When creating your website, the theme you choose is one of the most important things that will determine your website’s performance. Your theme sets the tone for your site and determines how users interact with your content.
However, with so many WordPress themes available, it can be hard to know which is right for you. In this blog post, we’ll walk you through how to choose a WordPress theme for your website and highlight the factors you need to consider to find the perfect theme for your needs.
So, whether you’re creating a new website or looking for a theme change, read on so you can pick the right WordPress theme before you start.
Here are the key takeaways from this article:
- Every WordPress site owner needs a WordPress theme to start building and customizing their website — themes make the design process easy and hassle-free.
- A website built on WordPress.org gives you full control and allows you to install any theme you want on the site.
- When choosing a WordPress theme, some factors to look out for include the design, responsiveness, customization options, color, loading speed, code-base quality, price, and user reviews.
- Consider also the ease of use, compatibility with plugins, security, and the templates that come with the theme.
- The type of content you’ll share, your brand aesthetics, your budget, and the desired functionalities should also help you pick the right theme for your site.
- You can find WordPress themes from the wordpress.com theme gallery, wordpress.org theme directory, and third-party marketplaces.
- The theme you select sets the tone for your site, impacts its performance, and its SEO rankings, and determines the types of features you can have on your website.
What’s a WordPress Theme?
A WordPress theme is a pre-made design for websites that run on the WordPress CMS. It’s made of a collection of templates and stylesheets used to define the appearance and display of a WordPress website.
A WordPress theme can be installed directly from the WordPress admin panel, or downloaded and installed manually from a third-party theme developer.
Want to dig deeper? Read What is a WordPress theme
Before You Choose the Perfect WordPress Theme
Before choosing a perfect theme for your website, ensure you use the right WordPress version that supports theme installation.
There are two versions of WordPress— wordpress.com and wordpress.org.
WordPress.org is a self-hosted platform, meaning you must sign up for web hosting and install WordPress on your own server. Once you’ve done that, you’re free to use any theme or plugin that you like, and you have full control over your website. This gives you a lot of flexibility but also means that you’re responsible for keeping your site up-to-date and secure.
WordPress.com, on the other hand, is a hosted platform. This means that everything is taken care of for you by WordPress, including hosting, security, and updates. The tradeoff is that you don’t have as much control over your website; for instance, you can’t install custom themes or plugins on your WordPress.com website.
Still undecided? Read more about the differences between WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org
Other essentials you’ll need for building your website are your domain name and a good WordPress host. Here is our list of the Best WordPress Hosting providers you can check to find a host that suits you best.
How to Choose a WordPress Theme?
Once you’ve found a good website host and are ready to build your website, it’s time to choose a WordPress theme.
Several factors come into play when shopping around for the best theme for your website. These factors affect theme functionality and will significantly impact how your website performs after installing the theme.
Let’s review 13 important factors to look out for when choosing a WordPress theme:
1. Simple and Minimalist Design
The first thing you want to look for in a WordPress theme is a simple and minimalist design. You might be tempted to choose a theme with lots of bells and whistles, but trust us, less is more when it comes to WordPress themes. A simple design will make your site easier to navigate and will make your site load faster, which is important for SEO and user experience.
Also, designing a complex website can take a lot of time (and money, if you’re hiring someone to do it for you). But with a minimalist WordPress theme, you won’t have to worry about that because the design is already taken care of. This means that you can spend your time (and money) on other aspects of your business, like developing new products or services.
2. Responsiveness is a must!
A responsive theme is one that will automatically adjust to fit any screen size, from desktop to mobile. This is important because more and more people are using their mobile devices to access the internet. If your theme isn’t responsive, you risk losing visitors who will simply go to another site that looks better on their device.
While responsive themes are becoming the norm, there are still some non-responsive themes out there, so be sure to check before you buy.
3. Look for a Customizable theme (Via the Customizer)
When you’re looking at potential WordPress themes, pay attention to how customizable they are. The best themes will give you the ability to customize nearly every aspect of your site via the WordPress Customizer. The Customizer is a powerful tool that allows you to change almost every aspect of your site’s design, from the colors and fonts to the layout and navigation menus.
