WordPress themes are so much more than just design templates. Sure, they give you what essentially boils down to a pre-designed “skin” for your website, but that’s not all.
A WordPress theme is made by a designer who knows how to code. So, when you install a theme on your site, you’re actually getting designed pages as well as a whole bunch of coded features a modern website needs.
Now, it’s great that we have tools like WordPress themes readily at our disposal. They save time, save money, and provide an easy way to build a professional-looking website with little to no technical experience. However, no two themes are alike and there’s also the matter of quality to consider, which means you have to be more mindful when choosing one for your site.
Before you get too excited about building your business’s website, you must learn how to assess WordPress theme quality. Once you’ve properly vetted the choices and found your winner, then you can start having fun with it.
How to Assess WordPress Theme Quality for Your Business Website
When assessing WordPress theme quality, you need to watch for certain signs. Specifically, there are seven to pay attention to:
Step 1: Check the Website’s Credibility
There are three reputable places from which you can get a WordPress theme:
- The WordPress repository (free)
- A theme marketplace like ThemeForest (paid)
- The website of an independent seller like Elegant Themes (paid)
The first two are highly credible sources. The third you have to be careful with. A company like Elegant Themes is well-known and trusted in the WordPress community, so you’d be in good hands with them. Other trusted theme designers you’d be safe to use are StudioPress and ThemeIsle.
Just keep in mind that there usually aren’t as many details published about independently-sold themes as ones that are vetted by marketplaces and repositories, so you’ll have to be extra careful when assessing WordPress theme quality for them.
Step 2: Review the Designer’s Reputation
It doesn’t matter which website you get a theme from. Even if the source is reputable, you still have to look into the designer’s reputation.
In WordPress, you will find a link to the designer’s profile here:
Click on it and explore some of the other work they’ve done. This, of course, doesn’t mean you should only use a theme from an established designer, though that will probably be your safest bet.
In ThemeForest, you’ll find information about the designer on the sidebar:
On this site, not only can you dig into the designer’s portfolio, but you can see what sort of accolades they’ve achieved within the marketplace. The more elite they are, the better the results you’ll likely get from the theme.
Step 3: Check the Date of the Last Update
A WordPress theme is a piece of software, which means it requires regular maintenance to keep it running smoothly and to patch bugs and vulnerabilities. Because the core WordPress software is updated quite regularly, you should expect your theme to be updated on a semi-regular basis as well. Ideally, look for themes that have had an update within the last six months.
Here is how you check for this in WordPress:
And here is that information in ThemeForest:
Step 4: Consider the Number of Installs
This is one of those “If your friends all jumped off of a bridge, would you?”-type scenarios. In this case, the right answer would be an emphatic “Yes!”.
Obviously, we don’t want you creating a copycat website of what your peers have done. However, it’s a much smarter choice to use a theme that has a large number of installs (at least over 5,000). When that many websites use it, that’s a pretty solid testament to its validity.
In WordPress, you’ll find this information here:
You’ll find the equivalent in ThemeForest here:
Step 5: Listen to What Others Say
Social proof is really important when trying to assess WordPress theme quality. As such, another part of their profile you should pay attention to is the reviews and ratings section.
Here they are in WordPress:
ThemeForest puts that information here:
You don’t need to go through all of them, but be sure to look at any recent complaints that have been made. If you notice a trend regarding performance or security, ditch it and find another theme. And always use a theme that has a 4-star rating or higher.
Step 6: Make Sure There Is Support
Whether you’ve chosen to design your own website or hire a web developer to do it for you, it’s important that the theme’s designer provides support. Any problems with the theme should always fall on the designer to resolve; not through hours and hours of you or your team trying to troubleshoot files or code you don’t understand.
In WordPress, look for support here:
ThemeForest has theirs under “Comments”:
What you’re looking for here is a designer that responds to all its users’ questions and concerns and does so in a professional, pleasant, and timely manner.
Step 7: Test the Demo
Every theme designer is going to provide you with a demo for testing. Make sure you use it! This not only gives you a sense for what the whole theme looks like, but also how much flexibility there is in the design.
If you want more control over how the site looks, you’ll need a theme with versatile layouts, pages, and maybe even business templates. If you’d rather have something simple that does most of the work for you, then you need one that comes with all the features you require right out of the box.
To find the demo in WordPress, look for the “Preview” button:
In ThemeForest, you’ll find it under “Live Preview”:
Getting a WordPress theme for your website is exciting as it signals that you’re ready to take your business live online. But rushing into the process with a shoddily made theme could lead to disastrous (and expensive) results.
Make sure to take your time in assessing WordPress theme quality before purchasing or installing anything. With a little research and careful consideration, you’ll find the perfect theme for your site in no time.