Choosing The Right WordPress Theme

Going to ThemeForest and choosing a WordPress theme for your site sounds like a simple task in theory, but hunting down a theme that will fit your needs, be functionally stable, and look great takes some research and patience.

The first thing you should pay no attention to are the “New Item” WordPress themes on the front page. Although they might offer some really cool new features, the bottom line is that they are untested in the real world.

Each of these themes will almost certainly have many updates and changes along the way. Plus, if you go blindly by this, there is a good chance you will get a dud theme that gets discontinued or has really bad support.

ThemeForest New Items Letter Eye Media

That being said, the front page of ThemeForest does offer one piece of useful information, and that is the featured author portion. Featured authors are something you should pay attention to.

ThemeForest Featured Author Letter Eye Media

These are designers/developers deemed as “Elite” by ThemeForest, with reputations of providing very responsive support and quality products. The theme you buy should almost always be by an Elite Author. You can tell on the right side of the screen when viewing your theme information.

ThemeForest Elite Author Letter Eye Media

If nothing pops up this way, the following is the most productive way to search (I have also linked each step so you can see my thought process in action:

  1. Go to the WordPress Category to filter out all the WordPress themes.
  2. Change the “Sort By” to “Sales” instead of “Date” to show the themes with the highest sales instead of the newest to the marketplace.

    ThemeForest sort By Sales Letter Eye Media

  3. This list of WordPress templates is where you should always look first. These are the most-sold themes on the ThemeForest site, and it is truly the most organic way to sort/filter, and almost always an indication of impeccable work and support.
  4. If you can’t find any good ones, you can try to filter even more by clicking on a WordPress category to your right ***Keep in mind you will have to change the “Sort By” to “Sales” again (one kind of annoying thing).

Why don’t I choose to sort by date, author, category, rating, or price? The answer is simple: none of those have anything to do with sorting the quality of the theme.

Sorting by date, as I stated above, is not a good way to sort because the newest themes are not always the best, and in fact, they are often the most unstable.

Sorting by author doesn’t really do you any good unless you actually know any authors.

Sorting by category is kind of useless because you can filter categories in the sidebar.

Sorting by rating is kind of useless as well. Almost all themes have either 4 or 5 stars. If it has less than that, you should quickly avoid that theme. I have used themes with 4 and 5 stars that have been awesome and terrible as well. It simply is not a good way to judge.

Price is the last thing you should be worried about when looking at these themes. All the WordPress themes on the site range from $20 to $60, and sometimes they even give them away for free as a promotion. I would say that if you have found a theme based on other criteria and it happens to be in the higher price range, that’s probably a good sign, but this is absolutely not the first thing you should look to. Also, I think if you are willing to spend $20 on a theme, you are probably willing to spend $60 for one that is 10x better and more stable.

Just to be clear, if you are an experienced web developer and you or your client needs a highly customized WordPress solution, your best bet is to start with a stater or skeleton theme that is built on a reputably stable framework. My personal favorite is actually called the Skeleton WordPress Theme.

Happy hunting!

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