If you can find a theme that lets you customize it via the Customizer, you’ll have much more flexibility in terms of making your site look exactly how you want it to.
4. Do keep color in mind
While you may want a simple and minimalist design, you also don’t want your website to look bland or boring. One way to add some personality to your site without going overboard is to choose a theme with a neutral color scheme. However, ensure the colors you select for your theme complement your website’s overall tone and style.
For example, if you’re running a corporate website, you’ll probably want to stay away from very bright colors and stick with more subdued hues like black, gray, or white. On the other hand, if you’re running a more creative website, feel free to experiment with different colors until you find something that feels right.
5. Lightweight and fast loading
A lot of WordPress themes are needlessly bloated with features you’ll never use, which can slow down your website. A lightweight theme will load quickly, even on slower internet connections. A fast-loading theme is important because it keeps visitors from getting frustrated and leaving your site before it even has a chance to load.
6. Updated frequently and has a high-quality codebase
A good WordPress theme is frequently updated and has a high-quality codebase.
A well-coded theme will be easier for you to customize and less likely to contain errors that could break your site. An up-to-date theme is also important since it will be compatible with the latest versions of WordPress and plugins.
Therefore, before installing a theme, check its page to ensure it’s been recently updated.
7. Theme font should be easy to read
When choosing a WordPress theme, make sure to pay attention to the typography.
A mistake many people make when choosing a WordPress theme is picking one with a font that’s hard to read. A lot of times, themes will come with fancy fonts that look good on the surface but are actually quite difficult to read.
So before you choose a theme, make sure to test out the fonts to see if they’re easy on the eyes. The font should be easy to read both on desktop and mobile devices.
Avoid a theme with multiple fonts or fonts that are too small; Stick with one or two fonts that look simple to the eye.
8. Choose a theme that supports popular plugins
Consider whether or not the theme supports popular plugins. There are thousands of plugins available for WordPress, but not all themes support all plugins.
Oftentimes, themes will come with built-in support for popular plugins like Gravity Forms or WooCommerce. Before you choose a theme, make sure it supports the plugins you want to use on your site.
If you’re not sure which plugins you want to use, just ensure the theme supports popular WordPress plugins like Jetpack or Yoast SEO.
9. Mind the code quality and standards
When choosing a WordPress theme, always mind the code quality and standards. There are several poorly-coded themes out there and ones that don’t adhere to industry best practices.
A well-coded theme will be easier to customize and extend and will be less likely to contain errors. So before you choose a theme, check the code quality and standards to ensure the theme you choose meets the latest coding standards set by WordPress.org.
10. Consider the developer’s support policy
When you are considering a WordPress theme, don’t forget to check at the developer’s support policy.
Does the developer offer support if you run into problems using the theme? If so, what kind of support do they offer? Many developers offer email support, but some also offer telephone or live chat support.
Do they have a knowledge base or documentation that can help you if you run into trouble? Are they responsive to user questions and concerns? It’s important to be sure that you can easily get help from the developer if you need it.
11. Check the reviews
Never miss to check user reviews when choosing a WordPress theme. What are people saying about it? Is it easy to use? Are there any common problems that people have run into? Have they been happy with the theme?
You can check theme reviews on the developer’s website, WordPress.org, or on third-party websites. Checking the reviews can give you a good idea of what to expect from a theme before you make your purchase.
12. Check the price
Of course, price is always going to be a consideration when choosing a WordPress theme. There are themes available at all price points, so deciding how much you’re willing to spend before you start your search is important.
Keep in mind that sometimes, you get what you pay for— so don’t necessarily choose the cheapest option without doing your research first.
Premium themes usually cost between $50 and $200, but there are also many high-quality free themes available. However, free themes may not have as many features as premium themes, and they may not be supported as well by the developer.
13. Cross-browser compatibility
Finally, consider the theme’s cross-browser compatibility. You’ll want to make sure that the theme you choose is compatible with all major browsers, including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Edge, and Chrome.
This ensures that your site will look and function as intended no matter what browser your visitors are using. Checking the compatibility of a theme before you make your purchase can save you a lot of headaches down the road.
