Choosing a WordPress template is one of the first and most important tasks you face in a new WordPress site. Your site design will have a lot of weight in achieving or not attracting the audience you want.
And here I have good and bad news for you:
- The good one: Today there is such quantity and quality in WordPress templates that the perfect or almost perfect template for you exists, for sure.
- The bad: it is not trivial to choose a WordPress theme, especially when most people get carried away by the first impression.
So in this post I am going to guide you step by step through a series of criteria that will help you choose your WordPress template wisely, really suitable for what you need .
In addition, I hope to help you with this also so that you do not fall into the typical mistake of many people to try one free WordPress theme after another and lose with it tens and tens of hours dizzy without getting anywhere.
3 basic questions to answer before choosing your template
This danger of getting dizzy trying it happens because most people don’t think about what they really want and what they need from their WordPress template to get it.
So let’s start here.
What type of website do you have or want to create?
The first thing you must be clear about is what type of content do you want to publish on your website because this has a high impact on the type of design that will be most suitable for that content.
A simple blog, without major pretensions, where text often prevails over images is not the same as an online store that will be much more visual, for example.
And now try to visualize a typical digital newspaper or a news site, for example.
Why do these types of sites have a specific design, very different from that of blogs and online stores?
Therefore, the first thing, try to be very clear about the nature of your site and its contents.
From here, look for examples of similar existing sites and try to identify the characteristic elements of the designs of these sites, in particular those they have in common.
For example: in any online store they moderate you will find a very visual catalog of products with product sheets with the name of the product, its price, etc. .:
If we go to the example of a digital newspaper, the cards for the entries and the organization of the cover in general, typical of a newspaper, stand out as characteristic, for example.
It is a style that is often also called “magazine” type:
In short, if you are clear about these specific characteristics that you need in your website concept, you will get much more to the point by quickly discarding those options that do not serve you.
Note: not all of these features will come from the theme, some will be obtained through plugins. In the case of creating an online store with WooCommerce, for example, the product catalog with photos and prices will be obtained with the WooCommerce plugin.
What WordPress platform are you using?
Here I mean if you are using WordPress.com or WordPress.org.
If you already know “what is this”, perhaps what I am saying will seem silly to you. But I assure you that there are still a lot of people who are confused and really do not know which one they are using.
A good example of typical questions that come to us over and over and reflect this is “Why doesn’t it appear in the plugins menu on my WordPress desktop?”
If you ask this question, it is because they are with WordPress.com and you do not know that in WordPress.com, except in the most advanced plan, the “Business”, you cannot use plugins.
So if you are not clear about the differences between the WordPress platforms, here you will leave doubts:
Multipurpose versus predesigned templates what do you prefer?
Within the WordPress templates, we can distinguish two main lines and philosophies: the “pre-made” templates (as I am going to call them …), normally intended for certain types of website and the multipurpose templates that are intended to create any type of site Web.
In the first, the idea is that they give you a design that is what it is and where you can only touch some basic things: the color scheme, typefaces for titles and text and little else.
The idea is that you choose among many options the one that is closest to the one you are looking for to use it more or less as is.
This is usually the typical case of free templates and it already depends on the specific theme that you can touch and eye: this limitation in options is not necessarily a bad thing, if the design fits you, why not use it? It is a simple and effective philosophy.
The second philosophy is to seek maximum customization capacity.
This is achieved, above all, by the themes that make up a visual layout artist. With such a theme, the freedom to design what you want is practically 100%, but in return, these themes have their learning curve.
Among all of them, Divi stands out right now which is the theme that we recommend as a universal professional theme, suitable for any WordPress site and that includes the Divi Builder layout.
It is a special case because when you buy Divi you also access the other themes (around 100) of Elegant Themes (the company behind Divi) and its plugins. Therefore, with Divi you really access the advantages of both philosophies (predesigned themes + maximum personalization).
In this same line, the Bridge template also goes, so I consider it an interesting alternative that includes +300 designs for specific sectors of activity from which to choose.
GeneratePress and Ocean WP are also very good options in combination with the Elementor visual layout artist.
How to customize any WordPress template (with CSS)
What I just said, it must be qualified with a very important detail: if you know how to use the language of cascading style sheets (CSS), you can customize any theme beyond the customization options of that theme.
CSS is the tool that uses HTML (the language in which all web pages are made, including those of WordPress sites) to define the layout and aesthetics of HTML elements (text, titles, images, tables, etc.).
Not long ago, WordPress has included the “additional CSS” tool in its standard theme customization features to allow you to add the CSS rules you want and thus be able to modify the default design of the active theme.
