10 Features to Look for in a Premium WordPress Theme

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Choosing a WordPress theme
Choosing a WordPress theme

This article was sponsored by Artbees – creators of the Jupiter WordPress theme. Thank you for supporting the partners who make SitePoint possible.

WordPress is the world’s most successful Content Management System. It powers 28% of all websites. A massive 59% of sites running a CMS choose to use WordPress. The software is open source and free to use. So why should you consider paying for a commercial WordPress theme?

There are a vast number of WordPress themes available. Some are paid products but many are offered at no cost. Many are excellent. Many are terrible. Purchasing a premium theme can provide a level of reassurance and a guarantee of quality which transforms WordPress into a glorious, fully-customized, customer-focused experience.

What should you look for before hitting that BUY button?…

1. A Good Feature Set

Does your chosen theme have all the features you need now and into the near future? Perhaps you only need a gallery today but do you have a persistent nagging worry your client or boss will eventually ask for a fully-featured shopping cart? Can you add a portfolio or pricing table? Are you able switch designs on a single page or throughout the site?

Artbees Jupiter provides more than 140 template designs which cover every niche.

2. Without Stuff You Don’t Need?

Some themes include every widget the author could find. This may not be a problem if they add value and remain disabled until required. What you don’t want is 57 free snippets discovered on dhtmlgoodies.com in 2006 which use different libraries and appear on every page regardless of whether you use them or not. It will degrade the user’s experience and prevent a…

3. Solid Performance

By the end of 2016, average page weight reached almost 2.5MB. WordPress must take some responsibility for this excessive bloat! Too many themes contain bandwidth-hogging payloads, unoptimized images and futile widgets which make your site slow and costly to view on a mobile network connection. A responsive design does not necessarily equate to a responsive experience.

Analyse your chosen theme’s weight using browser development tools or online reports such as pingdom and imgIX page weight to ensure it isn’t secretly gorging itself toward obesity.

4. Client-Facing Functionality

Designers and clients love WYSIWYG, drag-and-drop, color pickers, live previews and all the other lovely features which abstract the underlying process of creating a web page in HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Premium themes often provide an experience which stretches WordPress to new user-friendly limits. Artbees Jupiter is design-oriented so designers can provide a customized experience without the need for coding.

But will the theme remain…

5. Developer-Friendly

Eventually, you may need to delve into the theme code to make tweaks which are not possible from the user interface. A premium theme should be well documented and permit changes without you having to wade through thousands of lines of uncommented, compressed HTML, CSS, JavaScript and PHP code! Ideally, the theme developers will offer some level of…

6. Service and Support

It’s one thing to release code into the public domain without warranties. It’s another to provide 24/7 assistance for everyone who wants it. (Including that demanding person who expects ongoing lessons in web development and systems operation).

Premium themes are more likely to offer a level of assistance when you inevitably run into development or usage problems. Email and telephone support is ideal and you may be able to obtain advice from the theme’s community forums if it’s popular and used by enough people.

The theme’s developers are more likely to address problems because they don’t want their support team inundated with bug reports. Therefore, your premium theme will receive…

7. Ongoing Updates and Fixes

Free or cheaper themes may be written once but never updated. The developer will eventually move on to something which pays their bills. Will the bugs ever be fixed? Will the theme be updated as browsers evolve? Will it continue to operate in the next release of WordPress?

Those creating premium themes have a commercial reason to keep the code up-to-date and fix problems when they arise. This should lead to…

8. Guaranteed Compatibility

WordPress updates rarely break your site but all themes and plug-ins require maintenance over time. Check the date of the last code change; this will reassure you the theme is current and compatible with the latest WordPress code base and browsers. You’ll then have fewer reasons to worry about…

9. Security and Privacy

WordPress themes and plug-ins contain executable PHP code the author deemed necessary. Are you sure that code has been thoroughly tested on multiple installations? Are you certain it was developed without malicious intent? Do you know whether it’s accidentally leaking your private login details or wiping posts?

A premium theme will always be more credible than a ZIP file you stumbled upon while browsing the web. Few people consider security until it’s too late but, the downside of WordPress’s success is that it has become an attractive target for hackers, spammers and con artists. Don’t let your domain and web space fall into the hands of criminals by choosing a dodgy theme!

