First, what is a WordPress theme.
In WordPress, as for most CMS, the management of the background and form is completely independent.
What does it mean concretely?
Simply that the text and images you insert into your web pages are disconnected from the appearance of your business website.
This is made possible thanks to the themes.
With a WordPress theme, you change the design of your website, that is to say, its look, without the content of pages is changed .
Let’s take an analogy, the WordPress CMS is the skeleton of your website and your theme is the clothes you wear.
And to continue the analogy, WordPress extensions act as the “muscles” that will enhance the functionality of your website. The skin, the hair, the shape of the nose … represent the content (text, images, …) of your pages and articles.
As you change your clothes every day, it is possible to regularly change the theme of his site in WordPress.
For example, if you have a seasonal activity like renting apartments in the mountains, you can have a theme “winter” in agreement with snow, skiing … And change of theme in “summer” will seem cooler with greenery, birds …
Watch out for the security of your WordPress site
When choosing your theme, I first emphasize the need to pay special attention to safety.
This is a subject that I have discussed frequently, others in my article on the 5 essential actions to secure your WordPress site .
In fact, WordPress is an “open source” software which does not translate into “free software” in French. Therefore, everyone can contribute by proposing a theme for example.
And so by choosing a random theme on the Internet, you can unfortunately remember a theme with multiple errors (bugs) . Even worse, links or malicious code without knowing it.
The consequences are unfortunate:
- At a minimum, a badly designed theme is bad for your SEO, or the experience of your users,
- At worst, if it contains malicious code, you may be stealing the data of your users without your knowledge …
Note : the same caution rule also applies when choosing a WordPress extension .
3 criteria to find your best WordPress theme?
To secure your business when choosing your WordPress theme, 2 main options are available to you.
1. Choose a WordPress theme in the official catalog
From the WordPress.org site , in addition to being able to download the WordPress CMS, you find:
- Many extensions,
- And a variety of themes.
This theme library , maintained by the WordPress community, includes about 10,000 free “official” themes.
Given the number of available themes, it is obviously possible to filter them according to 3 main parameters:
- The layout of the theme,
- Customization features offered by the theme,
- The domain of predilection of application of the theme.
To save time, shortcuts are proposed as “highlighted”, “popular” or newly added themes.
After setting your filter, select a theme that you like in the list to access the detailed description of the theme on which are indicated:
- The download number of this theme,
- User feedback in forums,
- User reviews.
I will talk about the importance of these criteria a little further.
Since most themes are free on WordPress.org, do not hesitate to download more to see what they render on your website. This is the only way to see what it really gives on your website and its content .
2. Choose a WordPress theme on a trusted library
There are many libraries of trusted themes on which to find free or paid WordPress themes.
The fact that a theme is paid implies that the developer has, a priori, applied to design it since he or she intends to sell his work (the theme).
Obviously, being paid does not necessarily mean quality, but it is often the case.
Here are 3 library of themes that I recommend:
- Theme Forest : Themeforest offers 11,000 WordPress themes! You are spoiled for choice. The prices are those of the market: from about $ 19 to $ 59. Most themes receive ratings (from 1 to 5 stars) to judge their quality.
- WordPress : Once again, the official website of WordPress which also lists paying themes. However, there are several disadvantages in my opinion. First of all, few themes are proposed. Then, to know the price of a theme, you have to access the description of the theme that directs you to the site of the editor of the theme. But if a theme catches your attention, do not hesitate!
- Elegant Themes : the choice is very limited with only 87 themes, but of high quality. Consult their price offer . For an annual subscription, you access ALL themes. For agencies or freelance developers who create sites regularly, this can be very interesting.
3. So choose a free or paid WordPress theme?
What are the main differences between a paid theme and a free theme?
As I said, the themes are open source. That is, the creator of a theme can be:
- A seasoned professional,
- A young developer building his portfolio,
- Or a self-taught lover who creates themes for fun!
It is not necessarily these that create the least good themes. But a priori, their quality requirement is surely less than with professional themes, even paying.
Free themes are usually updated less often, if ever . In addition, the support is almost non-existent.