This greatly expands the possibilities of customizing any theme and learning, at least, basic CSS, is not so complicated, as you can see in this post:
Anyway, it is also necessary to qualify, as you can see in the previous post, that working with CSS is already a somewhat technical task, not very difficult to learn, but technical, and it cannot replace everything a good layout artist can do. Visual like that of Divi.
This is so because a layout artist also allows the structure of any page to be designed at will. With CSS you cannot change the structure, only the appearance of the elements that the theme uses.
You can access the additional CSS tool through the “Appearance / Customize / Additional CSS” menus, which will take you to the following screen:
If you look at the image, you will see that you have a small box in which you can include CSS rules, as complex as you want.
The inclusion of this tool has supposed, above all, an enormous better in the possibilities of personalization of the free themes, which were, in general, very limited.
WordPress visual builder plugins
Now let us see what will be, for most people, the most affordable way (in difficulty) to create page layouts completely made: the visual typesetters (page builders).
The market already offers a good number of them, some free, others paid.
I would highlight at this moment above all these two: Divi Builder which is the layout tool that comes along with the Divi theme or that you can buy separately as a plugin to use it with any theme.
The other option is Elementor, a relatively recent layout artist that has come up like foam.
It should be mentioned, in addition, that it makes a very good match with the Ocean WP and GeneratePress themes that have become very popular in recent times.
Although, unlike the Divi case, they are two independent companies, they collaborate closely, which helps a lot to make this theme-layout couple work so well.
And finally, we must also mention Gutenberg, the most important WordPress project in recent years and which radically changes the current content editor to make it an editor with visual layout capabilities:
Although Gutenberg, at least in its first versions, it is clear that it will not reach what Divi Builder and Elementor are capable of doing right now is a giant step.
The ability to create pages with flexible and highly personalized designs was precisely one of the weakest points of WordPress, as it comes “out of the box”. Although Gutenberg is a relatively simple layout artist, it is a huge step forward.
10 Criteria and Essential Tips for Choosing Your WordPress Theme Right
What I have discussed so far has been a very general, bird’s-eye view of WordPress templates, let’s now also look at a series of very specific selection criteria.
1. Don’t be fooled by commercial photos
A lot of people, when they try a free template from the WordPress repository or, even when they buy a professional one, they get a big disappointment with the result they see after installing it.
This is not because the template is bad, but because they comment on an error in their expectations.
As you can see, it is an attractive theme, in this case, specially designed for portfolio type websites where images such as photography websites, etc. predominate.
However, the problem is not the issue, the problem is your expectations: surely you expected to see something similar to the first image (with images) when these images are not really the subject, nor should they be (it would be absurd).
The problem is simply that the newly installed theme does not yet have the images loaded, nor the elements you have available to view the images loaded and configurators. If you do this job, you will get that result you expected, but you have to.
Therefore, be careful with this effect, which can make you get carried away by what is not to choose your theme.
2. Free themes versus free and paid WordPress themes
In the WordPress theme repository you can find a lot of free themes.
There are many that are very good and if they serve you, great.
But beware: many of them have been made by small freelance developers or small companies that have then closed or simply stop updating that topic.
You can see this in the topic tab, on the date of the last update, along with user reviews.
My advice is to make sure that it is a theme that is alive, that it is seen to evolve (recent update dates) and that it is well valued by the community.
Sometimes the best support is the community itself, so the topic forum is active, for example, it is a very good sign.
On the other hand, also examine the documentation. Nowadays, the best WordPress themes usually come with videos of at least the most important functionalities.
Video is the best format for learning this kind of thing and a rich collection of training video-tutorials to learn how to handle the subject thoroughly is, of course, a very important point in favor of the subject in question.
It is logical that, the payment topics will generally have more functionality, be better updated and also have better documentation.
But luckily, each time these brands go “freemium”, that is, offering a free “lite” version of their product, which is sometimes surprisingly complete. This is the case of GeneratePress and the Elementor visual layout, for example.
3. Is it a responsive WordPress template?
In recent years, the rise in% of mobile device traffic has been simply brutal.
“Responsive “ refers to the WordPress template being an adaptive design, which is capable of adapting as best as possible to the device on which it is viewed.
This will often involve different content layout when viewed on a mobile device with a reduced screen than on a personal computer.
Today, virtually all topics are responsive. However, make sure it is and check it out on a specialized site like Responsive Design Checker, for example.
4. Is it well designed? Is it fast?
One of the biggest reasons for abandoning your blog, how could it be otherwise, is its loading speed. Most users will quit within seconds if your pages don’t load reasonably fast.
