to allow for the plugins you intend to install.
[Tweet “Test a prospective theme’s demo pages in Pingdom.com and see what it times in at.”]
3. Theme Options
For the most control over your site’s appearance and functionality, make sure the theme as prodigious theme options. I’m talking pages upon lengthy pages of options for all the features that you can zero in. WordPress is about to bump up the Customizer function to appeal to the non-geek users but I’m skeptical. Customizer is not enough for me, and I dislike themes that rely on Customizer for its theme options.
4. Niche Design
The beauty of themes these days is that there are dozens created for every possible business niche. If you are a photographer, seek out a photo gallery-style theme. If you’re a real estate agent, go for a real estate theme. It’s wise to get one that speaks your language and has custom posts designed for your needs.
5. Developer Support
If you pay for a premium theme, you’re also paying for the support of the developer. And since you are basically paying for a partnership it’s a good idea to know that partner well. Check out their support forum to see what problems users are having. Look at the dates to see what kind of response times you can expect. Support matters.
Having a site that speaks to other sites is a dream indeed. Find one that is equipped with integrations to social media, search engines, etc. It will mean less plugins to upload.
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7. Multiple Layouts
Variety is the spice of life, so make sure your new WordPress theme has some. You want to be able to set some pages full width and some with two sidebars. A video page here and a gallery page there. The more flexibility the better.
8. Just Enough Features
If don’t understand what half of the items on a features list pertain to and have no use for them anyway, then you are buying overkill. All those unnecessary features take time to load up extra code, and if you’re not using them, your site will be slow for no reason. Be sure the code you’re buying goes to good use.
Get a new WordPress theme that’s future proof
Think about the future. When you eventually tire of this theme and redesign your site, ask yourself how much of this theme will translate to the next?
This is why I’d avoid theme-specific custom plugins and widgets. If you load data into a plugin – say a photo gallery — that only works on that theme, you’ll need to totally recreate that photo gallery in the next theme.
Or, say you go with a theme that doesn’t use Featured Images. You redesign the site with a theme that does, and you’re stuck going back and adding Featured Images to all your old posts.
Conversely, you don’t want to get a new WordPress theme that doesn’t include features that you already have.
But that’s just me. What do you look for in a new theme?