WordPress themes have been growing and growing in terms of popularity and engagement from users. WordPress has become a titan, with over 74 milion sites it powers. This way, a whole industry of third-party theme and plugin developers emerged around it. These publishers push WordPress to its limits each day, managing to get the most out of it. The themes become more powerful, more functional, with more and more features this engine wasn’t initially built for. This makes a fierce competition. I’m not saying there’s no room for new publishers. I’m just saying that now, with the stakes so high, a WordPress product must achieve excellence in order to become successful.

There are thousands of WordPress themes out there and tens (maybe hundreds) are being released each month. However, not all of them get many sales in order to be worth the development costs (and by costs I mean time, licenses, hosting, testing, and actual payments). What a WordPress needs nowadays in order to become popular and get many sales (in some cases allowing the publishers to make a living off of them) is to offer some key features and user-friendliness most buyers are looking for. Below, I’ve put together a list of the criteria a good WordPress theme MUST meet in order to be noticed.

I will not mention valid HTML5 & CSS3 code, custom shortcodes (via plugins, which is the right way to do it), pixel-perfect designs and compatibility with most popular plugins, as these are imperative for ANY WordPress theme.

Responsive Layout


It’s late 2014. Responsive layouts are a MUST. No template or website could survive now without it. It’s one of the most requested features and among the first things a buyer looks at. The design must adapt perfectly on all (and I mean absolutely all) kinds of devices and screen resolutions and maintain great readability.

Powerful Theme Options Panel


Users are always looking for feature-rich themes with powerful theme options panels. They want to be able to customize the way their websites look with just a few clicks. Typography, layout types, colors, container displays, ad placement and many more should be available to edit via the admin panel.

Visual Editors Integration


A relatively new trend is for theme developers to fully integrate support for visual editors like Visual Composer and Live Composer. Go ahead and check out those plugins and see what I’m talking about. Basically, themes integrated with a plugin like this offer the possibility to use drag’n’drop interfaces to add custom elements to pages and even inside posts, edit and reposition them. The possibilities are nearly endless. Over the past few months, I’ve seen more and more customers requesting support for visual composer-like plugins from theme developers and more and more publishers working to integrate them into their themes.

Animations and Transitions


I’ve seen a lot of people (including myself) look for easily adding animations and transitions to the website elements. A new WordPress theme must offer users the option to add animations and transitions from a library to all the elements they are using on their website directly from the admin panel. Successful WordPress themes offer users the option to animate every element, from paragraphs to columns, from headings to dividers. This is a great feature and goes very well with the visual composer plugins mentioned above.

Of course, these are only some of the countless things to consider when creating or choosing a WordPress theme, but I think I’ve pointed out the most “trendy” ones. I’ve spent a lot of time studying the WordPress phenomenon and that’s my opinion. Feel free to share this article if you foind it useful.