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What To Consider When Choosing A WordPress Themes

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Premium WordPress themes ,What To Consider When Choosing A WordPress Themes Put another way, how much easier is buying a bottle of wine when you know that you prefer reds and that your favorite red is Australian Shiraz? This small amount of knowledge cuts a choice between 500 bottles in a store down to 10.

In this post, I’ll share what I believe are the most important factors to consider, so that you know exactly what to bear in mind the next time you’re on the hunt for a good theme.

To start off, let’s answer one of the most common questions asked: Is it worth paying for a WordPress theme, or can you get away with a free one?

1. Price: Free Vs. Premium Themes

Several years ago, the price of a theme was a good indicator of its quality. Free themes were often poorly coded at best, and were used to capture sensitive user data at worst. But times have changed, and developers in the WordPress community have created thousands of great free themes to choose from.

As such, there is no conclusive winner. Both free and premium themes have their pros and cons, which are detailed below.

PROS OF PREMIUM THEMES

  • More updates
    Perhaps the most compelling reason to choose a premium theme is that such themes are typically updated more often. Given the rapid evolution of the WordPress content management system (CMS), having a theme that is regularly updated to patch new security issues is critical.
  • Less recognizable design
    Because free WordPress themes are so popular, it’s not uncommon for tens of thousands of websites to use the same free one. Premium themes are less common, which set them apart a bit more.
  • Better documentation
    Most premium themes include a detailed PDF explaining how to get the most out of them. Such documentation is less common with free themes.
  • Ongoing support
    Premium theme developers certainly offer the best support, usually through a combination of a public forum, live chat and an email ticketing system. Free themes usually just have a public forum for support.
  • No attribution links
    Many free themes often require a link to appear in the footer crediting the theme’s author. While this is becoming less common in free themes, you can be sure that no links are required in premium themes.

CONS OF PREMIUM THEMES

  • The price
    You’ll have to invest anywhere between $50 to $200 in a premium theme.
  • More configuration
    Most premium themes have their own custom administration panel, with a variety of customization settings, which can take a while to learn and set up.
  • Unwanted features
    Premium themes tend to include a lot of bells and whistles, such as multiple slider plugins, a portfolio manager and extra skins. While these do make a theme very versatile, a lot of unwanted features will bloat the theme.

In general, the most important aspect to look for in a theme, whether free or paid, is the quality and care that’s gone into making it. The quality of the code will influence everything we discuss in this article, from security to page speed.

The easiest way to gauge quality is to read what customers are saying. If a theme has a public support forum, read what kinds of issues people are having, and how responsive the developers are in resolving them.

2. Speed: Lightweight Vs. Feature-Heavy Themes

In my last post here on Smashing Magazine, I emphasized the importance of optimizing website speed. Fast page-loading speed does not just improve the general user experience of a website, but has also been confirmed to improve search engine rankings, conversion rates and, thus, online revenue.

It should come as no surprise that I recommended avoiding sluggish themes like the plague.

Understanding a problem is the first step to avoiding it. So, what causes a theme to drag a website’s page speed into the gutter?

In general, it comes down to three things:

  • Too feature-heavy
    Be wary of themes that boast 10 different sliders, 20 preinstalled plugins and a lot of JavaScript animation. While this might sound like a good deal, no website that makes HTTP requests to 50 JavaScript files will run optimally.
  • Overuse of large file formats
    The keyword here is “overuse,” which admittedly is a bit subjective. Try to steer clear of themes that use a lot of full-width images, background videos, etc. Less is more.
  • Poor coding
    From wildly scaled images to inline CSS injection, poor coding has a significant impact on website performance. As mentioned, poor code usually means that a theme hasn’t been updated in a long time, so always check a theme’s update history.

Here’s a litmus test you can use to figure out how bloated a theme is. Go to the Pingdom Website Speed Test, enter the URL of a theme’s demo and see how long the page takes to load and how many HTTP requests are made.

Let me give you a quick comparison as a benchmark. Earlier this year, I built two websites with very different theme frameworks. The first website, BrokerNotes, was built with theFrank theme (a very lightweight theme designed for speed). According to Pingdom, the home page makes 38 HTTP requests and loads in under 1 second. 3.9 Mb in bandwidth is way too heavy though.

 

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