How to Choose a WordPress Theme for eCommerce sites- [Update 2020]

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There are huge marketplaces providing thousands of WordPress WooCommerce themes, but have you known how to opt for the best one for your online store? Today, we are going to present the full guide on how to Choose a WordPress theme for eCommerce sites, which will help you avoid overwhelming and pick out the best and most suitable template for your WooCommerce website.

1. Simple friendly Design & good UX

Nowadays, it is easy to find plenty of eCommerce WordPress themes coming with different colors, complex layouts, flashy animations, large effects-heavy sliders, CSS animation effects, animated roll-overs, large background images, etc, which might take the attention of the customer away from the product. While these may look pretty, in reality, they produce slow loading, browser issues, which will decrease your traffic as well as conversion rate and be not suitable for running a functioning eCommerce store.

For e-commerce sites, the eventual goal is to get conversions, which is to convince users to buy your products, and not just remaining merely a visitor. Understand the intended target audience and design the website accordingly. You are advised to look for a theme that has a simple layout design avoiding the bloated elements above as much as possible for users to get the information faster and for you to achieve your goal more easily.

In general, a WooCommerce theme appreciates for an online store needs to look good and elegant, provide well friendly design and good user experience without compromising on usability. In detail, it should contain the main features as follows.

1.1. Easily understood navigation

Navigation might be the most important part of a store’s design because it is the path from the landing page to checkout. Good navigation, presenting a clear short route from anywhere on your site to the checkout page, helps clients quickly find their way around your site without hassle and hesitation, which may result in better UX and higher conversion rates. On the contrary, the poor one may frustrate them and even take them away from your store.

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To create good navigation, you should look for the themes built with the most crucial categories or pages in the main navigation, and the less important destinations moved to drop-downs or the site footer.

To make an easily understood navigation, the shopping cart and checkout page also need to be well interactive and easily customizable. To be specific, all the chosen items should be included in one shopping cart, not be separated into different ones. In the checkout page, it is necessary to contain all products from the shopping cart, products’ prices, discount (if provided), various shipping methods and multiple payment options for customers to have different choices suitable for them. Also, clients should be allowed to add and remove the items right from the checkout page, which may make them feel comfortable when shopping on your site.

1.2. Product search and categories

Fast and easy navigation through multiple products in an online store is crucial if you don’t want to confuse your customers. Selecting a theme that comes with a search engine and a neatly compiled product catalog makes it easier and more convenient for users to compare products simultaneously and get the best product for them. Generally, it will speed up their search on your website as well as offer them better UX.

In detail, categories help to organize your content in a more user-friendly way which is to sort and group products, and content into different sections based upon particular subjects, while product search works as a filter tool allowing you to faster and more easily pick out the items you are interested in. As a result, opting for an eCommerce WordPress theme designed with search options and product categories may considerably enhance user experience and increase sales.

1.3. Call-to-action visibility

A prominent Call-to-Action is essential to obtain the goals of an eCommerce website. It guides a user to initiate action with your store. Hence, you should choose a theme with visible, striking, eye-catching, and easily accessible for your store to get more visitors’ attention to purchasing the items.

These features help to remind potential customers about the recently viewed products and the related items through the internal linking system on your product page. It can not only give them more freedom choice from the list of similar products but also simplify the decision-making process if a user decides to come back to the products they liked. Therefore, a theme built with these features will definitely have positive effects on your UX and conversion rate.

1.5. Social media integrated

Utilizing social sharing buttons is a way to leverage the power of word of mouth to drive more traffics to your online shop, which may convert into more sales. It is because when customers buy a product then share that item on their Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, not only do they follow you on your social platforms, but they also help to promote your products as well as your brand to their friends on social networks. Most of WooCommerce themes include this function already, so you just need to go to the dashboard and enable it.

Boutique WooCommerce theme does a good job in this part as it integrates quite a lot of social media channels in the shop.

