Choosing the right WooCommerce theme will naturally be largely subjective. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” as they say. But beauty is only skin deep. Here are some tips to consider before choosing a theme for your store.
Don’t just search for a theme which ‘looks good’. It needs to be appropriate. A Ferrari looks great but isn’t the best choice of car for running to the shops and back.
Consider your audience, your brand and most importantly your products. Try to choose a theme you feel resonates with these three things in some way. Selling minimalist furniture? Look for a theme with whitespace and clean typography. Selling kids toys? Look for a playful theme with lots of bright colours… you get the idea.
If the theme you’re considering claims to be WooCommerce integrated then be sure to check all WooCommerce pages to be sure. Don’t forget pages like the ‘My Account’ section, the cart, and the checkout.
Both WooCommerce and WordPress release updates with some regularity including several ‘big’ releases per year. These updates can sometimes cause errors in themes if they have not been tested thoroughly with the latest betas. It’s always worth checking a themes changelog to see that the developer is still regularly maintaining it. Also be sure to ask that the theme is compatible with the latest version of WordPress and WooCommerce before installing it.
To be sure a ‘WooCommerce compatible’ theme is truly compatible with the latest version of WooCommerce you can perform this quick check. Take a look at the demo and view the source. In the source code you will see a
generator meta tag which declares which WooCommerce version is active. It should look something like this:
<!-- WooCommerce Version --> <meta name="generator" content="WooCommerce 2.0.13" />
Check that the demo is running a current version of WooCommerce. If it’s a couple of versions out of date ask why and if it is very out-of-date, beware!
Almost all WordPress themes and large plugins will contain bugs from time to time. If you find a bug you need to know that it will be patched quickly, or that you will at least be guided on how to fix it should it be a bug you’ve introduced yourself.
If you’re buying a premium theme check the theme shops support policy. If you’re using a theme from WordPress.org check how active the support forum is.
Another thing you might want to check is how much custom functionality is introduced by the theme. Some theme authors (ThemeForest authors are famous for this) bundle huge amounts of functionality in to their themes.
Things like custom sliders, shortcodes, widgets, layout managers and content builders are frequent inclusions. Be careful when choosing a theme like this. If you decide to switch themes at a later date you will lose all of the custom functionality that you may have come to rely upon. This can be extremely problematic if the functionality is interwoven throughout your entire web site. Imagine you’re using a shortcode on all of your product pages. When you switch themes you would need to go through all of your products to remove instances of that shortcode – not fun at all!
Our advice would be to always look for lightweight, lean themes and then add extra functionality via Plugins & extensions. That way when you switch themes the functionality remains.
One last thing to consider when choosing a theme is the check whether it is ‘responsive’. Responsive Design simply means that it has been optimized for all devices, from handheld smart phones up to desktop computers / TVs.
This will once again come down to your audience, but it’s worth noting that the Web is swiftly diversifying and that people are using a plethora devices (smart phones, TVs, microwaves, you name it) to surf. You want to offer a great experience to all your customers!