‘We were a society dying, said Aunt Lydia, of too much choice.’ – Margaret Atwood
With so many free and premium WordPress themes coming out each day, the sheer amount of theme choices can be overwhelming. While it might be a whole lot easier to just go with the popular choice, most of the time it won’t be the best choice.
To ensure long-term success of your website, ditch the herd mentality and follow along as we look into the criteria for the best WordPress theme.
And while the “best” can be subjective and differ for everyone, there are some guidelines that you can follow in order to cherry pick the best theme for your website.
Lightweight and Fast-Loading WordPress Theme
Choosing a WordPress theme that is lightweight and fast-loading may well be the most important step that should not be missed.
The theme you use affects your website’s performance and loading speed. Load speed matters a lot as it not only affects SEO but also user experience and ultimately… your conversion rates.
If you use a cluttered or bloated WordPress theme, it will drastically slow down your website’s loading speed and performance. This will in effect, hurt your website’s SEO and conversion rates.
As such, it is crucial that you pick the fastest WordPress theme that suits your purpose. But how do you actually identify the most lightweight and fastest WordPress themes? Ideally, you can buy a throwaway domain to install each theme and run them one by one through GTmetrix multiple times each and get the average.
Obviously, this is a very time-consuming process if you plan to test a lot of themes. But worry not as we have done the hard work of finding the fastest lightweight WordPress themes for you, with detailed test results and reviews for each theme as well.
According to TechJury, 63% of all US online traffic are from mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Therefore, having a mobile responsive website is no longer optional but a must have in this day and age.
Today, most themes have the word “Responsive” on their feature list, but whether or not these themes really implement the responsive design well enough is another thing.
So, you’d have to test the demo sites for each theme out yourself, using either a mobile device, or emulate a mobile device using Google Chrome’s developer tools. You can achieve this by opening Chrome and clicking on Options > More Tools > Developer Tools > Toggle Device Toolbar Icon (Beside the word “Elements”).
Let’s face it, no matter how great your website is, you’d still need visibility in order to get traffic to your website. There are free and paid ways to get seen by web users, the free one being organic search traffic and social traffic, while the paid traffic comes from premium advertisements placements.
Organic search traffic can be obtained for free using SEO or Search Engine Optimization. What SEO does is that it helps your website to get a higher SERP ranking. The higher your rankings in the SERP, the more visibility your website gets and stand a chance of getting more traffic to your website.
Therefore, it is important that you get a theme that is SEO friendly so that it will complement your efforts in doing SEO later on. Here are some things to check on to ascertain the SEO friendliness of the theme.
First, you can check whether the theme generates proper HTML codes by using Markup Validation Tool. Then, check if the theme has basic schema or structured data support using Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.
Your website should use a theme with a matching design for better user experience and conversion rates. But how do we know whether it is a matching design?
You will have to get clear on two things before you can answer the question above. First, what is the type of website you’re building? Second, what style do you want to set for your website?
The type of website can range from a blog, a portfolio showcase website or an ecommerce website. For a blog, you’d need a theme that do not have much distractions and focuses on readability. For a portfolio website, you might need image carousels and image galleries. As for ecommerce sites, you might need a theme that streamlines and makes the buying process easier to increase conversion rates.
On the other hand, the style or tone that you set for your website should match the type of website you’re building above. You have to know who your target audience are, and set the style and tone accordingly. If you offer coaching, you’d want a style that make you look more like an authority in your niche. If you’re a fashion blog, you’d want a theme with elegant design and not one with a crude design.
Some Other Things to Look Out For in a WordPress Theme
Other than the 4 main points above, you should also find a theme that has comprehensive customization options. Specifically, it should have a robust WordPress customizer panel so that you can fine tune the design to suit your audience.
Other than that, you have to look out for themes with good support for various plugins and page builders that you might need such as Elementor, Divi and Beaver Builder.
In addition to that, developer support, update frequency and browser compatibility are also important things to note.
Last but not least, the theme you choose would need to fit your budget. Pick a theme with liberal or restrictive licensing options based on your needs or plans for the future.
Apart from the tips above, you have to do some research and testing on your own to find the best theme that suits your needs. I hope this guide helps you in your journey in starting a website.
Alex is the author of FaithfulAdvisor.com, a site with in depth guides, strategies and the best tools hand-picked to aid you in your journey online.