So far, we hope you have grasped the idea of WordPress themes and that you are ready to install one on the new blog. While installing themes takes less than a few minutes, even if you are a complete beginner, choosing a perfect one for your site can take much longer.
If you have searched for themes just to see what a site looks like in WordPress, we think it left you more confused than ever. With so many different articles, it is practically impossible to find the best one. Should you take one for free or pay for the premium theme? Is it easy to use and has enough customization options ? Does it support popular plugins ? Is it possible to translate it into your language?
Why should you be careful when choosing a WordPress theme?
WordPress is used to create all kinds of websites. That is why each theme serves a different market.
Your WordPress theme should suit the content of your website. For example, if you are starting a blog about politics or social issues, then you would want a topic that improves readability.
Many WordPress themes come with tons of customization options. If it is not encoded correctly, these options may make it difficult for you to change themes or use other WordPress plugins. You will be locked into that subject or you will have to pay a developer to help you change.
On the other hand, some WordPress themes that look really good can really make your website incredibly slow. Nobody likes slow websites, particularly Google, which prefers to rank websites faster above.
Your theme is the face of your WordPress site and plays an important role in the way users and search engines perceive it.
You have probably heard the saying: “Everything that glitters is not gold.”
Having said that, let’s look at the steps you can take to ensure you select the best theme for your WordPress site.
Content before design
If a theme looks impressive, that does not necessarily mean it will look so wonderful once you install it on your blog. Although most themes can be used for any purpose, most are designed for a single niche.
So, before jumping into the download or buying a theme that just looks great and has a ton of things you may not even need, you should plan a structure of your site in advance. Only after realizing the type of content you are going to publish, you can continue searching for the perfect theme for your blog. Will you publish publications each day or maybe none ? Do you need an image gallery or maybe a great opening image that represents your brand ? Do you need a start page for marketing purposes ? There are many questions you should know how to respond before starting the search.
We suggest making a list with some features that you can not do without. That will help you quickly exclude topics that do not fit what you’re looking for, and you can focus on those that are right for your site.
Be careful with the demo pages
Most WordPress themes have a demo link where you can check the live version of it. While you should look more closely at the demo pages, make sure you focus on the features that go with the theme, not the content.
Keep in mind that demo pages are usually created with professional photographs. In addition, the content is organized in a way that suits the topic. For example, if a theme looks better with five images, the developer will add only five photos to the demo site. And if you download the theme and try to insert the sixth image, things could change a lot, and may even end in a total disaster.
Is it updated regularly?
We have already explained the importance of WordPress updates. Due to all security updates, bug fixes and new features, it is crucial that WordPress themes are updated regularly. Whether you decide to opt for a free one or buy a premium theme, you must maintain it regularly.
Therefore, even if you really like the design elements of a particular theme, you should simply forget it if it has not been updated for more than two years. This can and should be a deciding factor when choosing a perfect WordPress theme.
Ratings, reviews and comments
Although the number of active features may seem important, ratings and reviews should be something that should be considered first when choosing a topic. Whether you are looking for one in the official directory or browsing a market of your choice, you must find the ratings and the comments tab that will help you better understand the quality of a topic. Follow common sense : if half of the reviews are bad, there is probably a problem with them, and you should take that as a warning.
In general, people like to express their feelings about the products, so consider the ratings before downloading a topic. The comments section will also be useful as people will often express their feelings about the item they have been using for a while.
Responsive is not optional anymore
Adjust your design in different screen sizes and devices.
A significant amount of web traffic is generated from mobile devices and other portable devices. Depending on the themes of your website, this number could even exceed 50% of your traffic.
Google shows mobile-friendly websites at the top of its mobile search results. Regardless of the topics and demographics of your site, all websites must be responsive and fully ready for mobile devices.
Most WordPress themes already respond by default. But there are still sellers that sell fixed-width designs that are not friendly for mobile devices. Make sure that the theme you choose for your website is compatible with mobile devices.
Testing a topic for mobile preparation
The easiest way to check if a topic is receptive or not is by resizing your browser screen. As you change the size of your browser screen, you will notice that the design of the theme will adjust to the width of the screen.
For more in-depth testing, you can copy the URL from the theme demo page and paste it into the Google Mobile Compatibility Test page.
Keep in mind that this test will show some warnings, regardless of how good the subject is. Look for any warning signs such as text that is too small, content wider than the screen, etc…
Strive for simplicity
Many WordPress themes come with many colors, complex designs, flashy animations, etc… Sometimes you may need those things, but in most cases, you do not really need all that.
