When you create or update your website in WordPress, your first decision is to choose a WordPress theme for your business. A WordPress theme is the graphical interface that displays all the information for your website—essentially, the theme is your site’s layout. Unfortunately, choosing a WordPress theme is not as simple as picking out the one that’s the prettiest. While there’s no single best WordPress theme for business, you need to determine which is the best fit for your specific business. Since hundreds of themes are available, choosing the right theme is more difficult than it might seem, regardless of your experience with managing websites. The volume of options alone can be daunting.
Use the checklist below to help you narrow your options to a theme that is best suited for your business.
Free WordPress Theme vs. Premium Theme
Technical requirements for picking the best WordPress theme have changed. More than five years ago, implementing a free theme for your business website was highly discouraged because they were often not coded well and posed security concerns. Due to the growing WordPress developer community and demand for free quality themes, that’s no longer the case. Now thousands of free and reliable WordPress themes are available.
Before you commit to implementing a free theme to save $30-$200, however, some perks to premium themes should be considered:
- Frequent security and design updates
- Less common design features to set you apart from your competition’s website
- More robust support options (i.e. live chat, email ticketing system, PDF user documents, etc.)
- Enhanced functionality included, instead of requiring multiple plugins.
Know Which WordPress Theme Caters to Your Market
It’s important to remember that all WordPress themes have different layouts and use-cases that they are best-suited for, and you should keep this in mind while deciding which theme is best for your business. Pick the theme that makes sense for your end users and that fits your brand aesthetic.
For example, if you run a photography business, choose a theme that has enhanced gallery display options. And if you sell products through an online marketplace, select a theme that will support e-commerce and make it easy for customers to buy items directly from your site. Your theme should support all of the plugins and tools that you will need, such as form builders, e-commerce tools, and caching engines.
Keep it Simple and Responsive
Usability is extremely important when deciding on a business WordPress theme. Websites are increasingly being viewed on various mobile devices, and your website must be responsive and viewable on different screen sizes. If the WordPress theme that you’re looking at is not responsive, don’t consider it for your business.
To keep customers on your website longer, make it simple and easy for them to use. Choose a theme that is well-organized and intuitive to navigate. Don’t choose a theme that has so many bells and whistles that it slows down your website’s load time or causes confusion for your visitors. If the theme is visually complicated or dense, it will also be difficult for you to maintain.
WordPress Theme Development and Support
Whether you have an in-house team dedicated to maintaining your WordPress site or not, you’ll still want to verify the type of support for the specific theme you are selecting. Is the developer actively announcing updates and helpful tips on the discussion forums? Does the WordPress theme come with detailed information on how to use it?
Typically, businesses select premium themes because they offer more robust support systems and documentation. However, active online support forums are available for many free themes. Regardless, know what type of support to expect before making your decision.
To reiterate, it is extremely important to know which plugins your theme supports. Some themes do not support certain plugins. If this information isn’t readily available, consult the developer.
Pay attention to reviews and ratings left by those who have already used the theme in order to grasp the fit of this particular theme for your business. Did the users agree with how the developer represented the capability of the theme? Did they get the support they needed when issues arose?
If you want your site to be optimized to generate greater traffic, make sure the theme is enhanced for SEO. It is best to select a theme which has the proper HTML structure to ensure its readability by search engines. A theme that is slow to load will also be detrimental to your SEO efforts, so it’s best to choose a theme that is lightweight.
When choosing a WordPress theme for your business, select one that is “SEO ready” or “SEO optimized” and test how the demo performs in your browser first.