Ultimate Cheatsheet to Selecting Commercial WordPress Themes
Posted: May 23, 2016
For many reasons either developer or companies go for a hunt for their next WordPress theme which they want to develop their website upon. Since your whole website will be dependent on this particular WordPress theme and since i suppose no one likes to spend unnecessary money on useless items it is better to study first and consider the following points before considering purchasing a commercial WordPress Themes.
Things to consider:
Documentation: This is the most important part we believe for any commercial WordPress theme because the more documentation is user friendly and better the lesser questions you raise for support and the more easy it becomes to set up the theme. However many commercial themes lack proper documentation and hence support becomes overloaded with tickets and there is a stream of unhappy customers. Some theme developers have video documentation as well as textual documentation along with pictures for easy understanding. Please check commercial themes which have this kind of video and pictoral documentation which will make it super easy for set up.
Support: Many times while building a WordPress theme based website you come across something very silly or some kind of extra requirements which you couldn't foresee while choosing your theme and thus you raise a ticket or ask support for help. But what if the support doesn't respond timely or ignores your question by saying that such customizations are under custom requirements and don't come under theme support. Hence its very important to check internet and search for the particular commercial theme which you like and how its support is. Most support forums are public and hence there is no problem in checking how support queries are answered. If the support is friendly and they reply timely then you should definitely consider that particular commercial WordPress theme.
Page Speed: Definitely a faster site would mean that more and more visitors click on your links and navigate through your website. It also means that more and more chances are visitors read more info on your website and they can become potential customers. Google also gives points for Page Speed and respectively to SEO as well. Hence a faster website is definitely a desired output which is only possible if the commercial WordPress theme is of top notch quality with scripts minimized and properly added and reduced repeated script loading in header and footer. Some theme developers don't understand how to properly minify and use scripts and reduce the number of scripts and integrate into a single file which increases the number of files to be loaded separately in header hence delaying the entire process. Hence check the actual demo and check reviews which suggest whether the theme is really fast or not. Most theme developers install cache plugins, minify it externally and then show their theme as fast but reviews and source code reveals number of files loaded in header and thus reveal whether theme is actually fast or not.
SEO Friendly: SEO is one of the top things always needed for any website. Because what good is a website if its not searchable and can be easily found. A website with higher Google rankings definitely will get more traffic and in turn have the website success rate more than the website with lesser rankings and hence SEO is one thing to be pointed out whenever it comes to website. As a theme developer they should ensure that all the heading tags, image alt tags and rest of the SEO points are in place. Proper schema, meta data and proper silos structure is being used while developing the theme.
Developer Friendly coding: More commercial WordPress themes are picked up by developers because they become easy to customize and build quick websites for clients however what good will the theme be if it doesn't have proper commented out code. Developers will have a hard time customizing the theme because not always do you find all features available in theme options and sometimes it becomes essential for the developer to edit the core files. Hence its necessary that all the core files are well commented.
External Scripts: Too many external scripts means that your website is dependent on the proper functioning of these scripts. If the script becomes dead or tomorrow incompatible with an updated browser then that becomes a problem. Another problem is security. If the external script can be easily hacked it will become easy for hackers to wipe off the data you have in your website. Another considerable problem is that too many external scripts can slow down the website if the other website doesn't respond quickly. Hence there should be limited use of external scripts and most probably these scripts should be stored locally and integrated into 1 file so that load time of the website is less plus it becomes secured.
Plugin dependency: Many WordPress themes are coded such that they need a page builder or a shortcode builder in the backend as a plugin in order to function properly. Many WordPress themes also have sliders as plugins and are dependent on them. Most popular page builders and sliders are updated and most of them are good but some of them have serious issues with latest WordPress updates. Some of them are exploited for hack or malware easily. Hence its not that wise to consider WordPress themes which are over dependent and heavily rely on a plugin to perform because tomorrow if you might need to change your theme you will again have to be dependent on the same plugin for content or you will have to port the content from the plugin into actual WordPress database i.e. In pages or posts. Hence wisely one should select the themes which are bundled with popular plugins and check if these plugins are independently updated or not. Any theme which bundles a plugin and is overdependent on it and doesn't show updated one should be avoided at all costs due to risk or losing content or security risks.
Framework dependency: Frameworks like Genesis, Thesis, WooFramework, Options framework etc have ruled the market and there was a time when each and every framework said they were the best in terms of SEO as well as in terms of clean coding. Now these days are over and most themes aren't dependent on these redundant frameworks. Instead developers now code their WordPress themes free of any frameworks because its not good to be dependent on either plugin or framework for each and every function of your theme or website to perform. Its better to have simple items work simple way and use WordPress customizer API instead of clunky frameworks which might not be updated overtime and checked with current WordPress version. Then your themes' fate is hanging on the fate of the framework as well. Thus consider WordPress approved frameworks which are either present as plugin in their repository or get themes which use WordPress customizer API.
Author Credentials: Check for author credentials and if he has good reviews and has been developing and publishing themes for a while. If the author is new there are 50-50 chances of him being good or bad in terms of coding as well as support. If the author is old then consider honest reviews and check for negative reviews. If there are too many negative reviews about the theme author or their WordPress themes then you should avoid these ones. Consider the ones having not just glossy reviews (because reviews can be paid ones too) but having credible support forum requests and check for support timings and is forum well supported. Check for complaints by customers and check if the author tried to resolve them. If they did then they are genuine and you should give them a shot.
Plugin Compatibility: There are little more than 40,000 plugins in WordPress.org repository and little over 10,000 in codecanyon. So basically testing a WordPress theme with 50,000 plugins is almost impossible. However the most popular ones like gallery plugins, slider plugins, SEO plugins, contact form plugins are to be tested because these might be used for developing the effective website by users and hence check themes which have written their compatibility with such plugins. Some themes are multilingual and hence compatibility with either qTranslate X or WPML or Polylang is must. If these all or one of the plugins are compatible with that particular theme then you can convert your website easily into multilingual website. Thus even though not all plugins are important but do check compatibility level with the ones you might be requiring sooner or in near future.
Browser compatibility: Several new browsers like UC browser, Dolphin have come up in mobile browsing and hence the popular mobile browsers as well as standard browsers like Safari, Chrome, Firefox etc are supposed to be checked. Most themes declare that they aren't compatible with several older IE versions like 8 and 9 and hence if you don't have much customers from these browsers you need not worry. Plus you can use WordPress plugin which inform a customer who is visiting from an outdated browser to update their browser for good impact of your website. Thus check for WordPress themes which are compatible with most popular browsers to have your customers visit your website nicely.
Updates: Check for WordPress themes which are updated often and are constantly evolving. While i can't agree much that too many updates can also spoil the fun an update in 2-3 months time makes sense and one should update their WordPress themes to have it with better features and compatible with latest version of WordPress. The themes which are updated once in a while to have better features and compatibility are sure going to be the better choices.
A Premium WordPress theme that can meet all ends and requirements is what everyone desires for the payment they make. This theme is both flexible in terms of functionality and its uses as well as adaptable for any type of industry and domains.