Usually many people consider themes as the last stage of the WordPress deployment. They seem to think that themes are what they sound like, a cosmetic layer over the bare muscles and bones of the WordPress code. Themes, like in many other applications of the word, are purely optional.

This mistake of taking the issue of themes lightly usually causes severe headaches and huge losses in functionality and traffic. The website does not function as intended or breaks down often enough to be useless for its intended purpose.

To avoid these mistakes, it is essential that the selection and testing of theme is carried out as early as possible. Here are some important facts that you should keep in mind when selecting a theme:

Three ways of getting a theme

There are three ways you could acquire a WordPress theme. There are free themes available on the internet. The second way are the premium themes that you purchase of the developers and apply with little or no modification. The last way is to hire a development team for custom theme development.

Avoid free themes if you can. They do not offer much in the way of functionality or appearance. Getting a custom built theme could be costly if you do not have a dedicated development team. The most cost efficient way is to buy a custom theme from one of the many reputed developers. You can get them to make small modifications to the theme at no cost.

Make sure that you own the theme

This is a thorny issue that often crops up when you try to make changes to the theme of the website. Always make sure that you own the theme that you purchased earlier. Even when you do not own the theme, as in the case of premium themes, you can do the following:

Get the developers to add a clause in the license agreement about modification to the theme. Discuss what modifications you could make and could third party developers could implement them.

Compatibility with all browsers

Always test the compatibility of your theme before signing off the purchase agreement. This means that you should view the theme in all browsers. This includes the big three, Chrome, Firefox and IE.

Make sure that you view all the major pages of your website in all browsers. Try to use all the forms so that you would have a fair idea of how the forms included in the theme work in all browsers.

Easy Customization

One of the most important aspects of any WordPress theme is the customization. This includes colour, sizes, and most importantly layout.

Changes to the layout include changes to the column structure of the website. This has grave implications for the visitors as any major change in the layout will confuse them.

Another area of concern is the header and footer of the website. These two areas are very important for a WordPress website. These areas represent premium space on the screen. Always make sure that you can make changes to these areas with little effort.

Widget ready

 

Although you as a user might not put much stock in widgets but ask any seasoned WordPress user and they will tell you what wonderful widgets are. These tiny icons represent plugins and extensions that extend the capability of the default installation of the website. Always make sure that your theme supports widgets.

Ask the developers responsible for your theme about widget areas and if possible get them to incorporate the basic widgets at the time of the installation of the theme. This will save you a lot of hassle in the long run.