What could be more frustrating? You agree to depart with a few dozen dollars, and buy a premium theme whose demo looks amazing. After you try to customize it to your own business, you are stumped to discover that the theme stops looking so great. In fact, it stops looking at all like the demo site you fell in love with!
Buying a theme just because the demo looks great isn’t enough. In this article I’ll give you 4 mistakes that, if avoided, can increase the chances you’ll make a better theme purchase decision.
#1 Not Considering the Theme Framework
Just because a car is beautiful and shiny on the outside doesn’t mean it’s built right under the hood. The same goes for WordPress themes.
If a theme is not flexible enough, it might mean you’ll get stuck with the original design and won’t be able to make even the most basic compatibility changes to suit your website needs.
In order to make sure you will be able to make the proper changes and customization, you have to test the theme out before you buy it. Some premium themes offer a test drive option that enables you to create a test demo of your site on the subdomain of the theme website. You can check out our test drive area.
This test drive option is great because it gives you the opportunity to check whether the theme is flexible, without having to hire a developer to “look under the hood” and evaluate the code it is written on. Take the time to create at least the homepage for your site on the test drive section, so you know what sort of result to expect after buying the theme.
#2. Ignoring Plugin Features & Compatibility
Everyone uses plugins. They are so convenient, and can give you the ability to add forms, solve security issues, analyze site stats. In fact, you can do just about anything with your WordPress site using plugins. At the time of writing this article there are 43,052 plugins with 1,181,706,081 total downloads in WordPress, and this number has been growing exponentially the last couple of years.
You might be under the impression that plugins and themes are two separate matters, and that you’ll be able to work with any plugins using any theme. This is a grave mistake. In fact, WordPress support forums are filled with frustrated users that don’t understand why plugin X doesn’t work with theme Y.
Don’t worry, you can avoid this problem, and avoid having to fix various compatibility issues, by viewing plugin support & features as a significant consideration when choosing a theme. In order to do this, follow these 3 steps:
- Consider which specific plugins you will need for the site. You don’t need the theme to support all 43K+ plugins, just the ones that are relevant to your project. If you are used to working with WPML, for example, make sure it is compatible to the theme you are thinking of buying.
- Consider which features you will need for the site. Some themes include custom plugins that might be helpful for your website. These can include a custom form solution, site accessibility or popup features. Before buying the theme think about the features you’ll need to properly build and manage the site.
- Contact the theme developer if you are uncertain about the compatibility. If you are not sure whether the theme supports a plugin or feature you will need, contact them with this question, and get a concise answer. You can also ask the WP community regarding compatibility issues, and search Google if someone has run into problems using this plugin with the theme in question.
#3. Buying a Theme Without a Drag and Drop Builder
The Drag and Drop Builder feature has become a standard for premium WordPress themes. Nevertheless, some themes still lack this feature, making it so much harder to build and maintain the WordPress site.
A Drag & Drop builder is a tool that lets the admin create a designed page simply by dragging and dropping elements into a grid layout that determines the look and feel of the page.
With a drag and drop theme you can create differently designed pages without having to do any coding whatsoever.
#4. Choosing a Theme with Built-In Images
Even though this phenomenon is less common in modern themes, some WordPress themes incorporate images inside of the theme. This is a problem.
These images could be large images, used in the default header, or small thumbnail images, used for site navigation, menus or edges for example.
Errors with such themes occur when you customize the theme to use a different color, or when you change the theme direction. Suddenly your alterations don’t apply to the images, and you are forced to manually change and adjust the images and the design.
#5. Not Considering Font Problems When Changing Language
We have covered how easy it is to create a WordPress multi-language website in the past. Even though the technical is quite easy, making sure the design isn’t affected is more complex. Converting the design from LTR to RTL, font compatibility and other issues can affect the design and make the theme unusable.
Because fixing language problems for a theme require highly advanced programming skills, it is much more recommended to choose a theme that is pre-built to be compatible with the languages you plan to use in the site.
Don’t trust the promised multilingual features the theme promises. Go into the test drive for the theme and try out the target language in question. It may take you more time but save you a lot more time and hassle in the future.
There are tens of thousands of premium WordPress themes to choose from, and the task of choosing one can seem impossible.
In this article I did not address an important issue – how will the theme serve you. Are you looking to buy a developer package, and going to build several websites, or are you looking for a one website solution?
Whatever the use is, the one takeaway of this article is this: Test Drive as Many Themes Possible. Don’t settle for trusting the commercial copy of the theme. Test drive the theme in order to make sure the backend is as good and friendly as the frontend.
Did this article help you choose and customize your theme? Let us know in the comments.