Whether you clicked on this post (yay) or stumbled upon it by mistake, you likely know this fact: WordPress is dominating the internet.

Being a multilingual open-sourced platform and running 28% of the entire internet, it’s easy to see why so many people flock to WordPress as their CMS of choice. But this popularity comes with a steep hill to climb. There are so many themes on the market, trying to find the right WordPress theme for your website can be a time consuming and puzzling task.

Over many years of experience, I’ve picked up some helpful tips that can ease the pain of picking (or not picking) the right theme for your business.

Where Should You Start Looking?

Let’s start with WordPress.org. If you want a free WordPress theme, look no further. The theme directory is built right into the CMS, making it easy for users to navigate without having to go elsewhere. I recommend using the Feature Filter to narrow down the type of website you want to achieve.

Example: You want to start a blogging site that is fun to read and captures the attention of users. You definitely want post formats compatibility, big featured images, and a readable layout so readers can quickly scan content. Try something similar to the image below:

WordPress Theme Features

Premium Theme Marketplaces

As most users know, free templates often have their limits. These days, almost all WP themes have a premium upgrade option.

If your new website is going to have all the fancy bells and whistles that comprise of modern web design, chances are you’ll want a premium WordPress theme. Time to start exploring!

But what marketplace should you explore? One is often enough. Today’s top players have thousands of templates to choose from. Right now these are the top three marketplaces on the web:

  1. Themeforest
  2. Template Monster
  3. Mojo Marketplace

Themeforest is often my go-to place. Their categorization of themes makes it easy to find that niche design you need. It’s rating system, comment forms, and transparent purchase rates makes it a strong choice for any level of WordPress user. Themeforest has dominated the market space for years, making it a house hold name among WordPress developers.

Template Monster, much like Themeforest, categorizes themes in a well constructed manner. Every theme is detailed in a way that makes is easy to decide if it’s right for your business. Though a bit on the pricier side, the quality of themes shows their worth.

Mojo Marketplace is a somewhat new player in the theme game. They are known for being partnered with some well-known WordPress hosting companies such as Bluehost, IPage, HostGator and more. Though I have never used them, Mojo seems to upsell a lot of their services and upon reading some customer reviews, they’ll take advantage of new website owners who are just starting out.

Know Your Audience

Before making your purchase, make sure the theme you select caters to your type of clients.  Having a solid business strategy is an important step for designing a website. To figure this out, try putting yourself in the clients shoes.  Ask yourself, what can I offer to my audience that potential clients won’t find elsewhere?

A few things to consider before putting together that wicked WordPress theme.

  • Do I have solid content that explains my services and offerings?
  • What would my type of clients be looking for online? And can I offer them solutions?
  • Does the theme structure match closely to what I need to achieve?
  • Does the WP theme have interactive elements that I can apply with my content?
  • Will my brand and business identity complement the layout & design?

Picking an eye-popping theme is easy.  Applying it practically with your business strategy is tricky part of finding the right kind of theme for your website.  These are ideas you should stream out before deciding to invest serious time into a new website build.

How Will You Decide?  Do Some Research

Deciding whether or not you’ve picked the right theme for your website?  Do some research for the ones you like.  Try not to choose just one, instead pick 2 – 3 and go from there.  As mentioned earlier, WordPress themes often have customer reviews you can scan through.  The overall feedback might look positive, but sometimes a brand new WordPress theme can come with a lot of bugs.  A good theme publisher will respond to the customer feedback right away and offer them solutions.

Will it be easy to set up?  Check if the theme demo has a preview of the set up and configuration.  Spend a few minutes getting to know the options and depth of customization it has to offer.  This will give you a better idea of how you can approach the build process.

WordPress Theme Customization
Example of Theme Options Header Customization.

Test on Multiple Devices

Send the URL of the theme demo to your email address and check it on your smartphone.  If there are people around with mobile devices, send it to them as well. The more variety of devices the better (tablets are encouraged too).  You may be surprised on how different the theme demo looks on a smaller screen.  Having a solid responsive web design is important to have.  Around half of your website traffic will be coming from mobile devices, if not more (depending on your industry).

I’ve Purchased a WordPress Theme For My Website. What’s Next?

Assuming you have an existing website, it’s out with the old theme and in with the new.  The only problem is making updates to a WordPress website can be seen online.  Your best bet it to set up a staging environment that is hidden from the public. I recommend consulting your wordpress developer to set this up.  A duplicate staging website is a good place to test plugins, WordPress versions and make unlimited changes as needed.  Once everything is set up the way you want, a simple import from staging to the live environment is all that is needed for your final step.

For new website owners, you’ll need to set up WordPress.  Make sure your web host is configured to run WordPress. Check out this screenshot of hosting requirements recommended by WordPress.org:

Wordpress.org hosting requirements
Screenshot taken on July 18, 2017

If you’re not sure how to check if your web host is compatible with running a WordPress website, give us a shout! The Webgeek will assist you.

That just about sums up the most useful tips for finding the perfect theme for your website.  But as always – the more research, the better! There is nothing worse then setting up a website on WordPress only to find out the theme is not compatible with what you need for your business (trust me I’ve been there).  Finding the right one first will save you time, money and resources. I hope this article has helped you along the way.

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