Today, most business activities, including shopping, search, learning, and payments, occur online. These factors led to a rise in the importance of websites for success, especially during the pandemic and resulting lockdowns. Building a website might seem intimidating, but content management systems (CMS), such as WordPress allow anyone to create a website without writing a line of code. Of course, a big factor in the effort necessary to build a website and the success in your website’s performance, is your choice of a WordPress theme. So, today we’ll provide some advice on that choice.
To help you get started, I wrote an ebook (that’s free) to walk you through the process of creating a WordPress website with tons of screengrabs to make the process easy and efficient.
WordPress is well-known for blogging, but in reality, it goes way beyond blogging to creating any type of website. About 4.5% of the Internet today uses WordPress. Over half the websites that use a content management system have WordPress as the website builder, even some of the biggest websites out there (check out the image below for a taste of these brands using WordPress). A valid inquiry to make at this point is what goes into building a WordPress website? Firstly, it is about choosing the right theme to support your goals. The rest of the article discusses this in detail.
Introduction to WordPress
As mentioned above, WordPress goes beyond blogging and is the go-to choice among the business and entrepreneurship community. WordPress offers over 10,000 WordPress themes in the online marketplace. Even more themes are available from other vendors and that number grows dramatically every year. It could take days or even long weeks to narrow down your choice of a WordPress theme to just a handful. To help, we offer tips to narrow your choice based on the primary criteria you must consider. Chief among these criteria are responsiveness, color scheme, free or premium, and others.
Narrowing down the list of WordPress themes
Listing the desired features
First things first, you should list down the desired features needed for your WordPress theme. This is where the WordPress Feature Filter comes to the rescue, allowing you to filter themes based on a few criteria you must have.
Whether you’re seeking a language-based WordPress theme for translation-ready functionality or navigation-friendliness through flexible headers, the feature filter has it all. Also, make sure to have a design template ready to help decide between themes. For instance, should the proposed site have single or multiple columns?
In addition, there are a few criteria all websites require for SEO (search engine optimization) that helps folks find you in an online search.
Responsiveness is no longer an option, but an essential requirement of all websites. Responsiveness refers to the ability of the theme to detect the user’s screen size and automatically adjust the content so it looks great on that size. With people using various gadgetry, including mobile phones, tablets, and laptops, responsiveness is paramount and a ranking factor for SEO. According to experts, the bulk of web traffic comes through mobile and other devices. Such is the prevalence of mobile, that Google displays mobile-friendly sites at the top in mobile search results.
Compatibility with multiple browsers
Safari, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, and Microsoft Edge are among the top browsers available for an online search. Most themes are tested to perform well on multiple browsers but it’s something to consider in choosing a WordPress theme.
Hence, the need for sites to be compatible with various browsers. Most developers engage in rigorous testing of their themes to check for browser compatibility. Also, for some of them, this is explicitly mentioned in their description of the theme. If not, then you can always check for yourself by opening the site on different browsers.
Recent times saw rising demand for the vernacular, that is, regional and language-specific websites. This is where the advent of translation comes into play.
If you want a wide range of folks to visit from different parts of the world, speaking different languages, you must use a WordPress theme that is translation-ready or multilingual. Some options even autodetect the visitor’s country and default to the most prevalent language in that region.
Choosing a language-ready theme allows you to keep your options open, such as creating a multilingual WordPress website in the future. There are several WordPress translation plugins out there that also enhance your language capability. Among the available plugins are WPML or WordPress Multilingual Plugin.
Keep an eye out for premium themes
Free themes are ideal for those with limited financial resources, but they are often harder to get right, are less stable, and sometimes offer poor coding, which reduces their utility for users and hurts your SEO. They also don’t get updated regularly. More importantly, they often lack appropriate support for users that results in wasted time and effort.
Another point that strengthens the appeal of premium themes is they tend to be more dynamic than free ones. Premium themes comprise more features that enable brands and businesses to stand out from the crowd. Not all premium themes require recurring payments; some of them are available for a one-time payment. Some of the premium WordPress themes are Floral, Verity, and Ovation, among others.
Go for SEO-friendly themes
Organic search, traffic to your site from search engines requires websites and their pages employ SEO, hence SEO-friendliness is a crucial factor when choosing themes. WordPress themes impact the overall SEO-friendliness of your site and thereby the ranking of your site in search engine results pages or SERPs. More so, SEO-friendliness often affects overall site performance.
To guarantee that your site is set for SEO, the W3C Validation Service makes an excellent support service. SEO-friendly themes go beyond just impacting site rank and performance. Some themes help augment your website’s SEO through the nitty-gritty of SEO title, meta description, keyword testing, and others. Plugins can support your theme if it doesn’t provide SEO options natively.
This is where comprehensive plugins, such as Yoast SEO, along with its several in-built tools and features, come to the rescue. In order to create a successful SEO strategy for your newly built website, it is recommended to choose a partner such as the SEO agency in London. SEO experts can help with onsite, technical, and off-page optimizations, which lead to long-term benefits.
Test your themes
Once you have narrowed down the choices for themes, test their efficiency and functionality before you take your new website live. The Theme Check plugin is an excellent option that fulfills this requirement effectively. Firstly, the plugin helps ensure that the theme conforms to the current WordPress standards.
But, when should you test the themes? Ideally, once you added all your plugins and uploaded your web content. Read all your content and check the site on various screen sizes and browsers to see how the content, including images, load, since load speed is an SEO factor and wonky images increase your bounce rate, which lowers your rank.
Today, the bulk of business-related activities take place online, which means a website is no longer an option. Building a WordPress website is fast and easy without requiring a line of code. However, with having over 10,000 theme options, you should start making your theme choice by defining the features you envision on your new or remodeled website. Next, look for responsiveness and browser compatibility. Premium themes offer important advantages over free ones and don’t involve a significant cost when compared with other tools for building a website. Additional aspects to consider when choosing a WordPress theme are SEO-friendliness and translation-ready. Finally, test your new website before officially launching your website.
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