WordPress is the most popular content management system that is widely used by over 65% of websites all over the global. It is flexible and powerful. And users can simply change the themes and customize a WordPress website with a variety of stylish appearances for any kind of websites. Choosing the right theme and plugins for your WordPress websites is quite important to run a WordPress-powered website. That is because good themes and plugins give your visitors a good impression at first, and help your website to be friendly to search engines. However, as there are thousands of options available, how to choose the right one for your WordPress sites?
Honestly speaking, the easiest way of choosing a theme is following the best WordPress theme recommendations which are thoroughly reviewed by existing customers and professional editors. Actually, we also come out a series of best WordPress themes collections after reviewed hundreds of WordPress themes.
If you cannot pick up a right theme from the collections, you can go with the best WordPress themes providers like Elegant Themes, or follow the below tutorial which introduces the guidelines for choosing a suitable WordPress theme for you websites.
And in below, we’d like to tell you what makes a great theme and a good plugin, along with the tips to choose WordPress themes and plugins perfectly.
How to Choose WordPress Themes
When picking up a WordPress theme, you need to take a lot of things into consideration. Note that the theme design should not be the only thing to think about, but some others as we have listed in the following.
Related to Your Industry
It’s essentially important to choose a theme that relates to your industry, businesses, products, or services. So visitors can learn about what your website is about once customers see your website in the first sight. For example, if you are running a blog website, you can choose a theme that is relevant to your blog topic. If you have a wedding website, you would better choose the theme that with a large gallery instead of text box. In a word, you should choose a theme related to your industry and make visitors know your website directly.
Choose between the Free Themes and the Premium Themes
Generally, the price can be the first thing webmasters will consider when choosing the WordPress templates. Some of you may think that choosing the free option can be something like a no-brainer and do not think that it is necessary to spend the extra money for something you can get without any charge.
Actually, if your website is a personal one and you do not have any financial purpose of running it, the free theme is worth trying. Note that these themes always have the simple design and some minor customization options.
However, if your site is for the e-commerce or online business and you want to make the serious money from it, we highly recommend you to choose the premium theme based on the below criteria.
- The theme needs to be updated and maintained regularly. The common update frequency should be at least once a month.
- The theme developers should always provide the technical support to help you dig into the theme function easily.
- There need to be a lot of customization options to handle every design aspect of your site.
- The proper charge should range from $20 to $80.
- The theme needs to be translation-ready that has almost all the major language files.
- The theme is coded properly with the point of SEO in mind.
Choose One from the Reliable Developers
You’d better choose the theme that is developed by the reputable developers or teams instead of choosing from the nameless one. It is obvious that reliable and reputable theme designers can give you the enhanced peace of mind for the quality and security of the template. This makes sure that you can hardly run into any problem after installing and activating this theme into your site.
Concern the Compatibility for SEO Plugins
At present, you can find a lot of SEO plugins to optimize your WordPress websites. Generally, they can work well with most WordPress templates, but there are still some themes that fail to ensure the maximum compatibility.
In this case, when choosing a template, you’d better check the source information to figure out whether the theme is updated with the latest version, being compatible with all the popular SEO plugins.
Check the Schema Markups
You’d better choose a theme that takes advantages of the Schema markups that benefit your website a lot in terms of search engine optimization. These markups simply tell search engines which part is your footer, header, sidebar and many other critical elements, so that searching robots can identify various things within your webpages and find your real content for indexing.
Besides, if you want to use the rich snippets to make your content more worth-reading in the searching result page, you have to make sure that your theme supports the Schema markups so that search engines can display your rich snippet data in the SERPs.
Test the Well-Designed Website Architecture
This aspect needs to be taken into account since the update of Google Panda – a special algorithm that decides the website ranking on Google searching result.
The well-designed site architecture is great for the on-site SEO. Therefore, you should choose a theme that properly structures your internal linking, navigation and the hierarchy of website content. Generally, you’d better confirm that every of your webpage will not be over 4 clicks away from your homepage. Otherwise, both searching spiders and human readers will feel difficult to find the related posts, negatively affecting your conversion rate.
Choose One that Has the Look to be Compatible with Your Site Image
Surely, the theme design plays the crucial role when picking up the WordPress theme. In this case, before making the decision, you have to carefully check the theme screenshots and demo to figure out whether it can match how you hope your website to look.
In addition, you need to choose one based on your website niche and theme category. After all, a blog theme can never look like a business theme.
Stylish but Simple
Instead of picking a complex and dynamic theme, we suggest you choose a simple and stylish design because they are easier to modify and are compatible with many browsers. On the other hand, the complex themes always come with slow loading speed and redundant code structure, which are not friendly to search engines.
Choose One that Has the Features You Need
Different themes may achieve different features for you, such as the responsive design, the support for the sidebar, the full-width display of images, the support for landing page, the widgets added into the footer and the header, as well as the support for multiple page layouts, sliders, custom post types, galleries and many more.