In this, apart from your hosting, your WordPress theme is going to be a decisive factor since there can be a lot of difference between one and the other themes in terms of how “heavy” they are for the server.
It is true that optimizing your blog well with a good cache plugin , optimizing images and applying advanced measures such as a CDN , you will be able to alleviate this issue to a great extent, but even so there may be important differences between one and the other issues.
So if possible (if there are trial downloads etc.) try the issue for example with Kingdom speed benchmark for example.
A speed (with the optimization options activated) should remain, in any case, below 2 seconds and if you manage to drop below 1 second we are already talking about excellent times.
5. Do you take care of SEO?
WordPress itself is already very ”SEO friendly” and, therefore, in principle in any WordPress theme it should be possible to assume that it takes care of SEO (structure and clean code, correct use of h1, h2 tags, etc.).
The fact is that in reputable brands, such as those you can find on our WordPress themes page, you can trust it, but in themes that come from little-known sources it is not so clear.
So here is one more reason to take care of where to download the themes, especially when they are free. In fact, be very careful when you download free themes from the official WordPress repository on sites that are not from well-known brands:
On the other hand, in my opinion, a topic should not go beyond being just SEO friendly.
That is, beyond the basic structure of the pages, you should not go beyond that in advanced functionalities (for example: the creation of meta-descriptions).
For this, it is preferable to use specialized plugins such as WordPress SEO since this way, when changing the theme, you keep the SEO settings that you have made in each content.
And finally, depending on the role that the SEO theme plays in your case, it may be very interesting to assess the use of themes specially designed for SEO such as Orbital, for example.
6. Do you have “Reviews” on YouTube?
YouTube is simply a marvel when it comes to getting a detailed idea of a product, there are countless “reviews” of WordPress themes.
Logically, the more relevant a topic is, the more reviews it will have, so that the fact of having reviews is already a positive indication in itself. Of course, in many cases, you will find them only in English for the template that interests you.
Unfortunately not all reviews are as objective as they should be. Therefore, I would personally pay attention, above all, to the video in question making a demo as complete as possible of the user interface of the configuration and customization part of the theme.
My advice is to trust, above all, the best-known bloggers and YouTubers. They are experienced and should know that it is very stupid to risk an asset as valuable as its reputation for a few sales.
7. Does it include a visual layout artist?
Above I have already talked about visual layout designers and their importance, so here I just want to remind you that if the theme integrates a visual layout artist you will have a much greater degree of freedom to create the designs you want.
8. Does it integrate well for online stores?
To create online stores with WordPress, the WooCommerce plugin is the reference.
There are many themes that have been specially designed for the creation of online stores and many of them, given the position of WooCommerce, with this specific plugin in mind.
So if you plan to create an online store on WordPress (which you will almost certainly implement with WooCommerce), especially examine the themes whose design has been considered for use with WooCommerce.
9. Is it translated into Urdu?
One of the many virtues of WordPress is its capacity for internationalization. This means that it can be easily adapted to other languages without changes in the code.
However, not all themes are translated into Spanish, especially when they are free. So if language is important to you, pay attention at this point.
10. Price / license
It is no coincidence that I put this point as the last one because the vast majority of topics are usually quite affordable.
The price range of the WordPress ranges, more or less, between 20 to 100 euros. They should not be amounts that prevent you from buying the item you really want.
So if it’s the template that really fits what you need, save on coffees and canes, but don’t save here, it’s not the place.
And remember: be very careful with free themes when they are not from a trusted source.
What type of template to choose according to the type of website
As you probably don’t have much experience with WordPress template yet, if you’re reading this article, I’m going to end it with a good number of examples classified by site types.
Be careful, I do not consider the topics mentioned here the best in their respective categories, this is already something for specialized posts that have carried out the necessary in-depth analysis for it.
Here it is simply about browsing a wide range of examples for different types of websites.
You should also be clear that in this the borders are very blurred. It is not that the themes serve only for one type of website, they usually serve for many different types of websites.
It is more about seeing what type of elements (widgets) of a theme (or plugins) are the most important, according to what type of website. And, within this, then there are always designs that “stick” some types of websites better than others.
And also remember that any of these templates can be recreated with a visual layout artist like Divi Builder or Elementor.
Let’s start with general examples for some basic types of websites.
WordPress blog templates
Blogs are still the type of websites most frequently created with WordPress.
What you need for a blog is brought by practically any topic without major pretensions: new posts, comments, some basic static pages (contact, etc.). It would also include the possibility of using only one column (such as Citizen 2.0).
