When you go to develop your online store you’ll naturally look for themes that appeal to your own tastes, but this isn’t always the best way to choose the right theme. Whilst a lot of the options available follow a classic design with typical corporate or personal layouts and colours, it’s important to also factor in your own logo, colour scheme and products when making the final choice.
Our top tips for choosing the right theme are:
- Make sure the theme you want is WooCommerce integrated. Some claim to be but don’t include basic pages such as My Account. If you’re using WooCommerce then this is obviously essential.
- Check the update frequency, changelog and any past reviews of releases. If a lot of errors have been reported and there has been no developer feedback, it may be best to steer clear. On the other hand, if it is regularly maintained and compatible with the latest versions of WooCommerce and WordPress, then it’s worth adding to your shortlist.
- Is it responsive? Responsive websites optimised for mobile users generate a much higher return visitor rate than those that aren’t – as many as 75% visitors return to a responsive site that can be accessed properly on all devices.
- Be aware of how to use custom functionality and the implications if you decide to switch themes later on. If you want to add extra functionality to a theme then plugins may be an easier option, as adding extra functionality through elements such as shortcodes can trip you in the long run when you want to make changes.
- Speaking of custom functionality, can you change the fonts and colours? You ideally want unlimited font and colour changes, but even four options are better than just one! You do want to customise your theme to your own colours, so if your theme doesn’t offer this, we’d recommend moving on.
- Look at the support policy before you buy a Premium theme, as you want to know you’ll be able to ask for help if any bugs crop up. If you’re spending money, then you definitely want good levels of support from the developers! If you’re using a free theme, check how often the support forum is updated.
- Understand the difference between a Theme Framework and a standalone Theme. Standalone themes work independently whereas Frameworks use parent themes to control child themes. Confused? Don’t be; either option will most likely use a drag and drop editor and a Framework does take away a lot of the coding required. Be sure to investigate the support and communities around your chosen theme or framework to help you on your way.
- Make sure the theme supports popular Plugins such as Yoast SEO, Akismet Anti-Spam and Contact Form. These are all commonly used for a reason – they’re good and effective, and you want them to work for you, too. Spend some time exploring all the Plugins relevant for your site and check your chosen theme supports them.
- Does the theme include social media widgets and integration? If not, this could be a problem if you use social media and want to include links to it from your website. You can work around this issue with a plugin if you really like the theme otherwise, but good themes do tend to have this functionality built in.
- Test, test, test. You can use the Theme Check Plugin to check it meets current standards and you can also preview your theme before applying it. It goes without saying you should also test your site in a dev environment before launching it to the world.