Choosing a WordPress Theme

Choosing a WordPress Theme

Choosing a WordPress Theme

Choosing a WordPress theme is difficult. Things to consider:

  1. Is it GPL? That is, not only open source, but with the additional freedom to run it, to study and change it, and to redistribute copies with or without changes?
  2. Can you read all the source code (that is, it hasn’t been obfuscated in some way)?
  3. Reviews on wordpress.org: Always look at the negative reviews, and not so much the positive ones. This way, you know how the theme will fail. What are the negative reviews like? Have they missed the point? How did the theme fail them? Did the author respond well?
  4. How often is the theme updated? Does the author care about fixing bugs and staying up to date? Check out the readme in the theme’s source code.
  5. Check out the theme’s demo site. Is it janky? Does the page bounce around all over the place before settling down? Do the fonts load correctly?
  6. Try it on a mobile and a tablet. Is the theme responsive?
  7. Does the theme have retina support for images–so that those with retina screens can see better quality pics?
  8. Is the theme full of bloat? Check out the timeline using an inspector such as Firebug. Are there a ton of javascript scripts on the page? Does the theme include stuff that would be better in a plugin (for example, a poor quality slider that you are going to have to disable, so you can install a better one)?
  9. What are you going to be doing on the site? Does the theme support the plugins that you need to use? For example, if you’re going to be using woocommerce, does the theme support woocommerce?
  10. What the support like–either on the theme’s own site or on wordpress.org?
  11. Has the author created several themes? (generally good) … using the same code base? (definitely good) … and are they running a business out of this? (generally good, as it means they have a sustainable future).
  12. Does the theme have good language support? Will it work well with language plugins?
  13. Download and install the themes that you have filtered out above. What theme options do they offer–colours, positioning, fonts, headers, logos? How much extra work are you going to have to put in to make it like you want it? Are you going to be able to get by with CSS, or will you need to know PHP?
  14. If you’re into PHP mods, does the theme have a good set of hooks you can peg your code onto (if not, will you be happy rewriting parts of the theme, which might break on updates)? Does the theme author use Theme Hook Alliance hooks (not vital, but it will help you switch themes in future, if you need to)?
  15. What extras does the theme have that you want? What extras does it have that you don’t want?
  16. I think I’m nearly there, but will add to this as I remember more…

Update 24 Sep 2015: Hehe. Forgot to add: Is it pretty and do you like it? But only after you’ve considered all of the above.