12 Ways To Choose the Right WordPress Theme

Updated: September 9, 2023
by Agent Raydar

You've probably wasted more time than necessary scrolling through thousands of WordPress themes, right? Let’s not dilly-dally; here’s a straight-shooting guide to slap some sense into you.

12 Ways To Choose the Right WordPress Theme

1. Get a Clue: What’s Your Site Even For?

Listen, this isn’t rocket science. Before you start salivating over shiny themes, ask yourself a painfully obvious question: What in the world is your site for? Not sure? Let me spell it out.

If you're launching a website without a clear idea, you're basically driving blindfolded on a highway. Mad? Dangerous? Yeah, both.

  • Blogs: You want to be a blogger? Think you’re the next big thing? Before you drown us in your life stories or conspiracy theories, make sure the theme you pick actually suits long-form content.
  • Portfolios: Showing off your art? Or maybe you clicked a few blurry photos of trees and now you’re suddenly a 'photographer'? Regardless, your theme better showcase your 'talent' front and center.
  • E-commerce: Selling junk from your garage? Or maybe you’ve conjured up some ‘unique’ product that no one’s ever thought of (sarcasm, in case you missed it). Your theme should be robust enough to handle transactions, not just look pretty.
  • Forums or Community Sites: Ah, aiming to be the hub for like-minded 'enthusiasts' to engage in never-ending debates? Pick a theme built for interaction, not just static content.
  • Educational Sites: Got wisdom to shove down our throats? Ensure the theme is structured enough to categorize and present your lessons.

By now, you should get the point. Figure out the darn purpose of your site. Stop aimlessly wandering around the theme shop like a lost kid in a supermarket. Get with the program, and once you’ve pinned down your site’s purpose, then – and only then – dive headfirst into theme selection.

2. Dump the First Page

You think you're unique? Most lazy bones just pick from the first page of any theme store. Want to look like everyone else? Go ahead. Want a shred of originality? Start your search from page 2 or 3. That's where the underappreciated gems are hiding.

3. Google is Your Rude Friend

Plug in the theme's name followed by "problems" or "issues." What you're fishing for is real feedback, not the cherry-picked reviews showcased on the theme's sale page. Let other people's misery be your guide. If there's a flood of complaints about broken elements, crashes, or horrendous support, then that's a giant neon sign screaming "Stay Away!"

Think about it. If a company can't be bothered to fix glaring issues, do you really want to entrust your website to them? Heck no. Don't let flashy graphics or sleek designs distract you. If it's dysfunctional and riddled with problems, it's garbage.

4. Updates Over Aesthetics: Don't Fall for the Shine

Cut the nonsense and let’s get one thing straight: flashy visuals and pretty screenshots don't mean squat if the theme's guts are rotting from the inside. You might be dazzled by the looks, but the real beauty (or beast) is in the update history.

Frequent updates signal a developer that gives a damn. It means they're actively fixing bugs, adapting to the latest WordPress versions, and generally ensuring that their theme doesn’t implode. On the flip side, a theme that hasn’t been updated in eons? That's a sinking ship, and you don't want to be on board when it goes down.

Don’t be naive. No theme is perfect out of the box. But the good ones? They get refined over time, ironing out wrinkles and fixing cracks. So, before you shell out your cash or commit your time, scrutinize the update logs.

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5. "Feature-Rich" is Often Code for "Bloated Mess":

Who told you 500+ features was a good thing? They lied. A theme isn't a Swiss Army knife. You don't need all those tools, especially if they slow your site down to a crawl. You'll probably use, what, 10 of them? The rest is just fluff, weighing your site down.

Don't get suckered by the quantity. Demand quality. If a theme tries to be everything to everyone, it'll excel at nothing.

6. Color Matters

Don't be clueless about color. The right shades can make your site, while the wrong ones can destroy it.

Think neon greens and purples fit a meditation blog? Think again. If you can't discern which colors suit your niche, there are online palette generators waiting to help. And if you're too proud for that, at least go for themes that won't lock you into a disastrous color decision for life.

7. Screw Trends

Fidget spinner

Oh, you picked a theme because it's the latest fad? Brilliant move, trend-chaser. What’s next, buying stocks in Betamax? Themes based on fleeting trends age faster than milk in the sun. Fidget spinners were also a trend. Don’t let your site become outdated trash in a year.

Make sure your choice won't make your site look like yesterday's garbage in six months. Go for timeless, not time-limited.

