In previous posts, I covered the following topics
- How to Install WordPress for Beginners?
- Steps to Follow After Installing WordPress
- Top Mistakes All WordPress Beginners Make
- How to Create Fancy Posts in WordPress?
Right now, all these steps fall under preparing your WordPress website like doing the setup e.g. installing WordPress followed by plugins, then completing the configuration process like changing your auto-generated administrator’s password..etc.
Now it is time to start covering how to choose suitable WordPress theme for your website by selecting your WordPress theme which will determine how your entire WordPress website show up to visitors.
Remember, I will not get biased on one choice over the others but I will cover all options below to help you take your decision
- Which theme to select free or premium?
- What are the top 10 things to consider when choosing a premium WordPress theme?
Now it is time to cover all the above topics in details, so let me begin with
Which theme to select free or premium?
Free themes are good if you really don’t need any kind of support, in case you face any issue there is no technical resource(s) to help you unless you ask for help from WordPress developers forums.
Also, free themes don’t get any updates to fix security vulnerabilities or to match WordPress version updates, usually all premium themes get their updates regularly.
Sometimes free themes don’t work with all plugins, this means if we have the same WordPress version with the same free theme, it can work for few WordPress websites but not for all of them due to the installed plugins.
Even if it works today with the current WordPress version and all plugins are seamlessly working excellent, one day it may not work due to new version of WordPress update not working with your free theme.
Keep in mind that always free WordPress theme don’t come loaded with all features.
Having said the above, if you decide to go for free themes, I would highly recommend to get WordPress.org Free Themes as I believe this is the safest route to consider.
I don’t recommend to download and install any themes from third-party vendors unless it is a well-known provider.
To recap, free WordPress themes lack the following:
- No support, you are completely by yourself.
- No obligation, if it does not support any plugin(s), don’t blame the source where you downloaded from.
- No stability, it works today but may not work tomorrow due to WordPress version update.
- Limited features and/or functionalities.
Now my advice to you, if you plan to use a free WordPress theme, you should consider doing the following
- Find as many relevant free WordPress theme as you can so you can switch to other free WordPress themes if your current theme stops working for any reason.
- Consider to download your free themes from WordPress.org and always look for theme ratings from previous users.
- Test your free WordPress theme on all major browsers like Opera, Internet Explorer, FireFox (yes some people love it), Safari and Chrome
- Test functionality and plugins, I suggest to make a list of test cases in Notepad or excel file to go through all of them, you can write in the list something like
- Posts commenting (if you allow commenting on your posts)
- Search functionality
- Check the functionality of all widgets and plugins (newsletter sign-up, social media buttons to make sure they are still sharing..etc)
- Contact page and if it has a contact form test it too.
- 404 page not found and many more..
- It is highly recommended to put your website in maintenance mode, you can install the maintenance mode plugin to let you do this, testing of your new free theme can take sometime so it is better to inform your users.
On the other side, before buying Premium theme always ask yourself the following:
- Is this design what I am really looking for? e.g. does this theme come with specific business pages like support of some contact forms plugins when you create your contact page, compatibility with the well-known plugins or at least the most essential plugins, if you are in doubt, ask support before you buy any theme.
- Does it have premium support? if it does then check the users’ reviews about their support (Google the name of the company creating the themes + support reviews) e.g. to look for the quality of support offered by StudioPress (as known as Genesis) type this on Google = StudioPress themes support reviews (or replace StudioPress with the word Genesis)
- Is this premium theme a responsive one? responsive means your Premium theme will work on mobile or tablet devices and you should expect to see different layouts on cell phones.
- Is this premium theme easy to use (does it come with documentation) and easy to customize?
- Does this premium theme support child theme? first child themes are a special kind of themes to be installed on parent themes (child themes don’t work by itself, you should install a parent theme first), it helps to protect you from losing your changes which happens by installing any parent themes updates, we mainly use child themes to make customization to your theme much easier, if anything goes wrong deactivate the child theme and activate back again the parent theme (StudioPress uses child themes a lot and they offer many of them for free)
Beside all the mentioned above themes, there is a new plugin called Elementor that can work on any theme to enable fully create and customize your posts and pages using a post/page builder, I recommend you really try it and you will never regret it, I am using it here also in my WordPress blog site
What are the top 10 things to consider when choosing a premium WordPress theme?
I don’t want to repeat myself so I will only cover in details all the items which are not mentioned above
- Framework or Standalone WordPress themes, Framework is the parent theme, you can use it by itself or you can install a child theme if you want to do your customization (StudioPress will always list all child themes that work with your Framework or as known as parent theme) while Standalone is a single or regular theme by itself
- Responsive theme as it looks like it is a must now.
- Compatibility with all the essential plugins
- Compatibility with all browsers
- SEO Friendly, to make it simple, some themes contain poor coded HTML so it is better to check this with a tool called W3C Markup Validation
- Easy to use and customize (user-friendly)
- Check if your Premium theme gets updated frequently, if it is recently updated, this means that it is up to date with relevant WordPress updates, some premium themes were last updated more than 2 years ago (keep in mind to always ask the support if they tested your desired theme against the latest WordPress and may be their themes don’t require to be updated)
- Check the premium themes ratings and reviews
- Compatibility with eCommerce features like the famous WooCommerce plugin (Optional based on your requirements)
- Multilingual capability (Optional based on your requirements) if you design your WordPress for non-English website, make sure your premium theme supports multilingual functionality where you can use special plugins to do so like Loco translate plugin
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