1.6. Quality product reviews design

Most people prefer to see products’ reviews before buying them so showing product reviews is a good way to get more trust from your customers. If there is no review section, it’s hard for your store to get trust from customers. This function is already provided in WooCommerce site by default, but it is just basic and simple and maybe not enough for your site. Therefore, you should also seek out a theme with quality and appropriate product review design. An aesthetic review design can make it easier to get customers’ opinions and feedback.

This is also a great method for store owners to get customers information, for example, name, location, and email address, which will be a big help for them to launch marketing campaigns in the future.

1.7. Breadcrumbs included

Breadcrumbs are considered step-by-step navigation which allows users to jump back and forth among sections to find out their favorite items faster. It may result in better user experience and higher conversion rate to your store. As a result, you’d better look for a WooCommerce theme offering breadcrumbs for your online shop.

2. Multiple devices Responsiveness & various browsers Compatibility

To attract & keep customers stay in your online store, it?s imperative to make your theme well- displayed on technology devices like desktop, tablet, especially mobile phone. According to statista.com, a survey website about Statistics and Studies from more than 22,500 Sources, 67% of the worldwide population have their own mobile phone and 28.56% of website traffic is from mobile phone.

Therefore, you should consider a theme perfectly responsive for re-arranging content, scaling up/down images, scaling up/down text and changing how some features behave in order to optimize their readability and usability on all devices from the large size screens to the smaller ones and particularly coming with a mobile-first approach. If there is a touch optimization, it really helpful for your eCommerce site in the future.

Today, there are various web browsers such as Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, Opera, etc. While most browsers behave nearly identical when rendering web pages, they all use different code which means they may handle website elements differently from time to time. Hence, making your theme well-displayed and run smoothly with perfect functionality on as many browsers as possible is a must. If not, it may take your potential clients away from your store due to the web browser incompatibility.

You should choose the WooCommerce themes tested rigorously by using cross-browser testing tools that can help automate the process of maintaining a consistent web experience to all your users across different browsers, devices, and platforms with just one-click. Some popular browser testing tools you may use are BrowserStack, Browsershots, and CrossBrowserTesting. Once installing one of these tools, you can have it check your website’s browser compatibility and make sure that your website offers the same user experience to all your users.

3. Easy Customization

Another attribute to evaluate the theme’s quality is that the theme you choose should support the real-time WordPress Customize which allows you to customize or tweak the code files although it may take time to do that. Also, you should go for a theme compatible with Page Builder plugin which helps you create page layouts and gives you a ton of control for customizing your site’s design by using drag and drop user interface without coding.

There are some popular page builder plugins like Beaver Builder, The Divi builder, Elementor, Themify Builder, and so on. You can install one of them to build your eCommerce site faster and more easily. To get the highest rate of compatibility with Page builder, the theme you choose should be coded basing on the standard WordPress code files.

4. Security

Although a WordPress WooCommerce site’s security significantly depends on web hosting, SSL certificate, and additional plugins, the theme must afford maximum security and itself can minimize security issues.

A secure WordPress WooCommerce theme is one that follows proper code standards, is consistently updated, and well compatible with the version of WordPress and additional plugins. Thus, a secure theme will help you avoid unnecessary bugs, compatibility errors, similar issues, and considerably reduce security holes exploited by hackers, malware, and other undesirable influences.

To check whether your theme is secure or not, the fastest way is to download or purchase themes from famous marketplaces like WordPress, or Themeforest. Because the themes submitted on these sites have already been tested and proved to be secure to use. Or if you buy from other sites, you can use some tools such as Sucuri Security, Wpscans, etc to check theme’s security.

5. Translation available

If you want to broaden your brand all over the world, your online store must be ready for translation. Although there are a lot of plugins supporting multiple languages for WordPress WooCommerce site, installing them into your store will negatively affect your loading speed. Hence, the best way to have multi-languages function work in your site during maintaining speed is looking for a theme that offers available translation.

To check and enable translation ready in a WordPress WooCommerce theme, go to the WordPress theme directory’s features filter, then you will see a list of attributes added to the themes. Click into Translation Ready to find the themes with this feature. If you want to translate your theme into a right-to-left language like Arabic, Hebrew, and Persian, then you should also check rtl-language-support option. Click on the Apply Filters button, and get the results.

