What Makes The Best Theme?

One of the most important decisions with a WordPress website is which theme to use. Your theme can and will affect every aspect of your site, including appearance, speed, user experience, mobile friendliness & SEO. While the right theme alone will not make a website great, the wrong theme can guarantee that it won’t be. Choosing a theme should be a strategic process. You need to first decide which areas are most important to your site, and which areas, if any, you can afford to compromise. The criteria for which you will decide are cost, quality, speed & flexibility.

1. Cost

The first thing you need to decide on is what your budget is for a theme. Many large companies opt for a custom theme as their budget allows for one. But for many small companies and individuals, the typical cost of around $50 for a template theme can do the job just fine. For those just starting out or on a very restrictive budget, there are plenty of free and inexpensive themes. However, these themes will often not satisfy the other three criteria, at least not without requiring a purchase of a premium version. Another thing to consider before looking at a free theme is whether or not it offers support and updates. In most cases, this is only offered with premium themes.

Customizr

Cost – Free

Customizr Free WordPress Theme

Huge

Cost – $13

Huge WordPress Theme

2. Quality

The quality of a theme refers to how well it is designed. A theme’s framework has an endless impact on your website, so this is perhaps the most important deciding factor. For a theme to be considered high quality, it must be fully responsive & high resolution. With recent Google updates, these have become increasingly important factors for SEO. Before purchasing a theme, you should try a live demo to see how the user experience is. Try navigating the theme, testing the menu and different types of pages & posts.

Avada

#1 Most Popular Theme – $58

Avada WordPress Theme

Bridge

Best Selling New Theme – $58

Bridge WordPress Theme

X

Fastest Selling Theme – $63

X WordPress Theme

3. Speed

Speed is also an important factor in this decision because the framework of a theme can limit how fast your website can load. WPsniffer has collected enormous amounts of data that show which themes load the fastest on a consistent basis. For many, speed is a secondary deciding factor on a theme, but that should not be the case. Having a slow load time is the easiest way to fall in search rankings, and with a poor framework there may be little you can do about it. In some cases, the fastest loading websites are one page and simplistic. This may mean less features and flexibility, which is something to consider.

Genesis

0.91 Second Average Load Time – $59.95

Genesis WordPress Framework

Brooklyn

1.36 Second Average Load Time – $48

Brooklyn WordPress Theme

4. Flexibility

Flexibility is often a factor that is not well understood at the time of purchase. Every theme claims to come with bundles of features, so which ones are really important in the long-run? In short, it depends on the type of website you are building. If you are in e-commerce, then a theme with WooCommerce support is crucial. If you offer design or other services, it would be useful to have portfolio templates to show off your work. The bottom line is that in general, more customization is better. Some features such as more fonts and colors can be done manually, but are nice to have included. Regardless of what type of website you are building, more layouts and shortcodes will be beneficial long-term.

Salient

Multi-purpose Theme – $58

Salient WordPress Theme

Divi

Multi-purpose Theme – $58

Divi WordPress Theme

Conclusion

There are 5 main things everyone should remember when picking a theme.

  1. When in doubt, go with what’s popular. There’s a reason themes like Divi and Avada have sold over and over again.
  2. If possible, find something industry specific. This may cost more but can save lots of time.
  3. Pay up for a quality theme. The difference between free and $58 can make or break your website.
  4. Do a live demo before buying. Test it out and look at other sites using it with WPsniffer.
  5. Make sure it is well supported. Check to see how quickly questions are answered and how recently it was updated.

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