With over 60 million websites built on WordPress, it has become the go-to platform for creating all types of websites from blogs to business sites to online stores. One of the great things about using WordPress is the ability to easily customize the appearance and functionality of your site using themes.
The WordPress theme controls the layout, design, and features that site visitors interact with. It’s much more than just choosing a color scheme. The theme you select can impact everything from the site speed and security to SEO and conversion rates. That’s why it’s so important to take the time to carefully evaluate and select the best theme for your specific needs.
The thousands of free and premium WordPress themes available today provide endless options. Default themes like Twenty Seventeen and Twenty Nineteen can certainly get you started, but they may not be ideal for your goals. Just because a theme is popular doesn’t mean it’s the best choice either. You want to make sure you select a theme that can match your vision and support your content in the best way.
In this article, we’ll cover the key steps and considerations for choosing the perfect WordPress theme for your website. Following a strategic process will help you identify and select a theme that not only looks attractive but also creates the optimal experience and functionality for your visitors. Taking the time to research options and test themes out thoroughly can prevent having to switch themes down the road. Let’s get started on finding the right theme to launch an effective WordPress website!
Author Recommendation: How to Install a WordPress Theme
Determine Your Website Goals and Needs
Before starting your theme search, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what you want your website to accomplish. Determining your goals and requirements will help narrow down the thousands of theme options out there to find ones that are tailored to your needs.
Start by thinking about the overall purpose of your website. Are you building a blog, business website, portfolio, online store, or something else? Your content focus and intended audience should guide your theme choice. A photography portfolio site will have different design needs than an ecommerce store, for example.
You’ll also want to consider functionality needs. Make a list of must-have features like contact forms, galleries, slideshows, SEO optimization, etc. A blogging theme would need strong content formatting while an online course site would need membership and payment integration. Keep these goal-supporting features in mind.
Think about the look and feel you want to convey as well. Is a minimalist, distraction-free style ideal or do you want a bold, graphics-heavy design? Modern and elegant or fun and playful? The theme’s design should align with your brand image.
Consider who your primary audience is and how to visually appeal to them. An youth-focused fashion site will likely have a very different aesthetic than a professional services firm.
Having a clear vision for your website’s purpose, functionality needs, ideal design style and target audience will allow you to zero in on themes that are tailored for your specific goals and needs. This thought process is essential for making the right theme choice.
Research Your Options
Once you know what you want your website to do, it’s time to start exploring the theme options available. With thousands of themes to dig through, knowing where to start your search is key.
The WordPress theme marketplace ThemeForest is one of the largest repositories of premium themes. The themes are sold by independent developers so there is huge variety. ThemeForest is a great place to search by website type, theme features, and design styles.
Elegant Themes and WooThemes are other popular theme marketplaces with a more curated selection of quality themes. These marketplaces make it easy to search forthemes designed for specific purposes like blogs, business sites, weddings, etc.
If you want a completely free theme, WordPress.org has an entire directory of free themes you can browse. These may require a bit more evaluation to find a quality free theme option. Look for themes with strong user ratings and recent updates.
In your searching, try keywords for features, industries, or design aesthetics like “interactive portfolio theme”, “restaurant WordPress theme”, “minimalist multi-purpose theme”, etc. to find themes tailored to your needs.
As you research, make a shortlist of 4-5 potential themes for closer inspection. Look for themes with intuitive navigation, solid documentation/user support, and frequent updates by the theme developer. Customer reviews and ratings can provide insight into ease of use and quality.
By exploring the well-known theme marketplaces using strategic search terms, you can find themes built specifically for the website you envision. Taking notes as you research will allow you to directly compare top contenders.
Evaluate the WordPress Theme Demo and Features
Once you’ve identified some potential themes for your website, the next step is thoroughly evaluating each option. Going beyond just a theme’s visual design is crucial for making the right choice.
Most premium theme sellers offer a live demo that allows you to get a feel for the theme’s look, functionality and navigation. Spend time interacting with the demo to see if the layout, colors, fonts and other design elements align with your vision.
