5 things to consider when buying a WordPress theme

In the fourth part of my article series about WordPress basics for your perfect website start, we come to the 5 tips with which you buy the right WordPress theme. If you’re still wondering whether a free theme is the right choice, then check out the previous article in this series, Why You Must Buy a WordPress Premium Theme.

To buy a WordPress template (template and theme are the same, by the way), I recommend Themeforest*. Here you will find a huge selection of themes with different designs. In addition, this platform also offers you support for the themes, provided this is supported by the seller.

So, now we come to the 5 things you have to consider when buying a WordPress theme!

1. Is the theme responsive?

A responsive theme automatically adapts to the display size of the output device. In practice, your blog will be displayed correctly on normal desktop PCs or Macs as well as on smartphones and tablets.

This behavior of a website is not only important nowadays, it is mandatory! Your readers expect to be able to read your articles on the go, and as comfortably as possible. A WordPress theme in responsive design makes it possible.

Many responsive themes have the term “responsive” in their name

Also, after Google released a search algorithm update in June 2015, websites are tiered for mobile searches if they are not mobile-optimized.

A non-responsive theme would not only mean disadvantages for your readers, but also for your positioning on Google.

With Themeforest*, the name often tells you that the theme is responsive. If not, you will see a list of properties in the right sidebar next to the theme description. Here responsive should be behind the item layout.

In addition, it is always best to click on Live Preview below the template preview image and see the template demo. Here you can simply change the size of your browser window and check whether everything is automatically adjusted correctly.

It’s even better if you go to developer mode with a browser like Google Chrome with the F12 key and click on the smartphone symbol in the top left of the box that appears. You can now select a certain device at the top left, and your browser will already simulate being such a device.

2. Is the theme search engine optimized?

Although most search engine optimization measures are to be carried out by you, the programmer can also ensure that you provide a clean theme.

The loading speed of the theme offers a first clue, because nobody likes a slow website. Users leave a slow-loading website very quickly, sending bad signals to Google. In addition, Google itself recognizes the slow loading time and classifies the website as bad.

You will often find themes that practically overwhelm you with their range of functions. At first it may seem great that you can do so much with this one theme, but after a second thought you will notice that the theme runs rather slowly as a result. When choosing a theme, limit yourself to the integrated features that you really need.

You can test this quite easily by opening the live preview below the template preview image and copying the link of the page into a speed test tool. I always use Google Page Speed ​​Insights in combination with the Pingdom speed test for this.

A feature like the integrated slider sounds good at first, but from my own experience I can advise you to stay away!
But first of all, I want to make it clear that I really mean sliders that are integrated into the theme and written by the programmer himself. Many themes are compatible with sliders like the Revolution or Layer Slider, I’m not talking about those.

The problem with custom sliders is (in most cases, there are exceptions) that you don’t have control over the type of headings the slider uses. This means you simply enter the text that should appear above the slideshow image and the theme will automatically convert it to an h1 or h2 heading.
If you don’t know what that is, you should take a quick detour to my article How to Write Perfect Headlines for Users and Google from the SEO Basics article series.

However, since each page should only have one first-class heading, you have a major disadvantage here that you cannot easily remedy.

Valid HTML and CSS are the last thing to look out for. Although Google says that flawless code is not a direct ranking factor, errors in the programming code make it difficult for search engine crawlers (small programs that look at your site) to do their job. This can lead to Google not understanding some content or entire pages and therefore not including them in the Google index.

You can easily find out whether a template uses correct code with the W3C Validator. Don’t be alarmed if there are a few errors though, it’s not a problem. However, as soon as the number of errors reaches three-digit amounts or even more, it is better to keep your hands off this theme.

3. Does the manufacturer offer support?

With many themes, you not only get the template delivered with the purchase, but also support from the manufacturer. There is more than one reason why this is an important factor when buying your WordPress theme.

For example, if you want to change something in your theme and are not able to do it yourself, the theme support will usually help you with small adjustments.

It can also happen that something about the template is unclear to you, or that questions about it suddenly arise while editing your page. Luckily, themes with multiple sales and good support have always had a wide variety of questions asked by other users and answered by support.

These questions are mostly asked directly through Themeforest*, where it also offers a useful search function to facilitate your search.
If your question is not answered here, you can always contact support directly.

Finally, it is of course always a mark of quality if the manufacturer of the theme offers support. Someone who programs a theme badly and with many errors would not voluntarily expose themselves to the many user requests, would they?

4. Are plugins included with the purchase & is the theme compatible?

Many manufacturers of high-quality themes also integrate a number of premium plugins into the purchase of the theme. For example, the Revolution Slider or Layer Slider is very often included free of charge, or the Visual Composer (a drag & drop system) is often included in the purchase.

When buying a WordPress theme, the included plugins are important

It goes without saying that this can save you a lot of money. Above all, you can be sure that the theme is compatible with these plugins.

So make sure that your chosen theme contains plugins that you may need for your blog.

Good themes always list compatible plugins in their feature list. For example, if you want to build a multilingual blog with the WPML plugin, you should make sure that your theme is compatible with it.

Most of the time you have to scroll very far on the Themeforest* theme page to see the compatible plugins, but the logos of these plugins are often already displayed in the theme preview image.

5. Does the theme have good reviews?

What is better than the rating of other users of the theme?
Fortunately, Themeforest* offers a rating function for the themes. So you can always easily see what the other buyers of the theme think of it.

I would advise you to reconsider the WordPress theme purchase if the template has an average rating below 4 stars. Some buyers seem to have had problems with such templates, and you can benefit from the experience of others.

Pay attention to the ratings of other buyers!

If you are now asking yourself: “Why under four stars? Why not less than three?”, then I answer you with this:
Your WordPress theme is the basis of all your articles and pages. It is the cornerstone of your design and the functions of your blog.

Without a good theme, your blog will have a hard time becoming successful!

Did you buy a WordPress theme or are you working with a free one? How is your experience with it? Leave a comment, I’m very interested in your opinion!

Previous article in this series

Why you absolutely have to buy a WordPress premium theme

Next article in this series

How to connect Google Analytics to WordPress (GDPR compliant)