The beauty of a template based web designing system is that it allows you to keep the content separate from design. Templates, better known as themes in WordPress, are a great way to spruce up your site. Technically speaking, your site won’t load if you don’t have a theme installed. That’s the reason a WordPress installation always comes with a default theme. Whenever you want to change the looks of your site, you can easily do it by merely changing the template, keeping the content intact. However, when you change the theme, the layout of your site (interlacing of content with design) also changes and this along with other elements of the theme can have a considerable bearing on how your website fares. This makes it important to choose your theme with care.
There are a lot of free as well as premium WordPress themes available and choosing the right one can be far more complicated than you ever imagined. If you simply install the one that looks good at first glance, there is a great chance that your theme wouldn’t be actually the best fit for your site. Of course the graphics and design matter too, but that should not be your only concern. As people judge most things from the way they look, your site should have an eye catching design. At the same time it has to be more than that. Here is a lowdown on what all you should consider while selecting a WordPress theme for your site:
1. Responsive design
A responsive theme is the one that is designed to adapt to different display resolutions. It ensures that the people who visit your site from a mobile device like smartphone or tablet sees your site in the best way possible. If your theme is not responsive, you might be losing visitors who couldn’t view your site properly. Having a responsive theme makes your website neat and tidy across all devices and browsers and thus making it dynamic.
2. No encrypted links
Encrypted links are usually added to the footer by theme developers who provide their theme for free. These links can be to the developer’s website or even be sponsored. Unlike the usual footer links, these links cannot be removed or modified. Trying to remove them will make the theme non-functional and you’ll be forced to reinstall it. Since the embedded links are often to spammy and unrelated sites, it’s always safe to consider them unsafe and keep away from such themes with encrypted footers.
3. Supports custom menu
A custom menu gives you complete control over what to include and exclude from your navigation bar. Rather than the pages that appear on the tabs automatically, you can manually adjust the features and order of a custom menu. You can even include drop down lists in a custom menu. It is important that your theme supports custom menu so that you can have full control over your menu items. It’s not that difficult to find though; with the introduction of custom menu feature in version 3.0 of WordPress, most theme developers have incorporated it into their themes. If a theme does not support custom menu, it can be safely assumed that the theme is outdated.
4. Looks good on your site
If you have a games website, you would obviously be more tilted to go for a quirky theme rather than a formal looking one. Each website should have a design that matches its niche and yet stand out from the crowd. It is easy to get a theme that suits your website niche as most theme developers classify their themes for different niches. But that does not complete your need; you have to impress your visitors with a unique design that is rare. If you want to have something completely unique, it is better to get a theme developed but in most cases, a theme with options panel for font, color, layout selection would do the trick.
5. Loads faster
6. SEO friendly
SEO friendliness of a website is a big concern these days. A theme plays a considerable role in SEO too. The simpler the website code, the easier it is for the search engine bots to crawl your site. Streamlined code makes a website SEO friendly and fast loading. Most of the premium themes are SEO friendly and come with options to add meta tags to your site, posts and pages. Some even come with advanced options to include scripts and codes at right places (header/footer) for minimal negative impact on the performance.
7. Easy on eyes
A good theme is one that does not hurt your eyes with contrasting colors and graphics. Sometimes, people forget this aspect and the result is a website that repels the visitors away. The colors used should be light and suitable for long time viewing. Black background is a big NO for a good website. It is also important to use a simple and legible font throughout your website as fancy fonts are harder to read and may be incompatible with some browsers too. A good theme should have the right typography – perfect match between the font type, size, spacing, and so on.
8. Widgetized layout
Want to place an ad in the header? A theme with widgetized header is the way to go. Want to have navigation in the footer? Widgetized footer would come handy again. A widgetized theme makes it easier for you to make changes to it anytime or arrange it in the manner you prefer. If your sidebar has different widgets for social subscription, ads and categories, it will be easier to make changes to one widget without messing with others. It also decreases the hassle of messing with a bunch of code by providing you with a neat interface to organize. The drag and drop function of widgetized themes is actually a big time saver that you can’t afford to miss.
9. Valid markup
An improperly coded theme that only meets your other requirements is just not worth it. If your site has coding issues, it might have compatibility problems with some wordpress plugins. Having a valid HTML code on your site is really good from SEO angle too. So, it’s always better not to ignore this part and choose a theme with valid HTML in the first place. You can check the markup validation of your site here.
10. Easily Customizable
It is also important to make sure that the theme you select is good for long term use; and easy customization feature will help towards this end. You will need modification of the theme for monetization and ad placements in the future that cannot be predicted. Having a customizable theme makes you future-proof. You don’t really know what kind of changes you may need in the future to keep your website in good health; so always check the customization aspect of the theme you go with. Most themes today come with multiple page templates and switchable sidebars, to expect the least. Customizable logo and navigation placement, changeable font type and size, customizable background, etc. are some other basic features you can look out for.