A theme is one of the most important choices an eCommerce retailer makes when building a new WooCommerce store. There are thousands of premium WordPress themes for WooCommerce retailers to choose from. There are so many that it is difficult to know where to start or whether a theme is a good choice for your store.
In this article, we examine eight factors to help WooCommerce users choose a theme they’ll be happy with for years to come.
As a WordPress plugin, WooCommerce should be compatible with most premium WordPress themes, but developers occasionally make mistakes or ignore WordPress theme development best practices.
According to BuiltWith, there are over 3 million WooCommerce stores on the web today. It is in the best interest of premium theme developers to make their themes compatible with WooCommerce, and most do. But it is always a good idea to check that the developer has done the work to make their theme integrate seamlessly with WooCommerce.
Before deploying a theme, check product pages, the shopping cart, the home page to verify that theme the theme doesn’t break parts of your store.
A Consistent History of Updates
A WordPress theme is a software that has to be regularly updated to ensure that it remains secure and compatible with other software. Security is the most important consideration. Mistakes in a theme’s code can cause software vulnerabilities. They are fixed by updates, but if a developer isn’t actively working to maintain their theme, vulnerabilities will go unfixed. Most hacked WordPress sites are the result of attackers exploiting vulnerabilities in themes and plugins.
A lack of recent updates doesn’t always mean a theme is insecure, but it is an indication that it isn’t actively developed, which can cause other problems. As WordPress and WooCommerce evolve, themes and plugins must evolve too. If they don’t, they may fail to take advantage of new features or become incompatible.
A lack of update consistency is also a red flag that the developer isn’t interested in improving the theme over time. WooCommerce store owners should be wary of being more committed to a theme than its developer.
A WooCommerce theme is a critical component of a WooCommerce store. Store owners should understand its features, be able to configure it easily, and even be able to customize it should the need arise. Without documentation that explains the theme’s features, it can be challenging to use it properly.
An experienced developer could figure it out from the code, but that’s no help to a store owner who needs to be able to control their theme without having a developer on speed dial.
Look at the theme’s documentation and make sure that its features and configuration options are clearly explained.
Support is even more important than documentation. When you buy a premium theme, you are paying for a license to use the code, but also for customer support to help you use it.
A theme developer won’t install the theme on a WooCommerce store or customize it for free, but they should be willing to answer questions and help store owners to overcome challenges they run into when using the theme – especially if those challenges are caused by a problem with the theme’s code.
No eCommerce retailer wants to wait days for a response to an issue that is hurting sales and their customers’ shopping experience, so make sure the theme developer provides adequate support.
Flexible Options On WooCommerce Premium Themes
WooCommerce stores using the same theme look similar, but they shouldn’t have to look identical. The best themes include an array of options. Store owners can use them to change colors, menus, typography, logos, and other elements so that their store fits with their brand.
Ideally, those options can be configured via the WordPress Customizer, which allows store owners to change options and see the results immediately. Check that the most important options are available in the Customizer and that there are sufficient options to brand the store to your satisfaction.
Aesthetically and Functionally Appropriate
There are thousands of premium WordPress themes to choose from. There are themes built for expert developers and novices venturing into their first eCommerce business. Moreover, are general themes and themes for specific eCommerce markets: beauty products, ticket sales, and clothing, for example. A theme that is perfect for a store that sells children’s toys may not be the best design for a store that sells single malt whiskey.
Before buying a theme, consider your market and the design choices made by your competitors. Draw up a list of features and aesthetic criteria to help you choose an appropriate theme.
Optimized for Performance On Premium WooCommerce Themes
Before going live with a theme, use performance monitoring tools such as Google PageSpeed Insights, Chrome’s built-in Lighthouse performance suite, or GTMetrix to identify possible performance bottlenecks. You may also want to run the same tests on the theme’s demonstration page before buying.
Prefer Lightweight WooCommerce Themes
Many of the most popular WordPress themes include a vast number of custom features, such as page-builders, carousels, and widgets. There are positives and negatives to all-inclusive themes. On the plus side, they’re convenient; store owners get a lot of additional functionality. As a result, that can make it faster and easier to get a store up and running.
However, when a retailer builds a store with an all-inclusive theme, they come to depend on that theme. If the theme change, all of that functionality change too. Pages won’t display properly. Widgets the store relies on will stop working. Getting the store back to a usable state will be a lot of work.
A more future-proof approach is to choose a lightweight theme. Then add the functionality the store needs as separate plugins. That way, the store doesn’t rely on a single third-party developer. If the developer stops working on the theme, it can be without breaking essential features. Similarly, you can change the individual features to a different plugin. All-inclusive themes are popular, but store owners should be aware of the tradeoffs.
Conclusion To Choose a Premium WooCommerce Theme
We’ve covered eight ways to spot a good (or bad) premium WordPress theme. However, they mostly break down into three groups.
- The theme’s developer can be offer support and update the theme.
- The theme won’t damage the performance, the flexibility, or the security of your store.
- You are free to move between themes because your store doesn’t rely on the features of any particular theme.
If you use this article as a checklist when choosing a WordPress theme for a WooCommerce store. You’re sure to find a theme that provides the look and the functionality you can rely on for many years.
About the Author:
AJ Morris is the Product Innovation and Marketing Manager at iThemes, a Liquid Web Company. He’s in the WordPress community for over a decade. Focusing on building, designing and launching WordPress websites and businesses.