Are you looking for a WordPress theme or plugin?
One of the advantages of WordPress is its customisation potential. With growing plugins available, you can build the website of your dreams. However, having so many options can make choosing what best suits your site difficult.
Fortunately, there are ways to make your decision easier. By prioritising your specific needs and learning how to evaluate the quality of the tool, you can find solid plugins to optimise your site.
This article will show you how to choose a WordPress theme and plugin and recommend some I think are necessary WordPress plugins.
Table of Contents
WordPress theme and Plugin
How do I choose a WordPress theme?
A theme is like the decor of your home, the first thing people see when they enter your website.
Choosing a good theme in the early stages of setting up your website can make your website work twice as hard and reduce the hassle of maintenance and updates in the future.
If you are teaching design, you should choose a theme with a strong sense of texture. Choose a simple and clean theme if you are a teaching site like mine, where content is the main focus.
Some themes may have very little scope for customisation, so you’ll have to change the syntax for anything you want to change. Some themes may be beautiful, but they can be large and slow the site down.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a theme.
The functionality of customising the look
Many themes have very few customisation features (Appearance->Customise), making it difficult to make changes.
I would recommend that you look for themes that offer the following features for customisation:
- Page width customisation
- The text size of headers and paragraphs
- Preset font selection
- Theme colour configuration
- Header, footer, and sidebar customisation
These are some of the more commonly used customisation features that I think are best, but if unavailable, they may be more limited or modified by CSS.
Gorgeous or clean and simple
The more flashy the theme, the more likely the site will be slow or the user experience will be poor. Think about whether your website needs this kind of glamour. Do you need it, or do you want it?
Most of the time, I would advise newcomers to use a simple and clear theme. The content is really valuable, not the look and feel. Unless you are designing a website or have specific needs, use a flashy theme.
Speed of Loading
The loading speed often affects the time a user stays on a site. The user may leave immediately if your site takes too long to load.
Bad themes may slow the loading speed, so you must choose carefully.
Several speed measurement tools can be used to check this:
– PageSpeed Insights
Also, as mentioned above, simple and clear themes are usually faster!
Is there any support for the Page Builder?
The Page Builder is a tool that allows you to create a beautiful page in a simple drag-and-drop manner.
The theme usually states which page editors are supported, not that more is better, but that they are just right for your needs.
Common page editors:
- Beaver Builder
Check the theme’s support level if you have a particular page editor you like.
Does it support responsive design?
Reactive design (RWD) is when a web page adapts to the device’s size. As most people nowadays use mobile phones to access the internet, responsive themes are very important. You can view a demo page of the theme on your mobile phone to check if the page will not run out of shape on your mobile phone.
Is it constantly updated?
The core of WordPress is constantly being updated, and the search engine is constantly changing. To maintain the website’s user experience, the theme should be updated continuously to keep up with the current trend. You can check the frequency of these updates to see if new versions and bug fixes are being released weekly or monthly.
User numbers and reviews
If several themes meet your needs, it’s time to compare the number of users and reviews. A topic with many users will be discussed more, and questions will be answered. If the topic has a lot of negative comments, you should also consider whether you want to use the topic.
Is there technical support?
Free versions of themes usually do not have technical support, but when buying a paid version, technical support is an important consideration. We can’t predict what problems we’ll encounter, so it’s important to have professional technical support! Many people go to Facebook for help when they have problems with a theme, but the best way is to talk to the developer directly. Many paid themes only offer technical support for one year, so it’s important to know this.
Is there search engine optimisation?
A well-structured theme can affect search engine optimisation (SEO). You can use SEO Site Checkup to check the SEO structure of your website. If the theme itself has a good SEO structure, you may be able to reduce the use of SEO plugins.
How to install a theme
Free themes can usually be viewed in the WordPress backend under Appearance->Themes.
Here you can see the currently installed themes and click to install them.
There is a large selection of themes to choose from, or if it’s hard to find, you can pick a theme that is popular and filtered for special features.
Once you have clicked on the theme you wish to install, you will be taken to this screen to preview the theme.
If you want to install it, click the Install button at the top.
Paid themes usually come with a ZIP file, just click on the Upload theme and select the file to install.
Recommended WordPress Theme
Brainstorm Force has also developed a free plugin, Gutenberg Blocks – Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg, which can be used with the Gutenberg editor!
In particular, GROWTH BUNDLE is the most recommended solution, including all the theme plugins developed by Brainstorm Force, as mentioned above!
