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The Problem with Off the Shelf WordPress Themes

Off the Shelf, WordPress themes are often a more affordable option. But such themes usually have problems. Here’s how to choose one and tips on the issues. 

One of the most significant current issues in the WordPress scene is one of the designers that search for providing affordable options to their customers. By doing so, most theme designers choose to rush themes that are not optimised, to cut away useful theme features or to completely disregard actual usability and user experience in pursuit of a better design. In a sense it creates the problem, we often refer to as, off the shelf WordPress themes.

How to Choose a Better Off the Shelf WordPress Theme?

Here are a few things that are easily noticeable and separate great off the shelf themes from the bad ones.

  • Documentation – Once you have chosen a few designs, make sure to see the documentation. Dedicated design and WordPress theme building teams ensure that they provide their customers with detailed documentation files concerning the theme they have created.
  • Number of Updates – If the theme you have chosen is more than a few months old, a great way to check whether or not the theme is worth it is by monitoring the number of updates. The higher the number of provided updates is, the better the chances that the design team will provide with further tweaks to ensure a bug-free theme.
  • Available Support – Don’t bother purchasing a theme that doesn’t provide you with at least a year of possible support. Be sure to check the comments or other websites to see how responsive the support team is. You never know when you might need them.
  • Configuration Options – This is a double-edged sword, themes that provide with more configuration options tend to be more reliable. Of course, take this with a grain of salt, as many designers tend to put a ton of options for the advertisement of the theme without having optimised those configurations in the first place. Go back to the documentation to see how detailed the explanation of the settings is and check the updates page to see whether or not the configuration options need tweaking alongside other bug fixes to the theme.
  • Browser Support and Mobile Responsiveness – A lot of themes are advertised to be responsive, but some designers misappropriate the term. Make sure to test the demo on all possible browsers and mobile platforms and check for bugs before purchasing your theme. A great theme should work flawlessly on all platforms and devices.

The Most Common Off the Shelf Issues

There are a lot of issues that might arise when using off the shelf themes. Granted, this might be your first WordPress experience, and you might not want to invest in a more expensive custom theme. Plus, the price is not always the best determining factor. Some of the shelf themes cost as much as custom themes, yet experience the same issues as affordable ones do. Whatever the case might be, here are some of the most common problems you might come across.

Check PlugIn Compatibility Beforehand

When building a WordPress website, you should first choose the essential plugins you are going to use. The theme should be the second choice you make. Make sure that the theme supports all the plugins you are going to use in the beginning. This usually can be found in the documentation of a theme. Some of the most common issues that arise with the use of off the shelf themes are missing style edits or removed changes after a theme update. These are often issues related to miscommunication between standard plugins, such as W3 Total Cache.

Advanced Animations(Sliders, Togglers, etc.) Not Working Properly?

One of the most common issues with off the shelf themes is miscommunication between jQuery, plugins and your theme. To ensure that all your javascript animations are working correctly, disable all of your plugins and start them one by one to see which one causes the conflict.

404 Errors and URL issues

If you are experiencing problems with your older posts, most notably you are receiving 404 Errors, or your URLs just don’t show up correctly, make sure that you have your WordPress permalinks settings setup successfully. Just go into settings, choose the common URL permalink settings and click the save button. This should do the trick. If not, contact a WP support team to help you out quickly.

Missing Style Sheet and Sample Data Import Errors

Two of the most common issues you will encounter when using off the shelf themes is a “missing stylesheet”. The other being a sample data import errors. The first problem is fixed quickly by reuploading a proper theme zip file. Off the shelf designers will put additional files, such as readmes in the zip and will put the installable theme into another folder. You can fix that by unzipping the WP theme file you’ve downloaded, finding the folder that contains the installable theme, zipping it again and uploading it to WordPress. The second issue is fixable by making sure that the theme is active. Make sure to double checking if there aren’t any further errors with the custom posts of the themes. Also, make sure that your images are accessible to the theme and that you’ve imported all your attachments correctly. Consider contacting a WP support team, if these solutions don’t fix your issue.

Make Sure to Keep a BackUp at All Times

To ensure that you don’t encounter such issues,  a copy of your working WordPress website backed up. Plugins, such as ValutPress, BackUpBuddy or Updraft Plus are some great options that might help you out with the process.

Its not just themes that can cause issues, click here to read about what causes eCommerce Websites to fall flat.


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