How To Choose The Right WordPress Theme

by on June 26, 2016 · 0 comments

square peg round hole

With the ever growing popularity of the WordPress website creation tool, we decided it was time to re-visit choosing the right theme – 2016 style!

How Do I Make Sure To Choose The Right WordPress Theme?

As I first began outlining the material for this class I knew immediately how it would begin. Even better, it had already been clearly defined, refined, and freely shared within our Experts group at Expand2Web.

Existing members of the Expand2Web Experts Group know the advice I am about to share, as my business partner Thomas has been reinforcing its importance consistently over the years.

Among some of our members this advice has affectionately become to be known as “The Thomas Sermon”.

What is the Thomas Sermon? Reduced to its essence it is two simple rules:

  1. Use the right theme for your project.
  2. Do not force a theme into something it is not.

At first glance that doesn’t look so bad – just two rules.  That is the beauty of the sermon – armed with the right information, and perhaps a few tools – anyone can do this.

The Checklist

After much thought and discussion we boiled the checklist down to five items. Here is the Expand2Web Experts WordPress Theme checklist:

  1. Functionality – Industry specific considerations (photography studio ? photocentric theme)
  2. Options – built in visual builder, robust theme options panel
  3. Design – modern aesthetic, business appropriate, responsive, UX
  4. Mobile check – how the theme looks and performs on a mobile device
  5. Speed – test with sites like Pingdom and GTMetrix

In our recent Experts class we explored each of these five key areas in much greater detail. If you are an existing member of the E2W Experts Group simply click here to view the entire recorded class.

Not currently a member of our Experts group but interested in viewing this class, or any of the others from our library of 100+ classes for Internet freelancers? No worries as we’d love to see you join our community of smart and friendly Internet professionals. For more information about joining visit our Coaching and Training page to learn more.

Important Considerations

Once the checklist was defined we explored some related topics in even greater detail. Covering topics such as:

  • Free -vs- Premium Theme – no conclusive winner, still important consideration
  • Balance Between Speed and Features – what factors slow a theme down, how do they affect theme in question
  • Support – does it exist, what type, does it fit into how you work?
  • Theme Community – does it have one, how many members, does it look fun?
  • SEO – check SEO structure of theme
  • Regular Updates – is the theme regularly updated, does it keep pace with WordPress?
  • Reviews – is the theme positively reviewed?

This proved to be a very interesting portion and ended up being the meat and potatoes of the class. We are going too explore two of the considerations in greater detail today.

Free -vs- Premium Theme

For many years the price of a WordPress theme could be a decent measurement of its quality. That is no longer the rule-of-thumb when it comes to the free -vs- premium theme consideration. Today many free themes are coded as well, and sometimes better, than their premium theme counterparts. Clearly, in 2016 there is no conclusive winner in this battle.

To help put this in better perspective we explored the pros and cons of the premium WordPress theme. Here are what we found to be some of the best points of interest.

Premium Theme Pros: regular updates, reliable support, and better documentation.

Premium Theme Cons: price, steeper learning curve, often unwanted features lead to bloat, and often difficult to balance performance to feature set.

An understanding of these differences can go far in helping you find the ever-elusive “best theme choice” for your project.

Look Into The Theme’s Available Support

Reliable and accessible support is a cornerstone of any WordPress theme. Support is a very important consideration when choosing the correct theme.

Although this may seem like a no-brainer, the first check is that the theme offers some level of support. A lack of support is a deal breaker for only the most specific of situations. Secondly, think about what types of support the potential theme offers. Does the support team for the theme use a forum based system to field support questions? Perhaps they offer only telephone, online chat, or email support – or any combination of these support mechanisms.

This leads me to a tip I find myself sharing with members of the group often:

“When it comes to different types of support options, think about how YOU like to work.  Which style or styles fit best within your workflow?  Which ones do not fit?”– Don Campbell

Bonus Power-User Tip

When we talked about the importance of how potential themes handle SEO we shared a few of our favorite tools.  The tools we shared,  META SEO Inspector and MozBar, are both Chrome extensions and are highly recommended from the Expand2Web team.

Click on an image below to learn more.

meta seo inspector 240x153          mozbar logo 240x153


In the end, choosing a WordPress theme is very challenging.  The idea of a “perfect” WordPress theme isn’t realistic at this time.  That does not mean you won’t be able to find the best fit for your project and working style.  Understanding this will take you far when deciding on a theme. Use the right theme for the project – do not force a theme into something it is not.

The Expand2Web Experts Group helps shed enlightenment to these subjects by sharing experiences, pro-tips, real life examples, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat with its members in our weekly classes. By participating in our Experts community everyone benefits through sharing.

Would you like to learn more about building your business with other freelancers and professionals from all over the world? The Expand2Web Experts group offers education, resources, and a great community. Join us today by clicking:

Already an E2W Expert?  If you would like to see one of these topics explored in more detail in a future class, or have a suggestion for a completely different class topic, please let us know.  Your input helps navigate the E2W zeppelin!

Further down the Rabbit Hole

neo red or blue

Interested in learning more?  Fantastic!  Check out these links to further research the exciting topic of finding the correct WordPress theme for your project.

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Don is an entrepreneur based in Silicon Valley. He founded Expand2Web and is the publisher of the Expand2Web Blog, and the GetFiveStars Customer Feedback and Reviews service.

Don has written 313 articles on Expand2Web

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