GROWTH BUNDLE Contents:
- The Astra Pro addon is the main addon for Astra Pro, enabling detailed set-up functionality.
- Ultimate Addons for Beaver Builder: An extension to the Beaver Builder page editor.
- Ultimate Addons for Elementor: extensions to the Elementor page editor.
- Convert Pro: A beautiful pop-up window plugin.
- Schema Pro: Easy to create structural markup for your website.
- Astra Premium Sites (over 100 Astra templates for this plan only): advanced templates for Astra.
- WP Portfolio plugin: Plugin for easy portfolio presentation.
Recommended for everyone, especially for newcomers who want to pick a theme right from the start.
- The free version is not bad at all.
- It is highly recommended for use with Elementor, making it easy to create beautiful pages.
- The files are very light and do not slow down the site.
- The structure is very well done, and there is little conflict with other plugins.
- Astra Pro has many beautiful layouts you can take and modify without building a new one.
- Very popular and good for finding solutions to problems.
OceanWP is a very popular WordPress theme with many useful features for building many websites. It has over 500,000 active installations and over 3,000 5-star reviews.
The free version of OceanWP comes with 13 demos, and the advanced version with 60 demos.
- Highly recommended for use with Elementor to make beautiful pages with ease.
- There are many ready-made templates that can be used, although not many, which is good for beginners.
- Whether it’s a one-page, e-commerce, or blog, it’s all very well-supported.
- The structure for SEO is well-designed and very fast.
- The theme customisation is versatile, and the free version is more than adequate.
Founded in 2010, StudioPress is a long-established WordPress theme development provider and part of WP Engine.
The layout theme combines a base theme (Genesis Framework) and a plug-in theme (child theme). There are currently more than 500,000 websites on the market that have been created using StudioPress themes.
If you are hosting on WP Engine, many StudioPress themes are available for free.
StudioPress can be purchased with the Pro Plus plan, which allows unlimited downloads of all the themes in the plan.
- Simple code and strict quality control.
- High update frequency, so you don’t have to worry about not supporting new versions of WordPress.
- Detailed online tutorials so you don’t have to worry about not knowing how to use it.
- Many users, so you can find friends in many places to discuss.
- The product has no expiry date; it is all a one-off payment.
- No limit to the number of times a theme can be used; ideal for many websites.
ThemeForest is a marketplace specialising in WordPress themes, with over 10,000 WordPress themes, and there are often special offers at events, so you can find some in your shopping cart and receive special offers at any time.
The themes on Themeforest are all renewable for life with a single purchase but only have one year of technical support, so if you need technical support in the future, you will need to purchase again.
Note that the themes purchased can only be used on one page!
- One-time payment for future updates
- Cheap prices
- Wide range of themes
How to choose a WordPress plugin?
Choosing a WordPress plugin is much the same as choosing a theme. What is more noteworthy is that I pay special attention to the plugin’s reviews and the number of installs enabled. The biggest concern with plugins is compatibility and security, so it’s worth looking at the reviews. You can check the user reviews of the plugin at the place where you installed it. I try to choose plugins with 4 stars or more!
How to install plugins
click Plugins->Install Plugins.
Select the plugin you want to install, click Install, and then click Enable.
If you purchase a paid plugin, it is usually a manual upload plugin.
Tips for searching for plugins
Searching for plugins is also a learning curve, as they are usually in English and difficult to search for in Chinese.
I have divided the search for plugins into two categories:
Type in the keywords you are looking for in the plugin installation:
Search Engine Optimisation: seo
There are a lot of keywords, so I’ll list some of the more commonly used ones, but you’ll have to figure them out for yourself.
Another way is to search through Google.
You can search for keywords such as “WordPress SEO plugin recommendations”, “WordPress cache plugin recommendations”, and so on.
Use some of the more experienced WordPress users to guide you.
Recommended WordPress Plugins
- Akismet Anti-Spam
- Code Snippets
- Easy Table of Contents
- Site Kit by Google
- UpdraftPlus – Backup/Restore
- WP Rocket
- WP Mail SMTP
- Jetpack by WordPress.com
- Contact Form 7
- Health Check & Troubleshooting
- Q2W3 Fixed Widget
- Yoast SEO
The flexibility of WordPress is incredible. However, too many options can be overwhelming and make making a decision difficult. Fortunately, you can find a good fit plugin by approaching search systematically that focuses on your site’s needs.
This article shows you how to choose WordPress themes and plugins and shares my experience and recommendation list.
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