How to choose a WordPress theme is a bit of an art. You need to look at a range of factors, and they don’t just include visuals. Pick the wrong theme and you will end up with a slow site and a hard one to edit at that.
Slow sites mean a poor performance score, which is what you want to avoid if you are looking for a great website.
Day 3 of our ‘WordPress in 30’ guide and we want to take a look at how to spot a bad theme and how to choose a WordPress theme that works. We will take a look where you can get them from, and of course, how to add it to your site. I am going to cover a little on what to do with the ones you already have also.
How to choose a WordPress theme the right way
Just like Day 2 and with all the bells and whistles of a no-budget movie, I have decided to learn how to screen-cast. Check out the video where we go into selecting the right theme for the following reasons:
- Performance Score on Google
- Search Engine Ranking Boosts
- User Experience
- Ease of Editing
What theme do I use most?
Right, I will be upfront here, I am an affiliate of Astra themes. That means, if you like what I have to say and you click on the link at the bottom, I get a small commission for introducing you to their brand and their products.
I am not an affiliate however of a host of other themes out there, as quite simply, I don’t use them. I am a complete speed freak when it comes to building sites and this is because it really matters.
Website performance has a large, measurable effect on conversion rates. Studies have consistently shown that fast page speed will result in a better conversion rate.
Astra themes are quick and made for better ranking planning.
Cloudflare above, operates what is known as a CDN.
This stands for ‘Content Delivery Network’. What a CDN does, is take some of the stress off of hosts like Siteground and save copies of your site in locations around the world.
If your site is hosted in let’s say Manchester, UK – and someone in Sydney wanted to view the site, they are receiving packets of data from the other side of the world.
This means UK websites with Manchester hosting, take longer for Aussies in Sydney to view. It stands to reason right?
A CDN stores ‘cached’ versions of your pages around the world, so those Boomerang tossers can view the page, that much quicker. This CAN have a positive effect on your geographic rankings in those regions.
But a CDN doesn’t just do that, it can offer a number of performance enhancements and Cloudflare aren’t the only guys/girls in town. They are just one of the biggest. Amazon has their own version, there is also Stackpath and recently I have been using Templ.io who have their own.
Either way, performance matters.
What do I look for in choosing a WordPress theme?
when choosing a theme for a new site, I look for a few factors off the bat.
- Can work with elementor page-builder
- Has a mobile performance score above 50 in demo mode
- Has a good theme support team – or an active forum
Let’s look at why those things matter to me and for my clients
Being able to work with Elementor
For me, a theme on WordPress needs to be able to work with Elementor. Elementor is a page builder tool.
This means, you can make pages how you like, using a drag a drop builder. Think of it like being as easy to build on as Wix, but with ALL of the actual things you need to run a scalable business online. When CNN switch their site to Wix, I’ll pay attention to them. Sorry Wix fans.
Elementor is a simple to use tool and is not compatible with EVERY theme. Some want you to use their own custom made one and they just destroy your site’s performance. Beaverbuilder and Gutenberg are also popular, but avoid themes that are made with WP Bakery. It’s like someone designed and released a page builder but skipped the user testing part.
Elementor offer a free version and an upgraded pro-version with more features. Seeing as you’re asking me how to choose a WordPress theme, make this your priority too. Elementor compatible. Also, you will find it easier to train staff on using it too. Which means if your business grows and you need to recruit, you won’t need a coder to make basic site updates.
Smart business move.
Mobile Performance Scores
Mobile performance scores are measured by Google’s Page Speed Insights. You get from the horse’s mouth, if your site sucks or not.
Don’t get as hung up on it as me, but aim for a theme you buy – if you buy one, to be above 50 out of the box on mobile.
Easy to load sites, mean a better stab at ranking higher. Providing the content you are putting out doesn’t bite.
Here’s how our Astra theme scored later in the day when we had populated the site a bit more.
The Desktop was scoring in the high 90s, but Google indexes for mobile scores mostly these days. This means we have some way to go to get it into the 70s + but it’s clearly a faster site than most online at just this early stage.
Good Theme Support
This really goes without saying. If the theme you buy has bugs or needs updating and you can’t track anyone down to help you, then you are at a dead loss. I have been there.
The amount of themes I have bought, used for a fortnight, and then sacked off – I could take a vacation.
Astra themes are so widely used that there is an abundance of how-to videos and a really strong theme support team also. It won’t be hard for you track down an answer to a frequently asked question.
That and Astra themes are faster than others I find – it’s why I mention them so much when writing this how to choose a WordPress theme guide.
Verdict – I absolutely fanboy over them. How to choose a WordPress theme? Simple, visit Astra themes below:
So, without further ado, check out the video above and find out what Day 3 can teach you.
P.S: I will go over the page building process, but if you want to see quite what that Google Performance score related to in terms of general page speed. See below. Put your own site into this Pingdom speed tool and see how you stack up.