Five questions to ask before buying a WordPress theme
No theme is for everyone. Those WordPress themes marketed as “all purpose” may be great for a lot of things, but they also have their weaknesses.
At Themezilla, we believe that the best themes do one thing really well. Whether it’s a portfolio theme like Frame or a full-width theme for businesses like Hanna, we build our themes by identifying a problem and designing a highly specific (but still flexible!) solution. Picking a theme that doesn’t quite fit your use case can lead to a lot of unnecessary work repairing details and having to rethink how content is displayed.
Limitations aren’t the enemy
There’s power in simplicity. A good WordPress theme gives you the foundation you need to run a beautiful website, along with the flexibility to make it your website and not some weird, impersonal template. Limitations exist to save you time, help you control your content, and keep every aspect looking sharp within the context of the theme.
We make every design decision, right down to the finest details, with the hope that the theme helps the majority of its customers succeed—straight out of the box.
What to look for in a theme
When looking for themes ourselves, we make a lot of considerations. Generally speaking, we make sure we know what kind of content will be filling the theme, what assets we already have (logos, marketing images, custom fonts, etc.), and roughly what look and layout we’re after.
Here’s a more specific checklist:
1. What do you need from your layout?
Do you require more than a simple page layout? Something better suited for an image gallery, or maybe for a podcast episode? Simple and familiar layouts are great—people understand how to interact with a simple, single column layout. But maybe you need two or three different layouts for two or three different types of content you hope to be posting.
2. Will my content make sense at any screen size?
Whether your content is being viewed on a four-inch phone screen or a huge HD television, it’s important to look good. Too-wide themes will make your content look sparse. Themes without solid mobile versions create bloating. Look at a theme’s demo and make sure you examine every page and every detail. You might require a theme with a narrower max-width, multiple columns, or a completely different way of displaying your content.
3. What elements am I likely going to want to change?
If you’ve spent quality time with a theme’s demo, you probably already know a few things you don’t like about it. Maybe it’s the way the date is displayed on posts. Maybe it’s the overlay that appears when you hover over an image. If they’re just minor quibbles, the theme could still be worth buying. And if you’re comfortable adding your own custom CSS, hiding or changing those details might only take a few minutes.
4. What third-party integrations do I need most?
Most WordPress plugins will work with your theme and the latest version of WordPress, but that doesn’t mean they’ll all look good. Maybe Ultimate Social Media and Share Icons doesn’t match the theme you’re considering, or The Events Calendar’s CSS stylesheets require special attention. Sometimes a theme has everything you need right off the bat—and sometimes it requires you to sit down and decide how much extra time you’re willing to put into it.
5. How is the theme provider’s support?
If you can’t find answers to your questions by looking at a theme’s demo or documentation, you should reach out to the provider. Their response can help you decide if the theme is right for you, and determine what kind of service to expect if you run into issues in the future.
There are too many questions
We’ve barely scratched the surface, but it’s these types of forward-thinking questions that get you closer to choosing a theme that works. Saying, “I like this, I don’t like this,” is an okay first step, but it’s not enough. Go deeper, get a clearer idea of the type of content you’re creating, and you’ll end up with a much better, more useful website.