If you are looking to create a website built on WordPress but have limited html/css knowledge, there are a few things you should look for in a theme.
In this day and age this really shouldn’t be an issue anymore but just do a quick check to make sure the theme is responsive. You can do this by minimizing the browser window and shrinking it to about the size of a mobile phone screen. You should see page elements change (the widget area go under the main content etc.) One thing to be sure to check for is for the menu to be optimized for mobile. I ran into a theme that was responsive but the main menu wasn’t so all the menu items just wrapped instead of being found under the “hamburger menu”.
I believe this is a “must” because if you are building a website for your business, you are going to want to make sure there is consistency in the look of the website to the brand of your business. Make sure you can choose the color for things like headings, links etc.
Logo (if for a business)
If the website is for a business this would be a must have because otherwise you may be stuck with the header text in whichever font the theme developer chose. Also, hopefully a theme that offers a logo also offers the ability to turn off the header text.
Full Width Template
I normally look for themes with at least three different templates but I always require one of those to be a full width template. Otherwise when you create a static page (about, contact, services etc.) it looks odd to have blog post information next to it. There is a caveat to this and that would be if you use a plugin to have unique widgets for each page but in general I just prefer to have the full width layout.
Good to Haves
This almost made it to a must have because as stated in “Custom Colors” if the page is for a business you want to the fonts to match the ones you have chosen for a business. The reason I added this to “Good to Haves” is because there are plenty of themes with great typography that would work well for a web page.
Search Box in the Header
Most sites already offer a search box somewhere whether it be in the header or widget area but I prefer a search bar in the header for a couple of reasons:
- I believe most people look to the header first when looking for the search box
- When being viewed on a mobile device, the search box would still be at the top of the screen instead of getting pushed down with all of the other widget items
This is something is fairly common but I always check to make sure a theme offers social icons for channels that I participate in. I also want to make sure that the icons they use actually match the feel that I am trying to create.
Contact Information in the Header
Many people often recommend that businesses have their contact information in the header and I tend to agree. It is normally just a thin bar at the top of the page with phone number, general email address and mailing address. Be warned that if you have this, you will see less traffic to your contact page but it should make for a better user experience (and possible improvements in search engine rankings).
Customizable Front Page
I’m actually not a huge fan of most of the front pages (or sliders) I have seen on a lot of the themes but it is still nice to have the ability to create call to actions for your various offerings. I normally just create front pages using a full width template and the Page Builder plugin from SiteOrigin to create the layout.
Blog Layout Options
This is probably the least critical of any item but I like to have the option to choose what the blog page will look like. I like to have the masonry option as well as the traditional with the option to show or hide featured images.