List the features you need ahead of time
Like starting a business, it’s always important to have a well-thought-out plan before creating your WordPress website. A critical part of your plan should be deciding which theme you’ll use that will complement your brand appearance and convey your brand message in the best way possible.
Before selecting a theme, be sure to list all the features and functionalities you want the theme to have for installing it. This will save you time and the hassle of installing and uninstalling themes which may disrupt your website. It will also save you money if you’re going for premium themes since you won’t have to pay for something that doesn’t serve you satisfactorily.
Features to Look For
WordPress themes have different features depending on the specific functions they were designed for. However, you should look out for some common features in every theme before choosing them for your website. Some of those features include:
- Design: The theme should be professional looking and well-designed in terms of layout, heading style, menu locations, content display, etc.
- Performance: The theme should be fast loading and perform optimally
- Templates: The theme should have several pre-packaged starter templates to help you start designing your website.
- Ease of use: The theme should not require any technical knowledge or design experience to use or customize.
- WooCommerce-ready: The theme should seamlessly support WooCommerce in case you want to monetize your website later.
- Compatible with Gutenberg editor: The theme should allow you to easily publish and edit your site content through the Gutenberg editor (the latest WordPress editor)
- Aesthetics: The theme should complement your brand aesthetics in terms of color style layout
- Security: The theme should be free of security vulnerabilities and have regularly updated security packages.
Considerations for Choosing a WordPress Theme
The type of theme you choose highly determines what you can achieve with your website. Some important considerations for choosing a WordPress theme include the kind of content you’ll be sharing on your site, the functionality you need, your brand aesthetics, and your budget.
1. What’s Your Site’s Purpose?
Are you using your site to showcase your portfolio? Are you selling products or services? Will you be regularly blogging? The answer to these questions will help guide your search for a theme.
For example, if you’re using your site primarily to showcase your work as an artist or a photographer, you’ll want to choose a theme that includes features like an image gallery or portfolio.
2. What Kind of Content Will You Have?
Are you going to have mostly blog posts? Or will you have a mix of blog posts, photos, and videos? Once you know what kind of content you’ll be sharing, you can start narrowing down your theme options.
If you plan to have a lot of visual content like pictures and videos on your website, you’ll want a theme that can showcase that content in an aesthetically pleasing way.
For instance, if you plan on sharing a lot of images, you’ll want to choose a theme that has ample space for photos and built-in photo galleries or light boxes.
On the other hand, if you’re planning on mostly sharing text-based content like blog posts, you’ll want a theme with a clean design that’s easy to navigate.
You’ll also want a well-optimized theme for readability and features like social media integration to make it easy for readers to share your content.
3. What’s Your Brand Aesthetic?
Your website should reflect your brand identity, so it’s important to have your brand aesthetics in mind when choosing a theme.
What kind of feel do you want your website to have? What kind of image do you want to project to your website’s visitors? Do you want your website to be fun and playful? Or sleek and professional? Do you want something clean and minimalistic? Or something bolder and more colorful?
Once you know what kind of vibe you’re going for, you can start looking at themes that match that aesthetic in terms of color schemes, typography, and layout.
For instance, if you want a fun and youthful website, look for themes with bright colors and playful fonts. You’ll want to avoid themes that are too serious or formal. Conversely, if your brand is more traditional, you may want to steer clear of themes that are too modern or edgy.
4. What Kind of Functionality Will You Need?
Do you need to sell products or services online? You’ll need to choose a theme with built-in e-commerce features, or that can be easily integrated with an e-commerce plugin like WooCommerce.
Do you need a specific layout for your blog posts or pages? Some themes include built-in features like sliders or carousels for displaying more content, while others offer more traditional layouts with basic functionality.
Do you need special features or functionality? If you’re planning to run a membership site, you’ll need a theme that includes features like user registration and login, content restriction, and payment integration.
5. What’s Your Budget?
If you are on a tight budget, there are plenty of free themes available, but these often come with limited features and customization options. If you’re looking for something more robust, you’ll need to be prepared to spend some money.
Fortunately, there are plenty of great paid themes available at reasonable prices. Just remember that you get what you pay for— so if you’re on a budget, you may need to compromise on some features or settle for a less popular theme.