Look for a theme that has a design that helps you support your goal. It should look good, but without compromising ease of use and simplicity.
Make sure that the theme presentation style is not too complicated. The purpose of web design is to help users find the information they need and help site owners reach their goals at the same time.
If a topic looks good but does not help you get new business or subscribers, then it is not a good topic. It is also not a good subject when users really can not find their way on your website.
For a beginner, it can be difficult to distinguish a well-coded theme from a themewreck. But even if you have no idea what good code is like, you can still use some tools that will increase the flags when necessary.
For starters, it does not hurt to perform a performance test on only some topics that you liked the most. Simply open GTmetrix or Pingdom quickly and copy the URL of the theme demo page. The tests give you several results, and many of them will be difficult to interpret for a beginner. Therefore, try to focus on the overall score and the number of HTTPS requests that can tell you how good or bad an issue is.
Since these tests depend on many other aspects that do not necessarily influence the subject you are trying to prove, do not trust them completely. Think of them only as a bonus check if you have trouble choosing between two or three similar themes.
If you already have a theme installed, you can review it with a simple add-on called Checking the theme. When running analysis on a topic, the add-on will warn you about errors in the code that might be invisible to a beginner. Although it would require a professional to interpret all the results, do not bother with the details. Simply run the tests and see how the topic was done. It is reasonable for a topic to receive some red warnings, but if the tests show dozens of critical errors, you should think twice before selecting that topic.
A theme is as good as its code. Although some may seem incredible, that does not mean they are well coded. If you want to make the most of a WordPress theme, you should expect it to be optimized for SEO. That means that developers have had to include a valid HTML code that works for you. Just leaving some important HTML tags, the developers of that particular theme can cause problems when trying to place your site on Google and other search engines.
Look in the description of each topic to find out if it is optimized for SEO. But since you can not trust the description every time, we suggest you consult a topic manually. One way to test the code is to validate an online document using a free dialing validation service. The other option is to install MozBar, a free extension for Chrome that allows you to check the SEO elements of a topic on the fly.
If you are considering buying a premium theme, do not hesitate to contact the developer and ask about it.
As we explained when we talked about how to customize WordPress themes, the options are completely dependent on each theme and its developer. Since personalization options allow you to customize the site according to your needs without touching the code, it is important to see what is on the table.
Do you want to be able to customize the entire homepage through an easy-to-use editor ? Look for the options and, definitely, see what the demo offers on this topic : most of the time, the demo pages will allow you to use the customizer with all its settings.
If you have some add-ons that you need to work with, it’s important to check if a topic supports them. Although many developers will tell you that their themes work well with all the add-ons, that simply is not true. There will always be some add-ons that will not work well with your theme. Therefore, before choosing, make sure your new theme works well with the add-ons you need. When it comes to free articles, you can simply test the compatibility. But if you are about to pay for a premium item, do not hesitate to ask the developer for more information.
Native English speakers do not have to think much about translating topics unless they do it for someone else. But if you are starting a site that will be used by people who do not speak English, you may be forced to translate the subject that you are about to install. Even if you want another language as an option or tend to create a multilingual site, it is important to verify if the topic you are interested in is ready for translation.
This feature will generally be accentuated in the description, but do not hesitate to contact the developer to request more details.
Choosing a theme is definitely more difficult than it seems
Unfortunately, finding the perfect theme for a site is not as easy as it might seem. One would think it would be fun to search among thousands of available items. But as you can see, the whole process is much more complicated if you want to do everything the right way.
Yes, it is true that you can use and modify any topic to do what you want, but selecting the wrong one can cause problems in the future. Editing a topic into something it was not designed for can take months, and only if you know what you are doing. For a beginner, this task may even be impossible.
So take your time, create a list and do not concentrate on a topic just because it looked good on the demo page. Sometimes it can take several days until you stumble on the right one, but if you want to start your blog properly, it is vital that you install the perfect theme for the blog that you will run for years.
Support options for when you need help
One disadvantage of using a free WordPress theme is that there is no guaranteed support. While some developers provide excellent support for their free themes, many free themes do not have a support option.
If you ruin your WordPress theme, then you will have to solve it on your own. You may also end up paying an external developer to solve smaller problems.
Be sure to select a WordPress theme that has good documentation and support option. Most of the premium WordPress themes offer detailed documentation with 1 year of email-based support.
Page builders are WordPress plugins that allow you to create page layouts using the drag-and-drop user interface.
