So yes, you decided to start an ecommerce startup and have certain extensions you’ve earmarked to buy on WooCommerce.com. And perhaps you might have engaged a developer to build a few more, so that you could be the next ASOS, eBay or Amazon of your country/state/locality. And then you need to choose a theme and someone recommends ThemeForest to you. Instead of congratulating you, perhaps a guide on how to identify and avoid bad WordPress themes would be a better idea.
Find out more after the break as we dive into in-depth into purchasing WordPress themes and avoiding bad ones.
WooCommerce is shaping out to be a major ecommerce platform as it continues to accelerate to a 39% marketshare of all online stores. Being based on WordPress, it is normal to see developers joining the bandwagon to build WordPress themes.
But with the increase in quantity, comes a decrease in quality. Bad WordPress themes abound, affecting not just your SEO, but also your conversion and sales. In some cases, bad WordPress themes even affect your other plugins. But how do you avoid them? No theme developer would tell you that his theme is badly coded, would they?
Here’s our guide.
1) Developers With Tons Of Themes
Having spent a ton on WordPress themes on various platforms including ThemeForest and individual theme shops, I would say this with certainty. Don’t buy themes from developers with tons of themes, unless you are willing to be left with themes that are not updated.
To be frank, web development isn’t tough, but it is a labour of love. To develop a theme, a professional theme developer would spend days working on user experience and stuff like where does the pixel go. And then comes the coding part. Great themes are well coded, properly referenced and organised in a logical way. All these takes time.
However, due to the nature of ThemeForest, authors (or in proper words, developers) that don’t get into the best sellers’ page, tend to see their sale fizzle within the third month of listing. And then they take the same framework, tweak the theme and then relaunch as a brand new theme.
But after a while, when a theme developer has about forty to fifty themes to support on ThemeForest and don’t get much sales over each individual theme, do you think he would have time to keep your theme updated? Or to fix the technical debt that the theme accrues over time?
If you are planning to buy themes off ThemeForest, perhaps the best idea would be to buy from Theme Authors with a minimal amount of themes. As such, you can be assured that your theme gets updated to the latest standard in PHP 7, HTML 5 and CSS, while being optimised to do well with the search engines.
2) Multipurpose Themes With Many Templates / Stacks
So yes, you stay away from authors with too many themes, only to find yourself buying a multipurpose theme. While the theme might be optimised to load fast, it still loads more scripts than a niche theme built on a robust framework like StudioPress’ Genesis and ArrayThemes.
The weakness of multipurpose themes is the sloppy handling of code and pagespeed. While top-selling themes like Avada, Enfold and X theme have done a great job in optimising their theme for speed, not all theme authors do so.
3) Don’t Bother If Your Theme Has Proper Hooks For WooCommerce
One pet peeve I have with themes on ThemeForest, is the lack of support for proper WooCommerce hooks. If you plan to run a serious ecommerce business with WooCommerce as your ecommerce platform of choice, you will find yourself going for powerful WooCommerce extensions that hooks into the built-in WooCommerce hooks.
However, with bad themes, you’ll quickly find that some of these extensions don’t work due to the lack of hooks in the theme. This in turns then impairs your site’s ability to sell.
4) Buy Themes With Baked-in Visual Composer Support
If you browse through themes on ThemeForest (or some independent shops), you might find that they integrate page builders like Visual Composer. Not only that, they tend to build extra extensions into their themes.
While page builders helps you build landing pages fast, badly coded page builders cripple other plugins as well as lock your content. In Pippin Williamson’s recent post, he commented that badly coded page builders even stops other plugins from using WordPress the right way.1
But page builders also introduces a bunch of scripts and code into your side, causing it to load ever more slowly, while consuming precious memory.
5) Short Term Theme Author/Developer
I fell into this trap more than once. Somehow you found a theme that looks too good to be true from a new developer. So you fork out the hard-earned USD 60 and begin to install it. The problem then happens a few months later when you find some feature on your site is broken. Perhaps it’s the checkout page. Or a wonky cart summary. Or those mega-menus that suddenly broke.
Then you go back to the author to raise a ticket, only to find the author missing. Or busy promoting his second theme. You can be sure that from now on, he will then produce many other low-quality and badly maintained themes, just like the first example we mentioned.
The Solution to avoiding bad WordPress themes
I hope we’ve properly served you with a warning, so that you don’t have to go through what we have. For me, if you’re looking at quality themes, perhaps it’s best to consider independent theme shops.
Now, not every theme shop is good, but here are some that serves you quality ecommerce themes for WordPress.
- StudioPress with the Genesis framework
- WooCommerce with Canvas, Storefront and SuperStore
- https://pippinsplugins.com/wordpress-page-builder-plugins-critical-review/ ↩