10. Cost

Ultimately, the theme’s price is important — but do not forget to consider your own costs. A premium theme can be considerably cheaper than “free” if it requires no additional development, fixes are frequent and updates are easy to apply.

Expect to pay something for quality. Creating a robust WordPress theme takes considerable time and the developers should be rewarded for that effort, the subsequent updates and the support they provide. A premium theme should guarantee your website operates now and into the future. It may work out cheaper in the long run.

Frequently Asked Questions about Premium WordPress Themes

What makes a WordPress theme premium?

A premium WordPress theme is a high-quality, paid theme that offers advanced features and functionality. These themes are typically designed by professional web developers and offer a range of customization options, including multiple layout choices, color schemes, and widget areas. They also come with regular updates and dedicated support from the theme developer, ensuring that your website remains compatible with the latest versions of WordPress and runs smoothly.

Why should I choose a premium WordPress theme over a free one?

While free WordPress themes can be a good starting point for beginners, premium themes offer a higher level of design, functionality, and support. They often come with advanced features such as responsive design, SEO optimization, and e-commerce capabilities. Additionally, premium themes are typically updated more frequently and offer better support, which can be crucial if you run into any issues or need help customizing your theme.

Are premium WordPress themes worth the cost?

Yes, premium WordPress themes are generally worth the cost if you’re serious about your website. The advanced features, customization options, and dedicated support offered by premium themes can greatly enhance the look and functionality of your site, making it more appealing to visitors and potentially increasing your traffic and conversions. Plus, having a unique, professional-looking website can help set you apart from your competitors.

How can I choose the best premium WordPress theme for my website?

When choosing a premium WordPress theme, consider your website’s purpose, your target audience, and your personal design preferences. Look for a theme that offers the features and functionality you need, such as e-commerce capabilities for an online store or portfolio layouts for a design website. Also, make sure the theme is responsive, SEO-friendly, and compatible with the plugins you plan to use.

Can I customize a premium WordPress theme?

Yes, one of the main advantages of premium WordPress themes is their high level of customization. Most premium themes come with a range of layout options, color schemes, and widget areas that you can adjust to suit your needs. Some also include a custom theme options panel or a drag-and-drop page builder for even more customization possibilities.

Do premium WordPress themes come with support?

Yes, most premium WordPress themes come with dedicated support from the theme developer. This can be incredibly helpful if you run into any issues or need help customizing your theme. Some theme developers also offer extensive documentation and video tutorials to help you get the most out of your theme.

Are premium WordPress themes SEO-friendly?

Yes, most premium WordPress themes are designed with SEO in mind. They typically include features like clean, optimized code and fast loading times, which can help improve your site’s ranking in search engine results. Some themes also include built-in SEO tools or are compatible with popular SEO plugins.

Can I use a premium WordPress theme on multiple sites?

This depends on the licensing terms of the theme. Some premium WordPress themes require you to purchase a separate license for each site, while others allow you to use the theme on multiple sites with a single license. Always check the theme’s licensing terms before purchasing.

How often are premium WordPress themes updated?

Premium WordPress themes are typically updated regularly to ensure compatibility with the latest versions of WordPress and to add new features and improvements. The frequency of updates can vary depending on the theme developer, but you can generally expect at least a few updates per year.

Where can I buy premium WordPress themes?

There are many online marketplaces and theme shops where you can buy premium WordPress themes, such as ThemeForest, Elegant Themes, and StudioPress. You can also buy themes directly from individual theme developers’ websites. Always make sure to buy from a reputable source to ensure you’re getting a high-quality, secure theme.

Craig BucklerCraig Buckler
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Craig is a freelance UK web consultant who built his first page for IE2.0 in 1995. Since that time he's been advocating standards, accessibility, and best-practice HTML5 techniques. He's created enterprise specifications, websites and online applications for companies and organisations including the UK Parliament, the European Parliament, the Department of Energy & Climate Change, Microsoft, and more. He's written more than 1,000 articles for SitePoint and you can find him @craigbuckler.

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