What do you look for in a Wordpress theme?

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What traits are most important to you when choosing a theme for a site?
  • Clean code?
  • Fast-loading?
  • Easy to customize?
  • Looks awesome with lots of fancy effects?
  • Price?
  • Features? (Which ones?)
  • Ad-integration?
  • Pre-built layouts?
  • Homepage styles? (Varies by project, what are your preferences?)
  • Easy to understand documentation?
  • Things I didn't mention...?
 

lyannastark

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Welll I guess it depends on the type of site, but I personally always looked at aesthetic. It wasn't until very recently (since CC9) that I even considered code/speed in a theme lol. I love themes that have a variety of layouts/styles but that's because I can't code to change the styles myself. I'm not that discerning of a theme customer, so that's pretty much it lol but as I said, it depends on the project especially when it comes to features.
 

Callum Short

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Lightweight, I'm not talking minimal, but a website that is not packed with heavy media assets, javascript libraries (smooth scroll, parrallax, fixed nav switches) - It should be simple, beautiful and content-rich.
 
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I haven't cared a lot about page speed before reading a lot on this forum, but I think that's important now.

I also think we need adaptive designs, if not fully responsive now. It's not negotiable any more.

I agree with @Callum Short about too much javascript. I don't mind mobile menus dropping down and small necessities. But highjacking my scrolling experience is annoying. And i've never had a browser or computer that could handle parallax scrolling either.

I don't care about having tons of options like "sidebar on right or left?" or "two columns or three columns?". If I want that, I'll find a different theme rather than deal with a ton of behind-the-scenes options that will potentially break eventually.

I'm not a fan of clutter, visually.
 
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It's hard to say what I look for, but i can tell you what I make sure isn't there:
  • E-Panel Sub-Dashboards or whatever. Works for non-coders but the bloat is ridiculous.
  • Frameworks like Genesis and Thesis and child themes. Bloat, complication when customizing.
  • Designers like Elegant Themes themes who give zero thought to efficient design. I hate image-heavy and -dependent themes with idiotic CSS, tons of sub-templates being called left and right, PHP loops not being closed and destroying servers, etc. Designers who care about how it looks with total disregard with how it functions.
 
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Clean/fast loading is near the top of the list.
Responsive I feel like is an absolutely necessity now and wouldn't even qualify as a plus anymore. It has to be there.
 
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I've been using ThriveThemes for the past few months, and the themes + content builder pretty much take care of 95% of my theme needs at this point. I think the fact that its built by online marketers makes a huge difference vs. designers/developers who understand aesthetics/code but not the underlying fundamentals that drive successful websites.

The best part is the content builder. Now if I want VAs to customize things to look a certain way, add email optins etc, I can just train them on 1 tool and standardize my instructions across every site even if they have different themes. Before, it was always a major PITA since every theme developer has their own way of overcomplicating things.

I have run into bugs here and there, but the support has been pretty responsive so far.
 
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Seems to me you have two classes of people in need:
  • Beginners
  • Non-Beginners
Whether its the site owner or the VA's, some people just don't know how to deal with HTML and CSS and PHP and all this stuff. So they need WYSIWYG and drag and drop and all of those features, with color pickers and check boxes and drop down menus to select options.

Then you have the guys who can dig in and make a theme exactly what they want on the surface, but don't want to reinvent the wheel on the more complicated backend side. So they are worrying about speed and interaction with the theme.

Seems like there's two huge demographics a developer could cater to. Choose one and push and that's probably a solid business.
 
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fast loading and responsive
cusomizable
 

learningcurve

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If the look suites the site you are putting it on - Period!

After fucking around you can improve stuff like load times and such. Everything else I pretty much don't give a shit about, I can work around a lot of things, I have discovered over time.
 
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Most important features to me are that it looks professional, can do what I need it to do, and is fast loading. I assume a fast loading page is usually an indication of the code quality. I poke around in all my themes but just to get a general idea of how bloated the thing is.

Simple is better as long as it looks nice.
 
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One thing I do hate is the new trend of one page themes with huge images/pastel colors taking up the entire screen, and those "smooth scroll" features. They load slow. The scrolling is awkward.

Maybe I'm just old school but I just see a bunch of misused screen real estate
 

Ryuzaki

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those "smooth scroll" features
I hate those scroll-jacking scripts with a passion.

Yeah, the one-pagers are for landers, really. The kind where you're selling something very specific, such as a product or service, versus a content based site. They have their places for sure. I'll be building one this week at some point for a personal portfolio.
 
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Nowadays I would place lightness on the top spot. If you take a look at the majority of newest and popular Themeforest themes (especially multipurpose) they are usually extremely bloated. They tend to require many plugins, etc. In fact, some of the sites are so slowly loading that I must use heavy caching.

I even tried to debug (xDebug/New Relic) several slow-loading themes thinking that there are some missing requests that lead to slowness, but no - they are just bloated with tons of js, plugins, etc.

Now I tend to just pick some lightweight, responsive free theme and just customize it myself. Takes effort, but it's worth it.