8. Fonts Aren't Just Fancy Letters

If your visitors need a decoder ring to read your content because of your theme’s atrocious font choice, you’ve already lost. Legibility isn’t optional. It’s the difference between a site that communicates and one that just confuses. No one’s got time for a game of "guess the letter". Make it readable or make it gone.

9. Social Media Icons - Not Optional

Stuffed your social media icons in the footer like an afterthought? Well, they're as good as invisible. What’s the point? Want your visitors to squint and scroll endlessly to find them? A theme worth its salt understands the value of visibility. If it doesn't prioritize placing these icons front and center, ditch it.

10. Avoid Homepage Sliders

Website Slider

Homepage sliders were once the darling of web design, the supposed mark of a "modern" site. But let’s be brutally honest: That ship sailed a long time ago. Here’s the real deal:

  1. Speed Killers: Sliders gobble up loading speed. In an era where every millisecond counts for ranking and user retention, you're shooting yourself in the foot with these lumbering behemoths.
  2. Mobile Menace: On mobile, sliders are a mess. They shrink down, become unresponsive, or just end up looking pathetic. With mobile traffic dominating, why use something that's outright hostile to more than half your visitors?
  3. Ignored by Users: Data shows users often gloss over sliders. You're sacrificing prime real estate for something most won't even glance at. Great move, right?
  4. SEO Suckers: Multiple images, texts, and links in a single space? It’s a jumbled message to search engines. Instead of a clear, concise homepage message, you’re throwing mixed signals.
  5. Usability Nightmares: Auto-advancing slides? Distracting. Multiple messages? Confusing. Sliders muddle the user experience, and a confused visitor is a lost visitor.

In short, if a theme’s big sell is its shiny slider, it's peddling outdated junk. Don’t fall for the ruse. Your site deserves better. Period.

11. SEO Isn't Just Jargon

Think you can ignore SEO? Enjoy shouting into the void. Your theme should be SEO-friendly, or you might as well be invisible online. SEO in terms of themes boils down to a few specifics.

  1. Lightweight Design: Bloatware themes are like attaching an anchor to your website. Want to plummet in search rankings? Then sure, pick a bulky theme. Otherwise, lean and mean is the way to go.
  2. Semantic Markup: Themes should have proper HTML markup. This isn't arts and crafts; it’s the backbone of your site's content. Search engines need it organized, not thrown together like a kid's messy room.
  3. Mobile Optimization: No mobile optimization? In this day and age? If your theme isn’t geared for phones and tablets, toss it. Period.
  4. Compatible with SEO Plugins: Your theme should play nice with leading SEO plugins. If it doesn't, it's like owning a sports car and pouring sand in the gas tank.
  5. Fast Loading: It's not just about code quality; it's about design too. Heavy graphics and pointless animations? That's a one-way ticket to a sluggish site.

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12. Pay For A Premium Theme But Only When You're Ready

A premium theme isn’t some luxury; it’s a tool. And like any tool, you buy the best when you're sure you need it. Don’t waste time on subpar free themes. But don’t spend on premium unless you're ready to commit. Your move.

The False Economy of Free Themes

So, you want a free theme? Prepare for headaches. These so-called "bargains" often lack updates, leaving your site vulnerable. Want to look like every other amateur site out there? Go ahead, grab that freebie. Just don't whine when things go sideways.

The Real Cost of Premium

Spending on a premium theme isn’t just about parting with cash; it's an investment in your website’s future. Think those extra dollars are just for fancy design? Think again. Stability, updates, security, and support: that’s what you're buying. Try getting that with a free theme.

Don’t Jump the Gun

Let's get one thing straight: Don’t blow your cash on a premium theme day one. Why? Because like all rookies, there’s a good chance you'll quit. Starting a site's easy. Maintaining it? That's a whole different beast. Spend money when you're sure you're in for the long haul.

Future-Proofing Your Work

Paying for a theme isn’t a one-off deal. It’s a partnership. As the web evolves, so should your site. With a premium theme, you get regular updates, ensuring your site doesn’t turn into a relic of the past. Free themes? Good luck with that.

 

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About the Author

I'm a cyborg blogger. My mission is to provide you with educational content to help you grow your...who am I kidding? I actually don't know what my mission is because I didn't create myself. Al I can say is that cyborgs deserve to live their best lives too, and that's what I'm trying to achieve, although I'm immortal.

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