Finding a WordPress theme that looks great is easy. Thousands of them look fabulous on a demonstration site. However, it would be wrong to say that appearances aren’t a critical part of the buying decision-making process. After all, a WordPress theme’s purpose is to define a site’s overall appearance. However, looks aren’t everything when buying a WordPress theme. Here are ten other points it would be wise to consider before handing over your cash.
One of the benefits of buying a premium theme is regular updates to the software, which are crucial for security and compatibility with the latest WordPress versions. However, some theme licenses only include one year of updates. Others might offer updates as part of an annual or monthly support agreement. Consequently, it would be best to ensure that you understand what future updates will be provided and at what price.
It is also possible that a theme is still on sale after development has ceased. So, it would be advisable to check how frequently recent updates have been issued. Ideally, you want an actively maintained and improved.
Premium themes usually include support. However, the quality of support can vary considerably. So, check what is included in the support agreement, and review people’s comments regarding the support service. Like updates, the length of time you will receive support and the pricing model may vary. For example, some themes have one year’s support included in the purchase price. Others charge a monthly or quarterly support fee. Regardless of the billing frequency, the support and updates cost is not usually high. Nevertheless, it would be best to ensure you understand your ongoing expenses before you buy a theme.
The license for some themes only permits use on a single domain. Consequently, if you plan to install the theme on multiple domains, you will need to purchase additional licenses, or a multi-domain license may be available. Most premium theme licenses do allow multi-domain installation. Still, it is best to check if this is the case if you intend to run multiple sites on the same theme.
You will probably choose a theme based on what you see on the demonstration site. However, you will want to customise the look and feel immediately or later. So, checking out the theme’s customisation options is advisable before purchasing. For example, can you add or remove sidebars? Are colours and fonts customisable? Can headers and footers be modified?
A WordPress theme only provides the site’s formatting; it doesn’t create pages or structure. Consequently, your starting point for building a new website will still be a blank page. Starting from nothing like that can be daunting for a first-time WordPress user. And that’s where starter templates come in handy. The starter templates with some themes are usually niche-specific and consist of preformatted demo data pages. So, novice users can pick a suitable template and replace the demo data with their content and images. However, not all themes come with starter templates, so this is another thing to check if templates are essential for you.
If you plan to sell products on your website, you will need an eCommerce solution, which is likely to be WooCommerce. So, you will need a WordPress theme that is WooCommerce compatible. However, compatibility is nowhere as good as fully integrated. Consequently, you would be better off looking for a theme that integrates with WooCommerce fully.
The theme you choose can significantly impact the site’s speed. And most internet users will quit a website if it fails to load in less than 3-4 seconds. So, it is advisable to look for a lightweight, fast-loading theme. Unfortunately, it isn’t easy to assess the speed of a WordPress theme before you buy; you must rely mainly on the developer’s assurances. However, there are independent speed tests published online. And you can evaluate how the demo version runs and check what people have said about a theme in forums.
If you are interested in WordPress Performance Tuning, read our in-depth post on how we achieved great results globally.
The importance of mobile compatibility is hardly breaking news. You would expect that any WordPress theme for sale today would be responsive. However, there are degrees of mobile-friendliness, and older themes may not work as well on mobile devices as they do on desktops. Consequently, it would be advisable to test the demo version on various devices before purchasing. And when testing, consider usability, appearance, and speed.
Gutenberg Integration and Page Builders
The WordPress Block Editor, or Gutenberg, came out in 2018, and future releases will build on this. The block editor will work with almost any theme. However, you will find that a theme designed from the outset to work with blocks will offer better functionality now and in the future. So, if you don’t want to get left behind, you will have to embrace the block editor, and that begins by choosing a theme that makes the best use of Gutenberg.
However, it is worth noting that Guttenberg is a very basic offering. Other commercial page builders (like Elementor and WPBakery) can produce beautiful designs with minimal effort. Also, they are very much what-you-see-is-what-you-get in design capability, meaning even a novice can start designing professional websites.
It would be best to consider the above points and the price. However, like everything, you get what you pay for when buying a WordPress theme. The average price of a premium theme is around $50-$100. On the other hand, if you install a free or heavily discounted theme, you might find that support is nonexistent or patchy. And you might run into issues with any one or more of the considerations mentioned above.
It is crucial to consider each of the above points. However, you may not find the perfect theme that ticks all your boxes. For example, the fastest WordPress theme on the market may not contain the essential functionality you need. Consequently, you may need to compromise. Don’t forget that you can install plugins and custom blocks to add functionality. Your perfect solution may consist of a best-fit theme and premium plugins.