WordPress Theme Basics: What You Need To Know

Are you feeling overwhelmed at choosing a theme for your WordPress site?

We bet you didn’t expect so much variety, right?

There are thousands of themes available, with custom options to suit any niche.

Choose from free themes, or choose to spend money on a unique, purpose-built solution for your lifestyle blog or eCommerce store.

Selecting the right WP theme requires careful consideration of a few factors to ensure you end up with the best product.

This post looks at the top factors to consider when choosing a WordPress theme.

You can also skip ahead to our curated list of WordPress themes we think are great choices.


1. Design and Speed

There are tons of customizable options for WordPress themes, allowing you to build any site you want.

However, it’s important to note that not all themes are beginner-friendly.

If you don’t know how to code and choose an extensive theme, you might end up having to hire a developer to adjust the code before you launch.

If you don’t have the correct code, it can make migrating between themes a hassle, and it also causes conflict with the optimal operation of your plugins.

That ends up costing you time and money on your design and development, adding costs to your budget.

Some themes that look fantastic can end up slowing down your website.

A slow website is your worst nightmare, and you’ll find your traffic bounces if pages take too long to load.

If your site is slow, then it affects your Google search rankings and your business.

However, with the right theme, you get a fast and responsive site that looks great, attracting visitors to your posts and offers.


2. Minimalist Design

In today’s world of web design, less is more.

A minimalist design is a great choice for your WordPress template.

With a minimalist design, your prospects get a user-friendly interface without flashy colors and animations, distracting them from your CTAs.

Your theme needs to look good without going overboard with the design elements.

Focus on practicality and user-friendly navigation of your site.

Over-complicated designs result in confusion, and your prospect ends up bouncing without taking any action on your offers – not ideal.

The purpose of effective web design is to help your prospects find what they’re looking for in as short a time as possible.

Your theme can look fantastic, but if it’s not bringing you any new leads or filling your sales funnel, it’s not working.

Minimalist design keeps things clean and simple, attracting and retaining traffic to your website.


3. Mobile Compatibility

You need a responsive template design to adapt across mobile and desktop platforms.

Screen sizes vary, requiring your template to match the device with complete functionality.

Mobile devices currently account for 50% of all online traffic.

Forgetting to cater to mobile devices is leaving money on the table with your design.

Google likes promoting mobile-friendly sites, and if you want to feature in top search results, you’ll need to ensure mobile compatibility with your theme.

Most WP themes are mobile responsive right out of the box.

However, a few customized layouts aren’t mobile-friendly, requiring plugins or development work to unlock this functionality.

Make sure you choose a mobile responsive theme for your site and test it by resizing your browser.

If the theme adjusts to the screen’s layout, it’s responsive and suitable for your online business.

For a comprehensive responsiveness test, copy the site URL of the demo page, then paste it to the Google Mobile-Friendly Test portal.

Every theme will produce a few warnings but check for obvious red flags like content wider than the screen or if the text is too small.


4. Compatibility with Different Browsers

Your website theme needs to have a multi-browser compatibility with Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari, and Microsoft Edge.

Check that the theme offers full compatibility across all platforms.

Some browsers might look fine, while others appear broken.

Most developers test themes rigorously with sophisticated tools, testing the browser compatibility.

The developer will mention this on their sales page or on the website somewhere where they discuss compatibility.


5. Plugin Options

Plugins supercharge your WordPress CMS, giving it more functionality.

However, not all templates are suitable for use with all plugins.

If you’re building an eCommerce store, you’re likely to run the WooCommerce plugin for WP.

Ensure that your theme doesn’t conflict with your plugins’ optimal operation, or you’re going to reduce your customer experience, losing out on leads and conversions.

Check out our post on the best WordPress plugins for a deep dive on this topic.


6. Page Builder Support

WordPress themes collaborating with web-builders makes designing your site a breeze.

There’s no need for any coding, and you can have a site up and ready for launch in a few hours.

Page builder support is a handy tool for beginners, allowing you to easily create new page layouts.

These themes lack other more complex templates’ customization capabilities, but they are user-friendly options for beginners.

There are plenty of premium WP themes featuring pre-installed web-builders.

However, migrating to another theme from a web-builder version might require plenty of cleanup in the code, and you’ll need a professional to manage the transition.

There are plenty of themes that allow for the integration of external page builders and enable you to use your service of choice to design and build your website without any coding.


7. SEO Capabilities

Make sure your WP theme features SEO-friendly integration for plugins like Yoast SEO.

You could have a good-looking theme, but if it generates sloppy HTML code, it’s going to hamper your site’s performance with the search bots.

There’s no chance of beginners analyzing lines of code to find the problem with the theme.

Look for developers stating their themes features pages optimized for on-page SEO.

Use the W3C Markup Validation Service to check if the theme is generating proper HTML5 code.


Wrapping Up – Choose a Purpose-Built WordPress Theme for Your Business

There’s a WordPress theme to suit every online business model.

Go with a purpose-built solution for your blog, eCommerce store, or authority site.

By working with a customized theme, you create a unique visitor experience to your site, giving you an edge over the competition.

Once you’ve chosen a theme, we have some tips and tricks you will find useful to get the most out of WordPress.

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