My Evaluation Checklist

As a complete geek, I am always detail-oriented and consider various aspects of a WordPress theme before selecting one for my collections and recommendations.

Here are some factors I analyze:

  • Code quality. First and foremost, I examine the code for adherence to coding standards, proper commenting, and good practices, as well-written and clean code is essential for a smooth-running website.
  • Responsive design. I ensure that the theme is fully responsive, meaning it automatically adapts to different screen sizes and devices, including desktops, tablets, and smartphones.
  • Performance. I analyze the theme’s performance by checking for efficient use of resources, optimized images, and minimal render-blocking elements, as a fast-loading website is crucial for a good user experience.
  • SEO-friendliness. I look for elements like proper heading structure, schema markup, and clean URL structures to ensure the theme follows SEO best practices and my website ranks well in search engine results.
  • Customizability. I appreciate a theme that provides plenty of customization options, allowing me to create a unique website without having to modify the code directly.
  • Compatibility. I check if the theme is compatible with popular plugins and the latest version of WordPress. Compatibility with various web browsers is also essential.
  • Accessibility. I test features like keyboard navigation support, proper use of ARIA attributes, and good color contrast. Ensuring the theme follows accessibility guidelines is crucial for users with disabilities.
  • Documentation and support. I look for a well-documented theme with clear instructions and a dedicated support team, which is essential for troubleshooting any issues that may arise during the theme setup and customization process.
  • Update frequency. I look for a theme with a history of frequent updates and ongoing development, as regular updates ensure that the theme stays compatible with the latest WordPress version, security patches, and new features.
  • Licensing and pricing. I evaluate the licensing terms and pricing structure to ensure it fits my needs and budget, considering factors like ongoing support, updates, and potential limitations on usage.

WordPress Theme Selection Criteria

This table lists my essential aspects to consider, along with their respective weights based on their general importance. It helps me to focus on critical factors such as code quality, responsive design, performance, SEO-friendliness, and other aspects that contribute to creating an effective and user-friendly website.

Aspect Weight Description
Code quality 20% Clean, well-structured code is crucial for a smooth-running website and easier maintenance.
Responsive design 15% A fully responsive theme ensures optimal user experience across various devices and screen sizes.
Performance 15% Fast-loading websites improve user experience and contribute to better search engine rankings.
SEO-friendliness 15% A theme that follows SEO best practices can help increase organic search traffic to the website.
Customizability 10% A customizable theme allows for greater design flexibility and creating a unique website.
Compatibility 10% Compatibility with popular plugins, WordPress updates, and web browsers ensures seamless functionality.
Accessibility 5% Following accessibility guidelines improves user experience for people with disabilities and broadens the website’s audience.
Documentation and support 5% Clear documentation and a dedicated support team make theme setup and troubleshooting easier.
Update frequency 3% Regular updates keep the theme compatible with the latest WordPress version, security patches, and features.
Licensing and pricing 2% Licensing terms and pricing should match the project’s needs and budget.

It’s important to note that the assigned weights are subjective and can be adjusted according to your individual preferences or project-specific needs.

The Evaluation Routine

To evaluate and perform tests of a WordPress theme before recommending it to my blog audience, I follow these steps:

  1. Install the theme: First, I install the theme on a local or staging environment, allowing me to test it without affecting my live website.
  2. Review the demo content: I import the demo content, if available, to ensure the theme looks and functions as advertised. This gives me a starting point for my testing and evaluation.
  3. Test responsiveness: I use Google Chrome Device Mode and BrowserStack to test how the theme adapts to different screen sizes and devices, such as desktops, tablets, and smartphones.
  4. Analyze performance: I use Google PageSpeed Insights, GTmetrix, and WebPageTest to evaluate the theme’s loading speed, efficiency, and overall performance. I look for a high-performance score, low loading time, and minimal render-blocking elements.
  5. Check SEO-friendliness: I use Ahrefs and Semrush to analyze the theme’s adherence to SEO best practices. These tools can provide insights into factors like heading structure, schema markup, and clean URL structures.
  6. Validate code quality: I use the W3C Markup Validator to check the theme’s HTML and CSS code for errors and adherence to web standards. This helps ensure the theme is well-structured and follows best practices.
  7. Test plugin compatibility: I install and test essential plugins, such as Yoast SEO, WooCommerce, and Contact Form 7, to ensure the theme works seamlessly with them.
  8. Evaluate browser compatibility: I test the theme on various browsers like Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Microsoft Edge to ensure it looks and functions correctly across all popular browsers.
  9. Assess accessibility: I use tools like WAVE and aXe to evaluate the theme’s adherence to accessibility guidelines. These tools can highlight issues related to keyboard navigation, ARIA attributes, and color contrast.
  10. Test customizability: I explore the theme’s customization options, such as color schemes, typography, layout options, and widget areas, to ensure it offers a suitable level of customization without requiring significant code modifications.
  11. Review documentation and support: I examine the theme’s documentation and support resources, such as forums and online tutorials, to determine whether they provide clear instructions and are responsive to user queries.
  12. Verify update frequency: I check the theme’s update history to ensure it receives regular updates and ongoing development. This is important for maintaining compatibility with the latest WordPress version, security patches, and new features.

After completing this thorough evaluation, I compile my findings, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of each theme and providing recommendations based on specific use cases and requirements.