It can feel overwhelming finding the right theme for your WordPress website.

With literally thousands of free and paid for themes out there, how do you know what you should be looking for? Is it going to look exactly like that on your website? How much work are you going to have to put in to get it looking how you want it to?

The questions can be endless, and it’s enough to put anyone into a panic trying to figure it all out!

I’ve been building WordPress websites for a while now, so here are my top tips for choosing the right WordPress theme for your website.

Make sure the theme is mobile responsive

This really isn’t a ‘should have’ but an absolute must have. Website traffic from mobile devices is rapidly taking over from conventional computer use, so if your website doesn’t display correctly on a phone or tablet, you are going to miss out on significant traffic.

Be sure to avoid any theme that has a “fixed width layout” as this isn’t going to work on mobile devices, so look out for the terms “mobile ready” and “fully responsive” instead. If you’re not sure, copy and paste the demo URL into Google’s Mobile Friendly Test.

Is the theme SEO friendly?

The code used to create your WordPress theme can have a significant effect on your website’s SEO. If it’s code heavy, it can make your website slow to load which affects page speed ranking. Even great looking and modern themes can generate poorly coded HTML that could damage your search ranking.

Check to see if the theme is promoted as being SEO friendly, read the reviews and if you’re in doubt copy and paste the demo URL into Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to see what Google has to say about things.

Does the theme support the plugins you want to use?

Not all themes will work with all plugins. Which means you’re going to have to do a little research to make sure your chosen theme is a good match. It’s the plugins that matter most in all honesty, they add the functionality to your website, the security and other added elements.

Be sure to ask the developer of the theme if it works with popular plugins or not. If you don’t get a response, you’re unlikely to get the support you need for the theme anyway, and if it does great, you’re on to a winner!

Does your theme work with popular page builders?

If you’re not a web designer or developer, you’re probably going to be relying on a drag and drop page builder to help you put the website together the way you want it to look.

Some themes will come with their own page builder included, but sometimes these mean that you can only use those pages with that theme. If you want to change the theme later on, you’re likely to have a lot of messy code to clean up and redesigning to do.

Popular page builders include Elementor, Thrive Architect and even WordPress’s own upcoming Gutenberg editor which has been available in beta version for a few weeks now.

What kind of support will you get for the theme?

Unfortunately, when it comes to free WordPress themes, you’re unlikely to get any support. There may be a knowledge bank of answers to frequently asked questions on their website, perhaps a manual or some basic instructions you can use, but the help you have access to will be quite limited.

Premium support can vary from a forum you can access to direct email support. This usually lasts for as long as the licence so you may have to renew the theme each year if it doesn’t offer a lifetime option.

In most cases, the lifetime offer is better value and ensures you always have access to the latest updates and support.

Do check out the ratings and reviews

The testimonials on the sales page might be cherry-picked, so do a Google search for reviews of your chosen theme. There may be review videos on YouTube too. You want a high overall rating score and comments that highlight particular benefits or problems.

There are always going to be some negative reviews, so it’s about getting a good overview of the theme and if the feedback seems genuine and appropriate.

If you’re ever unsure about picking a WordPress theme for your website, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me for my recommendations and suggestions, or check out my WordPress website services.