How to Choose the Best Premium WordPress Theme for Your Website
When designing your blog, selecting the right theme is crucial to its success. The process usually begins with trawling through the WordPress free themes, followed by searching the internet for that perfect premium WordPress theme.
As you may know, a WordPress theme controls the design aspects of your website and allows you to add a skin to your site.
According to WordPress.org…
A WordPress Theme is a collection of files that work together to produce a graphical interface with an underlying unifying design for a weblog. These files are called template files. A Theme modifies the way the site is displayed, without modifying the underlying software. Themes may include customized template files, image files (*.jpg, *.gif), style sheets (*.css), custom Pages, as well as any necessary code files (*.php). (Source: WordPress.org)
Free or Premium?
Which are better, free themes or premium themes? What selection criteria should be used when choosing your WordPress theme?
In this article, I will cover what I consider to be the best method of choosing a WordPress theme for your site, and what you definitely need to avoid.
Free WordPress Theme vs. Premium WordPress Theme!
In all probability, the main reason for selecting a premium WordPress theme over a free WordPress theme is the guaranteed support, plus the timely updates you get to keep in line with the latest WordPress updates.
- Free WordPress themes do not guarantee support or updates.
When you pay for any WordPress premium theme, you should get good documentation, access to support and regular updates to keep your chosen theme compatible with the latest WordPress release.
Many providers, such as Elegant Themes, also provide video tutorials, demo content, a blog set-up service, and a member forum where you can discuss WordPress theme and related topics with like-minded people.
Buying a WordPress premium theme also has the added advantage that the theme is more likely to make your website unique. This is because the popular, free WordPress themes are being used by everybody.
So here is what you need to look for when selecting a premium WordPress theme.
Aesthetically Pleasing Design
Your selected theme will reflect the nature of your niche. That’s why you need to choose a theme which is aesthetically pleasing, and can be used without requiring major changes.
There are certain elements of a design that are used by all good designers to create stunning yet user friendly websites:
- Pleasing colour combinations
- Clear typography
- Clean layout
- Stunning images
Together these elements create a look and feel that appeals to your users, keeps them coming back for more, and enables your business goals.
Most premium themes come with built-in tools to select fonts and colours, make sure these options are available.
When selecting a premium theme look at the theme demo and explore all aspects of the theme. If you require a shopping cart make sure that the shopping cart you intend to use is compatible with the theme. If you will also be adding testimonials then check how testimonials look in the theme demo.
Check the availability of pages templates and layouts for use. Make sure the home page, single pages, posts and block sections are all consistent and meet your requirements.
Features vs. Presentation
WordPress is doing its best to compartmentalise features and presentation. Themes should handle the presentation part of your website and leave the functionality to plug-ins. However, as the premium WordPress theme market is highly competitive, sometimes theme developers add plug-in type functionality to their premium themes.
Adding plug-in type functionality is considered bad practice because it prevents users from switching themes easily. Themes in the WordPress repository are strictly controlled and plug-in type functionality is prohibited. In the premium theme world, you have to do your own policing. Try to ensure that your selected theme is not dependent on any particular plug-in and vice versa.
On the other hand, some vertical niche themes such as hotel and real estate themes could not be used without the associated plug-in functionality. In such cases, you must understand that switching themes will be difficult at best.
Security and Performance
When selecting a premium WordPress theme you must pay particular attention to the themes speed and SEO practices. You must also be wary of theme developers that use quick fixes that can compromise your websites security. Do not select a theme just because it has dozens of features, if you don’t use these additional features they may do nothing but slow your website down.
So, how do you know the code behind a premium theme is of good quality? Well, if you are an HTML and PHP expert, you can always look at the code itself. For the rest of us, we need to buy our premium themes from trusted, WordPress theme suppliers. The theme suppliers I would recommend are:
If possible find other live websites using your chosen theme to validate, or otherwise, your expectations of the theme. The premium theme suppliers mentioned above, supply user views and opinions. I suggest you read them before selecting a theme.
Theme Feature Compatibility Check
The best practice, before you start searching for that perfect WordPress theme, is to write down all the theme features that you need and all the features that you would like. For example:
- Grid layout, responsive design, social sharing features, multiple page styles, auto upgrade and support, theme customization left sidebar, SEO, standards compliant coding, two column layout, etc.
- Three column layout, right sidebar, customizable header, customizable footer.
Theme Plug-in Compatibility Check
As with the theme feature compatibility check, you also need to determine which plug-ins will be used with the theme. If you require any specific plug-in, such as a membership plug-in, then that plug-in must be supported by the theme.
- SEO support, ecommerce support, translation ready, easy digital downloads.
- WishList Member and WooCommerce compatibility
If in doubt, do ask the theme developers if their theme will work with the specified plug-in. After all, you need to make sure that you are investing your hard earned money in the right theme.
After Selecting the Perfect Premium WordPress Theme
Your perfect premium WordPress theme should enable you to build a high quality website easily. Even so, there are still many things you can do to improve your site by adding WordPress plug-ins.
I recommend you take a look at these excellent WordPress plug-ins which will enhance any website.
How to Choose the Best Premium WordPress Theme Final Thoughts
The number of themes available for WordPress can be a little overwhelming. Responsive design is at the top of the wish list for most WordPress users with SEO and ecommerce following closely behind.
I would advise you, not to base your theme choice on popularity alone, consider carefully how your site will be used and the demographic of your visitors. Do your research and select a theme based on the actual features you need for your niche and demographic, both now and in the future.
Finally, a word of warning. If you decided to choose a free theme for your WordPress site, I recommend sticking with the themes listed in the official WordPress theme repository. There are a number of mischievous websites offering free themes containing malicious code. So play safe and only get your themes from either WordPress or reputable suppliers.
If you have any comment, corrections or items you think should be added to, “How to choose the best premium WordPress Theme”, please do not hesitate to let me have them in the comment box below.