Things to Look for in a New WordPress Theme

Showing exponential growth over the past few years, WordPress has seen a large amount of themes being developed by independent developers. This rising number of choices is definitely overwhelming, making it quite difficult to choose the best one. Users generally face a dilemma as whether to go for typography and good design or should they consider any other factor while choosing a theme.


Tips to select a WordPress theme


Certainly design is a very crucial factor, but it should not be the only basis for selecting a theme. Thanks to the demo websites developed by majority of the WordPress theme developers, you can simply analyze different features present in their themes, thus making it easier for you to decide if you should choose a particular theme or not.


How frequently the theme is updated?


Changelog is the place you should look for, as this is where you can find details of any recently added features or any bugs which have been fixed. You will come across attractive themes, which might not have been updated since months. There will also be some which are not supported by the newer WordPress version.


How fast is the theme?


For this you can pick any WordPress theme’s live version and take its URL for performing speed test. It is an easy to use Google tool that lets you analyze a WordPress site’s different pages in terms of performance. Ideally a page that scores more than 70 should be preferred.


Does the theme offer responsiveness?


Responsiveness of the design is highly important when buying any recent WordPress theme, as it will ensure that the design will be clearly visible on different screens, be it a monitor, tablet or mobile phone. An important thing you should look for when checking responsiveness is the way different menus, search boxes and inline tables behave when the browser is resized.


Is it possible to customize the theme?


While editing any WordPress theme is possible, you should be able to make small changes without requiring the help of a programmer. It should allow easy switching from one color to another, or using any other font without fiddling with CSS. Also check if changing the sidebar’s width or completely removing it is possible, without making changes to HTML.


Is the code of the theme semantic?


An HTML5 markup which is well formed and semantic is important as it allows search engines to easily understand your web page’s structured information. Open WordPress page’s source code and check if there are any semantic tags, such as article, footer, section etc. is a great tool to find out about the presence of semantic data in any WordPress theme.


Is there bloating in the code?


For this you need to open HTML source of any WordPress theme to find out how many <script> tags are there. In case there are loads of scripts present on any page, then move on and look for other themes. You should preferably go for those themes which make use of icon fonts and CSS sprites for smaller graphics.


Can the code be termed as intelligent?


For adding visual features, such as star ratings, sliders, animated transitions, syntax highlighting and social sharing buttons, the developers or WordPress themes depend on jQuery and JavaScript plugins. However, these can lead to an increase in the page’s weight. Ideally, a theme can be considered good if it conditionally adds JavaScript. The JavaScript code related to slide should be added on only those pages which have sliders.


Are filters and hooks offered in the theme?


While installing any latest WordPress theme, you are more likely to generate a child or secondary theme for making changes and not modify the parent or main theme. Doing this allows you to easily upgrade the new version, if released by the developer, without having to overwrite any changes you have made. Having its own action filters and hooks makes it much easier to insert a new code in WordPress theme without requiring you to manage a PHP file, whether in the main or secondary theme.


Does the theme include shortcodes?


Presence of shortcodes makes it easy to include formatted content into blog posts and pages on WordPress with the least amount of markup. Adding shortcodes in a theme using external plugins is possible, however having certain shortcodes, such as for adding multi column grips, adding testimonials, videos, form elements and maps, can prove very helpful.


Does it support major browsers?


It is important for a WordPress theme to not only look consistent but work easily on every popular desktop and mobile browser. To find out if a particular theme supports different web browsers, you can make use of online tools, such as browserstack and browsershots.


Is constant support offered?

After you have bought a theme, you might have some queries or questions in your mind, like how to install or customize a theme and that is why it is important to have constant support of the developer of the theme. Can you reach them through support forum or twitter? How actively they answer the queries of users? With this you can also find out about other websites where a particular theme is performing live.


Is the WordPress theme original?


There are websites, such as Quartz and Medium which offer wonderful designs and allow you to browse through various WordPress themes, which can be paid or free, and are exact copies of other websites. This is not a wise practice and must be avoided.


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