Not sure what to look for when buying a WordPress theme? This guide will help you know what to consider before making a purchase.
Choosing a theme is a crucial part of the website building process. Despite seeming easy on the surface, there are many things you need to know and consider aside from the design aspects. Failure to notice them can result in unforeseen expenses on your website budget.
We will cover this particular topic to help you avoid choosing the wrong theme.
Free vs. Premium WordPress Theme
WordPress is one of the best and most easily accessible CMS for a reason. Not only does it have excellent usability, but it also has extensive plugin support that makes it very accommodating for users with different needs. You can check out this article for in-depth coverage of WordPress’ pros.
One of WordPress’ best perks is the ability to use third-party applications, which include themes. Accordingly, there is a wide selection to choose from, including both the free and paid ones. This is the first thing you should consider when choosing a WordPress theme.
If you’re not planning on spending a dime for this element, you can use a free WordPress theme as there are plenty of great free themes on the web. You can easily hunt for the perfect one for your needs through trial and error since there are no stakes in terms of financial loss.
However, using a premium WordPress theme has its own perks. Since you pay for it, the developers will put more effort into their product and service to make it worth buying. This includes getting additional features and support that will surely be beneficial for your website.
In truth, both types of WordPress themes are usable for all kinds of websites as long as the chosen theme can fulfill the website’s basic needs. Furthermore, you can easily use third-party applications like plugins to add more complex features.
All in all, choosing a WordPress theme comes down to your budget and personal preference regarding the availability of support, features, and resources.
Recommended WordPress Theme Providers
Things to Consider When Buying a WordPress Theme
If you still want to buy a premium WordPress theme, there are several things you need to consider before doing so. Like any other thing being sold, there’s no guarantee that all premium themes have an excellent value-price ratio. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up getting less than what you paid for.
Here’s our checklist of the 10 things to consider when buying a WordPress theme for your website.
According to Statista, mobile phones contributed to 52.2 percent of all website traffic worldwide in 2018. Thus, it’s crucial to have a responsive theme that could visually adapt to all types of devices, be it a large computer monitor or a small-screen smartphone.
Most responsive WordPress themes usually clarify that they have this feature quite early in the theme feature section as it’s an important thing to have. However, you can check it directly by accessing their demo page through a mobile device or resizing your desktop browser.
While each user has their own personal preference in this matter, it’s best to go with the theme that’s aesthetically pleasing yet remains easy on the eye. This means avoiding themes with a distracting and complicated design that overshadow the website’s content and navigation.
The best approach to choosing the ideal design is to go for a simple yet functional design. An extravagant design will do you no good if it ends up distracting visitors or, worse, leading them astray from the information they’re coming for.
When in doubt, you can access the theme’s demo and position yourself as a visitor. If you find it difficult to navigate around the website, that’s a red flag that the theme isn’t for you.
3.) Load Time
While it’s beneficial to use a theme that has various features and animations, sometimes they can increase your page load time. This is bad for SEO as 40% of visitors don’t tolerate loading for more than three seconds.
You can check how fast your choice of WordPress theme is by testing the theme’s demo URL with Pingdom’s website speed test. If it takes longer than three seconds, you’d better not risk it.
4.) Supported Plugins
It’s almost guaranteed that you will need to add additional plugins to your website, particularly if you’re managing an eCommerce site. Thus, your WordPress theme needs to be compatible with popular plugins that will enhance your website’s performance.
Be sure to check whether or not your choice of WordPress theme includes plugins or, at the very least, allows future integration. Some themes even include premium plugins, which you need to buy separately otherwise.
5.) SEO Friendliness
Slow loading pages aren’t the only elements that affect your SEO for the worse. Cluttered HTML can have an equally detrimental effect on your SERP rank. A theme with this issue is far worse than the ones with a slow load time as it will likely go undetected by users with no programming knowledge.
The easiest way to avoid this type of WordPress theme is to go with the theme that declares itself as optimized for SEO. You can look for this information in the theme feature section or use the MozBar Chrome extension to get insights on your site’s overall SEO optimization.
6.) Updates and Support
As WordPress regularly improves its core functions, your theme also needs to keep up with it by having constant updates. Not only will the updates keep the theme in optimal shape in terms of features and security, but they also indicate that there’s little to no chance of you encountering bugs.
A good WordPress theme usually has clear documentation of their updates. You can see whether or not they keep the theme’s performance in check by its latest update date. If the developers leave it untouched for more than a year, you should be wary of its security above all else.
Having a well-monitored support channel is also important as it will be your go-to place when encountering an issue or looking for assistance during the customization process. Thus, make sure to check the support duration and availability, if it requires an additional fee or only available for a limited time.
You may base your decision on how the theme looks during the demo, but it’s crucial to have the freedom to add your own personal touch to it. Otherwise, your site will end up looking like the exact replica of other sites that use the same theme.
If you’re familiar with CSS, it would be better to use a theme that provides custom CSS controls as you will get more freedom when adding your own code. If not, make sure that the theme has a drag-and-drop function incorporated to make the process easier and code-free.
8.) Multilingual Ready
One of the main points of having a website is the ability to reach a broader audience, including those who live across the world. To achieve that goal, it’s essential that your WordPress theme is translation-ready or supports translation plugins like WPML.
If your target audience uses a main language that reads from right to left like Arabic, Hebrew, and Farsi, you’d want to use a theme that supports Right-To-Left languages. While a translation plugin can quickly solve this issue, not all themes accommodate this change in their design.
9.) User Reviews
Despite the theme’s enticing profile that contains a long list of promises, there’s no better place to check the theme’s quality of performance than its rating and feedback by other users. As they have the first-hand experience of how the theme works, it’s a safe bet to trust their opinion of it.
Looking at the user reviews will also give you plenty of unbiased insights on the theme’s features, security, and support. You can use them to verify whether or not the developers deliver what they promise in the theme profile page.
10.) Money-back Guarantee
If you’re going to pay a hefty price for something, you’d want to make sure that it works properly and can accommodate your needs. Since WordPress themes aren’t a solid object, there’s no telling how well it functions unless you try it yourself.
That being said, it’s best to look for a WordPress theme that offers a money-back guarantee policy. Thus, you’d get the chance to try it for a certain period and request a refund in case you change your mind or find it not accommodating enough.
Be sure to check the money-back guarantee’s terms and conditions for any limitations regarding the time limit and certain exceptions that might exist beforehand.
A theme is a crucial element of a website that brings it to life and attracts visitors with enticing design. With WordPress, you’d get to choose from millions of WordPress themes that third-party developers created. Some themes are free while others require you to pay for their service.
When buying a WordPress theme, there are things that you need to consider beforehand:
- Responsiveness — able to visually adapt to all types of device
- Design — appealing but not overshadowing the website’s content and navigation
- Load time — how quickly the website loads
- Supported Plugins — includes premium plugins and accommodates plugin integration
- SEO Friendliness — optimized for SEO
- Updates and Support — gets regular updates and provides support
- Customization — provides custom CSS controls or drag-and-drop function
- Multilingual Ready — translation-ready or supports translation plugins
- User Reviews — has stellar reviews and a high rating
- Money-back Guarantee — allows refunds for a certain period
What do you look for when buying a WordPress theme?
All in all, it’s best to explore all your options and choose wisely to avoid regretting your purchase in the future. After all, everyone wants to get as much bang bang for their buck as possible.
Do you have any other tips on what to look for when buying a WordPress theme? Feel free to share with us your thoughts in the comment section below.
This was a guest contribution by Simon Dwight Keller, a digital marketing entrepreneur.