Choosing a WordPress theme can be challenging. First of all, there are so many different themes on the market! Which one I should start with and can I easily change selected theme if needed? These are very common questions from beginner’s point of view.
In this article, we try to cover key elements that you should look into when choosing a WordPress theme.
Free Themes vs. Paid Themes
First of all, you will probably notice that there are many different themes to choose from. WordPress repository alone features thousands of free themes and it doesn’t stop there. Since anyone can create and upload their WordPress theme for anyone to use, there are constantly new themes available every day.
If there are so many free themes available, then why should I pay for a theme?
Good question. Since anyone can create a theme the quality and features of the theme can also be almost anything. Most people create free themes from a certain point of need and interest and this might not suite your needs.
Free themes can easily have the following negative features:
- Bugs or other errors in coding
- Missing template files
- Not supporting certain features or plugins like WooCommerce
- Difficult to edit visual layout without coding experience
- Limited version updates in the future
- Lack of general support from the author
The positive side is of course that the theme is free and you can edit the theme and its code in any way you like. You can also easily test any free theme and simply discard them if they do not meet your demands.
Testing premium themes that cost money is much more challenging. Luckily all premium themes have their own demo you can browse and sometimes even test from the admin side as well.
What should I know about buying themes?
Buying a WordPress theme can solve many of the example cases discussed above but does not guarantee peace of mind. There are many things you should consider when choosing a premium WordPress theme. Keep an eye for at least the following aspects.
How many copies has the theme sold?
Usually, if there is already a lot of buyers it generally means that the product is already in use and tested by other users. Biggest flaws are usually flushed out before you. Also, more money for the developer means more motivation for bug fixes and future updates.
When has the theme last been updated?
We strongly advise taking a look at the version history to get a feel how things are taken care of. It is very important that the theme is being constantly updated by the developer. WordPress and its numerous plugins are also moving forward and you want your theme to be able to function also in the future.
Also, check if the theme is supporting newer releases of PHP. Some themes might now work with the latest PHP 7.2 version that is recommended by WordPress developers. Make sure that your hosting provider supports it as well.
Does the theme support needed plugins?
There are many WordPress plugins like WooCommerce or BuddyPress that require support from the theme in order to work properly.
Some themes might be specially designed for these plugins and some might not support them at all. Notice that at least WooCommerce has a lot of different versions and updates so you want to choose a theme that is keeping up with the pace.
How good is the support?
Almost all premium themes offer support for some time after the purchase. Most themes have their own support forums which often are visible even if you haven’t already purchased the template.
You might want to see what kind of problems other people are facing and how fast does the support team answer questions.