Therefore, you must rely on the WordPress community to have answers to your questions or to know a minimum of HTML to make changes.
On the other hand, if you keep a paid theme, its developer has his eyes fixed on his mark of appreciation and therefore he makes the necessary to:
- Publish very regular updates to avoid a rating that drops,
- Have a responsive support service.
My advice : if you start with a first site, choose a free theme and start by familiarizing yourself with WordPress.
Then change the theme to your liking, one, two or three times, if a feature or the layout of your theme does not please you.
You will not bite your fingers to buy a theme if you realize that you are stuck because you did not understand its features when choosing.
5 criteria to choose a WordPress theme
You now know where to find quality themes. I also gave you directions to choose between paying theme and free theme.
But all this only partially answers the question.
How do you make sure that the chosen theme (even paid!) Is the one that meets your expectations and that it is trusted?
For this, there are 4 other criteria to take into account:
1. The popularity of the theme
Let’s take Madd Magazine as an example in the WordPress theme library.
Open the description sheet and analyze the right column:
About 300 websites have installed this theme and there is currently no “Ratings”. Ratings are the votes on the quality of the theme.
This does not mean that the theme is of poor quality. He is present in the WordPress directory, it is a pledge of confidence, but obviously he has not yet convinced many people.
Let’s now analyze the Twenty Fourteen theme page , still in the WordPress library.
And here are his download info and votes:
- More than 300,000 active settlers,
- Rating 4.5 out of 5!
In general, I do not like to behave like a sheep. But given these 2 criteria, this theme has no concern for quality and / or security problem.
Note : Twenty Fourteen is developed by WordPress. It is also a guarantee of security and the fact that it is proposed by default in WordPress is surely also the reason for such a success.
2. The security of the theme
My advice : check the quality of the code and the existence of quality concerns on Theme Check. Simply enter the name of a theme to immediately get a quality rating with any warnings.
For example, version 2.2 of the Twenty Fourteen theme gets a score of 76/100.
3. The features of the theme
To retain a WordPress theme that corresponds to your expectations, the third criterion to analyze are the features provided as standard.
For this, look at the description written by the developer.
For example, check out the Twenty Fourteen theme page again .
The presentation states: “In 2014, our default theme allows you to create a magazine site that fits all screens with superb modern design. Highlight your favorite content on the homepage through a grid or slide show. Use the three widget areas to customize your website, and change the layout of your content with full-page templates and a contributors page to put your authors forward. Creating a magazine site with WordPress has never been easier. ”
This description highlights 3 standard features in Twenty Fourteen:
- A slider on the home page, which is one of my 5 recommendations for driving traffic to your website ,
- 3 widget areas,
- Many full-page templates and a contributor page.
My advice : note which features interest you (or which will interest you one day) and choose your theme accordingly.
4. The look and design of the theme
This paragraph is very short because we do not discuss tastes and colors!
Take a theme that you like visually!
Of course, you can edit it, add photos, change the colors to match your graphic .
But as much as you like and that its design makes you stand out from that of your competitors.
And remember to validate that your favorite colors are in line with the tastes of your personas .
My advice : Pay close attention to the design of the home page and the place reserved for the logo. Test the theme on your website to make sure your constraints are met.
Then, you will probably want to design pages with a particular design. For that there are many builders of pages, like Elementor that I use. Also make sure that the theme you choose is compatible with a tool of this type.
5. A responsive design
For the first time in 2015, Google sees more traffic on the mobile Internet than on computers (source ZDNet ).
The principle of Web design evolves in this direction. And websites optimized for smartphones and tablets are a necessity.
In addition, today Google’s Mobile First constraints prioritize mobile to rank your pages in search results.
Therefore, it is necessary to focus on the form, use and performance of your website readable on these small screens.
The solution is to choose a WordPress theme called ” responsive “.
For me, it has even become a mandatory criterion .
If your theme does not adapt to the size of the screen (computer, smartphone, tablet …), do not choose it!
My advice : Check the compatibility of your pages on mobile with Google’s free Mobile Friendlytool .
A tip : You’ve spotted a website that you like. Would you like to know which theme he uses?