In this case, before choosing a theme, you need to check the feature lists to make sure that it offers all the features you need. However, if a theme is overloaded with massive features you do not need at present, you’d better think twice as this kind of template may have you locked into it.
Choose One that Allows the Proper Customization
A quality template needs to give you enough customization freedom to make it match your website design. However, we have found that some themes allow the countless customization options that can be achieved by the theme control panel. It seems great, but the fact is that too many customization options may make you overwhelmed and you can hardly finish your theme configuration.
Due to this, you’d better choose a theme that ensures the proper customization for color schemes, font, header, footer, gallery, navigation and some other key aspects.
Choose One that Achieves the Responsiveness and Compatibility
At present, having a responsive website design is important. Therefore, you need to make sure that your selected template can have your contents displayed properly on any devices featuring with multiple screen sizes.
Besides, you should figure out that whether the template can be loaded quickly across different browsers, without slowing down your website and causing some problems.
The presence of thousands of useful plugins for WordPress has generated a demand for plugin compatibility. Majority of WordPress websites uses several plugins for better appearance, performance and utility. There are many themes that have appreciable features, but lack the compatibility of plugins.
It is quite imperative to use a recently-developed theme for WordPress because it increases the chances of compatibility with advanced plugins. Therefore, webmasters should prefer advanced themes that support the installation of plugins for the better optimization of the website.
Terms of Service
Many people ignore this step, but it’s also crucial. Some designers and developers always introduce some sensitive information and terms in Terms of Service. For example, some free themes may hide some backlinks or advertisements in it. The guidelines mentioned above are all crucial to choose a right WordPress theme for your website. However, your actual requirements and budget are the essential factors to determine which theme to choose.
When it comes to search engine optimization, the following factors that you have to consider as well.
Proper coding and presentation of code enhance the SEO of the website and improves its ranking in search engine results page (SERP). A poorly coded page suffers from low loading speed and cross-browser compatibility. Also, it craves way for the unethical hackers to access the website though hacking. Hence, it is quite imperative to have a proper coded theme in order to witness the efficiency in SEO.
Google, in its latest SEO update, considers the level of user experience offered to the visitors by the websites. It checks whether the visitors are satisfied with the experience on the website and notes down the behavioral metrics. Thus, websites having a good user interface and effective navigation system indirectly assists in the SEO of the website as impressed visitors feel it a pleasure to visit a user-friendly website frequently.
Page Loading Speed
Speed is an essential part of every website. It ascertains the interest level of the visitor; i.e. a visitor gets more interested to browse the website that displays pages quickly. Hence, when it comes to an SEO-friendly theme, a webmaster must choose a theme that doesn’t degrade the website loading speed.
There are many themes having a vibrant appearance, but is low in performance. Therefore, it is recommendable to choose themes that load within 1.5 seconds. If a theme takes much time but is attractive due to other features, cache cleaner plugins can be used to maintain a proper loading speed.
With the essence of social media marketing increasing every day, sharing in social media has become one of the most important SEO channels. A remarkable amount of traffic is driven through popular social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. However, a majority of webmasters do not take social integration factor into consideration while choosing a theme, and regret it later.
A WordPress theme with appropriate social integration features avoids the burden of installing additional plugins, as well as renders eye-soothing option of sharing. Convenient social sharing options allow the reader to share the content at any point of time and enhance the SEO of the website.
How to Choose WordPress Plugins
In fact, different WordPress plugins can achieve different functions for you. In this case, when choosing a plugin, you can think about the final results you hope it to achieve and select based on your needs. However, due to the massive number of plugins available now, you generally can find a lot of options that achieve the same function. In this case, you can consider the below tips to make a good selection.
Choose One that Lasts for Long
Firstly, you need to ignore some newly released ones and opt for the plugins that have been made public for a while. After all, the old plugins may result in the few chances for you to encounter the serious bugs or issues. As for the new plugins, you may meet some problems that have not been spotted yet.
Choose One that Has the Positive Reviews
Surely, you need to check the plugin reviews to figure out how other users regard this option. It is natural that you may find some negative reviews on your target plugin, but if all the reviews are the bad ones, you’d better stay away from this option.
In addition, you’d better not only check the good reviews, but also have a look at the negative ones to figure out what issues people have encountered with the plugins. This way, you may avoid some potential problems effectively.
Choose the Lightweight Plugin
You can never choose a bloated plugin for it can result in the bad effect on your page loading speed, causing some unnecessary loads on your web server. Instead, you should consider the lightweight plugin. Some developers may highlight the lightweight nature on the plugin feature page. Or, you can leverage the P3 plugin to test the plugin running performance.
Choose One that Has the Great Rating and Downloads
Actually, instead of going with some paid plugins offered by the third parties, we highly recommend you to choose from the Plugin Directory of WordPress.org. This directory will display the star rating of each listed plugin so as to give you a direct impression of whether it is worth using or not. The rating ranges from 1 star to 5 stars by default. Generally, a good plugin always has the 4-star or the 5-star rating.
In addition to the rating, you also need to check about the download times. Here, you’d better choose a plugin that has been downloaded for at least 500 times.