How to Choose a WordPress Theme You’ll Love

Ready to choose a WordPress theme?

Picking the right one can be a complex process.

Not only do you need to look at the design, but you also need to consider what features are available.

How much can you personalize it to match your brand?

Does it look good on mobile?

In this guide, I’ll take you through the four most important factors when comparing WordPress themes, as well as a handful of extra points.

By the end, you’ll know exactly how to choose a WordPress theme with confidence.

How to pick a WordPress theme

Let’s keep things simple.

If you keep these four main points in mind when comparing themes, you’ll have a much easier time making a great choice for your site.

Goal-oriented design

Here’s the first question you need to answer:

Why are you making a website? What’s your primary goal?

The theme you choose should have a design that helps you to reach your goal.

For instance, if your goal is to sell your products, you should look for a theme with an eCommerce design you think would make your products look great.

If you are going to start a blog, you’ll want to choose a theme that highlights your content since that’s the most important part of your site.

Avoid themes that have messy designs and pick a theme that assists you with your primary goal.

Fast load times

Website performance is extremely important. If your site doesn’t load fast, visitors will leave before they ever truly see your site.

The simplest way to test the speed of a theme is to visit the live demo. If it loads slowly there you shouldn’t expect it to be any faster on your site. Especially since every theme shop carefully optimizes their demos to load as quickly as possible.

That said, there are plugins and hosts that can help greatly improve the speed of your site. We have some WordPress performance tips to help you improve your load times.

Mobile-friendly

As of 2017, more pageviews are on mobile than desktop computers. It’s extremely important your theme looks amazing on both laptops and smartphones.

A lot of theme demo sites have built-in options to preview them on tablets and mobile devices. This can make it easier to review the design and make a choice. Otherwise, you can load the demo site on your phone.

Challenger Live Demo
This is a tablet preview from the Challenger live demo.

While the majority of themes make an effort to be responsive and look good on mobile, some are more adaptive than others. The tablet screen size is often neglected by most designers, so make sure to give that a look too.

Quick & easy to customize

You probably don’t want to spend days or weeks customizing your theme.

Ideally, you’ll pick a WordPress theme, import the demo data if your site is brand new, and make a handful of quick customizations. Free themes tend to have fewer options to customize which can be good for getting your site up and running fast.

If you’ve never customized a WordPress site before, check out our basic customization guide to see how it’s done.

A few more things to consider

Those are the four most important factors to consider when choosing a WordPress theme for a blog or business.

You’ll be well on your way to selecting an awesome theme with the points above in mind.

That said, there are a few other things you might want to consider before you make your final choice.

Free VS paid

A lot of WordPress users are unsure whether they should use a free or premium WordPress theme. We’ve written a guide that can help you sort through this too.

Free VS Premium WordPress Themes: Which is Best?

The differences might actually surprise you.

Test it out first

Trying a theme before you buy it can save you a lot of time and trouble.

If you’re looking at free themes, there’s no cost to download and try them out. Even better, WordPress has a built-in preview option so you don’t even need to activate the new theme on your site.

Previewing Startup Blog
The preview option is available via the Appearance menu

Read this tutorial if you want to learn more about previewing themes on your site:

How to Preview a Theme Before Activating It

This same option isn’t available for premium themes, but many theme developers offer extensive demo sites. If the demo site has an admin login too, you can get a good feel for how to use it on your site before you pick a theme.

What features should it include?

Some themes include lots of features in them. Here’s the thing…

It is convenient if a theme includes a feature like built-in contact forms, but it’s not necessary. Don’t choose one theme over another because of this. You can simply install a free plugin like Contact Form 7 or WPForms to add contact forms to your site.

It’s more important to consider the design of a theme than the features that come included with it.

Time to choose a great theme

Here’s a checklist you can use when evaluating themes for your site:

  • Will the design help me with my primary goal?
  • Does it load quickly?
  • Is it mobile-friendly?
  • Is it easy to customize?

You should be able to weed out all the low-quality themes by following these rules.

If you end up with a handful of themes meeting these requirements and you’re not sure which one to pick, try them all out on your site first. Often times, themes will look a lot different when they don’t have the same content and images as the demo.

If there are any features missing, search for some plugins that can help you meet your requirements.

Lastly, if you’re a content creator, check out our themes. We’ve got 18 different designs for bloggers, podcasters, and videographers (and they’re all 100% free to use).

View our free theme collection →

With these four elements in mind, you should be able to narrow down your search and choose a WordPress theme you love.

If you need help picking a WordPress theme or have any questions, please post your comments below.

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