Picking a WordPress theme can be overwhelming. There are so many to choose from that it’s all too easy to spend hours scrolling through endless options without ever settling on a theme. Sound familiar? You’re certainly not alone.
Rather than relentlessly scouring ThemeForest for a theme that fulfills every possible requirement, it can help to focus the mind if you instead consider the “deal-breakers”–or the things you know you want to avoid. And so, we’ve done the hard work for you and pulled together 10 common regrets when picking a WordPress theme to help you decide once and for all!
Let us know in the comments below if you’ve experienced any of the 10 mistakes–or if there’s anything else you’d add to the list.
1. Not Considering Responsive Design
With mobile traffic now at a more than 51% share of global online traffic, it’s no longer enough to solely consider how your site will look and function on desktop. And of course, you also have to think about tablets and varying screen sizes.
Even if in theory you’re aware of how important responsive design is, it can be easy to get carried away during the decision-making process and land on a template that looks far better on whichever device you’re using at the time. Try to avoid this!
Most WordPress sites on ThemeForest will be fully responsive, but make sure to experiment and see how the template looks across as many different devices as possible.
Responsive WordPress Theme: Avada | Responsive Multi-Purpose Theme
If you’re looking for a fully responsive theme, Avada is a great option. With more than 525,000 downloads so far, the template is designed to work perfectly across every device.
Note: if you’re interested in learning the fundamentals behind responsive web design, you can’t go wrong with the second edition of Ethan Marcotte’s ground breaking book. Read it today with your Tuts+ subscription.
2. Being Unrealistic About Imagery
There are so many beautiful templates out there that make striking photography the focal point. Although this can look extremely effective, it can be easy to get swept away and forget about the imagery you have available. Maybe you’re just starting out and you don’t have much photography at your fingertips, or you’re a business selling services rather than products, you don’t want to sacrifice the visual identity of your site because you can’t match the standards of the template.
That being said, imagery will always be an important aspect of your site so buying high-quality images from Envato Elements which you can easily edit is a good option.
Image-led WordPress Theme: Photography WordPress
The Photography WordPress template is fantastic if you have strong imagery to feature on your site. The full-width template gives it a modern feel.
3. Picking the Default WordPress Theme
There’s a fine line here, as you want to avoid wasting time aimlessly searching for a theme, but then again, settling on the first template you see may not be the best option. The Twenty Nineteen WordPress default theme is clean and simple, and according to WordPress, is “built to be beautiful on all screen sizes” and designed to be “adaptable”.
It could be that it works well for your needs, but with more than 4,000 downloads a day, you may want to go your own way and choose a theme more aligned to your requirements.
Default WordPress Theme: Twenty Nineteen
4. Only Considering Free Themes
Of course, WordPress templates are designed for a huge array of reasons–including business, personal, and non-profit, and everyone will have different budgets at their disposal. Although there are a whole host of great free templates out there, it could be that premium themes (many less than $100) offer many more features that can help to take your business to the next level.
Premium WordPress Theme: BeTheme – Responsive Multi-Purpose WordPress Theme
For example, the BeTheme is one of the most popular ThemeForest templates out there, partly because it is highly customizable and even comes with more than 450 pre-built templates. A regular license costs $59.
5. Abandoning Different Browsers
It can be easy to “design for yourself”–i.e. for the browser and device you happen to be using during the creation process. But WordPress templates can look quite different on each browser, so you need to make sure that you pick a theme that works well across Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox, etc.
If you currently have a site–WordPress or otherwise, that you’re looking to update or replace, looking at your analytics to understand which browser is most commonly used by your users is a good place to start.
Multi-Browser WordPress Theme: Newspoint – Creative Personal Blog WordPress Theme
There are plenty of great options out there but the Newspoint theme certainly works well across all major browsers.
