In business, having a website is important. It establishes your presence and gives you and your business a sense of legitimacy. And if you’re planning to start a website, there’s no better option than to use WordPress. It’s easy to use, easy to learn, and probably the most important, it’s very customizable.
However, one thing that could stop you from progressing is the many WordPress themes to choose from for your website. With different options available, how do you know you’re selecting the perfect one?
Keep on reading as we walk you through the process of selecting the ideal theme for your WordPress site.
Importance of a Good WordPress Theme for Your Site, Shop, or Blog
Is selecting a theme really all that important? Well, it’s more crucial than you think. Here’s why:
- You wish amuse your visitors.
According to research, the adage “first impressions last” is true. If you choose a bad theme for your website, you’ll immediately get a negative perception not just about your site but also about your whole business. Remember, the website–and the theme, by extension–represent your brand!
Yes, you can change a theme later, like getting one of many custom-designed WordPress themes available. However, it’s much harder to change their first negative impression of you, if ever.
In short, it’s better to start with a good theme before going live.
- You want to build consistency and trust in your brand.
Let’s say you’re an eCommerce company that sells women’s products. Your branding is soft and feminine. But then, when women visit your site, they’ll see aggressive and masculine branding based on your chosen theme.
Aside from them getting confused, they might also start to doubt that you’re trustworthy and real. After all, you “lied” to them about your branding. What else could you be hiding that they don’t know about, right?
Remember that nowadays, people appreciate brand authenticity. And when you can present that in your chosen WordPress theme, you can likely say hello to increased visitors, conversion, and loyal customers.
- You want speed and security.
Your choice of WordPress themes can affect your website loading speed. If your choice of theme is poorly coded–which means a lot of bloats regarding features and code–you’ll likely experience slow loading times. Users won’t necessarily stick around to wait for your website to appear fully.
More importantly, remember that Google looks at page speed when ranking sites. So if your website is slow, expect a lower ranking in search engine results.
Also, not all WordPress themes are updated regularly or are compatible with the latest version of WordPress. That means they’re not necessarily secure and can be attacked by hackers. You’ll experience bugs, spam, lower rankings, and, basically, many things that can affect your website and your business negatively.
Things to Consider While Selecting a WordPress Theme
Now that you know why having a good WordPress theme is important, in no particular order, here are some considerations before you decide which one you’ll install on your site.
- Visual Appeal
The first thing visitors will see when your website loads is your design, such as your logo, colors, and fonts. If they don’t like your chosen theme, they’ll likely navigate to a different website, even if your site has useful information or their preferred product.
That means you should not only consider the technical aspects of your WordPress website but the appearance as well.
- User Experience
A WordPress theme should not just look good but also give you a website that’s easy to navigate. Visitors should easily see where to get the information they need or are looking for. Remember, the better experience people have on your website, the longer they’ll stay, become loyal fans, and convert into paid customers.
- Responsiveness To Different Devices
The number of people browsing the Internet using their tablets and smartphones is increasing. That means the WordPress theme you want should be responsive–it can automatically adjust your website to whatever screen your visitor is using, making it still look great and appealing no matter what.
As a website, you’d want to rank high in SERPs or search engine results. Look for a theme that utilizes SEO best practices, such as clean code, a correct heading structure, and the use of meta tags. These will help Google and other search engines crawl and index your site faster, put your site in search results, and get organic visitors.
WordPress has a vast range of plugins to help you enhance the ability and performance of your website. However, it’s important to choose a theme that is compatible with these plugins. After all, if your chosen theme doesn’t support many plugins, you’ll miss out on their benefits.
The Blocker: Theme Demo and Performance Testing
Now, even if you already have a chosen theme, the best way to find out if it will work for you is to test it. But if you do it on your current site, you face plenty of risks. For example, what if the theme you want is actually bad or has malware?
You might end up with a broken site. And with a broken site, you’ll lose visitors and traction in search engine results. You’ll also have to shell out money for a developer to fix what happened, especially if you don’t have a site backup.
To do testing safely, you’d need a WordPress staging site or sandbox. And you don’t have to worry about making complicated techy moves to make one–all you need is InstaWP! Using it, you’ll get a WordPress sandbox in less than a second.
With InstaWP, you can have a website that looks and feels exactly like an actual WordPress site, which you can tweak all you want–without the risk of harming your original site.
Why Test Potential Themes with InstaWP For Your Website
We’ve already posted a blog before about why a WordPress sandbox via InstaWP is important, but just to sum it up:
- As mentioned above, you can test and play all you want without any fear of breaking your actual site. If you don’t have a theme in mind yet, you can try out all your choices before applying your chosen one. Just in case you already have content in place, you don’t have to worry about anything disappearing!
- InstaWP lets you create three test websites with the free plan. That way, if you want to try out more than one theme at the same time, you can! This might help you decide faster which theme you want.
- You’ll save yourself from unexpected costs and time spent. When sites break, you might have to pay for recovery from a WordPress developer. You’ll also spend time waiting for your site to be fixed. Think of the revenue or audience you’ll lose in the meantime.
