Last updated - July 8, 2021
WordPress offers exceptionally easy options for users around the world to create beautiful websites. One of the main advantages of WordPress is that it will let users customize the design and functionality through themes and plugins. Themes are a collection of templates and stylesheets that will help you personalize the design of the site, while plugins focus on incorporating features and functionality. In this article, we will give you a few tips to choose the best WordPress template for your site.
Does WordPress offer free templates?
Yes, you can find numerous free themes in the WordPress.org theme directory. These themes could be adequate when you are starting out as they will have all the essential requirements. However, for more premade templates and demos, you may have to opt for their premium versions. Moreover, you will get regular updates, bug fixes and customer support when you purchase a theme.
How to choose the best free template or theme?
Here are a bunch of factors you need to take into consideration to find the most suitable theme for you website.
Be clear on your requirements
If you are familiar with the WordPress ecosystem, you will know each theme will give your site a different appearance, layout and options. Depending on the nature of your business and the audience you are engaging, you may have to make a different choice. Moreover, different industries have different approaches to site design. For example, some websites or blogs may be focused more on text-based content, while some others will use abundant imagery. The choice of your theme should be in accordance with what you are aiming for.
Similarly, different eCommerce niches will be using diversely different themes. A theme for a bookstore will be evidently different from an accommodation booking website. In the same manner, the purpose of your website also will influence the choice of your theme. To be more elaborate, your goal for creating a website should reflect in the site’s appearance. That is what makes a business website look way more sober than a site selling video games.
Multipurpose vs Niche
What if you are not clear about the objective of creating a website? You may want to start off with an engaging blog, and transform it into a revenue-generating eCommerce store. In such cases, you may want the best of both worlds. Multipurpose themes are your answer if existential questions bother you while getting started with a new website. However, there is a catch. Most multipurpose themes will have a lot of options that you may not even need. This will cause your site to bloat unwantedly, and the consequence will be bad user experience. So, the expert opinion on this matter is to always go for a lightweight, specialized theme than a multipurpose ‘jack of all trades’.
Is it responsive?
Responsiveness is the capability of a website to adjust itself to the size of the screen it is viewed on. This is an inevitable feature in a WordPress theme as a vast share of your users will be using different devices to access your website at different times. While browsing through the features of a WordPress theme, ensure that you see the word ‘Responsive’. Even if you see it in the list of features, experts advise to test it to make sure it is mobile friendly. You can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool to check if a theme is responsive. Simply, add the url of the theme’s demo page in the field provided.
Compatibility with different browsers should be a criteria to consider before deciding on a theme. It may work fine on your favorite browser, but that may not be the case with several others. It is recommended to open the theme in different browsers, and see if there are nay glitches with any of them. Cross-browser compatibility is as important as responsiveness for a modern website.
Support for page builders
Page builders are hugely popular in the WordPress ecosystem. Most popular page builders have a drag and drop interface that will let you quickly build interactive web pages using readymade elements. If you have a favorite page builder, you need to ensure that the theme you pick will work with it without hassles. A lot of themes will have page builders bundled with it. It is advisable to check these page builders, if they are not known to you. This is because a not-so-good page builder can potentially slow down your site.
Here is a list of top page builder plugins for WordPress that you should be aware of.
Are there any known compatibility issues with popular plugins?
WordPress has a huge fan following thanks to the excellent customization possibilities through plugins. You can make use of plugins to incorporate additional features and functionality to your website. There will be a bunch of tools and plugins that most WordPress sites will be using. You want to make sure that the theme you use will not create conflicts with some of the essential plugins that you may have to use. For this, you can check the reviews and user comments for the theme, and even directly talk to the theme developer.
Consider the opinions of other users
That leads us to the next important point. Always try to understand the experience of fellow users before choosing a theme. How user friendly is the theme? How smooth is the experience with the customer support? Are there any compatibility issues? These are some of the questions that will be answered by product reviews. Whether you are opting for a free or premium plugin, it is always a good idea to check reviews. Because a theme issue can seriously ruin the user experience of your site, and thereby the reputation of your business.
On the WordPress theme directory, you will find the number of downloads and active installs next to each theme. You can also find how different users have rated the theme as well. Similarly, Themforest also offers ratings and user comments. You can check these in detail before going ahead with a decision to purchase or download. Also, you can see the number of sales and the details about the last update.
How does it handle translations?
There are a lot of WordPress sites in languages other than English. Multilingual sites could be an option for you if you are targeting international markets. To avoid hassles, you have to ensure that the theme is translation ready. There are several WordPress multilingual plugins that will help you in translating your site to other languages. All you have to do is to check if the theme is compatible with these plugins.
Check our article to understand How to Create a Multilingual WordPress site.
If you are planning to create an eCommerce store, you will have to check the theme’s compatibility with eCommerce platforms. For a WordPress site, WooCommerce is the obvious choice, and most themes will be compatible with it. However, it is important that you check the theme demos to see how Shop and Product pages look with WooCommerce. If your primary focus is to create an online store, it is always a good idea to go for a theme made with WooCommerce in mind.
Here are some of the best WooCommerce themes you can get at the moment.
How to get help?
While using a theme, there will be several occasions where you need help from the developers. So, it is ideal to understand the support options before taking a decision. For free themes downloaded from the WordPress directory, you will mostly get support only through forums. There will be some developers who also offer support for free users, but you have to find that out for each theme.
On the other hand, if you are opting for a premium theme, do check the support policy in detail. There will be information on the length of support as well as its scope. Because in a lot of cases, theme developers may not provide support for issues like plugin compatibility. To avoid hassles later, always make sure to thoroughly understand the support policy of the theme developer.
Hopefully, this article has given you a better understanding on WordPress templates or themes. Identifying the best WordPress template is always a subjective process, and depends a lot on your requirements. Leave us a comment if you have a query.