6. Free vs. Paid?
Is it worth it to pay for premium themes when there are plenty of free options available? Here is a comparison between free vs. paid WordPress themes to help you decide:
- Support: When you pay for a WordPress theme, you usually have access to prompt customer support from the theme developer. This can be extremely helpful if you run into any problems using the theme or need help with customizations. On the other hand, free themes come with limited support, making it difficult to troubleshoot issues or get help with customizations.
- Features: Paid WordPress themes typically come with more features than their free counterparts. This means you’ll have more control over the look and feel of your site and can take advantage of advanced functionality that might not be available with a free theme. With a free theme, you may have to sacrifice certain functionality or design elements that would otherwise benefit you if you paid for a premium theme.
- Updates: Because paid themes are developed by professionals, they are usually kept up-to-date with the latest version of WordPress. This helps ensure compatibility down the road and keeps your site more secure against potential security threats. Since free WordPress themes are developed by independent designers, they aren’t always kept up-to-date. This can lead to compatibility issues and make your site more vulnerable to security threats.
Pros of paid WordPress themes
- A wider selection of themes to choose from
- More features and customization options
- Better support from developers
- Can be costly, depending on the theme
- Requires regular updates
- Might not be compatible with all plugins
Pros of free WordPress themes
- Free to use and cost-effective
- No need for regular updates since they are maintained by the WordPress community
- A limited selection of themes to choose from
- Fewer features and customization options
- Less reliable support
How Do WordPress Themes Work?
WordPress themes are what give your site its look and feel. They are made up of a number of different files.
- The Stylesheet
The stylesheet is where you control the look of your site. This is where you specify the colors, fonts, and layout of your site. You can also use CSS to control how your content looks on different devices (mobile, tablet, desktop).
- The template file
The template file controls the structure of your site. This is the file that tells WordPress what order to display different elements like the header, sidebar, footer, etc. You can also use the template file to create custom pages (like a contact page or an About page).
- Other theme files
The functions.php file allows you to add custom functionality to your site without having to edit the core WordPress code.
Types of WordPress Themes
There are different types of WordPress themes depending on their functionality, cost, target industry, and design:
- Free vs. premium themes – Free themes are available for everyone to use at no cost, while premium themes are paid themes that come with a wider range of features and customization options.
- Multipurpose vs. niche themes – Multipurpose themes support websites in a variety of niches and have a more general layout and functionality. Niche themes are usually dedicated to specific niche sites or industries (e.g, eCommerce), and their layouts and functionalities are streamlined to meet a specific purpose.
- Parent vs. child themes – The parent theme is the main theme that includes all the necessary template files, stylesheets, and code to run a WordPress site. A child theme is a theme that inherits the parent theme’s templates, stylesheets, and code. It’s often used to make changes to an existing parent theme.
- Custom themes – Custom themes are created specifically for your website or blog. This means you can customize them to match your brand identity, colors, and style.
Read more about the different types of WordPress themes
Where to Find your Dream Theme
There are a few great places to find the best WordPress themes, both free and premium. Some of the best places you can look include:
1. The WordPress.com theme gallery
The WordPress.com theme gallery is a great place to start your search for the perfect WordPress theme. The themes in the gallery are all designed by professional developers and are available for free. Plus, all of the themes are responsive, meaning they’ll look great on any device, from smartphones to tablets to desktop computers.
They are classified by type, so you can easily browse through options to find the perfect one for your website. You can also browse themes by feature or style, or use the search bar to find a specific theme. Once you’ve found a theme you like, you can preview it on your site before installing it.
This gallery is curated by the team at WordPress.com and only includes themes that meet their high standards for quality and design. You can be confident that any theme you select will be compatible with all of the features and plugins available on WordPress.com.
2. WordPress.org theme directory
If you’re looking for more control over your theme selection, the WordPress.org theme directory is a great option. The directory contains thousands of themes, both free and premium, that have been developed by independent designers and have also been reviewed and approved by the WordPress team.
You can browse themes by feature, subject, or popularity or use the search bar to find a specific theme. Additionally, all themes in the directory are responsive, so you know they’ll look great on any device.