Once getting a translation ready WordPress theme, download the theme on your computer and extract the theme files. In the extracted files, you will find languages folder which should have a POT file, an additional .po or .mo file. Because these files will support translation in WordPress WooCommerce themes.

6. SEO friendliness & Fast Speed optimization

SEO friendliness and loading speed indirectly affect your store’s traffic and your sales.

Whatever is sold on your eCommerce store, your site must be optimized for SEO because SEO friendliness will help your store rank high, even stand out among results in search engines. To have your site ranked higher in search engines, the theme you go for need to be developed according to up-to-date coding standards. Check it to make sure it is well compatible with all popular browsers, and it has valid HTML, CSS and runs smoothly on mobile devices. 

When it comes to loading speed, the faster your site is, the more interested the visitors feel, which may lead to higher traffic and better conversion rate. It is proved that a 1-second delay in page loading can make you lose views by 7%, customer satisfaction by 16% and conversions by 7%. If your customers have to wait for your site to load too long (8-10 seconds), they will lose their patience and simply move their mouse away to other websites even they really love your products very much. This will result in a high bounce rate and lower sales. Therefore, making your online shop speedy is highly important.

There are many extensions helping you better SEO optimization and faster loading speed, but installing too many plugins into your site will make it even slower. Therefore, you should avoid installing additional plugins as much as possible. Instead, choosing a theme offering SEO friendliness and fast loading speed itself would be a much better choice.

7. Supported various eCommerce plugins

Although it is advised that you should not install too many plugins in your eCommerce site, it does not mean that your theme will not need to integrate with any additional addon. Your WooCommerce theme needs to be compatible with as many plugins as possible because when you wish to upgrade your online store with other functionalities, you have to install them into your site. It means you should go for the theme following the standard code files of WordPress and WooCommerce because this will increase the rate of compatibility with other WordPress eCommerce plugins.

8. Support service available

Support service is necessary for users, especially those who don’t have much knowledge about programming.

If it is a paid or premium theme, there may be backed by premium quality support which can be forums, email, or online tickets, etc. When you buy a WooCommerce theme, the developers of that theme will take responsibility for helping you deal with the technical issues in your theme. You can easily assess their support’s quality based on some factors like how many support options are provided, how fast it is to receive the response, and whether it is correct.

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As for free themes, most of them will not directly provide you with timely support services. However, you can go to WordPress.org forums and check if there are similar problems to yours and whether the developers respond to questions and support requests quickly or not.

9. Regularly Updated

As mentioned in section 4, updating a theme regularly is a way to keep it secure, perfectly adapt to the browser updates and reduce unexpected bugs. It is because, over time, new security patches need to be applied, bugs need to be fixed, etc. Moreover, its purpose is to keep your website up to date with the latest WordPress versions, maintain your online store’s compatibility with WordPress plugin ecosystem and make your eCommerce site work well on the latest mobile devices.

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To check the update frequency, you can look at the changelog of the theme which will give you an overview of how the theme development process is.

10. Theme Rating & Review

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The last but not least note-worthy indicator of a WooCommerce theme’s quality is ratings and reviews provided by their users. By looking at customers’ opinions about the theme, you can easily know the quality of the theme and other related evaluations, which are relatively objective. However, the ratings and reviews of the theme can just be seen if they are sold on a third-party marketplace like WordPress.org.

That how good a theme rating depends on each individual’s opinion; nevertheless, in general, a theme gets from 4 to 4.5 mark is acceptable and above 4.5 is the best. You can base on these numbers to select the best theme for your WooCommerce site. But remember they are just relative statistics.

Summary on how to choose the best WooCommerce theme.

To sum up, above are some crucial elements for you to evaluate and opt for a WordPress WooCommerce theme with high quality and suitable for your eCommerce site. This will help you easily choose the right theme that coming with enormous features and functionalities needed for your online shop.

If there is not an option in mind, you may take a look at Woostify, a FREE WooCommerce theme, that has been submitted on WordPress.org. It comes with great features and meets most of the requirements mentioned above.

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