Many issues accompany the use of a bad theme as it can displease and affect your audience’s experience, give search engines a poor expression of your site, and affect the general well-being of your website.
All this will significantly affect the success you are looking to achieve with your blog in the long run.
This is why having a great theme is so crucial for your blog site. But what exactly should you look for that makes a blog theme good enough for your site?
Well, there are several factors you should consider, but they depend on whether you are designing the theme yourself or buying it from a web designer.
Regardless of your Content Management System (CMS), there are several to choose from, but if you are looking for a great blog design template that will make your blogging journey more manageable, it means that you will have to go beyond just the looks of the theme.
If you are not sure what things to look for when picking a blog theme, here are 10 crucial features you should be looking for in your future blog design template or theme.
Price is a big influencer when selecting a blog theme. Although some believe that buying highly-priced blog design templates get you the best themes out there, this isn’t always the case.
Expensive doesn’t always equate to quality.
It also is easy for you to come across free blog themes for your respective CMS, but these free themes come with the disadvantages of having developer credits in them and for the sake of convenience and professionalism, having those kinds of themes isn’t a great idea.
Free blog design templates also require a lot of work on your end to make them look the way you want.
However, making the investment in premium themes is worth it in the long run and is often the route if you want to succeed in your blogging journey.
There are many premium themes out there, and if you are not sure where to look, here is a list of 25 Places Pro Bloggers Buy Premium Themes.
Can you use a free theme and still see results? Yes. However, I don’t recommend it because they are often optimized for some crucial features they should have.
It gets frustrating when you visit a website on your mobile device, and the page is loading very slow; some of the content is not appearing correctly, and you have to zoom out to see certain things properly.
However, if you are browsing on a desktop, you will be cool with a view from the clean blog because now you are on a bigger screen.
This means that the web page is designed with desktop users only in mind, but more often than not, sites like this are drastically declining.
Nowadays, users of mobile devices are increasing. If you have a site without great support for mobile browsers, chances are that you will have poor search engine ranking, and for the little mobile traffic that comes to your site, the majority will bounce out.
3. Cross-Browser Compatibility
This is a bit similar to responsiveness, but with a little narrower focus because even if your site is responsive to mobile devices, it has to be compatible with all major browsers as well.
Some blog design templates appear differently on different browsers, and if the theme you have in place doesn’t suit a particular user browser, chances are that you may lose that audience due to obscured view.
Most modern blog theme templates you will find on theme stores are compatible with several browsers, but adding this to your checklist will prevent you from losing potential readers due to browser compatibility issues.
A visually attractive theme on your site has the potential to be magnetic enough to influence your audience retention. You also will be proud of having a clean blog, and that increases the fun of blogging.
This is why you won’t go wrong investing in a great-looking theme coupled with other great features behind it. And if your content is also of great quality, your chances of success will double.
However, many bloggers tend to prioritize the look of their blog design templates over any other thing and end up sacrificing other features for beauty.
This is not wise because if you have a good-looking theme, but it is negatively affecting your visibility on search engines and the usability of your audience, then you are sabotaging your own success.
It’s important to know that a simple blog design template without much fancy stuff will do just as well as one with the fancy stuff.
5. SEO Friendly
Search Engine Optimization is a crucial part of blogging, and a theme has the power to affect how search engine bots will crawl your blog’s pages.
When you are using a bad theme on your blog, even if it looks attractive to the eye, it may block search engine bots from crawling, and that can cost you a lot of traffic.
Site loading speed is a factor in the Google algorithm, and so is audience retention.
A slow loading speed will not be ranked as well as a faster loading site with similar content would.
An unresponsive theme will get visitors frustrated and cause them to exit your site quickly, which significantly lowers your site retention rate.
This is why when looking for a blog theme, you should look for a simple blog template and shouldn’t trade SEO friendliness for any other feature.
Here is another part where a simple blog template or a clean blog is of great importance; performance.
Search engines have their unique ways to ascertain user experience on your site, and performance is one of the key factors they consider in this aspect.
Performance is a vital feature to consider when picking a blog theme template. And just like you shouldn’t trade a theme’s search engine friendliness for any other functionality, performance should be seen in that way too.
The performance of your site is essentially the time needed for your site pages to load.
A simple blog template has a huge role to play in your web page’s speed and directly impacts your audience’s experience.
It often has fewer things to load and generally performs in terms of page load speed than a more complex theme.
7. Supported Plugins
One of the main reasons why WordPress is the most preferred Content Management System for several websites and blogs is the fact that users have full customization options on it, and plugins offer a great deal of help in this aspect.
When choosing a blog design template, especially on WordPress, go for one that has reliable customer support and support for other features and plugins such as Woocommerce and the popular plugins out there.
If blog monetization is something you want to do in the future, then this feature is essential.
And if you have other more specific plugins that you would like to apply to your blog, find out if the theme you are about to use on your blog can support that.
It isn’t that hard to find out if a theme can support your plugin. All you need to do is ask the theme developer, and they will let you know.
And if they don’t respond then, that’s an indication of the kind of support you can expect to get after buying the theme.
Some blog design templates come pre-installed with popular plugins; you should also find out their properties or descriptions before purchasing them.
Also, find out if the theme can run without them if they are plugin you won’t need. This is because some of the plugins that come with a theme may negatively affect your site loading speed.
8. Theme Ratings & Reviews
There are thousands of themes out there that would look appealing enough to you, but from the varieties out there, all you need is just one good theme for your site.
This is why weighing your options by filtering is a great idea. And what better way is there to get a glimpse of how using the theme will be like, than to hear the thoughts of previous users of the theme?
An indication of a great theme starts with the reviews. So it’s always a great idea to pay extra attention and see what experiences the current or previous users of that particular theme are having.
This is a strong indicator that tells you more about a particular theme that interests you. If the ratings or reviews are poor, it’s a sign for you to look for another theme somewhere else.
Since there are several good themes out there, I’m confident you will find one that meets your needs without compromising essential features.
9. Customer Support
We already discussed how this is something you should not expect if you are using a free theme. Maybe you are lucky enough to find one that offers support; you will soon find out that the support only goes so far before you need to pay to get help with more complicated issues.
Themes can sometimes be complicated. And unless you have a strong tech background and have some coding knowledge, you will need the theme developer’s help when you run into an issue.
However, suppose you are using a premium theme with customer support. In that case, the developer can look into the difficulty you are facing with their theme and will issue an immediate fix for you.
Although the customer support validity for the premium themes you purchase often expire, and you might need to upgrade your subscription to continue enjoying customer support, most of the time, this is worth it.
However, most of the challenges you will face will be in the early stages of setting up your blog, which is covered by the initial support period.
Updates on most things digital are great and go a long way in preventing you from having several headaches in the future.
This is no exception for blog themes.
Theme updates allow you to have improved features, bug fixes, and security patches where there is any vulnerability or glitch.
If you are looking to use a single theme for a long time that represents your blog style, then buying a theme from a developer who provides frequent updates is a great idea.
So while still browsing for a blog design template to use, you should pay attention to the last time the developer updated the blog theme.
If it hasn’t been updated for half a year or even more, you shouldn’t consider buying it, and even if you choose to, make sure an update comes by not later than one year.
I wish someone had told me all this when I was starting my blogging journey. It would have saved me a lot of headaches.
Are you a new blogger looking for a blog theme, or do you already have a theme and are looking to switch it up? What has been your experience? Let me know in the comments below!