Choosing a brilliant theme for your WordPress site is one of the first essential steps in establishing your online presence. Remember that your website will virtually represent your brand to the online audience. Any self-respecting site owner will veer away from generic, free, and clunky themes. Instead, you should only consider the absolute best one for your site.
Below are five of the most important rules you need to observe when picking a theme for WordPress:
1. The Theme Should Not Have Malicious Code
Site security should be one of your top priorities when building and running a WordPress website. Unfortunately, security could be the first thing you compromise by picking a theme with an embedded malicious code. Hackers insert such codes to steal backlinks from your website, have unrestricted access to your digital assets, display unauthorized ads or links, or simply bring your site down.
Before installing a theme, make sure you run a quick virus scan of the compressed file immediately after download. You can also use the AntiVirus plugin from WordPress to thoroughly examine a theme for malicious code. Of course, you can always stop downloading third-party themes and use the ones already available from the WordPress library.
2. The Theme Should Load Fast
Although it is tempting to choose a theme with flashy visuals and fancy design elements, remember that appearance only comes second to performance when it comes to user experience. According to statistics, 40% of the online audience will abandon a site if it loads for more than three seconds.
To help you pick a fast WordPress theme, a good rule of thumb is to perform a speed test on the theme’s “demo” version. All you need to do is to plug in some dummy content, install the theme demo you are considering to buy, and then run Pingdom Tools to see how long it takes for your site to load.
3. The Theme Developer should be Trustworthy
Picking a theme means trusting the company behind it. Downloading a theme from an unknown, shady resource is simply too risky especially your website’s future is on the line. Instead, see to it that you download themes and plugins only from reputable sources with plenty of positive user reviews.
Just don’t forget that people have different preferences and needs. Don’t let a single review influence your decision entirely. Determine what you specifically need from a theme first, pick out your candidates, and then let the ratings validate your options. Basing on the reviews, look for websites that use the theme to test the experience firsthand. A reputable theme provider may also provide you with sample websites or “live” demos.
4. The Theme should be Easy to Edit and Customize
Even if you pay for a premium theme, it will still look and feel generic if you do not implement your customizations. However, not all themes have many customization options while others simply have too much—turning the theme’s appearance editor into a mess. Sure, you can make in-depth customizations by making a child theme and modifying the CSS and PHP codes. However, it should be easy to make quick customizations with the basics such as theme colors, menus, the header and the footer.
One way to figure out the customization options in a theme is to look for online reviews and guides. However, in case neither is available, your best bet is to contact the theme provider’s customer support, which leads to the next and last most important rule of picking a WordPress theme:
5. The Theme Must Have Great Customer Support
Since you will be working with the theme provider in constructing your site, you need to check how effective they are with communicating their support. Keep in mind that bad customer service is costing not only customers but companies as well billions of dollars per year. If you want a secure and more stable future for your online business, it is best not to associate yourself with brands that couldn’t care less for the experience of users.
As much as possible, use a contact method that will help you get faster answers such as live chat or a phone call. To make the conversation more productive, make sure to prepare a list of questions to ask the theme provider. You can ask anything from how to change the theme’s layout to licensing restrictions, but your top priority is to determine how fast they will be in answering your inquiries. Making the call and sending a message via live chat or email should answer this question for you.
Remember that your website reflects your standards regarding creativity, quality, and desire to provide great user experience. These standards are built upon your choices in every facet of web design and development. Picking the perfect theme to represent your brand is just one of the critical decisions that you need to get right.