Over the past few months, I’ve taken on a few web development projects. The first is a personal blog, the second is an artist portfolio, and the third one is an e-commerce site for a startup I’m currently involved with. I decided to use WordPress for all of these projects because of the huge user base, wide variety of themes and plugins, and my familiarity with the CMS. For the personal blog, I found the Wintersong Pro theme for Genesis, with some CSS customization was the perfect solution. For the artist portfolio site, I started with the Bridge premium theme and heavily customized both the look and functionality of the site. The e-commerce website was where I just bled money.
Casually browsing through e-commerce themes, everything looked so good on the surface. I would buy a theme, install it, play around with it, then discover that it wasn’t suitable for my website. I repeated this process three more times before I was able to find a theme that was ABSOLUTELY PERFECT. Here are a few tips on how to look for the perfect WordPress premium theme without wasting your hard-earned dollars.
Make a List
Before you go searching for a theme, make a checklist of exactly what you’re looking for in a theme. When I see a gorgeous looking theme, it’s easy to forget what I’m actually looking for because I’m in that “I want my website to look exactly like this theme” state of mind. Making a list of what you’re looking for makes it easy to cross-reference when theme shopping. Let me give you an example.
For my e-commerce site, I was initially set on North from Fuel Themes. The design is absolutely stunning, and the homepage fullscreen slider was perfect. I didn’t end up checking out any of the other pages in-depth because I was so excited about that homepage. Long story short, I soon realized the product page couldn’t be easily optimized for my needs, and I had to search for another theme. If I had made a list of what I wanted in a product page, I could’ve saved $65. After making a list, I ended up with Blaszok theme. After some easy customization, it’s absolutely perfect my site.
Check Out the Live Preview
You shouldn’t check out the live preview until you have a list of what you want. Choosing a theme for your site can make or break your business, and there’s just no way you can remember everything you want and need without writing it down.
Most premium themes for WordPress have a lot of different layouts and options that can all be viewed on the demo site. Make sure you check out all of the different layouts and pages, so you can get a good idea of everything the theme is capable of. If a theme satisfies most things on your list, bookmark it. If it barely satisfies any of your needs, move on to the next option.
Read the Comments and Support Forum
Marketplaces like ThemeForest have a comments section and a link to the support forum, where you can check the responsiveness of a developer. Lots of unanswered comments or support requests is a red flag. The support forum is also a great place to discover potential drawbacks of a theme. If you see an issue with a theme you like, browse the support forum to see if the problem has already been solved.
The overall responsiveness of the developer indicates how invested he or she is. If you see a lot of unanswered comments or support request, it’s okay to assume the developer might not answer your questions either. The developer might also not care enough to update the theme with new features and security patches.
So there you have it. Don’t go on a shopping spree because you usually can’t get refunds when buying themes online. Know what you want and make a list before you shop. I’m glad I was eventually able to find the perfect theme for my site, but it would’ve been nice if I didn’t have to spend $250 to get there!