- Testing a theme on an InstaWP sandbox will help you understand it better. You’ll see how it performs, what could be improved, and what you don’t like about it. In other words, you’ll be able to make informed decisions about the theme instead of guessing if it will work out for you.
Ready to try out your theme with InstaWP? Here’s how to do it!
#1 – Create an account with InstaWP
Yes, you can use InstaWP even without an account.
However, the free site will expire after eight hours. You won’t be able to come back to it and play around some more.
That’s why we recommend signing up for an InstaWP account. That way, you can keep it for 7 days–plenty of time to tweak and test all you want. And as mentioned, you get three test sites!
#2 – Test a theme inside InstaWP.
One you’ve signed up for an account, you’ll see this screen:
Press Add New + or + New Site. This will pop up:
From here, you can choose the configuration of the site you want as a default WordPress site…
Or as something else:
From this screen, you can also choose plugins to be pre-installed for different purposes: site speed, site security, forms, backups, and so on. You can even choose the WordPress version and the Php version.
Of course, if you’re not familiar with any of that, feel free to not change anything and simply press the Create Site button on the lower right.
InstaWP will generate a test site. When the next screen appears, press Magic Login.
After a short wait, you’ll arrive at your WordPress test site!
You can now search for Themes you want to try out and install them to your site. Just go to Appearance on the left-side menu, then click on Themes.
Press Add New Theme to install whatever theme you want to try out.
Do take note that these themes will be limited to whatever free themes are available on WordPress.
#3 – Test a theme via the InstaWP Chrome Plugin.
If you’re using Chrome, you can use this method. Look for the InstaWP Launcher in the Chrome Web Store.
How do you use this? Well, first, go to WordPress and browse the themes available.
For example, you’ve settled on the Neve Theme. Notice the green Launch button?
Press the button, and you’ll be taken to your InstaWP dashboard with a new test site created. Press Magic Login, then check out Themes on the left-side menu. Press it, and check it out:
The Neve Theme is now available for your use! Activate it and start testing it to your heart’s content. You can do the same thing with all the other themes available on WordPress.
#4 – Test a theme inside your live site via the InstaWP Connect Plugin.
Want to make a sandbox from inside your actual website? All you need is the InstaWP Connect Plugin.
Go to the Plugins section of your WordPress site, and search for the plugin.
Press Install Now and then select Activate. You will be taken to your Installed Plugins menu, where you can see InstaWP Connect.
Press Create Site. You’ll be taken to this screen:
Connect your InstaWP account, and you’ll be taken to this screen:
Here, you can choose which option you want for your sandbox site. Quick Staging means it’s a blank sandbox. Full Staging will be replicating your entire WordPress site, and Custom Staging is where you can choose which plugins or themes you want to be included in your sandbox.
Follow the next steps, and you’ll get your staging site, which you can also access in your InstaWP dashboard.
Whichever method of creating an InstaWP sandbox, enjoy testing themes to your heart’s content.
Why Should You Use Custom Themes?
If you’ve browsed the many free themes of WordPress, but you’re not happy with any of them, you might want to look into getting a custom WordPress theme. It’s a design unique to you and specifically tailored to meet your specific needs. It can get pretty expensive, but at least you’ll have one that can suit all the website functions you need.
Plus, you’ll have a theme that’s custom-made for you, which means you won’t look like any other business. Perfect for standing out!
Why Test Your Custom Theme with InstaWP?
If ever you do a custom theme, just make a sandbox site again and upload the theme to WordPress. Then you can play with it like all the other pre-made themes. And as you test, you can make notes for your theme developer about any changes you want to make. That way, you’ll really have a website that you’ll be happy with and that will fit your business.
Other Benefits of Using InstaWP
Aside from having a sandbox where you can theme-test all you want, there are other benefits of using InstaWP.
- The free plan already offers many features. You can opt to upgrade as needed eventually, but the fact that InstaWP doesn’t hide a lot behind a paywall is good, right?
- InstaWP also lets you save website configurations as templates. So, for example, if you want to make a new site that uses the same theme and plugins as your old site, you can make your old site a template. That saves you a lot of time in setting up a website again.
- Test website details are easy to share. Just in case you want someone to tweak your website for you, they can do it on your test site instead of your real site. That’s added protection on your part.
- If you’re happy with your test site’s theme, you can easily take it live with InstaWP’s 1-click hosting feature.
Choosing the perfect WordPress theme for your site depends on a lot of factors, but you should definitely take note of more than just the appearance of your site. To recap what we discussed:
- Customers should have an easy time navigating your site.
- Your chosen theme should be responsive, as optimized for search engines as possible, and works with different plugins.
- Get only those themes that are often updated to the latest WordPress versions for better security.
- The best way to really find out if a theme works for you is to test it using a WordPress sandbox so you don’t have to be afraid of breaking your actual site.
And again, one of the best ways to test is InstaWP. With its 1-click creation of a sandbox and multiple features, you’ll be able to fully test any theme of your choice. That way, you can really see if it fits your needs.
Sign up for an InstaWP account today and get started on finding your perfect WordPress theme!