You’ve been relieved knowing you can build your website using WordPress themes, right? And you were relieved all over again when you realized there are people like us who would tell you what the best WordPress themes are for different professions, another phew!
But then you had to choose, and it got all complicated again. Articles on the subject are all filled with these techy words describing features, and you are thrown back to the bleak world of confusion and indecision, where you feel pressured to hire a professional and pay through the nose.
No, no need to panic, as here we will tell you in simple words what all the terminology describing the features means and what features you’ll need to look for. In other words: we will teach you how to choose a WordPress theme.
How to Choose a WordPress Theme: +20 Core Factors to Consider
Here are all the things you need to know about the features designed in a WordPress theme and how they will be helping out your online business. To know how to choose a WordPress theme, there are 9 primary concerns you will have to be aware of. Let’s see what they are:
1. Loading Speed
First on this detailed post on how to choose a WordPress theme needs to be discussing the importance of a theme’s feature to be fully optimized to provide a super fast loading speed.
Everyone likes a site that loads super-fast, right? But is that universal “liking” really a high-impact business concept? OH YES, IT IS. If your theme is not built for speed, three things will be happening, all three working full force against your success.
- Your users will simply lose patience and leave.
You’ll need the relatively small crowd of your initial online customers to stick around long enough for your site to show your business’s charm and spread the word, right? Studies show that if a site takes more than 2 seconds to load, most website visitors will nope out and move on to the next best thing, being one of your competitions. Now, you don’t want that do you?
- Your website will be even slower after you make it.
You’ll need to add a great many materials to build a website interesting enough to your target audience, including but not limited to: images, plugins, and new pages. If your theme is not light enough and speed-based in the first place, it will be even more of a slow loader after all the materials are added.
- Your SEO will be hurt, and your website won’t be seen.
SEO concerns are probably the most important reason you should care about the speed of your WordPress theme. See, if people who are trying to get into your site change their mind mid-load or in the first 5 seconds and “bounce,” it will register in Google’s algorithms through a title called “bounce rates”: how many people left super early, or without doing anything, basically telling Google people your site is no good.
So, what Google does is that it decides your site simply doesn’t have what it takes to keep relevant users interested, to keep you high enough in the ranking system, meaning that your site will go down in the search results. You won’t be seen when people google your business’s keywords, you will fundamentally lose out in your online marketing effort. It practically defeats the very purpose of even having a website.
So one of the primary things you need to be extra mindful of to know how to choose a WordPress theme is the theme’s lightness and built-in loading speed.
Functionality is the next factor to consider when researching and thinking about how to choose a WordPress theme. Several parameters contribute to how functional a website, and by extension, a WordPress theme, is. Here is a list of the most significant ones:
- Mobile Responsiveness
I think we all have run into the utter annoyance of sites that don’t quite get shown to us when we click into them on our phones because they simply are not code-configured to automatically adapt to different screen sizes, which is called not being ‘responsive.’ This will run off your users once and for all, meaning you’ll need to ensure the theme you pick is responsive to the screen sizes of all the smartphones and desktops available.
- Core Widgets
Every site needs to have several information and function parts, like the search, mail, map, calendar, and social media parts; you need to be coded in software to get widgets for each. Now the widgets for functions and information that are basic and essential for all websites are called core widgets, and widgets to add non-bare-bone, particularly customized and personalized features you want to add, are called custom widgets.
Customizability is the third factor you need to pay attention to when choosing a WordPress theme.
Despite seeing many uncreative, non-original, rather shameless copycats out there, no one likes being the exact replica of someone else if they have easy and affordable resources to be creative, right? Not to mention being unique can be a direct way of luring in more customers; hence you want a page you can customize to your heart’s deep content.
So, the more customization features a theme offers, the more you can express yourself in your online persona.
- Gutenberg Block Custom Widgets
Remember custom widgets from the functionality part? Before 2018, most free themes only offered core widgets, while the premium ones offered custom widgets.
As of November 2018, WordPress made custom widgets a fixed part as its own game-changing feature and called it ‘Gutenberg block editor,’ which made it super convenient, fast, and pretty much limitless to both arrange your layout of choice AND add multiple media types with a few easy steps.
- One-Click Demo Sites
There can be many ‘skins’, the general coloring, images, and arrangement of a website in a theme, which you can spend time carefully choosing. Now, how sweet it would be if you could click once and see a demo of it, as it makes making customization choices ultra-easy, not to mention absolute fun.
- Live/Real-time Review
You would love being able to click once and see how your content will look on a template site. It will make making your vision as a whole come true a lot more smooth-going and a more enjoyable experience.
- Drag and Drop Feature of Imported Material
Seeing a feature, deciding you want it, and being able to drag it and drop where you want it can be a huge convenience in how fast, easy, and well you customize your website using a WordPress theme.
Another key factor to consider when choosing a WordPress theme is scalability. Many entrepreneurs think once they present their menu and showcase their ambiance through photos and mottos, they are done luring in lifelong clients.
And they only learn the hard way that they would want to add on plenty of more images, videos, written content, and many, many more pages to keep themselves interesting, both to the user AND to the Google people. So you’ll need your site to be scalable, which can grow in size and content. These are what would make that possible:
- Integral page-builder
Say you need a new page built into your site dedicated, for example, to introducing variations on your dishes with different seasoning, say 6 months into starting out. You can either hire developers to code in the new page, or you can have picked a theme with a page-builder feature like WPBakery built in, which rids you of hiring a developer every time you feel the need to add a page.
