The first thing most WordPress userswill do after they’ve installed the content management system is install and configure a theme. One of WordPress’s great strengths is the hugenumber of themes that are available. WordPress has generated a massiveecosystem — there are many millions of WordPress sites — and there arethousands of developers competing for a slice of the WordPress pie. But, as you can imagine, not all themes are made equal and new WordPressusers often make assumptions about themes that can lead to a frustrating experience.
There is an almost limitless choiceof WordPress themes, and WordPress theme developers have done amazingthings, but there are a few factors that people new to WordPress shouldkeep in mind before buying a theme.
Don’t Take The Theme Demo At Face Value
When I first started using WordPress, I was naïve. I saw a theme that interested me and checked out the theme demo page — it looked incredible. I bought the theme and excitedlyinstalled it on my new site, thinking that would be that and I’d beready to start adding content. Unfortunately, it looked terrible —nothing like the demo page.
Naturally, developers want their demo pages to look as good as possible, and some — not all — will create aslightly misleading impression on users. Developers will load up thesite with media and plugins that don’t come with the theme. The moreunscrupulous developers will make custom modifications to the demo pagethat won’t be part of the theme you can you download.
In almost all cases, you’ll have some work to do after you’ve installed a theme.
The rest of this article will detail how you can avoid buyer’s remorse where WordPress themes are concerned.
What Support Does The Theme Developer Offer?
Theme developers differ considerablyin the level of support they are willing to offer. Some provide nosupport at all (which is unacceptable for a premium product), and somewill go so far as to make small custom modifications on your live siteto make you happy. Most developers are somewhere in-between. The onlyway to be sure is to look carefully at the developer’s support forums,website, and comments in the theme marketplace. If you don’t like whatyou see, walk away.
A related matter is the developer’srefund policy. Make sure they’re willing to give you your money back ifthe theme doesn’t suit your requirements. The best way to find out is to ask.
What Do Other Users Of The Theme Say?
Past users are often a great guide to whether a theme is likely to fulfill its promise. Most thememarketplaces allow users to comment on and rate their experiences with a theme.
Some Themes Are Excessively Heavy
In an effort to make the appeal of atheme as broad as possible, some developers load themes up with as manyfeatures and customization options as they can. The result can often be a slow site. Look carefully at the features a theme includes to ensurethat you don’t end up with a monster that will bog your site down. Muchof the time, however, it’s impossible to tell how well coded andefficient a theme is. I’ve included a few links at the bottom of thisarticle to theme developers who reliably create feature-rich butlightweight themes.
Make Sure That You Can Modify The Theme To Suit Your Needs
The customizability of themes runsthe gamut from almost endlessly flexible to very rigid. I’ve often heard stories of people buying a theme in the expectation that they can make a few tweaks so that it fulfills their requirements, only to be told bythe developer that the changes they need to make are impossible orrequire delving deep into PHP and rewriting huge chunks of the code.
Sometimes it’s just a badly coded and designed script, but it isn’t always the developer’s fault. They haveto account for a range of abilities: some people want themes that work“out-of-the-box” as designed and some want to be able to changeeverything. Accounting for all users is impossible, which is why youshould make sure you know the developer’s refund policy.
Theme Developers Worth Considering
There are thousands of themedevelopers of vastly variable quality. Many of them are wonderful, andit would be impossible to put together a comprehensive list of the best, so here are just a handful of developers that I have had goodexperiences with.