Nothing more simple, call ” What wp theme is that “. If the website in question is under WordPress, there is a good chance that “What wp theme is that” gives you the theme used.
You can not find your happiness ! Know that developing a custom theme is also possible. Use your web developer after developing a model .
How to add a WordPress theme
Here are 2 ways to add a WordPress theme, depending on whether it is present on the WordPres.org library or not.
Add a theme from the WordPress library
If the theme you remember is referenced in the WordPress library, sign in to WordPress and go to the Appearance> Themes menu .
Then click on the ” Add ” button .
Then search for the name of the theme in the WordPress theme library, then click on ” install ” after positioning your mouse on the theme in question.
Install a WordPress theme from another theme library
If the theme is present on another library, start by downloading the zip file of the theme on the site in question.
Then, sign in to WordPress and go to the Appearance> Themes menu . As before, click on the ” Add ” button at the top of the screen.
At the top, click the ” Upload Theme ” button , select the zip file and click OK.
In both cases, the theme is now not activated but installed on your server.
Check by visiting the Appearance> Theme page .
How to change WordPress Theme
Changing a WordPress theme on an online website to give it a new lease of life is not complicated, but it must be done with care.
Here’s how to proceed and especially the little tips before you start!
Test WordPress Themes on Your Business Website
First log in to your WordPress admin console.
In the right column, go to the “appearance” section and then “customize”.
Everything happens here when it comes to changing or adapting your theme.
Take for example the site of a friend who chose the Graphy theme .
- On the right, you see the website as it exists,
- On the left, the customizations available.
As soon as you apply a change, the preview on the right is updated in real time.
No worries to see. As long as you do not validate the changes by clicking on the “Save” button at the top, your visitors see the theme before modification.
Let’s see how to change the theme.
Click “change” to select one of the themes installed on your server and not active at the moment.
Immediately, the preview of your website with this new theme is visible (still not affecting your users):
Here is what it gives if one chose the theme Fifteen, that my friend had downloaded and installed before, among some other themes that it found interesting to test:
Here is a typical example of graphic changes of theme change .
The logo has disappeared and is replaced by the name of the site.
And, to take a closer look at the layout features in the left column, no “logo” inset on the horizon!
It is therefore safe to bet that it will be difficult with this theme to integrate its own logo in image format easily at the top of the page …
If you also need to design or modify your logo, consider using online services like Canva .
Attention to the size of the images
If you change the theme, special attention should be paid to the size of the images, I’m talking about those of your content.
Indeed, each WordPress theme sets these default image sizes. However, these image sizes are only applied to images downloaded once the theme is activated.
To generate the new sizes of images downloaded previously, it is necessary to “regenerate your thumbnails” (or Regenerate Thumbnails in English).
To do this, install the WordPress extension ” Regenerate Thumbnails ” which works perfectly.
Remember that images are the main cause of slower loading times for your web pages.
Some tips to avoid unpleasant surprises
Here are some things to do BEFORE changing your WordPress theme:
- Download a plugin ” Maintenance Mode “ to prevent your visitors live changes you make. Especially since you think it will last less than 30 minutes, but in reality, the changes will take much longer.
- Save your current version . It will always be possible to return if you have not managed to get a new version that suits you.
- Save twice . If you have made code changes, here and there. Impossible to find them later!
- Check that all your features and extensions are still working with this new theme.
- Check the compatibility of your site with all browsers .
- Finally, when your new look is online, test your bounce rate to see if it has improved your visibility … or not.
Note : Before making any code changes to your theme, consider making a child theme as WP Training also recommends .
To conclude on how to choose a WordPress theme
I hope this article on WordPress themes helps you find the theme of your dreams.
Do not neglect security or quality and especially test the design to fit the image of your brand.
Because your goal is to attract more visitors to your site !
Many theme libraries exist and ThemeForest is my favorite. But I also gave you my opinion on the interest of paying themes compared to free themes.
The WordPress theme of your business site is a key element of your “graphic design”.But it also affects the loading speed of your company’s website.
This video shows the how to choose Themes in wordpress.