Blogging is one of the most powerful strategies for digital marketing. It helps drive traffic and educates visitors about your brand.
However, to have a successful blog in the future, many important decisions have to be made during the creating process, such as choosing the best WordPress hosting provider and the most suitable theme.
A WordPress theme is one of the most significant elements that determines a website’s look and even affects SEO. Yet, with many WordPress themes available, it can be hard to pick the perfect one for your blog.
This article will share ten essential features a good WordPress theme should offer to help you filter the options and decide which one is the best for your blog.
1. Layout Features
A good blog layout helps make visitors comfortable when navigating your site. It also helps to portray your brand’s personality. For example, the New York Times uses a grid system, which is easy to navigate and maintains the newspaper look.
To have more freedom with your web design, it’s better to opt for a WordPress theme that provides various layout features.
Some popular layout styles to choose from are:
- One page vs. multiple pages
- Boxed vs. full-width websites
- Image slider vs. carousel
- List vs. grid blog feed
Consider what kind of design you want. Then, when picking a theme, carefully read the feature descriptions to make sure it has your preferred styles.
2. Advanced Blog Settings
To make your blog look professional, ensure the WordPress theme supports advanced features, including:
- Featured posts. A limited number of blog posts that appear on another part of the site, like a homepage.
- Related posts section. Add links to similar posts based on certain aspects, like author, recency, or topic.
- Social sharing buttons. Encourage visitors to share your blog posts.
- Newsletter signup. Notify subscribers every time you share a new post.
- Retina-ready. Make graphics and images appear at a higher resolution.
3. Plugins Compatibility
Plugins offer additional features and functionalities to your blog without writing any code.
Some essential WordPress functionalities and plugins for blogging are:
- Analytics. E.g., Google Analytics and MonsterInsights.
- Contact forms. E.g., Gravity Forms and WPForms.
- Email service. Eg., MailChimp and SendinBlue.
- Advanced SEO optimization. E.g., Yoast SEO and AIOSEO.
- Web performance optimization. E.g., W3 Total Cache and Jetpack.
However, not all themes are compatible with these plugins. To find out about the compatibility, the theme developers usually include the supported plugins in the description. If not, contact them directly to confirm the available plugins.
4. Responsive Design
Around 50% of web traffic worldwide comes from mobile devices. Therefore, it’s essential to choose a responsive WordPress theme, which can detect the size of various screens and browser windows.
There are some testing methods that can help to make sure a theme’s responsiveness. First, copy the theme demo page’s URL and paste it on Google’s mobile-friendly test.
Or, try to simulate different screen sizes on your desktop. To do this, visit the demo page and press a shortcut key Ctrl + Shift + I. You should see a sidebar containing code. Click a device icon, and the layout page will change into a responsive mode.
Adjust the size by entering specific numbers in the width and height boxes on the top of the page. Or, drag the handles however you want the screen to look.
5. Minimal Design
Many WordPress themes offer complex layouts, fancy fonts, or flashy animations. For particular website purposes, like a portfolio, you may need those elements to stand out.
However, it’s better to choose a minimal design for your blog. It’s good for readability and helps maintain the visitors’ focus. The simplistic design also means lightweight code for a faster loading process.
Some characteristics of a minimalistic theme are plenty of white space, easy-to-read fonts, and a limited color palette.
6. Customization Options
It may be challenging to find a default layout that matches your preferences exactly. That’s why it’s important to ensure that the theme offers customization options.
Some themes come with a customizer demo to help you check whether they’re customizable. Another option is to look for a theme that integrates with a website builder plugin, like Elementor or WPBakery Page Builder, to let you edit the designs.
7. Language Support
Having different languages in a blog can improve traffic as more global users can understand the website content. Customers will also appreciate your effort in providing information in their language, helping you earn their trust.
One of the best ways to have a multilingual site is to install a translation plugin, like WPML. First, however, be sure that your theme is compatible with the plugin by checking the theme list on WPML.org/theme.
Besides installing plugins, many popular themes collaborate with third-party translation platforms, such as Transifex and GlotPress, to provide an option of multiple languages.
If you aim for right-to-left (RTL) language users, like Chinese and Arabic, it’s vital to ensure that the WordPress theme has RTL support.
8. Cross-Browser Compatibility
Your blog visitors probably have browser preferences, like Safari, Chrome, or Firefox. Unfortunately, some browsers may have different levels of technology, which can cause some features to be absent or to malfunction.
That’s why it’s crucial to check whether the theme looks and works smoothly across all of the major browsers.
Many popular themes work well with modern browsers, and the developers will let you know about it. Still, consider opening the demo on different browsers from your desktop and mobile devices to test it yourself.
9. Search Engine Optimization
Many theme developers will tell you in the description whether the theme is SEO optimized.
To check it yourself, test some theme elements that contribute to SEO friendliness, such as:
- Code. Relates to page speed as code bloat can slow down the loading process. A great tool to see if the code is clean is W3C Markup Validator.
- Website structure. Well-structured navigation and internal links will improve the crawling process. Check whether the live demo’s navigation is simple and intuitive.
- Page load speed. One of the most significant Google ranking factors. Before choosing a theme, run the demo through speed testing tools, like PageSpeed Insights and GTmetrix.
10. Support and Documentation
Most premium WordPress themes offer several months of customer support. If the period expires, you have the option to renew the subscription, which may come with an extra cost.
Meanwhile, a free WordPress theme has no guaranteed support. If errors occur, you will have to fix them yourself or pay a third-party developer to solve the issue. So ensure that the theme you pick provides at least detailed setup instructions or forums to assist you if problems appear.
A quality WordPress theme is a foundation for a blog. Therefore, it’s crucial to choose it wisely. To find a suitable theme for your blog, there are several points you should consider.
Make sure it offers a minimalist design, customization options, and layout features that meet your style. Moreover, look at the theme’s compatibility with various plugins and the blog settings to enhance your blog’s functionality.
Finally, make sure that the theme is SEO friendly and compatible across browsers by testing its demo page.
When you’re done with all of these points, you can be sure you found the perfect WordPress theme for your blog.
Marziano is a seasoned tech expert with over 15 years of experience in the industry. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and multiple certifications, including CompTIA A+, Network+, and Cisco’s CCNA, he has a well-rounded and robust understanding of various aspects of technology.