Keep in mind that because themes in the directory are developed by independent designers, they may not be as well supported as themes from the WordPress.com Theme Gallery.
3. Third-Party marketplaces
If you’re willing to spend a little money on your theme, third-party marketplaces offer a wide selection of premium themes. These marketplaces allow you to browse themes by category, price, or popularity, making it easy to find a theme that fits your budget and needs.
Again these themes are developed by independent designers, and they may not be as well supported as themes from the WordPress.com theme gallery or the WordPress.org theme directory. While you’ll usually have to pay for themes from these marketplaces, you’ll often be able to find discounts and special offers.
Here is a compilation of ten of the best third-party marketplaces you can shop around to buy quality WordPress themes:
- Creative Market
- Mojo Marketplace
- Evanto Elements
- Elegant Themes
After selecting a theme for your site, learn How to Install a WordPress Theme and start using it to build a high-quality WordPress website.
Why is it Important to Choose the Right WordPress Theme?
The kind of theme you choose can make or break your website. Here are some of the reasons why it’s important to choose the right WordPress theme.
Sets the tone
Your theme sets the tone for your website. It will determine your site’s overall look and feel, so it’s important to choose a theme that reflects the image you want to project to the public about your brand.
The theme you choose will affect your website’s performance. A well-coded theme will load quickly and run smoothly, while a poorly-coded theme can load slowly or cause errors that drag down your site’s performance.
Theme impacts SEO
Your theme can impact your website’s SEO. A good WordPress theme will be optimized for search engines, helping you attract more visitors to your site.
Your theme determines what features your website has. Many WordPress themes come with built-in features like social media integration, contact forms, and eCommerce functionality.
Be careful to choose a theme that includes all the features you need for your website.
What Comes Next?
Choosing the right WordPress theme is not the end. Once you find the perfect theme for your site, start customizing your theme and adding content.
Most of the time, the theme won’t look exactly like the demo version right away.
You’ll need to create pages and posts and start adding your content to see the site start to take shape. Also, make good use of the WordPress customizer to customize your theme to your references.
For instance, you can start by changing the color scheme, adding your site title and tagline, and customizing the header, footer, and sidebar as you wish. You can also install plugins and widgets to your site to help you add any missing functionality.
Take your time and get to know your theme, and don’t be afraid to reach out to the WordPress community or the theme developer for help if you experience issues.
So, how do you choose the best WordPress theme for your website? Start by considering your needs and the features that are important to you as the website owner.
If you need a lot of customization options, look for a theme with a robust set of tools you can use to customize your site to your satisfaction.
And always test drive a theme before making a purchase—you want to be sure that it looks and works the way you want it to before spending your money on it. With so many great WordPress themes available, you can never miss one that perfectly suits your needs.
We hope this article helps you pick the best theme for your site before you can embark on building a beautiful WordPress website.
Next Steps: What Now?
Now that you know how to pick the right WordPress theme for your site, here are some practical steps you can take from this guide:
- Browse for the best WordPress themes from the official WordPress themes directory.
- Get hosting for your WordPress website from our list of the top 10 WordPress hosting providers before you begin building your website.
Further Reading – Useful Resources
Here are more valuable resources you can read to learn more about WordPress and how to choose a WordPress theme for your website.
- How to Customize your WordPress Theme
- Best free WordPress themes
- Making Money with WordPress
- What are WordPress widgets and how to use them?
- What is a WordPress Plugin, and how to manage them?
- Things to consider before selecting your WordPress theme
- WordPress Support
1. What is a good theme?
A good WordPress theme is one that’s well-designed and easy to use. It should be responsive and compatible with the latest version of WordPress. It should also be compatible with your plugins and include all the features you need for your website. When selecting a theme, check the reviews to see what other users say.
2. How do I select a WordPress theme?
When selecting a WordPress theme, consider the purpose of your website and the type of content you’ll be publishing. Consider your target audience before narrowing your options to niche, functionality, compatibility, and price.
3. Which is the best WordPress theme in 2022?
There are many great WordPress themes in 2022, but the best depends on your individual needs and preferences. However, some of the most popular with the highest ratings include Divi Astra OceanWP GeneratePress and Avada.