Arguably one of the best things about WordPress is the ability to change out the themes. With a few clicks of a button you can install a new WordPress theme and completely change the look and feel of your website.
But there are so many different themes out there, and more coming into the marketplace every day. With so many to choose from it’s easy to get stuck with a WordPress theme that will completely fuck up your website.
When you’re looking for a new theme, you really shouldn’t just pick a theme because it looks nice. Of course the proper aesthetic is essential to make sure your website is truly an extension of your brand, but if the theme doesn’t function properly, it’s only going to drag your business down, instead of boost it up.
There are a lot of beautiful themes that are only half functional and will cause you more headaches than just hiring someone to build you a custom theme. When you’re looking for a new WordPress theme for your website, make sure you look for these key things — regardless of how the theme looks.
1. Modern Code and Framework
WordPress is built on PHP, so you have to make sure to look for a theme that is written in PHP. Old HTML website themes won’t cut it. Neither will deprecated frameworks. Website technology is constantly growing and evolving. A framework that worked 2 years ago may be completely deprecated now.
The absolute number 1 thing that will destroy your website is shitty code. A few key things to look out for are:
Is it responsive?
A good indicator of whether or not a theme is modern is whether or not it’s responsive.
Any theme built with modern code on a modern framework should inherently be responsive, and responsiveness is not optional anymore. Your website needs to work on mobile and tables. If a theme doesn’t say it’s responsive, it’s a good indicator it was built on old code, and you should keep looking.
Does it come with a builder framework?
If you’re a complete neophyte to building your own website, consider looking for something with a website builder framework, such as Divi. This will allow you to make substantial changes to your website without knowing how to code.
Divi is what I generally use when I’m building websites for clients. Divi is robust enough to allow for advanced CSS customization and programming by a web developer, yet simple enough that you can have a truly beautiful, professional website without knowing a stitch of code.
When was the theme last updated?
If the theme was updated last 6 months ago, odds are it’s not in line with the latest version of WordPress. WordPress has updates regularly. This doesn’t mean it won’t work at all, but it does mean it may not work correctly.
2. It can adapt as your business grows.
You don’t want to have to get a new theme every time you change something about your business, or need to add a new plugin to support your business growth.
You need something that you can update as your focus evolves, as your brand colours change, and as you start adding more products and services to your business.
If you think you might want to be selling digital products off your site at some point, don’t install a theme that isn’t compatible with WooCommerce, or you’ll have to get a new theme when the time comes to start selling digital products.
3. Clear and current documentation.
Documentation is a set of digital documents (often delivered on a site, and not as a PDF) where you will be able to learn how to use the theme and make it do what you need it to do. Most emerging entrepreneurs who are taking over building their own website aren’t aware of documentation, but it can save you hours of headaches.
But it’s not enough to just have documentation. You also have to have documentation that is up to date with the current version of the theme. Themes evolve just as the core WordPress platform evolves, but often developers won’t update the documentation.
If your theme version is 3.2 but the documentation is on 2.9, there may be things you need to learn to do that aren’t covered in the documentation. If you have any questions about the documentation, you can reach out to the theme developer to find out if their documentation is up to date.
With a little research, you can find the perfect WordPress theme for your business that will support you as you move forward.