Usually, we tend to choose a theme based on how it looks and how it is showcased on the vendor’s website. But it is important to agree to one thing, that the quality of the fruit is known only when it is cut open and tasted. Isn’t it so? Same goes with WordPress Themes, rather themes of all other CMS platforms. They are always shown to be the best and decorated in such a way that you tend to buy them based on how your eyes understand. Eyes can sometimes fool you!
After 8+ years in Website development and after developing 100+ websites, especially on WordPress, I would like to share some key factors that you must delve into before opting in for a WordPress theme. My objective here is to help you buy the best fruits in the market that tastes good and is good for your body too. I have regretted buying many themes that looked good on the outside but complete dud from the inside. I do not want you to go through the same regret and pain of spending money for nothing.
Here We Go!
- Who has designed the Theme? – Now that the WordPress market is on the rise like never before, this lucrative web platform has attracted many developers/vendors. I’m not saying they are all bad, but you also need to make sure you bet on that horse has won races for those who have bet on it. Make sure you thoroughly understand the developer/vendor of the WordPress theme that you intend to consider; here are some factors that will help you pick the best in the business.
- How long have they been in the business? – This is quite an important check you need to do for many WordPress theme developers/vendors come and go. The longer they are in business, the better they are because they have sustained mainly because of the quality of their offerings. Isn’t it? Longer they are in business; naturally, customers have accepted them and their products. For your reference, I’ve taken ThemeCo as an example in the below image,
- How often is the Theme updated – Another crucial factor that needs to be considered is the frequency of upgrades to the WordPress themes. Many might argue that upgrades happen only when there are fixes and the factor need not be considered as an important one. Yes, I agree. But my point is that the higher the frequency of upgrades means that the theme is progressively getting mature and optimized.
Also, more upgrades mean, WordPress theme developers/vendors are improving on the existing code base while introducing new and contemporary features, which is a plus for sure.
- Now the important question of all – How do you know that themes are being updated frequently? The answer is – you need to look for the theme’s update history. Marketplaces like Themeforest share all the required update history of the themes they house on their website. Also, make sure when was the last update done. I would not buy a theme that has its last update more than 10 months ago. This means that the developer has lost interest in the WordPress theme, this is a total red flag. No upgrades also could mean that the developers have offered you an invincible theme that needs no fixes or platform updates. (Sigh! Never happens!)
- Customer Base – Make sure to see the number of customers the WordPress theme vendor is catering to. More the number better are their themes.
- Reviews – Better the reviews, better is the acceptance by the theme’s customers. Good reviews mean that the theme developer has addressed the user’s problems consistently.
- Top Sellers are Top sellers for a reason – This is not to undermine the new vendors, but I would always want to buy from an accepted and experienced source. This is just me!
- Customer Support – WordPress user will get to know what they are getting from a theme only after they have made the purchase as not many of them offer a money-back guarantee. So, if the theme you have bought has issues with it, make sure you get the right support from the theme vendor/developer. Remember one thing, reviews that most WordPress theme developers get is based on their Customer Support’s responsiveness to queries and issues by customers.
- The kind of demos you see – The buyer i.e. you, in this case, would want a website designed to a specific niche. It could be a company portfolio, blog, website to sell t-shirts or it could be anything you could imagine. These demos will help you understand what you can expect from the theme. Demos are important because you do not want to spend big money on a theme that doesn’t solve what you had imagined about your website.
- What page builder are they offering – The kind of page builder that WordPress theme developers offer you along with the theme decides the ease of designing your website per your requirements. A page builder should be easy to use and should be dynamic enough to suit every kind of developer, irrespective of his proficiency. I highly recommend the following page builders if you are serious about building the website on your own.
- Visual Composer
- WPBakery Page Builder
- Read through the feature & element list carefully – You do not want to regret your WordPress theme purchase. Make sure you understand your requirement well even before you look at the list of features that any theme put forward on their selling page. This is important!
- Speed & Performance – This is important if you want to be in the good books of your visitors both humans & Google. Personally, I would want my website to have a well-optimized code-base which in-turn performance well. Make sure the theme vendor/developer promises the best performance under ideal conditions. Look for Google Page Speed or Gtmetrix scores before you corner your dream WordPress Theme.
- Mobile & Retina Optimized – People visiting your website would mostly be from mobile devices. So make sure the theme you buy is responsive on Mobile devices.
- SEO Optimized – We all know why having your website optimized for search engines is important. This can make or break your business. Having said that, following Google Protocol/Google Schema is the new mantra to get that much-needed slot on the Google listing page. Check if your themes follow these guidelines for some of the important website properties. Trust me this is important!
- Plugin compatibility – A good WordPress theme should easily integrate with all kinds of plugins that are available in the market. This could be your store plugin i.e. WooCommerce or community building plugin BuddyPress. Some other important plugin integration you want to have with your theme would be Yoast SEO, Contact Form 7 and WP Page Builder.
- See how well the WordPress Theme set up is documented – A well-documented theme can save your time from heading to customer support when you bump into issues. A good theme comes with comprehensive yet lucid documentation.
- Check for WordPress version support – If the theme you are interested in does not support the latest version of WordPress you might want to avoid the purchase.
- Gutenberg Optimized – Look for this one before cornering the theme you would like to buy. I would recommend this only if you are planning to use WordPress’s inbuilt WordPress Page Builder Gurenberg. Else, I would ignore this.
I have spent a lot of my money on WordPress themes that just looked good, but with them, I always ended up looking for another one. My sole attempt is to help you make the best choice when it comes to buying WordPress themes. When themes are meant to make your job simple, why spend on something that ends up wasting your time, energy and most importantly your hard earned money.