Mazino is an example of modern theme that fits nicely with this:
In this matter, I especially liked the cards that you use for the list of posts, I find them very attractive, give it a current touch and have been right with the information they show.
WordPress templates for companies
If you want to create a website for your company, they will be especially having a main page with an attractive design that transmits professionalism and a series of elements that help to present your company, its activities and the value that it brings to the best of your customers.
WordPress templates designed specifically for companies you can find specific things like graphic elements to represent the areas of activity of the company, statistics widgets, widgets for product portfolios, customer testimonials, etc.
If you go to the demo page of the theme of the image above (Massive Dynamic Association) you can see how on the main page there are several of these elements.
And in the video you can see how to customize this theme according to which of these elements you want to use.
WordPress templates for ecommerce (online stores)
If you want to create an online store with WordPress, it is almost 100% safe (and recommended) that you use WooCommerce.
WooCommerce already brings the necessary tools and widgets to create an online store with practically any WordPress template.
However, there are already plenty of themes that have been specifically designed with WooCommerce in mind.
This offers you a wide range of designs and style that will make it much easier for you to find that point in the design you are looking for, than with WooCommerce.
The company behind WooCommerce (Automatic, which also owns WordPress.com) is logically the first to offer themes like this, specifically StoreFront.
But my personal recommendation is that you also explore alternatives other companies like, Themeforest Shopkeeper, for example, which is the theme you can see above.
WordPress templates “portfolio” (catalogs, photography, architects, etc.)
There are many websites where images are the most important thing.
We are talking about sites such as art, photography, architecture, etc. websites, fashion blogs, a company’s product catalog, etc.
WordPress templates specifically designed in this regard are often called “portfolio” themes. Like the Hitchcook template:
It may be that the entire theme follows that design or that it simply incorporates elements to create graphic portfolios (which is what business templates do, for example).
But here I also want to warn you of a danger that these templates have: these types of websites based only on images are so aesthetic that many people practically no longer think about the text.
The problem is that, to position yourself in Google, you need text and not a little. Therefore, you have many ballots to keep a very nice website, but that nobody sees it…
Therefore, my recommendation is that these types of sites are always accompanied by a blog with content of value to the public.
The blog will be the place of the content with text and will be able to assume the role of positioning the site in Google.
Minimalist WordPress templates
As the name itself indicates, a minimalist WordPress template aims to focus attention on the essential by eliminating all the “noise” (non-essential elements that distract the reader).
There are templates like Simple Blogily (in this case, designed specifically for blogs) that have been designed with this philosophy in mind:
But the minimalist concept doesn’t just apply to blog templates, a different example would be a minimalist-oriented portfolio template like Kleanity:
My personal observations on this are two:
On the one hand, I don’t quite see the need for minimalist templates since with templates that are quite customizable like Ocean WP , for example, you can create this type of design yourself which, by its very nature, is quite easy to create.
Be careful what you remove. Many minimalist websites even suppress social buttons, for example. Although everything is very clean, aesthetic and pleasant to read like this, here you are going to lose quality traffic (the one shared on social networks). So I would think about it.
Single page WordPress templates
WordPress One Page templates (“one page” in English), such as One Page Express, are templates specifically designed to include all the relevant information on your website on a single page.
Examples of this may be, once again, a company website, or a personal professional page where you introduce yourself and your career path, for example.
If you are very clear that you want your website to be of this style, such a topic can be interesting. The key to choosing will be that you bring with you widgets for all the graphic elements that you need to use on your page.
Conclusions and advice for your final decision
As you have seen, the WordPress templates theme is a whole world. Around WordPress a giant ecosystem has been created that ranges from small developers to large companies offering WordPress templates.
This is great because you have an almost infinite fan to choose from. Here in this post I think you really have everything you need to make a good decision with your subject, but even so I understand that there are so many things that can be disconcerting.
So my most important tip is this: simplify things as much as possible, be practical and don’t seek perfection from day one.
The most important thing is still the content of your website, therefore, do not spend infinite hours finding the perfect design.
For the first version of your website, a theme that fits “reasonably well” will be the perfect option. In the future (with clearer ideas and more judgment) there will be time to evolve that initial design.
Remember also that in this selection process the two key questions you have to answer are going to be these:
- What is your website like and what specific elements does it require?
- Do you prefer a predesigned theme where you only change details or use a visual layout tool to have 100% freedom in creating your design?
And finally, I recommend that if that template that you really like is a premium paid template, that having to pay a few dozen euros is not a reason not to buy it.