5. SEO friendliness
Next on our guide on how to choose a WordPress theme is SEO-friendliness. SEO, standing for Search Engine Optimization, which is a set of steps that need to be taken so that Google believes your site has what it takes to be popular with the target audience of your area of interest or business. As wherever there is money, there is plenty of competition; SEO has become a really lucrative expertise of its own in digital marketing, as everyone wants to appear on top of their search result pages, making hiring professionals pretty expensive. That’s why picking themes that have built-in SEO features can help you automatically rank high in search results for your business’s keywords.
Have you just noped out of a site out of sheer frustration for not being able to figure out what is what, where things are, and how to get something relatively simple done? Well, I think it’s safe to assume we all have.
It’s because the UX: User Experience, the route you need to take from entering the site to get what you need, is not designed and developed well; it’s too complicated, too confusing, or just too lengthy, meaning it’s not user-friendly. So, a theme with user-friendly features is key to how well your brand succeeds in pleasing customers.
- Google Map Integration
Statistics tell us you will benefit greatly from having your address on Google map as a feature on your site, as users will find it extremely convenient to know exactly where you are in the process of deciding whether they want to go there or not, not to mention it keeps them on your site longer, improving your SEO ranking.
- Translation readiness
We live in somewhat of a global village, as there are tourists everywhere, large-scale immigrants, simple outsourcing of many services, or ordering many products from different parts of the world. So, it would be a great help if translation tools were integrated within a website, making it a feature that can add value to a WordPress theme.
We would be amiss in helping you learn how to choose a WordPress theme if we didn’t mention entrepreneur-friendliness as a must. see, there are some features a Word theme needs to have to meet the specific needs of someone new to the business or new to having a website. Here is a list of some of them:
- Starter-site options
Say you or your family have been running a well-established restaurant in your hometown, you have quite a reputation, and a solid client base, and you are even somewhat of an institution there. Or you are on the complete opposite of the spectrum, starting your own restaurant business for the first time, and you have no presence in the real OR virtual world.
In both cases, you either don’t need an elaborate site as your reputation has already well preceded you, or you simply don’t have much to put on display yet; you’ll need what they call a starter site, which is a much necessary feature.
Say you kick off a restaurant, and for whatever reason, it doesn’t work out, and you decide to change your line of work; or conversely, you have made it pretty big, and you want to branch out to another field, building on the good reputation you have already developed.
You would love to use the same theme to build a site and enter content for a new business using a different page layout. Multi-purpose themes do just that for you, so having that as a feature can be something you factor in.
8. Business–specific features
Some features are specifically needed and significant for any particular line of business; for example, a restaurant website can greatly benefit from easy-to-use and visually pleasing menu presentation, online ordering, and table reservation. Here are some related features a WordPress restaurant theme can offer:
- Menu support system
Providing a few different options to create a menu easily that adds to the user-friendliness and aesthetic of a restaurant website, like widgets, navigation add-ons, and page templates.
- Online ordering and reservation system
There should be an online ordering or table booking system like Opentable that can be used on a WordPress restaurant theme for basic convenience
At least half of everything that is there to help you sell yourself is about appearances and presentability, although many would argue a lot more of your success rate with crowds depends on aesthetics. These features can definitely come in handy in taking you to the halfway mark of business success, and being aware of them helps more with understanding how to choose a WordPress theme.
- Full-screen custom background image
You may be one of those people that are hardcore believers in the first impression, wanting to impress your potential clients right off the bat with your vision displayed in a full-screen custom background image. There are WordPress themes like Ultra that give you that option.
- Parallax scrolling
Another neat visual feature is when the background image moves more slowly than the foreground content, the contrast gives the feel of a story being told, and it has proven considerably pleasing when users are going through a gallery of your products or services.
- Full-width header background
Full-width imagery introducing customers to what you are about and a summary of what they will be exposed to feels like a nice visually-aided way of being welcomed to your world of products and services. For example, the texture and craftsmanship of your clothing items. That’s why ultra-popular themes like Astra offer it as part of their aesthetic features.
- Sticky navigation menu/pricing table/chat platform
There are parts of your business where you showcase your products, call to action, or offer customer support, like your restaurant menu, pricing /ordering tables, or live chat platforms. You would love that part to stay put while your customers navigate the rest of your page, as it prompts on-the-spot convenience, not to mention visual appeal, while they are being sufficiently charmed by the promise of the pleasure your merchandise brings.
Wrapping Up How to Choose a WordPress Theme
Choosing a WordPress theme will take a lot of your time and energy. While trying to pick one out of all the good WordPress themes to customize into representing your brand, you need to know what each feature is and what it does for you.
For example, what is SEO, why you need your theme to be SEO-friendly; what is parallax scrolling and why it will hook your users; and how Gutenberg Blocks would make your job as your own website customizer easy.
We have listed all the main ones here to teach you how to choose a WordPress theme; read it a couple of times so you’d know your stuff before going through different themes. Alternatively, You can also use this article as a reference source, keeping it open while you study what WordPress theme options would win you over.