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ARTICLE Business TipsApril 22, 2016

How to select a WordPress theme for your website

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With thousands of free and paid WordPress themes available online, selecting the most suitable option for your website can be a daunting task. Here we share a list of features you should look out for in a theme.

For business owners thinking of taking their business online, the first step is building a clean, organised and functional website. And the go-to solution these days is WordPress, the world’s largest self-hosted website creation tool. The preferred choice for more than a million websites, it supports a wide range of themes and plugins, giving users the freedom to build and customise their website.

The availability of thousands of free and paid themes on WordPress, ThemeForest, Colorlib and several other marketplaces makes it difficult for business owners to select the right theme for their website. So, how do you make the decision?

The short answer, most experts say, is knowing what you need.

Think about the purpose of your website, competitors, business goals and the context. If, for example, you’re planning to build an e-commerce site with WordPress, you would need to ensure that the user experience is top-notch.

Aigars Silkalns, founder of Colorlib, explains in an article on The Huffington Post, “Some will appreciate great design and polished interface, but some users will look into number of page builder modules, theme options, included plugins, and much more.

“We can compare the balance between both and look for themes that provide as much information as possible and as many demos, so everyone can find what they are looking for.”

To make it easier for you to select the right features, we share a list of things you should consider when selecting a theme for your website.

1. Free vs. paid

Free themes are a budget-friendly option if you have some background in development and don’t mind tinkering around in the back end. And unlike common perception, free themes are of high quality as they undergo an official review process. The main problem with free themes, though, is the lack of support and upgrade options. On the other hand, premium themes are more responsive to WordPress upgrades and come with better support and security features. They also have more user-friendly design and customisation options. 

2. Customisation

Websites are continuously changing in response to new technology, industry trends and user preferences, and you don’t want to be stuck with an inflexible theme. While most WordPress themes can be modified using a developer’s help, the latest themes on the market come packed with easy-to-use customisation options that require little to no coding knowledge. Premium and Business WordPress plans offer a Custom Design feature. 

3. SEO friendly

For a new website, WordPress provides a huge benefit in the form of SEO friendliness because a majority of themes are optimised for search engines. Make sure the theme you choose is SEO friendly as it will have an impact on your search engine rankings, backlinks, site speed and on-page optimisation. Some of the popular SEO-optimised themes are Schema, Avada and SEO WP. 

4. Responsive

Because Google favours mobile-friendly websites, having a responsive theme that adjusts display based on device size is not optional anymore. Most themes available these days are responsive, but it is worth testing a theme across multiple devices before you select it.

5. Plugins

A WordPress plugin is software that lets you add a specific functionality to your website such as e-commerce, SEO or analytics. Currently, WordPress offers close to 29,000 plugins with a new one added nearly every hour. Some of the most popular plugins on WordPress are Google Analytics, Yoast SEO, Akismet and WooCommerce. 

6. Design

This depends largely on the purpose of your website. For example, if you are building a fashion e-commerce store, then you would want a theme that allows you to display high-quality, large thumbnail images. You can pick a design suitable to your needs by using the “feature filter” option that lets you sort themes on the basis of colour, layout and subject. 

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