6. Ignoring Load Time
Picking a site with swathes of multimedia can look appealing, but it can impact the site’s load time. Not only will this negatively impact the user experience, it’s likely to affect your bounce rate as users get tired of waiting. In fact, every second counts as the probability of bounce increases 32% as page load time increases from 1 second to 3 seconds.
This should be an important part of your selection process, and if you like a theme it’s worth checking the reviews to see if other users have rated the speed. There are many tools, like this one, which test the speed of your template–both when it’s in the demo stage and when your website is up and running.
Fast WordPress Theme: TheGem – Creative Multi-Purpose High Performance WordPress Theme
Again, there are many options depending on the requirements of your site, but TheGem templates are well-known for their fast loading speeds.
Check out these best-selling themes on Themeforest and see how their demos fared in basic performance tests:
7. Not Planning Ahead
Perhaps you’re starting a business you may want to scale, or you’re creating a crowdfunding site with various campaigns you’re looking to fund in future–a lot can change over a few months! You need to make sure you’re picking a template that offers flexibility–i.e. the ability to add a blog, or videos, or additional pages to hammer your message home.
Make sure to check all the theme’s available features–even if you don’t use them all at once, picking a theme that will be equipped to evolve with you will save you time.
Customizable WordPress Theme: The7 – Multi-Purpose Website Building Toolkit for WordPress
The7 theme is one of the most customizable around–it comes with loads of plugin options which you can add post your website’s launch. There are more than 250 page options so you can design around your needs.
8. Dismissing ECommerce
Similar to the previous point, but it’s so important it deserves its own section. Maybe you’re using your WordPress site to share imagery of your photography, pottery, or painting, and then, as your work is seen by more people, people start requesting to buy your products.
If you pick a theme with the option to add the WooCommerce plugin, you can quickly and easily monetize your craft, turning it into a business. Even if you think this is a year or more away, selecting a template now with this as an option will prevent you from starting from scratch further down the line.
ECommerce WordPress Theme: Manufactura – Handmade Crafts, Artisan, Artist
The beautifully clean Manufactura theme could be used to showcase your arts and crafts–but the WooCommerce plugin is also fully supported for when you’re ready to make some money!
19+ Best WooCommerce Themes: To Make a Better Online Store
15+ Best eCommerce Website Templates: Updated for 2019
9. Not Speaking to the Developer
Asking the theme’s developers any questions before you buy is a great way to clear up any outstanding queries while assessing how helpful their support is. Whether you’re completely new to WordPress or a seasoned pro, many themes offer long-term support which can prove invaluable, not only as you set your site up, but also as you make any future changes.
Support WordPress Theme: Oshine – Multipurpose Creative WordPress Theme
Many WordPress templates come with dedicated help and advice from coders plus the wider community, but the highly editable Oshine theme is no stranger to five-star reviews regarding the support they offer!
10. Not Designing for Accessibility
Having an accessible website means that people with disabilities can use it. If you make accessibility your focal point from the beginning rather than an afterthought, your website will be inclusive from the get-go. Not only is it the right thing to do and your users will thank you, but by making your site accessible to all, you’re also likely to reduce your bounce rate and increase your potential number of customers. Plus, accessibility is known to boost sites’ SEO.
Things to think about are using alt tags to describe each picture you use and opting for clear color contrasts so text is easy to read. You can read WordPress’ accessibility guidelines here. There are also plenty of tools to test how accessible your site is, like this one from the Bureau of Internet Accessibility.
Accessible WordPress Theme: Monument Valley – Accessible WooCommerce & Business Masterpiece
Monument Valley is designed with accessibility in mind–in fact, the theme demo content is 99% accessible, with any exceptions clearly stated.
Now the Journey Begins!
Knowing what to avoid when selecting your WordPress theme can be half the battle, so we hope this guide helps you pick a template that works best for you. There are many great templates to choose from over on ThemeForest, so take a look and try to avoid these 10 common regrets!
Have you ever made any mistakes when picking a WordPress theme? Spread the wisdom and let us know in the comments below!