Test all the pages to make sure the theme is easy and intuitive to navigate. If it feels confusing or cluttered, it may not be the best user experience for your site visitors.
Carefully review the list of theme features and plugins supported. Make sure all the functionality needs you outlined earlier like contact forms, SEO, galleries, ecommerce, etc. are supported out of the box or through plugins.
Check that key site elements like menus, sidebars, footers, etc. can be edited visually using the theme customizer. Ease of customization is important for flexibility.
For a business website, test that the theme works well for your particular industry and content types. A theme built for blogs may not properly showcase product pages.
Running through the demo and features list carefully for each potential theme will allow you to determine which truly aligns with your site goals and needs before purchasing. Don’t underestimate the value of hands-on testing.
Check WordPress Theme Flexibility
In addition to the right features and design style, you’ll want to ensure the theme you choose offers enough flexibility and customization options. As your website evolves, your ability to tweak the theme’s look and layout will be important.
Take time to review the theme documentation and user forums to get an idea of how customizable the theme is. Can you easily change colors, fonts, and other design elements in the customizer? Does it utilize WordPress widgets for sidebar content? Does the theme integrate with page builder plugins for maximum layout flexibility?
Themes that rely on pre-built page templates can be more rigid and difficult to modify vs. those using a modular layout approach. Make sure the theme supports your preferred page builder tools if you plan to use them.
Consider how much control you have over where design elements are positioned on the page. Can you move components like the header, menus, sidebars etc. around or are they fixed? More drag and drop flexibility is better.
Also look at how actively the theme is maintained. Do they frequently release updates and new features? An outdated theme can become vulnerable over time so ongoing support is ideal.
Evaluating not only the current flexibility but the theme developer’s commitment to evolving the theme will ensure your site won’t be boxed into a restrictive design down the road.
Make Your Final Decision
After thoroughly researching options and evaluating themes, it’s time to make your final selection. Weighing all the factors together is key to finding the ideal theme.
Consider the pros and cons of the top 2-3 contender themes side by side. Compare their key features, design options, customization abilities, and ease of use. Does one theme stand out as aligning closest with your outlined website goals and needs?
Factor in the theme cost if comparing premium options. Generally $40-60 is average for a quality premium theme. While cost is a consideration, choosing the right theme that suits your needs is more important than saving a little money upfront.
Look at third party reviews and ratings to get unbiased feedback on a theme’s ease of use and capabilities from actual users. This can provide insight beyond the theme company’s own descriptions.
Reflect on the theme company’s reputation, support resources, and commitment to maintaining the theme over time. An engaged, responsive support team can be helpful especially when getting started.
Finally, go with your gut feeling after closely evaluating all aspects of the top themes. Trust your instinct on which one provides the best initial fit and room to grow.
Making a quick, uninformed theme choice often leads to frustration and reselecting a theme shortly after. However, taking the time upfront to carefully weigh all factors will ensure you end up with the ideal theme for your website.
Conclusion: Finding the Perfect WordPress Theme for Your Business Website
Selecting the perfect WordPress theme is about much more than just choosing a design you find visually appealing. It requires carefully thinking through your website goals, functionality needs, and target audience. Evaluating themes for fit, flexibility, features and ease of use is essential.
Rushing into a theme choice often leads to a poor user experience and a website that doesn’t convey the right image. However, following a strategic selection process allows you to identify and implement a theme tailored specifically for your vision.
While the wide range of theme options available today provides flexibility, it also requires diligence to find the ideal fit. Dedicate the necessary time upfront to thoroughly research and test themes before activating one.
Implementing the right foundation with your initial WordPress theme choice will prevent the need to start over down the road. It streamlines the process of then customizing a site exactly how you want it.
By considering your specific goals and needs first, methodically evaluating themes, and weighting all the Pros and cons, you can confidently select a WordPress theme that brings your website vision to life. With the right theme in place, you’ll be set up for an effective and successful online presence.