7 Tips for Choosing a WordPress Theme

Posted on May 21st, 2010. Tagged with: .

Doing some WordPress theme-hunting? Here’s a checklist of things to look for in a good WordPress theme that’ll hopefully help you narrow down the choices:

#7 — Does It Use Header Tags Correctly?

An SEO fine point: see tip #14 from my WordPress SEO post.

#6 — Does it Have Valid Code?

If possible, validate a default setup of the theme. If the theme itself has errors, the designer probably hasn’t taken the greatest care in its development.

#5 — Is It So 1990s?

A theme that uses tables, font tags, excessive inline styles, etc. (as opposed to external style sheets) will bloat the file size of your blog’s pages, increase rendering times, and eat up bandwidth more quickly.

Virtually all of the popular themes should be fine on this point, but it’s some of the more obscure ones you might have to check or ask about.

#4 — Does It Support the Latest WordPress Features?

Check with the theme’s documentation and see if it supports newer WordPress features such as:

  • Tags (added in WordPress 2.3)
  • Widgets (added in WordPress 2.2)

#3 — Is It Sponsored?

Sponsored themes are usually an SEO no-no. If the theme’s website says something along the lines of “don’t remove the links in the footer,” that should raise a red flag.

#2 — Is It Unique Enough?

If you’re trying to create a visual brand with your blog, then try to avoid using the WordPress Default Theme or another theme that everyone and their dog has seen on some other blog.

Try to find a theme that isn’t used on an excessive amount of blogs, or get a custom theme developed if you’re willing to hire someone.

#1 — Does it Look Good?

It goes without saying that if the theme doesn’t convey a professional image (and if a professional image is important to you), don’t use it, even if it means you have to go with another theme that doesn’t quite do all of the above.

Finding the perfect theme is a bit like shopping: try some out, see what looks best, and have fun with it!