Six WordPress Theme Questions To Ask

6 Things Your Daddy Never Told You About WordPress Themes

Questions to ask yourself before buying that next premium theme

We all know and understand the value of a great looking blog and most of us understand the basic questions to ask a developer before buying our next premium WordPress theme.

This post and SlideShare (Embedded above) looks at six questions we should ask ourselves before hitting that “buy now” button. Be sure you have the answers to these six questions and you’ll have a better experience with fewer problems.

This post is based on last week’s blog post, “Digging In Deep Updating Old Blog Posts For User Experience And SEO”.  Its such an important issue I wanted to highlight it with it’s own article and presentation.

Theme Specific [shortcodes] Can Suck

question markQuestion #1: Many themes allow for some very cool tricks with the use of [shortcodes] but what happens when your next theme doesn’t support those shortcodes?

You’re left with visible [code] that doesn’t work anymore.

Now you have to either ignore the ugliness, go back and remove all of those dead shortcodes, or find a WordPress plugin that can pick up the slack and repair the damage.

WordPress shortcodes

Plugins Built Into Themes Complicate Things

question markQuestion #2: Is your theme hiding plugin vulnerabilities?

We just experienced a “Slider Revolution Plugin” vulnerability that required an immediate update. Those using WordPress themes that have bundled that plugin into their functions now have to hope the developer is on top of things and sends an update to their users.

WordPress Slider Revolution Plugin Vulnerability

WordPress Slider Revolution Plugin

Featured Image Displays

question markQuestion #3: What happens after embedding hundreds of images into your blog posts and your next theme adds it a second copy automatically?

Some WordPress themes automatically display your featured images while others require you to embed them.

Get unlucky like I did and do all of the image embeds first, then switch to a theme that displays the featured image automatically and you end up with a mess like the one below.

Double Featured Images

All Featured Images Are Not Created Equal

question markQuestion #4: What happens when your WordPress theme requires a featured image of 500px X 350px and your next theme requires them to be 800Px wide?

How many images will you need to recreate or resize?

How many licks does it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?

For me it was a lot… Over 300 images worth. See last week’s post for the details.

Featured Image Thumbnail Sizes

Automatic Updates Are Where It’s At

question markQuestion #5: How much work is required to keep an up-to-date theme?

Unless you love backing up, saving custom content, and deleting the old theme just to update to the newest version, look for a premium theme that sends automatic updates via the WordPress dashboard.

Updating WordPress Themes

Separate Customization Files Are Important

question markQuestion #6: Are your custom files going to be overwritten?

When it comes to things like custom CSS, you want a separate location for those files so it’s not overwritten by the next update.

Using Child Themes

I Hand It over To You

I hope these questions helped a few of you. Did I miss anything? Have more questions? Comments? Feel free to comment below.

Want more? If you want more on this and related topics, check out last week’s post Digging In Deep Updating Old Blog Posts For User Experience And SEO.

About Brian D. Hawkins

Blogging superhero by day and internet super villain by night. Blogger, future online millionaire and an all around great guy.


  1. Hello brian,

    such a informative article for newbies..

    i recommend to all guys that learn website development whereby you can develop a theme for yourself, it save your money and increase your skills.
    if you do not intersted to learn then you should mind this questions .

    waiting for new tips…
    sam singh

    • That would be good advice if it wasn’t that theme development needs constant updates that require continuous learning and the skill to keep up with security, speed and compatibility.

      It is cool to be able to tweak this and that and do a little customization though. Thanks Sam, I appreciate you taking the time to comment. 🙂

  2. Interesting stuff Brian. It’s probably one reason in the back of my mind why I’m hesitant to do anything with my themes at all. I just recently discovered that featured image thing and have only used it a couple of times before realizing I really didn’t need it; thank goodness. The one time I did change a theme I found that it erased all my extraneous codes for the sidebars and I had to go look it all up again; wasn’t prepared for that but at least it wasn’t extensive work.

    • We’ve all heard the advice, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it” but I’ve been ignoring that advice my entire life. I’m well known by my own family for tearing something into pieces only to discover later it was a bad idea. lol

      In this case I think I made a good decision and I wanted to do it before there was simply too much content to update. I believe you are well over 1,500 posts on I’m Just Sharing
      alone and I’d rather eat broccoli ( the worst veggie on the planet) everyday than tackle a project that big.

      Completely off topic side note: Search that exact phrase in Google “the worst veggie on the planet” and you get article after article on vegan and vegetarian diets and recipes. I thought that was interesting and a huge FAIL on Google’s part. It should obviously be a broccoli or some other disgusting vegetable, not a lifestyle preference.

      Anyway, I do recommend everyone keep their themes, as well as everything else on their blogs, current and up to date at the very least. For security reasons if nothing else.

      Since I’m on a roll here, I’m also a big believer in branding and user experience (I almost hate using the term “user experience” because it is being abused by bloggers and marketers everywhere but things like navigation and readability are very important).

      There are some VERY nice free blog themes so “going premium” is not always necessary, especially if you know enough about coding to be sure everything is kosher when it comes to SEO (crawlable), security, and speed.

  3. Hey There – These are great points one must consider while opting for a new premium theme.

    I can tell u i stopped using thesis 2.0 after the updated from 1.8

    I found the theme too complicated too handle and decided to drop out of it.

  4. Great tips as always. Bookmarking it right away.

  5. Woah! There was so much to know about Premium Themes :O The best thing i liked about Premium Themes is Automatic Updates. Great post BTW!

    • Actually, I think most themes have automatic updates now Shahbaz, even free ones. One of the reasons I left my last theme was it wasn’t setup for auto updates, it had to be done manually by upload.

  6. These are important issues to raise. I once had a theme that allowed for shortcodes and after running it for close to one year, I decided it was time to get a change only to realize that all the shorcodes were left visible. It is especially agonizing if you have used the shortcodes to build your pages. The mess can take a lot of time to clear.

    Thanks for sharing the other issues. Clearly, my dad never told me these!

  7. Great Post Brian. There is so much to learn about the techy side of wordpress. Simplicity is the best course but not always possible. Keep plugins down to a minimum and always update latest plugins and themes. Most of us use wordpress platform for it’s ease and non-technical use but it is best to have a good working knowledge of PHP, CSS and HTML.

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