Selecting the right WordPress theme - what to opt for and avoid
WordPress themes are all the rage today, with tens of thousands being available at a number of marketplaces. Depending on functionality and design, one can go for either free or paid themes. With so many options available, choosing the right one can be overwhelming. The choice of theme is essentially a commitment, and you certainly don't want to end up making the wrong choice. That's exactly what we intend to address in this post!
Usually, we tend to select a theme which complements the aesthetic dimensions of our project, but we should always keep in mind that these WordPress themes are actual pieces of software and should therefore be treated the same way. What you need, to make the right decision, is working knowledge of WordPress themes and an understanding of what to look for when selecting your theme.
What to look for
One of the first rules of the game is to ascertain what you aim to buy and from whom. Before deciding on a good source provider, take the following factors into consideration:
Documentation of the themes
Are the themes documented? Will you be able to access the themes before buying them? It is very important to know if the provider offers you a good source theme or would you have to search the support forum to find something suited to your needs.
Availability of support options
Are there any active threads on the support forums? Does the provider offer support for the theme in the form of a blog, a dedicated support centre, etc?
Test drive convenience
While selecting software, you can't really hope to find and use the right one without having tried it first. If you select a theme based on simple screenshots, then it might cost you great inconvenience in the long run.
There should be a live demo option, and you need to view the themes from different browsers to assess how the various UI elements work in the system. If one is trying to build a responsive site, then it is important to try out different RWD testing tools. Chrome DevTools and Firebug are browser tools which are used to assess the quality of the front end code.
It is essential to determine whether the HTML markup is understandable, and the scripts, styles and page load speed are according to requirements. You can also use additional testing tools and plugins to assess the functionality of your chosen theme.
Possible red flags
There are some glaring red flags you should definitely look out for, these include:
Absence of HTML doc
WordPress has recognized the HTML doc as its default theme since 2010. Plugin developers are able to access various modern browser features which ensure functionality in producing front end markup. Any theme which seems modern but does not support an HTML is not suitable for the project.
Absence of proper styles and scripts
The theme you select should not re-declare or de-register the JS libraries that incorporate jQuery. If it does, then you will have problems working with your theme.
Another very important element is that the theme should utilize the wp_enqueue functions in order to load the different styles and scripts. It should not be done inline anywhere in the markup or in the head of the document as it will cause customization issues.
The most important thing to note is that when you choose a WordPress theme, you should treat it like software, rather than merely a design product. Make sure you search for the important things and avoid the red flags when it comes to selecting the right theme for a particular project.