Many premium WordPress themes come with pre-installed page builders. Some of these page creators are used only by that theme developer.
The use of such a page generator to create landing pages can generate a large number of unwanted codes. If the subject ever changes, those pages will require a lot of cleaning.
You must choose the themes that are sent with one of the most used page creation add-ons. You can also buy these page builders separately to use them with other topics as well.
Your users will use different browsers. Your theme may look perfect in the browser you use, but there may be something broken in other browsers.
This is where browser compatibility appears. Most WordPress theme developers test their topics rigorously by using sophisticated browser compatibility testing tools.
They can mention this clearly on their website. But if they do not, then you can always run some basic tests to verify the issue in different browsers such as Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, etc.
Do not forget to try different browsers on mobile devices as well.
Best Simple WordPress Themes
This list contains free and paid WordPress themes and they are all fully mobile.
Modern Portfolio Pro
Modern Portfolio is based on the thematic framework of Genesis. It is a simple and elegant WordPress theme for portfolios and personal websites. It comes with a home page layout ready for widgets where you can simply drag and drop widgets to build your home page. It is quite easy to use and very easy to configure.
Corner is a simple WordPress theme for personal websites, blogs and portfolio websites. It has a built-in section for the wallet and can also be used as a personal website. It supports unlimited color variations and comes with tons of customization options.
Camellia is a colorful but simple WordPress theme for lifestyle, fashion and personal websites. It comes with multiple page layouts, several custom widgets and unlimited color options. It’s easy to set up and can be customized with the live theme personalizer.
Candid is another beautiful multipurpose WordPress theme that focuses on a beautiful exhibition of photographs. It has a beautiful typography with the Abril Display font, which looks great on all devices and screen sizes.
Candid has a masonry style design that can be configured in one, two or three columns to match its content. It comes with an integrated home board that helps you quickly set up your theme.
It also has a built-in portfolio, services, team members and partner sections. For your contact page, you have a contact form based on Ajax and Google Maps support.
Wilson is an elegant and simple WordPress theme designed specifically for blogs and magazine websites. It comes with multiple designs for your blog, slider on the home page, several custom widgets and multiple publication formats.
It has several designs for the header section with different ways to show your logo, navigation menus and social buttons. It’s WooCommerce ready so you can easily add an online store to your WordPress site.
Expose Pro is a simple yet elegant WordPress portfolio theme from StudioPress. It comes with a widgetized home page with four widgets areas and has multiple templates for your blog, home page, file and landing pages.
It is designed to beautifully display your photography by using large images and has a customized gallery publishing format with a display screen of your photos. It is optimized for speed and performance, and comes with a quick and simple configuration.
True North is a flexible and simple WordPress theme with a beautiful design. It has a beautiful grid layout on the home page with a beautiful image screen. It has multiple design options and an integrated portfolio section.
It also supports custom background, custom header and has several custom widgets for social networking and content discovery features.
Stella is a WordPress theme for bloggers looking for simple design and powerful features. Includes a built-in featured content slider with multiple styles.
It also has several blog layouts, several page templates and multiple home page layouts. All theme options can be set up with the live theme customizer.
Enterprise is a simple WordPress theme for business websites. It has an integrated section of portfolios and services, beautiful image galleries and a slider for your home page.
Among other features, it has the FAQ section, price tables, personalized background and many flexible customization options.
Maxwell is a free and simplistic WordPress theme for magazines and blogs. Designed to showcase your content beautifully, Maxwell uses prominent images, custom extracts and beautiful typography to create an engaging experience for your users.
It has an integrated slider for featured content and two navigation menus. All theme options can be easily set using the live customizer.
Aesthetic is a clean and simple WordPress theme for portfolio, photography and lifestyle websites. It comes with a built-in drag-and-drop page generator that lets you create your own page layouts.
It has flexible customization options with multiple sidebars, unlimited colors and an easy-to-use thematic control panel.
Suarez is an amazingly beautiful WordPress blog theme with a unique homepage style. It is designed to help you create attractive content using images and text.
Use beautiful animations with multiple page layouts and custom content discovery widgets. It also has a homepage hero slider for your home page and is shipped with a separate slide add-on to use anywhere on your site.
Writee is a free WordPress theme for bloggers and writers. It has a beautiful typography and an elegant design that looks great on all devices. Inside, you’ll find a prominent content slider that lets you show your most important content at the top.
Presence is an excellent choice for a simple WordPress business theme. It is packed with features to easily build any type of commercial website. Particularly, it is perfect for real estate, music bands, hotels, web design and other service providers.
