Top 5 things to consider when Choosing a WordPress theme

How a search for a Forest Theme Led me to Theme Forest

The summer of 2008 was my first experience with WordPress. I had just moved from Australia to Canada a few months earlier and was excited about the outdoor adventures ahead of me. Bears, beavers & snow-capped mountains I couldn’t wait to share these adventures with my family down under.  

About an hour into my first hike I thought of an amazing idea.  What if I could create a website that allowed me to GPS all the Hikes in the area around Greater Vancouver.  Even better, what if I could earn money from this hobby AND get paid to ADVENTURE. 

After Mapping my first few trails it was time to get this data on the world wide web.  I had previously done some courses on HTML and even had an advanced diploma in computer science, but that was from 1998 and long before WordPress was released (2003).  This was a whole new world for me and even back then there were a lot of “Themes” to choose from, after about 10 minutes of going through the included themes I realized none of these were going to work very well for the embedding and social features I needed to be successful.  I needed something better.

2008 was a big year for WordPress. Not only was it becoming the most used CMS but the community support for the platform was really picking up steam. Every few months there were new theme and template stores popping up on the web.  The most successful of all of these was a company called Envato.  Their content was AMAZING!  This small startup operated out of a garage in Sydney run by 2 people is now worth over a billion dollars in 2020.  The demand for Themes and templates was growing by the day and Envato created a brand called Theme forest to become the new marketplace to buy and sell.  WordPress was here to stay and the support from freelance developers was making its way into these new theme stores.

In my case, I accidentally stumbled across this marketplace when my late night google search for a ”WordPress Forest Theme” for my hiking website brought me to Theme Forest.

wordpress forest theme
Google’s interface from 2008

Since then Theme Forest and Envato has been a source of inspiration and functionality for every website I have created since.

At North Shore Digital we advise our clients to use quality WordPress templates when creating a website.  Here are some tips to help you find one that aligns with your brand and allows for the best user experience

The top 5 things to consider when choosing a WordPress theme

  1. What is the Purpose of your site?

Finding a theme that suits your site’s purpose is the first thing we need to look at.  What do you want your user experience to be? Is your site aimed at getting and converting leads or is it showcase of your work? Once you have worked out how your site will function using specific keywords in the theme store search bar will narrow it down to themes that have been made for that purpose. For example if we are creating a website for an insurance Broker searching keywords such as “Finance Theme” or “Insurance Theme” will bring up themes that have been made for this purpose. These themes will likely come will all sorts of plugins and editors, some of our favorite editors to recommend are Elementor, WP Bakery and Gutenberge. These can be really helpful especially when it comes to the next tip – Responsiveness

2. Make sure the theme is Responsive

A responsive WordPress theme smoothly adjusts its layout based on the screen size and resolution. Responsive themes offer better readability and usability on smaller screens such as smartphones. It also prevents you from having to create a device specific mobile version. Since 2017 50.81% of all website views have been on a mobile device and that number is only going to go up from here.  With hundreds of variations in screen size and resolutions we want your web site to look great in every format. Theses days most current themes are going to be responsive if you want to see how this will look when you are browsing on a desktop simply press f12 on PC or if you are on a mac follow this quick guide to setup the developer menu

3. SEO Friendly

The first thing we need to consider is loading time.  We need to check that the theme is not too heavy. Some themes load tons of heavy resources, which obviously will impact your site’s load time.  These can be unused plugins or media such as video or large images. While these can be amazing to the user if they are implemented right they can really slow the load time down.  

Mobile friendly – Like responsiveness search engines also look at how mobile friendly your site is.  If you have chosen a site that is responsive it should score well in this category.  Here is a tool provided By google that shows how well your page loads on mobile.

By running this test you can see if your site is loading correctly on mobile

4. Is the theme Updated Regularly

With WordPress being updated with new features and bug fixes everyday it’s important to choose a theme that is updated regularly to make sure it always looks professional on any device.  But the most important reason to have an updated theme is security.  WordPress is an open source system with an active community that monitors the software for security issues.  A theme that has been updated to work with the current version of WordPress will operate smoothly and provide enhanced security. Buy a theme from reputable seller e.g. Theme forest and Studio Press are some of my favorite sellers. These are going to be more likely to be updated on a regular basis and have ongoing support.

5. Keep it simple

Many WordPress themes come with lots of colors, plugins, complex layouts, flashy animations, etc. These are not needed most of the time.  Often when we see a theme in its demo state all of these features are turned on.  This is the theme developer showing us what it’s capable of.  That does not mean we need all these features “turned on” when we start to develop the theme into our website. A simple fast loading website will help with the SEO and keep the user experience streamlined.

There you have it, our 5 tips for choosing a WordPress theme. Once you’ve chosen the theme that’s when the real fun begins.

Here are our Favorite places to buy WordPress Themes

Theme Forest

Studio Press

Woo Themes

Elegant Themes

Make sure you check out our latest blog on How and Why to Blog: Strategy & Tips for Business Blogs.

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Choosing the right WordPress theme is essential if you want to avoid any major issues in the long run.