A Guide to Choosing the Right WordPress Theme

WordPress Theme Choices

Yesterday, I wrote about my own experience selecting a theme for this blog. Now that I have gone through and explained my thought process of choosing a WordPress theme, what should you do when choosing yours?

Today, I wanted to share some more general tips for how you can choose the right theme for your website. By asking yourself a few simple questions will really help you get started with choosing a theme you can be proud of and will last you for quite a long time.

  1. Do you need a homepage?
  2. Is the theme responsive?
  3. Will you have a custom logo?
  4. Do you need a tagline?
  5. Have you received feedback about your current theme?
  6. Is this a personal or business blog?
  7. Will your primary content be text? Videos? Photos?
  8. Do you want to write code?

Asking these questions will help you get started along your process, but make sure you are prepared to understand how the answers impact your search.

1) Do you need a homepage?

A homepage is not necessary for many blogs. I chose against having a blog on my site, and this helped me narrow down my options for the design. You may find that a homepage is vital for achieving your goals. If you are just getting started and only want to post “blog” content, then you likely won’t need a homepage. Remember, you can always add this later.

2) Is the theme responsive?

Responsive Definition

In the year 2012, responsive design became mainstream. In fact, it’s hard for most companies to get away without at least considering responsive design in their process. This is the reason why we have seen the number of responsive themes jump through the roof at most theme providers, and why this trend likely won’t stop anytime soon.

Simply put, you should make sure that the theme you choose is responsive in nature so that it represents your content well across all devices.

3) Will you have a custom logo?

If you are going to have a custom logo designed for your site, make sure that you choose a theme that can fit your logo nicely. While this may only eliminate a handful of themes from your options, it can make some themes look downright ugly if the sizes and dimensions don’t match. Make sure that the design you choose fits well with your logo, if you have one.

4) Do you need a blog name and tagline?

By default, WordPress will title your blog with whatever name you give it. In my case, I called it “Digital Marketing Blog” and this created a default header on most of the themes I have previewed. With a new logo in place, I really don’t need a blog name to be displayed, so I chose a theme where it wasn’t required. You may choose to have your blog title and tagline a key part of your design. This can work especially well for responsive designs, because the site will scale up and down for you on each device.

5) Have you received feedback about your current theme?

Make sure you take any feedback for your current site into account when choosing a new theme. I knew my site needed to read better, work better on mobile devices and fit my logo better. What does your site need to do?

6) Is this a personal or business blog?

You obviously know the answer to this, but the answer has implications on where you should look. Answering this question ahead of time helps you filter out millions of irrelevant themes from your search. Are you looking for a business theme or a personal theme?

7) Will your primary content be text? Videos? Photos?

The type of content on your site has a big impact on the theme you choose. It also helps you narrow down your search. Look for the themes that fit your needs and narrow down to the ones you like. Don’t fall in love with a theme and then realize that it doesn’t allow you to embed your videos at a reasonable size or makes you shrink all of your photos into nothing.

8) Do you want to write code?

Writing code is not necessary for WordPress to work, but it certainly helps. As a general rule, I like to think that the more code you are willing the write, the less expensive your base theme will be. Want to design and code yourself? You can likely pay next to nothing for the privilege. Want no part of code and have no design skills? Then buy a premium theme that does most of this for you. Do you know how to tweak code, but don’t have the time to write from scratch? Then choose a framework like Genesis to help your cause. That is what I did on this blog (and many others).

How will these questions help your search?

You can use these questions to narrow down your search into a targeted group of themes that meet your needs, are at a reasonable price point, and make your site look professional.

What other questions might you have? Let me know in the comments!

About the Author

Jeff Sauer is an independent Digital Marketing Consultant, Speaker and Teacher based out of a suitcase somewhere in the world. Formerly of Minneapolis, MN and San Francisco, CA.