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The WordPress theme you choose is the basis of your website design, but it can also do wonders on your site’s backend functionality, too. That’s why it’s so important to take your time when you’re choosing from a variety of WordPress themes.

It’s much better to avoid changing themes after your site is live, because it can dramatically affect the look and feel of your site, and thus your branding.

Here’s what to think about when you’re choosing a theme for your ecommerce business – or any type of business, for that matter.

Free vs. Paid WordPress Themes

Free themes, or at least those that are listed in the WordPress.org repository, lower the cost of starting your website, and thereby remove a barrier to entry. Almost all of them are super high-quality, simply because WordPress puts them through a strict review before listing them.

That said, they are often limited in terms of support, come with limited features and functionality, and because they are so widely used, mean your website won’t have a unique design. Not only this, but because they come with no warranty, if something goes wrong, it’s up to you to fix.

Premium themes, on the other hand, generally come with a variety of additional features and customization options, making it easier for you to get the functionality you need and create a unique design. Because you’re paying for the theme, you get a great deal more support and updates.

It’s still important, though, to do your due diligence, because many premium themes are crafted with poor code, and include features that could disappear if you change themes – leaving you with a mess to clean up if you’ve used a lot of shortcode.

What You Should Consider When Choosing a WordPress Theme

Not all WordPress ecommerce themes are created equal. Some are designed to work with certain plugins, while others give you the freedom to choose your platform. You should aim for themes that have functionality you want and need, but it also needs to fit the following criteria:

  • Keep it simple.
  • Make sure it’s responsive. This is critical for mobile-friendliness, which is a ranking factor.
  • Compatible with multiple browsers (desktop and mobile) – most themes are, but it’s always worth double checking.
  • Support for the most popular plugins, or at least the ones you intend to use.
  • Translation and multilingual ready – so you can help visitors that aren’t native English speakers if you have a global business.
  • If it uses a “page builder” framework, there’s a lot of flexibility. Just make sure it uses one of the most popular ones, as opposed to one that’s specific to that theme, so you have the freedom to change themes without a lot of cleanup.
  • Support when you need it. Choose a theme with good documentation and support options.
  • SEO friendliness – not all themes are built for SEO. Poorly coded themes can wreak havoc on your rankings.
  • Good ratings and reviews – read up on what other users have to say about the theme.

Why Theme Choice Matters

1. Focus on Creating Quality Content

When you have a quality theme that takes care of everything you need it to, you can focus more of your effort on creating the killer content your audience craves and search engines favor. It is, after all, the theme (design) and content that work together to provide your user experience. If one excels and the other one falls flat, your business will suffer.

2. Streamlines Your Editorial Process

Once you know exactly what a post or page needs on your site, you can create a streamlined editorial process to make it easier to upload and schedule your posts in advance. If you have a multiple author site, you can even add plugins for post status and editorial comments to keep the process as lean and efficient as possible.

3. Spend Less Time and Money on Customizations

If you’re able to find a theme that has most, if not everything that you need, right out of the box, you won’t have to pay someone to customize it to your specifications. You won’t have to spend time doing the specifications yourself, or waiting for the person you hired to get it done before you start working on your site.

4. Includes Features You Need Without Additional Plugins

Plugins are where the power in WordPress is, and you’ll definitely need and want to use some. But, too many plugins, especially those that are poorly coded, can slow down your site and lead to bloat. Because Google and other search engines look at page load time as a ranking factor, it’s important to limit the number of plugins on your site.

Think Carefully When Choosing Your WordPress Theme

Ideally, your theme needs to be viewed as a long-term investment in your site. You don’t want to keep spending money on premium themes until you find one that works for you, which is why you should view demos, read reviews, and really research before you commit.

It’s also important to work within a child theme so you can update the theme framework without overwriting any customizations you may make. Your WordPress theme is the backbone of your entire website – and while you can change it when it’s time to rebrand, the end goal should be finding one that you won’t have to change too much to make it successful as your business grows.