Choosing a WordPress Theme: ThemeForest VERSUS Custom Theme

 

What should you look for when choosing a WordPress theme?

WordPress is one of the most widely used Content Management Systems and Blog platform in the universe.  The reason for it’s popularity is it’s ease of use, and straight forward customisation without requiring any web development or coding knowledge.  BUT..!

 

There’s always a ‘But’…

 If you choose the wrong theme,  you may end up with a slow loading website that is laden with plugins and top heavy javascript. Nobody likes a slow loading website. A website which loads at a snails pace leads to a poor user experience and a high bounce rate, that  = no customers, a poor performing online business, not to mention a poor performing Google adwords campaign, due to a higher than average cost per click.  You may as well put up a shop opening sign, but leave the door locked all day.

 

So what are the pitfalls and what do you need to know before buying your wordpress theme?

 

1. Look for a wordpress theme with a light framework

   This isn’t as easy as it sounds for the non-technical personnel.  How do you know a wordpress theme is going to perform fast.  Without actually buying it and testing it for yourself, you can;

  1. Check out the demo site
  2. Look for negative comments about the theme or
  3.  Check if the theme author mentions the words ‘light framework’  or ‘fast loading theme’ in the theme description.
  4.  See which plugins are packaged with the theme and check that the author reviews are positive.
  5. Consult an experienced wordpress web developer

  If you require assistance with your wordpress project, we can help you there!

 

2.  Drag and Drop Page Editors, Plugins and the Kitchen Sink!

Most themes are feature rich with all kinds of widgets, plugins and fancy page editors.  Most on the market are ok, but some can cause major page load speed issues and make your site as slow as a tortoise.  A lot of the features are never used anyway, so the best philosophy is to install what you need and avoid plugins when they can be hard coded instead for better performance.   Again try to choose a theme that doesn’t overload with plugins and has a light framework.  I would advise adopting a bootstrap theme that is fast, light  and responsive.  Using the older themes like twentyfourteen should probably be avoided, as will take longer to code for tablet and mobile devices.

 

3. Check the Theme Authors Feedback and Comments

If a theme has only been around for a couple of weeks, then it’s best to hold off buying the theme until it’s been around for atleast a couple of months so the main bugs have been fixed.  There is a caveat – if the theme has been developed by a premium author that has a healthy history, and gives timely responses to comments and support, and appears to deliver a  fast turn around for fixes,  then sometimes it’s ok to go with it.

 

What’s the alternative to ensure my WordPress site is Super Fast?  

 

Answer: A Custom WordPress Build

Although a custom wordpress job, this can take longer and be more expensive than an off the shelf theme,  it is often the best way to build a wordpress site. If you want fast loading web pages then  building it from the ground up is the best method.  Why not task your wordpress web developer to build it from scratch using a clean, fast loading, light framework ‘Vanilla’ wordpress theme.

 You can still integrate page editors like the Visual Composer plugin or pixgridder, so you can perform most of the content management yourself, and avoid on going support costs for changes and additions.

Here are a few fast and light wordpress themes that can be used for a custom build.  We often use the roots wordpress theme which we have had a lot of success with in terms of speed.