What to Look for in a WordPress Theme

Posted on May 23, 2022 | Updated on May 23, 2022

Finding the perfect look for your website or one you’re designing isn’t an easy process. Knowing what to look for in a WordPress theme helps. You’ll at least get the features you need to run a highly useful website. Even the prettiest pages aren’t very user friendly if they don’t have some key components. 

Finding the perfect option is about so much more than filtering options by color, industry or even layout. You must consider a whole range of issues relating to user experience (UX) and aesthetics. 

What Should Be Taken Into Consideration When Choosing a Theme?

There are currently 4,760 themes available on WordPress.org, although the number changes frequently. In addition to those themes, are ones available through repositories and private developers. 

Most listings specify what comes with the theme and what version of WordPress or PHP it works with. What to look for in a WordPress theme? Here are our top things to consider.

1. Frequent Updates

If you pull up options in your WordPress dashboard, you’ll see when the last update for the theme occurred. You want an option where the creator updates frequently, fixing bugs and potential security issues. The theme will stay more current and secure. 

WordPress is Open Source software, so tons of people work on updates and add-ons. When deciding what to look for in a WordPress theme, you can’t go wrong by paying attention to who devotes time and effort to updates. 

2. Simplicity

The theme with all the bells and whistles might seem like a good idea at first glance, but getting everything to function as you want it to can be a nightmare. Unless the theme comes with a ton of support, what to look for in a WordPress theme includes simple, easy to customize features. 

3. Mobile Friendliness

Smartphones have come a long way in the last decade, becoming more commonplace as the features expand. Around 37% of Americans use smartphones to access the internet. If your site isn’t mobile friendly, you risk losing a big portion of your traffic. 

However, not all themes are responsive to smaller screens. Some features may get wonky or sizing might be off. Knowing what to look for in a WordPress theme includes how well it adapts to different users and whatever device they’re on. 

4. Consider Favorite Plugins

Are there plugins you’re already using or want to add? Some themes work better with particular plugins than others. What to look for in a WordPress theme gets customized by other elements you add to WordPress. 

Browse through the specifications and descriptions of themes you’re considering. Do they mention specific plugins? You might also want to do a quick search of the troubleshooting and support area of the developer and see if there is anything stated about a particular plugin not working well with the theme.

5. Excellent Support

More of what to look for in a WordPress theme includes the backend, development end of things. Some creators are very involved in improving their coding and respond to user concerns, questions or requests. Others pretty much ignore people after they’ve downloaded the theme.

Look at the support area for the theme. How engaged is the admin? Does someone try to help when the theme goes all wrong or are users on their own? Most themes have the option for a pro subscription. At a minimum, you should get customized support with your account.

Open source is defined as made by many people and designed to be publicly accessible to all. WordPress claims Open Source and thus you’ll find many different individuals working on themes and plugins. Because it is a labor of love, some people create themes on the side. The upkeep can get away from them so be sure you’ll have the support you need. 

6. Colors That Match Your Brand

You have only milliseconds to make a great first impression on site visitors. Your color palette says a lot about your company and can help improve brand recognition. Make sure you go with colors that make sense and not just to stand out.

For example, if you own a funeral home, you probably wouldn’t go with hot pink as your first color choice. It might stand out, but many will see it as an inappropriate choice. 

Think about what people expect from your industry and what colors give you a unique appearance without making you seem out of kilter with the rest of society. Is color what to look for in a WordPress theme? Unless you want to do a lot of recoding and setting up new color options, it should play a big part in your search process. 

7. Free Trial

Before you definitively choose a theme, you should test it thoroughly. Most themes have a free trial period and you can choose to stick with the free version or upgrade to pro. A one or two-week free trial helps you see all the features of the theme and figure out if it’s right for your needs. 

What Else to Look for in a WordPress Theme

The points above are some things to look for in a WordPress theme that make it usable. Consider other factors such as SEO, builder plugins and features. Read reviews of the theme and search through the support section to spot any potential trouble you might have with the theme.

Is the choice fully customizable or will you have to pay the developer to do the things you want and customize the look fully? The best theme is the one that works for your brand. Take your time and find something you can use for the long-term.

About The Author

Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her exploring the outdoors with her husband and dog in their RV, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or curled up with a good book with her cats Gem and Cali.

You can find more of Eleanor's work at www.eleanorhecks.com.

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