Give your website a facelift and add functionality with these winning WordPress themes.
WordPress, one of the world’s most popular content management systems, is the backbone for thousands of websites, both small and large. When a person or business decides to go the WordPress route, either a traditional installation or managed WordPress Web hosting, two factors must be considered: the website’s appearance and its functionality. After all, who doesn’t want an attractive, easy-to-navigate online presence? Fortunately, one of the simplest ways to tailor the WordPress experience to your liking is to install a WordPress theme.
WordPress Themes Defined
A WordPress theme is a set of files that create a graphical user interface (GUI) for WordPress-powered websites. The GUI doesn’t alter the underlying software, so you can swap themes with relative ease, should you wish to give your site a visual refresh or add new functionality. WordPress.org hosts many free themes that were inspected for quality.
Yes, free themes. WordPress themes come in no-cost and premium varieties, with each type possessing pros and cons. Free WordPress themes are, well, free, but they typically come with sponsored links, limited customer service support (or none at all!), and very few security updates.
Premium WordPress themes, on the other hand, require a monetary exchange, but you’ll typically receive a link-free installation, strong customer support, and frequent security updates. You should also expect updates to keep the theme current with the latest modifications to the WordPress software itself (which happen frequently). You can expect to pay a one-time fee of approximately $40 for a high-quality, single-use professional theme. You can expect to pay more than $1,000 for an extended license that grants you, or a client, a theme that you can sell to others. If you’re serious about building a WordPress-powered website, a premium theme is an essential part of the process. And to find a premium WordPress theme, you must visit an online store, such as Envato’s ThemeForest.
The Anatomy of a Good WordPress Theme
“We have a review team that goes through and reviews every item,” Will Herring, Business Development and Affiliates Manager at Envato, a WordPress themes marketplace told me. “We reject more items than we accept.”
According to Herring, a worthwhile WordPress theme should include three important elements: A responsive design, a build that’s compliant with search engine optimization (SEO) standards, and good technical support.
A WordPress theme with responsive design eliminates the need for a mobile version of your site, as it alters its form to fit screens of differing sizes. Most ThemeForest themes are responsive, but some are not; be sure to check a theme’s description to see if it boasts a responsive design. Additionally, the WordPress theme should match basic SEO standards.
“If a theme is compatible with Yoast (a WordPress plug-in), you’re good,” said Herring. “Many of the top themes will promote that they are SEO-optimized.”
You should also make sure that the theme you’re interested in purchasing is compatible with all major Web browsers, including Chrome, Edge, and Firefox. Fortunately, you can check a theme’s browser compatibility by firing up its demo in your browser. Any WordPress theme store worth its salt will let you try before you buy.
Your potential purchase should also offer technical support from the theme shop or theme developers, so that you can contact someone for assistance should you encounter any issues. Never underestimate the value of having someone walk you through the troubleshooting process. It helps. A lot.
How to Find WordPress Themes
Before you buy a WordPress theme, you must first find one that best suits your needs. ThemeForest boasts dozens upon dozens of themes, but you don’t have to slog through them all. You should look for a WordPress theme that boasts a high user rating, a large number of reviews, and significant sales, so that you get an accurate view.
“I would always start with the buyer rating and customer support,” said Herring. “If it’s 4.5 (out of 5) or higher, it gives the consumer confidence in the client. Go with something with at least 3,000 sales and 4.5-star rating.”
Thankfully, ThemeForest lets you apply filters, so that you can perform a fast search to meet those criteria. There are lots of themes designed for personal and business needs that fall within that range, and a surprising number of deep cuts that are laser-focused on a particular market. For example, WordPress themes that are designed with stores in mind feature integrated online shopping carts.