What I Look For in a WordPress Theme

A WordPress theme impacts the design of your website, blog, or shop. As well as handling some of the back end. For example, if your theme comes with a portfolio option that is probably a custom post type created to add a function to your theme.

I’ve been around the block and there are a few things that I look for in every WordPress Theme.

Bloat

I do not like everything and the kitchen sink type themes. They are very popular. Yes, it does everything you need but it does a lot more than you need too. I’d like something slim and optimized for my specific purposes. That is why I learned to code my own themes from scratch to avoid code bloat.

Well Maintained

If I am going to be using someone else’s theme then I want to make sure it is regularly updated. Hey, WordPress isn’t super secure and flaws are found in even popular themes. You want to make sure that the theme is being maintained by someone so that you get important updates.

Secure Code

Honestly, I suggest your best bet is getting a free WordPress theme from the repository. This is because those themes go through rigorous testing before they can be added. You can also see how old the theme is and when it was last updated. With Full Site Editing it is easier than ever to customize your theme and make it look unique. You can add features with plugins.

Customization of Colors and Logo

Of course, your WordPress theme should be branded. That means adding your own color pallet and logo.Look for themes that allow you to do this without having to add your own code or css styles.

Speed

I think speed is the #1 thing for organic search rankings. It is what Google prioritizes and why its algorithm is mobile first. Make sure your theme gets a good score on Google’s Page Speed test. You can also check with a tool like GTMetrix.

Structured Data

Getting a theme that comes with structured data support. Check out Schema.org which is used by Google. Some of its features will appear in rich search results so it is important to add this to your themes.

Simple CSS

I prefer simple and standard blog centered designs. I don’t go for fancy features. This goes back to the idea of bloat. The simpler the CSS the better it is to be optimized by something like a minify plugin. If you ditch the bells and whistles you will find your website is speedier and just works better over all. You don’t need that slider, I promise you.

Vanilla JavaScript

If possible, I try to see how much JavaScript a theme uses. Again, this is one way that a website bloats up quickly. I’m a big believer in using Vanilla JavaScript for my UI needs. Another reason why I like to code my own themes from scratch. I highly suggest you subscribe to Chris Ferdinandi’s newsletter about it.

SEO Ready

If you can, it is nice to have a theme that comes built with WordPress SEO features. That means giving you an area to do things like write meta-descriptions. If not, there are plugins that will do this for you but it is nice when theme authors include them.

Google Fonts

Again, I don’t want a ton of options. I don’t like themes that let you choose any font that you want. This is something that adds to bloat. Keep it Simple. While your website may not look as unique it will most likely have a better design with good typography that is responsive to screen size.

Ultimately, I think it is worthwhile to hire a developer to design your WordPress theme. They can customize it to your liking and make something that looks branded. This is why I always build my own themes from scratch. I just like knowing everything is up to my standards.

Featured Image by 𝓴𝓘𝓡𝓚 𝕝𝔸𝕀 on Unsplash

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