It includes 10 demo websites that you can easily import and then simply replace the content with yours to create your website instantly.
Roxima is a great WordPress theme for business, blogs and portfolio websites. It is supplied with an easy to install and drag start page generator and custom content modules with multiple columns and design variations for you to choose from.
If you are looking for a topic free of distractions for your blog, then you will like Pocket. It is an incredibly beautiful WordPress theme for bloggers and photographers with a main focus on beautiful typography and a magnificent image display.
It requires very little time to set up and gets out of your way so you can create amazing content on your blog.
Built on the Genesis themed framework, Atmosphere is a simple WordPress theme for companies, portfolios and personal websites.
It has a fully-enabled home page, a custom landing page and a two-column design template. The configuration of the theme is quite direct with the help of the live theme personalizer and it does not take much time.
If you need a beautiful free WordPress blog theme with a distraction-free design, then Libretto is an excellent choice. The main feature of the theme is its unique color combination and superb typography.
Designed in the traditional classic blog design, this theme is perfect for long content, photography and personal websites.
Elegant is a WordPress blog and a portfolio theme. It has a beautiful design with logo and navigation menu on the top with a social menu. It has multiple design options that include a grid layout.
It has a built-in portfolio content type, several custom widgets, multiple color schemes and a panel of easy-to-use theme options.
Remi is a simpler WordPress portfolio theme with a beautiful two-column grid layout. It includes additional design options that you can use with several custom widgets, page templates, and multiple sidebars.
It is easy to set up and perfect for a photo, blog or portfolio website.
Paperbag is a simple WordPress blog theme. It is sent with more than 20 color schemes and typography and different design styles. There are several custom widgets inside that you can use for social media integration and content discovery features.
It has a built-in featured content carousel for the home page. All theme options can be set up with live theme customizer with many flexible options.
Karen is a free and simple WordPress blog theme. It comes with a navigation menu at the top and the social profiles menu in the upper right corner of the screen. It has incorporated buttons to share on social networks, a featured content slider, left sidebar and full width.
Daisy is a simple and elegant WordPress blog theme with excellent features. Inside, you’ll find several design options, a home page slider, Google font integration and support for thumbnails of featured videos.
It has a refreshing design that is fully customizable using the theme customizer. It also supports WooCommerce out of the box.
Mont Blanc is a multipurpose WordPress theme that is suitable for almost any type of WordPress site. Designed to be flexible, it includes many customization options, multiple layout options, and various home page styles.
It can be easily used for a magazine website or as a one-page topic. Inside, you’ll find a wallet section, photo galleries and built-in sliders with various viewing options.
Bluebird is another distraction-free WordPress theme designed specifically for bloggers and writers. It comes in two color schemes with left or right side bars. It has custom widgets for bio authors, social links, lists with tabs of publications and comments.
Among other features, it has social networking buttons, highlighted content slider and quick settings. It is perfect to start with your blog with a great professional design.
Are you looking for a simple WordPress theme for your restaurant’s website? Igloo is a beautiful WordPress restaurant theme with a built-in menu management system. It also has a testimonial section in which you can display the good reviews left by your customers and the photo gallery to show your most popular dishes.
Igloo presents a truly unique design and offers multiple color combinations and design options.
Baskerville is another free WordPress theme with a beautiful design and some nice features. Presents a full width header image and a masonry design for the home page. Use beautiful thumbnails for your videos, texts and other publication formats.
Minblr is designed like Tumblr blogs. It presents a classic blog design with integration of social networks and integrated content discovery features. It is presented in 10 color schemes, 3-page design templates, header widget area and social networking widgets.
Brittany is an elegant WordPress blog with a beautiful design. The home page presents an introduction section in the upper part followed by its most important content.
It has several design options and templates for different pages. You will also get several custom widgets to facilitate social media integration and content discovery features.
Despite the abundance of WordPress themes, choosing the right one does not have to be an overly complicated process. Your choice depends primarily on your budget, and then on your unique needs.
If you simply do not have a budget to talk about, free topics are, of course, your only option. That said, premium themes are almost always the top choice, thus money well spent will benefit you later.
If you have a clear idea of what you need and are unlikely to change your mind, a single purpose theme may be the right choice for you. If, on the other hand, you are looking for a versatile tool, a multiple-purpose topic is possibly your only option.
What options do you think will be best for you when it comes to choosing a WordPress theme ? Free or premium ? Single purpose or multipurpose ?