If your website is in its fledgling stages, you’re probably searching for a great theme. A good theme should be engaging, pleasing to look at, and easy to use.
WordPress is one of the internet’s biggest and most popular blogging platforms. WordPress sites are versatile, easy to use, and great for both beginner and advanced coders.
One of the best things about WordPress is its free version. By extension, this also includes the endless free WordPress themes. Thousands of users create these new interactive themes daily, and many are free for people to use. You can find tons of free themes with a simple Google search.
However, how do you know which ones are trustworthy? What makes a good theme, especially free ones?
Free themes are bound to be at least somewhat less detailed than themes that cost money. That doesn’t mean some amazing free versions don’t exist; you just might need to do some extra searching.
Here are some things to look for in a good free WordPress theme.
Many free themes suffer from lack of responsiveness. Most of the more “sleek” and professionally created formats cost money. Responsiveness of your theme is one thing you absolutely cannot compromise on. A theme that isn’t easy to use, and one that doesn’t cross devices like from desktop to mobile, is not a theme you want to show your guests.
Most people alternate between desktop and mobile searching. Your blog or website should have a theme that readily adapts to both, and still looks great. There are tools online you can use to test if the theme is mobile-friendly. If your website remains organized and responsive from desktop to mobile, then you have chosen a good theme.
If you have any coding knowledge, then you want a theme that is easily customizable. All themes are created by code, but some don’t respond well to changing details. With whatever free theme you choose, you want to be sure that it adapts to your coding changes so you can make the theme fit your blog or website.
The best way to check the customization is to spend some time playing with the demo versions of the theme. Still, your ultimate goal should be to choose a theme that requires as little customization as possible. Changing some colors or fonts should be all the work you need to do. Anything more than that might mean you want a different free theme.
3. Cross-Browser Compatibility
Just like you want a theme that works on desktop and mobile, you want one that works on as many browsers as possible. There is no longer a “universal” internet browser. People may use Explorer, Safari, Google Chrome, Firefox, or even something else. It can be easy to get distracted by how great your chosen theme looks on your browser, but you should check how it looks on others.
Most WordPress theme creators do the testing themselves. Often, they won’t mention it in the description if it’s not compatible with certain major browsers. You want your site to be as accessible as possible, so it’s important to check. The best way to do so is to use browser compatibility tools, which you can find online.
4. Support Options
It can be hard to tell if the free theme you’re interested in has customer support. Many developers do offer top-notch support for their free themes, but others have none at all. If you make a mistake or mess up the coding of your theme, you want to know you have someone to go to who knows what it should look like. You don’t want to end up having to turn to a third-party developer to solve your problems, because that could cost money.
There are many free options that have excellent support and good documentation. Be sure to look into their customer service availability before downloading your theme.
5. Plugin Compatibility
WordPress offers a wide range of plugins that add some really cool functionality to your site. It could be used for SEO, for speed, for social media, and so much more. You can find a plugin for nearly anything to improve your layout. There are some plugins that WordPress aficionados say are essential like Yoast SEO, W3 Total Cache, and Wordfence Security.
So, because plugins are so essential to your site’s success, you need a free theme that doesn’t compromise the function of the plugins. You’ll have to test out each plugin on your site to make sure it works, and doesn’t mess with your website.
There are tons of great, free WordPress themes out there, and more are getting made every day. It’s up to you to make sure you choose the right one for your website.
Jayson Davis is a passionate WordPress user, developer, and web hosting expert. Even in his spare time, he checks out new WP themes, or takes yet another web host for a test ride, always on the lookout for the perfect cost to value ratio!
For more info, see our Team page.