Choosing a theme for your blog can be a lot of fun — if you know exactly what to look for. In this post I’ll outline the most important things you need when choosing the best WordPress theme for your blog.
What is a WordPress theme?
A WordPress theme is the same as a template; the two are interchangeable. A WordPress theme is really a customizable website or blog template. It will save you from having to learn code and allows you to quickly get your blog up and going.
Here are five things to look for when selecting your WordPress theme:
You don’t need lots of extras, but many theme developers will add unnecessary plugins and features to make you think you’re getting more for your money. Chances are you’re never going to use those extra features, and they’ll only slow your WordPress theme down.
The main goal for your theme is speed. Most theme marketplaces have reviews, so pay attention to reviews mentioning speed and features.
2. Easy-to-Use DashboarD
The dashboard is the backend content management system. This is the cockpit of your site and controls everything your visitor will see, including your home page, blog, etc..
Almost all WordPress themes come with backend dashboards — but they aren’t created equal. Some sites make it much more difficult to edit pages than others. You’ll want to look for a simple drag and drop or “What You See is What You Get (WYSIWYG)” editor to easily make changes to your site.
One thing I like about Studiopress themes is they all have the same easy-to-use backend dashboard and it’s always being improved by the Copyblogger team.
3. Mobile Friendliness
Almost all new WordPress themes are mobile friendly, or have been upgraded to mobile friendly, now that Google penalizes non-mobile friendly sites. The main thing you’ll want to look for in your WordPress theme is a responsive design. That means no matter what size you make the screen or what type of device your audience is using, the content on the screen will rearrange itself to find the best fit.
For example, if you try resizing the Moving Mountains site in your browser you’ll see how the content rearranges to fit whatever size you make the window. It does the same thing for any mobile phone and optimizes the viewing experience.
4. Free vs. Paid Themes
If you’re on a shoestring budget, there are lots of free WordPress themes that can be great to start with. If you do have $50-$75 to spend on a premium theme, I would recommend it. Here are a few things you get with a premium theme that you won’t find in a free theme.
- More updates – The makers of premium themes are incentivized to continually update their themes, accommodating new WordPress updates and bugs that may come up. Free themes are typically not updated as often.
- Support and documentation – Most WordPress themes come with documentation explaining how to set things up and how to troubleshoot problems. Free themes always come with some level of documentation but they won’t include the same level of help and support from the developer as a paid theme.
Finding a good theme requires you to dig a little deeper. Don’t take the developer’s word for it when researching a theme, especially when you buy from a marketplace like ThemeForest. They have plenty of great themes but you’ll need to do your homework before you make a decision. Sites like Studiopress and Woothemes build their own high-quality trusted themes and will have plenty of feedback from users.
If you’re on a site like ThemeForest, be sure to read the comments for the theme by clicking on the comments tab at the top. Also, click on the support tab to the right and check out the response time of the developer and the questions being asked. The last thing I like to do is type the name of the theme + “review” into Google and see what other people are saying. If the general consensus is good, you’ve probably got a winner on your hands.