What to look for in a pre-built WordPress theme

If you’re strapped for time and cash, a popular option for a new WordPress website is to use a pre-built theme.

But with so many options out there, how do you find the one that is going to help you business grow online?

The answer is that there is no one right answer. The only right answer is the answer that works for your and your business. But there are definitely some criteria that you can use to figure out which one will help your website and your business grow.

So here are my top things to look for when searching for a pre-built WordPress theme for your website.

A design you like

Obviously you’re going to want to get a theme that you like. I mean, that’s always going to be criteria number one.

So when you’re looking for themes, look at the demos. Go through all of the pages and make sure it’s something that you want, Check over product pages to make sure it shows all of the details you want (if applicable). And look to be sure it presents things the way you want them to look.

Then imagine your content and images inside of the website. Is it something that’s going to show off your content in the best possible way? If you’re focused more on photos, does it present them in a pleasing way? If text is more of your thing, does it have great, readable typography.

Then what about your colors and branding. Will it be easy for you to swap out the default colors with your business’ colors? And will the theme allow you to display your logo seamlessly?

If you’re satisfied with all of that, it’s time to move onto the next set of criteria.

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New websites are great. There’s that new website smell, the exciting launch and the rejuvenation of a brand. But getting that new website can be challenging. It takes a lot of time and costs a lot of money. So if you need a new website, but don’t have the time or funds, let’s work with you to find a pre-built WordPress theme and change it to match your business and brand. You’ll have a great new website with a digital marketing foundation in half the time and for half the cost.

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A design that works for visitors

But it should also be more than something you like. In reality, it needs to be something your users should like. After all, they are the ones that are going to matter at the end of the day, right?

So, look at the theme demo as though you are a new visitor to the website. Can you navigate to all of the sections? Is it easy to identify where you need to go to accomplish a goal, like read a blog post or purchase a product? Does the theme hinder your ability to use the website or enhance it?

Also, is the theme inviting and welcoming for a new visitor? Does it want to draw you in more or send you away screaming? Would this be a website you would want to come back to?

Finally, it’s not a bad idea to check the accessibility of the theme. Use the HTML_CodeSniffer (or a similar browser extension) to find obvious accessibility errors. Then try to tab through the demo to see if you can navigate the website through the keyboard.

If all of those items are satisfied, you’ve got a really good candidate for a theme you can use.

How easy is it to change?

Finally, there’s one last thing to look at and it’s something that can be easy to overlook. Even I did it back in the day.

You really need to make sure that it’s going to be easy to change out the theme if you need to. Because trust me, at some point you’re going to change to change, be it to another pre-built theme or a custom theme.

Because of that, you need to make sure the theme doesn’t do anything weird. This is why page builders can be so problematic. I know a few years ago, Divi was using shortcodes to format posts and pages in the way you wanted it to look like. So when you moved away from a Divi theme, you were left with a ton of shortcodes in your content that took forever to clean up.

But outside of page builders, other themes can still cause issues by adding functionality. For example, for the first few years of college, I used a theme from ThemeForest and it worked great. But once I knew what I was doing with web design and development, I wanted to build my own theme.

The problem was that the old theme added in functionality into the theme itself and not a separate plugin. That meant I “lost” custom post types and shortcodes. Fortunately, I knew what code to use in my own functionality plugin to get them back, but not everyone is a developer.

So, if the theme adds functionality, see if it comes with a functionality plugin or talk to the developer about how you might migrate from this theme to another one down the road.

Making a decision off of this point will save you time and headaches down the road.

So there you have it. Those are my three biggest criteria for looking for a pre-built theme for your website. Feel free to add more items if you want or need to. But at the end of the day, make sure you take the time to look through all of your options and find the one that will work the best for you.

This decision could easily set up for success or failure with your website. So choose wisely.