WordPress site building is an ever evolving area. You can easily purchase a latest theme or change your current theme to change the design and look of your site. However, the difficult question comes before that part – how to know when you should change your theme? If you are thinking of changing your WordPress theme, read on this article to find whether it is a correct time.
Changing WordPress Theme
In general, you can go to “Appearance > Themes” section in your admin panel and switch a theme with few clicks. However, it is not as easy as you think in practical scenarios. You have to carefully choose a new theme that supports all functions of existing theme. Many bloggers get lost with hundreds of thousands of available themes and spend too much time in changing theme instead of building content. Check the following factors and validate whether your site needs a theme change.
1. Not Updated Regularly
WordPress gets frequent updates and you should have a quality theme that supports the latest version. In addition, PHP and plugins also get updated to use the latest coding technology. Your theme should support and works seamlessly with the latest PHP version and other popular plugins. Unfortunately, many theme developers do not update their theme proactively. This will break your site when using auto-update or manually updating without proper testing.
If you are looking for a free theme from WordPress repository, make sure the theme was tested for the latest WordPress version. You will see a warning message if the developer did not declare the compatibility with the latest WordPress updates. Since outdated themes can create security issues, you should immediately stop using themes that are not tested for years.
Besides free themes, there are also many outdated commercial themes sold in marketplaces and third-party websites. For example, Highend is the most popular theme sold through MOJO Marketplace. However, the developer never updates the code for the latest WordPress and PHP versions. Users need to raise a forum topic and wait for many days to confirm with them whether the theme is tested.
In many situations, you need to find problems after updating and report to the developer for bug fixing. This is poor way of maintaining a commercial theme and you should start looking for an alternate theme to replace it immediately.
2. Slow Website
With page experience and Core Web Vitals, speed is one of the most important factors for improving your search engine ranking. If you find your theme is bloated and affecting the speed, it is high time to consider replacing your theme. You can test your site with Google PageSpeed Insights, GTmetrix or Pingdom to get the speed score. After that, change the theme to default or any other simple theme like GeneratePress or Astra and retest again. If you see the score is increasing multifold like 50 to 90 range, then your theme has some problems affecting the speed.
Though you can caching plugins like WP Rocket, it does not make sense to load 100KB of unused CSS or JS on each page load from your theme.
3. Boring Look
High page speed score is not the only way to assume your theme is good. There are many old websites get 100 out 100 score in Google PageSpeed Insights. However, you may easily get bored with the layout and get out of the site quickly. Check out a theme that looks good, offers good user experience and also fits your need.
4. Too Many Features
Few years back it was a trend to offer hundreds of features with a single theme. Even today, you can find many themes in themeforest that offer too many features. For example, you can find something like below with many popular commercial themes:
- 100+ demos and optimized for WooCommerce.
- Custom page builder or header and footer builder.
- Social integration.
- Custom theme panel.
If you are currently using such a theme, we strongly recommend replacing it immediately before it is too late. Though you may be happy now, the problem will come when you want to change the theme after few years. You may want to change the theme due to pricing, not happy with the developer’s support or any other reason. It will be an impossible task to remove all theme features and go for a new theme. It is always a good idea to use a minimalist theme and add features with additional plugins instead using a theme with too many features.
On other hand, as an individual blogger, you will never have a time to use all the features available with such complex themes. For example, purchasing a WooCommerce optimized theme does not make any sense when you are not using it at all.
5. Spending Too Much Time on Optimization
Are you spending considerable time in page speed optimization? If yes, remember one fact – page speed calculation method is a continuously evolving process. There were no Core Web Vitals few years back and for sure there will be something new in the near future. Big companies, agencies and funded websites can invest lots of money to adapt these changes quickly. However, you may not be able to maintain a website when you start spending too much time in optimizations.
The best solution to leverage this situation is to use a simple and optimized WordPress theme for your site. A simple theme like GeneratePress or Astra can get you 100/100 speed score even you have bunch of plugins for other purposes. You can spend onetime effort to replace your current theme and move on to simple theme which is already optimized for page speed.
7. Bundled with Page Builder and Other Plugins
Did you purchase your current theme with bundled plugins? Let us take an example of the popular Newspaper plugin offered in themeforest marketplace. It offers custom page builder called tagDIV Composer and offers 9 other premium plugins.
8. Shortcode Based Theme
Shortcodes are completely outdated with the introduction of block-based Gutenberg editor. If you are primarily relying on copying and pasting shortcodes throughout your site’s pages, rethink what you are doing. At one point of time, there will be no way you can cleanup those shortcodes you inserted into the post content. These shortcodes will look ugly on the frontend when switching to another theme and the only option for you is to manually cleanup each post.
9. Using Custom Fonts
Gone are the days that you love to host your own fonts. Later the trend was moved using Google Fonts and now it is to use system stack. If your current theme is using custom or Google Fonts, consider moving to a theme that offers using system font.
10. Not Optimized for Gutenberg Block Support
Gutenberg is the feature of WordPress and already changed many old stuffs in the admin panel. For example, WordPress version 5.8 uses block based widget editor thus removing the years old widget area screen. Check whether your theme has a complete support for Gutenberg blocks like supporting fullwidth and wide width elements. In addition, you have to get rid of the themes using custom post types that needs the Classic Editor.
If you are confused whether to change your current WordPress theme or not, consider these three factors – speed, design and usability. In fact, all the above points can be categorized into one of these three factors. Let’s say, your current theme has high speed and good-looking design. However, it lags usability with custom plugins like page builders, use shortcodes and not using Gutenberg blocks. In this case, stop using such a theme and looking for a theme that will not have problem when changing to a new theme.