What Makes A Good Theme

1. Speed & Simplicity

Many WordPress themes come with a lot of complex layouts, flashy animations, complex sliders etc. and sometimes you may need that, but in most cases you won’t.

Fast page-loading speed does not just improve the general user experience of a website, but has also been confirmed to improve search engine rankings, conversion rates and, thus, online revenue.

What causes a theme to drag a website’s page speed into the gutter?

  • Too Feature Heavy (as mentioned above) – Be wary of themes that boast 10 different sliders, 20 preinstalled plugins and a lot of JavaScript animation. While this might sound like a good deal, no website that makes HTTP requests to 50 JavaScript files will run optimally.
  • Overuse of large file formats – The keyword here is “overuse,” which admittedly is a bit subjective. Try to steer clear of themes that use a lot of full-width images, background videos, etc. Less is more.
  • Poor coding – From wildly scaled images to inline CSS injection, poor coding has a significant impact on website performance. As mentioned, poor code usually means that a theme hasn’t been updated in a long time, so always check a theme’s update history.

The theme should have a design layout that helps you support your goal. It needs to look good but without compromising on usability and simplicity.

Go to the Pingdom Website Speed Test, enter the URL of a theme’s demo and see how long the page takes to load and how many HTTP requests are made.

2. Responsive

Responsive websites are now a necessity rather than an option. A significant amount of web traffic is generated from mobile and other handheld devices.
Google shows mobile friendly websites on top in their mobile search results.
Most WordPress theme are already responsive by default. But there are still some sellers are there selling fixed width layouts that are not mobile friendly.

The easiest way to test whether a theme is responsive or not is by resizing your browser screen. As you resize you will notice that the theme’s layout will adjust itself to the screen width.

For more thorough testing, you can copy the URL of the theme’s demo page and paste it in Google’s Mobile Friendly Test page.

This test will show some warnings, regardless of how good a theme is. Lookout for any red flags like text too small, content wider than screen, etc.

3. Browser Compatibility

Your users will be using different browsers. Your theme may look perfect on the browser you use, but there might be something broken in other browsers.

Run some basic tests to check the theme on different browsers like Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, etc.

Don’t forget to test on different browsers on mobile as well.

4. Supported Plugins

The real power of WordPress comes with WordPress plugins. These plugins make it possible for you to do anything with your WordPress site.
While there are plenty of WordPress plugins, some are must-have WordPress plugins for every websites. Like Gravity Forms, Yoast SEO, W3 Total Cache, etc.

Make sure that your WordPress theme supports all popular plugins.

5. Page Builders

Page builders are WordPress plugins that allow you to create page layouts using drag and drop user interface. Many premium WordPress themes come with page builders pre-installed. Some of these page builders are used by that theme developer only.

Using such a page builder to create landing pages can produce a lot of unwanted code. If you ever switch the theme, then those pages will require a lot of cleaning up.

You should choose themes that are shipping with one of the most used page builder plugins. You can also purchase these page-builders separately to use with other themes as well.

6. Support

Make sure that you select a WordPress theme that has good documentation and support option. Most premium WordPress themes offer detailed documentation with 1 year of email based support.

7. SEO

Your WordPress theme plays a crucial role in your site’s SEO friendliness. A good looking theme can still generate poorly coded HTML, this could affect your site’s performance on search engines. It could be difficult for beginners to analyze a theme’s source code on their own. This is why many premium WordPress theme developers will let you know that their pages are optimized for SEO. You can also take a look to see if the page generates proper HTML5 by checking it with W3C Markup Validation service. However, please note that the W3C tool will generate many warnings which are nothing to be worried about.

A good practice is to install an extension for the Chrome browser, such as MozBar or SEO Site Tools, to run some quick SEO checks on a theme’s demo.

8. Ratings & Reviews

Another solid indicator of a WordPress theme’s quality is ratings and reviews provided by their users. If the theme is sold on a third-party marketplace, then you will see customer reviews.

Almost all WordPress themes can get a few bad reviews. but if the number of bad reviews is unusually high, then you should read them carefully.

The most popular WordPress theme markets:

Elegant Themes

Theme Forest

Studio Press

WooCommerce

9. Speed

Fast page-loading speed does not just improve the general user experience of a website, but has also been confirmed to improve search engine rankings, conversion rates and, thus, online revenue.

10. Design

First, search on websites where the best designers sell their themes. This might sound obvious but is still worth mentioning. ThemeForest is my personal favorite, but plenty of other good ones are out there, including StudioPress and Elegant Themes.

Secondly, spend some time browsing the demo. Does the website feel easy to use? Is there enough white space? Do you get a headache looking at it? Does it excite you? This is where your gut feeling plays an important role.

Exercise:

Research the following 4 Themes and pick which one you think is a good theme based on the information above.

  1. Definition
  2. Mural
  3. Jupiter
  4. Vantage

References: www.wpbeginner.com / https://www.siteground.com / https://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/ / https://codex.wordpress.org