Basic Guide on how to choose a WordPress theme


Creating a website seems like an impossible task.

This is really difficult for those who do not feel confident in technical part. But we suggest dividing the task into understandable steps and choose a theme for the site on WordPress.

Choosing a theme (or template) is one of the key steps in setting up a site on WordPress. That topic will determine not only how your site will look on the web, but also what functionality it will have.

How to select a wordpress theme?

Any WordPress theme have certain files that determine the look of your site. They are used to design and display information on the user’s screen. Most often, the administrator or site owner has to deal with this files:

  • header.php – forms the top of the page in which the logo, main menu, contact block are located.
  • footer.php – footer or bottom of the page. You can also also link to the policy,  and other project details are placed in it.
  • style.css – responsible for the design. Its defineing colors, fonts, background images, icons, and other parameters for all elements of the site.

WordPress themes to create a site

There are two ways to create a site. The first is to order design from the designer (site layout), and then involve a programmer to create the theme for this design. In this case, the developer will essentially create a set of files which it is written above.

The second option is to choose one of the ready-made WordPress themes. They can be paid and free. This is a good opportunity to create a website quickly, independently, and even with a minimal budget.

What you need to know before choosing a theme for a site on WordPress

  1. Create a content structure for your site. To spell out the list of pages, headings, and the menu items.
  2. Draw an approximate prototype of the main page of the site and other important pages. For example, the page “Services“, “Portfolio“, “Blog“.
  3. Go to your favorite blogs and popular sites. From the list of design elements that you like, make a list of your “Wishlist“.
  4. If you create a site without a designer and do not yet know how to identity your project, you need to choose a color scheme that you like and suits your theme.

How to make sure that your WordPress theme is secure?

Choose a template on wordpress.org, the developer’s website, or in a template store like Themeforest and Codecanyon.

Before entering the WordPress catalog, all topics are tested for compliance with security standards, cross-browser compatibility, GPL license compliance, and so on.

Template responsiveness for WordPress

Make sure that the theme has a mobile version for the main devices – smartphones and tablets. Or the so-called “responsive layout” is used, when the blocks of the site change the width for different sizes of the browser window.

Website theme functionality

What to look for when choosing a theme?Layouts – with and without a sidebar?, full width and without a header?,  for different tasks? for the reviews page and portfolio?At how many menu blocks, their appearance, blocks (widgets) in the side column?, a set of typography elements (quotes in the text, lists, headings of different levels)?, whether there is a slider and whether similar blog entries are displayed? These parameters in may differ or be completely different. Go with one that best suits your requirements, and most importantly have quality and clean code, bloat free.

Flexible theme settings for the site

It is convenient when it is possible to change the color, font, and other design elements on the site. When you can turn on and off individual page elements directly from the admin panel of the site, without editing the template code, check if your theme allows this.

Illustrations and pictures for the site

Remember that no matter how good the theme in the demo is, it can differ from real one.

Think about how harmoniously the style and colors of your photos fit into the “frame” – the main blocks of the template. Do you have enough images of the required format so that the site plays like in the demo version?

Try to choose bright themes in a minimalist style with sans-serif and other fonts, with primary colors in the design. Such a template will be universally combined with any content. The main thing is the choice of fonts and the convenience of reading text from a screen of any size. Definitely “no” to the dark background and white font on it. For most projects, this choice will be unsuccessful.

Fonts

Fonts are often the basis of the theme.

Test the font in the demo template. Consider whether you are ready to spend the effort to find and install a font that is suitable for the style to replace it before buying the theme.

Rate the features of the template. To start the demo and see how the template works, find the “Live preview” or “Demo” button in its description.

  • See what page templates are provided on the site – with a left / right sidebar, full width without a sidebar, a landing template without a top header. These options are usually found in the demo section “Pages” / “Page Templates.”
  • See what the developer provides for the main page (Home) and blog page (Blog).
  • What elements of text design (headings, quotes, tabs, buttons) are provided in the template? In the demo, these sections can be called “Features,” “Typography,” and “Shortcodes.
  • Is there a mobile version of the site?, and what does it look like. To do this, see the demo theme from your phone.

Do not refuse paid themes just because you need to spend money on them.

Very often, investing in a successful template that is as close to your ideal as possible is much lower than the cost of “finishing it yourself” with the help of a studio or freelance developers. You can immediately get a non-standard and harmonious design for your tasks, just thoughtfully reviewing paid templates.

Such paid themes are usually regularly updated and maintained by developers. This means that the next time you update WordPress, you will not encounter any global problem or will know where to turn for help.

 Themes from WordPress.org

There are a lot of good template in the WordPress catalog. Often there are (Lite) versions, which you can download and test, and on the developer’s page, you can buy a paid version with advanced features. Paid versions from free ones often differ in the number of blocks on the main page, a set of ready-made page layouts, or other type of features. As well as the flexibility of settings and the ability to change colors, fonts and edit the contents.

If the theme is in the WordPress catalog, then you do not need to download it to install it on the site. It is enough to open the admin panel Appearance >> Themes>> Add a new one and enter the name copied from the wordpress.org in the “Search” field. After that install and activate the template to get started.

How to choose a theme for the site and not regret it later?

Be sure to read the description of the paid template (Theme Features). It’s convenient to quickly set up a template with it a technical support from the developer (usually given for a year). In addition, use filters and tags – they will help you quickly select templates for the desired niche.

What else you need to remember when working with ready-made themes for WordPress?

Templates (themes) can be tried on the site as many times as you like, while the posted texts and pictures will not disappear. If the site is already full of content, troubles sometimes occur when changing the template. Pictures “stick” to the text, the text becomes too small/large.This is because each topic has its own fonts, features, and other parameters, so it’s better to decide on the teamplate at the start so that you don’t have to edit later. Almost always, when changing the template, you have to reconfigure widgets and reinstall plugins such as google analytics, comment, script of the social networks and widgets of your FB communities.
Immediately after installation and activation, the theme will not look like in the demo. It will have to be configured by filling out the appropriate fields in the site admin panel (Appearance >> Themes – >> Customize).
The look of the site is largely determined by your content, not the template. Your images, chosen with taste, and correctly writed texts, in which there are paragraphs, headings, subheadings, highlighted blocks.
It is recommended to fill the site before trying on any template: create a menu, main pages, 2-3 blog entries, set thumbnail pictures to the posts.

To wrap UP

Compare the features of the theme in the demo with the list of your Wishlist, prototype, and color preferences.

If there are a lot of elements that you would like to add or replace, it is better to look for another template. Because you will have to attract developers to the design and template improvements.

A template is worth taking if you just need to repaint the colors in it, add your subscription and feedback forms, or additional elements such as a slider or gallery. This is solved using plugins and does not require significant code changes.

Another option that is not considered in this article is the WordPress theme or a ready-made website from the templates of the plug-in developer. This will probably be discussed in another article.