There comes a time in every company’s life when you need to redesign your website. Whether you aim to improve UX or incorporate new branding and features, perhaps your time has come. Although, once you shop around for website redesign quotes, you may balk at the price of a fully custom website. (Yes, custom websites usually cost $20–$200K) Lucky for you, you don’t have to choose the custom route! You can use WordPress themes to save money while achieving a beautiful result.
Sure, a custom build gives you greater flexibility in functionality, design, and longevity—since the custom code doesn’t break with hosting updates and you can do whatever you want with it. However, there are thousands of professionally maintained and updated WordPress themes and other CMS templates you can customize to reskin or build your site—complete with active customer service and responsive features. So whether you have large or small website issues to improve upon, you can use WordPress themes as a budget-friendly solution to impress your audience and close sales.
The Best WordPress Themes of 2020
If you can’t tell, we love Divi—always have, always will. It was our number one pick back in 2019, and it’s still going strong as we head into 2020. We currently use Divi on our site and some of our clients’. That’s because of two things: cost, ease of use, and customization options.
For instance, $250 gets you an unlimited lifetime access to the Divi template from Elegant Themes. You can choose between dozens of aesthetically pleasing, functional, and responsive templates based on industry. That’s right. Divi prebuilds website page functionality and UX based on each type of business. So fi you’re a doctor, nutritional supplement brand, green business, or a law practice, you can find a template made specifically for your customers/clients/patients. That being said…
While Divi is easy enough for even the most amateur business owner to use and customize him or herself, it can become complex. We recommend hiring a website developer to stage your new site, tweak code, and flow in your branding and SEO metadata properly. We also recommend you find someone reliable (cough, an agency like ours, cough) to help with your SEO content. DO NOT, we repeat, DO NOT execute a website redesign on a live site. You don’t want customers to bail on you and never come back because they visited while your site was under construction.
Divi Usability Score: 9.5 out of 10
We really have nothing but praise for Divi WordPress themes. Just a few small nits to pick.
Pros of Divi WordPress Theme
- Active Customer Service. In January 2018, Witty Kitty launched its new site. In November 2018, Google notified us that we would soon get downgraded in SEO rankings because our website features were slow and outdated. Swearing like a sailor moment? Yes. F-bombs aside we were still stuck in a predicament we needed to fix ASAP.Folks, this is what happens when you choose WordPress themes that look pretty but don’t offer proper customer support or maintenance. Divi has no plans to slow down or go off the market. That means it’s safer to invest time and money into WordPress themes like Divi that are actively maintained and provide timely customer support. Plus, your unlimited membership comes with lifetime customer support if you ever run into bugs or issues. They’re super speedy, and our heroes most days.
- Responsive and Modern. Divi abides by speed tests, SEO best practices, and everything Google’s algorithm loves.
- Very affordable. Divi is available monthly or $250 for lifetime ownership. In the web dev world, that’s pennies.
- User-friendly. Once professionally built, Divi WordPress Themes are easy to customize even for the most novice website developer or business owner.
- Variety. Lots of themes to choose from and make your own—from physician’s offices to ecommerce sites to retail stores. Plus, WordPress has a plug-in for everything. If you can’t find the functionality you want in a Divi template, you certainly can with plug-ins.
- Professional. Makes a WordPress theme truly look and function like a custom build.
- Suitable for many industries. Great for websites that need checkout functionality or those who just need to run a blog and establish a digital presence.
Cons of Divi WordPress Theme
- Not for large e-commerce. If you have a very large e-commerce website, we wouldn’t recommend Divi. Custom code is in your future.
- Not custom. Well, duh. There are not as many options as available in a custom build (This is true to all WordPress themes or pre-made website design templates)
2. Monstroid2 by TemplateMonster
Monstroid2 is a new release from One by Template Monster that was built with modern functionality and UX in mind. It’s clean, up to date, and highly flexible. Here’s why you may love it .
Monstroid2 Usability Score: 9 out of 10
Pros of Monstroid2 WordPress Template
- Responsive and Modern. Everything you need to appease Google’s algorithm, enhance your SEO, and wow customers.
- Plug-ins Included. Monstroid2 comes with a strong set of plugins like drag-and-drop page builders, WooCommerce, appointment books, and more.
- Variety. This fab theme comes with more than 17 pre-made website designs that work for various industries. Not as many as Divi, but still a decent variety to choose from.
- Custom Support. This theme offers 24/7 technical support. When your site breaks at 7pm the night before a busy shopping day, this is super important!
Cons of Monstroid2 WordPress Template
- Pricing Options. You either have to spend $17 per month, or $200 per year. Compared to Divi that sells you a template for $250 for life, Monstroid2 is a lot more expensive.
Avada by Envato has a leg-up on themes because it has been one of the top selling WordPress themes for the past several years—and purportedly of all time. It also has the most templates of all WordPress themes on this list. There are seriously so many custom modules and layout options that it’s almost overwhelming. In short, you better go into your DIY website redesign with a plan or you could end up drowning in aesthetic and functionality possibilities.
The latest Avada release includes an intuitive front-end, visual editing experience among a vast array of new features and improvements. This should make the theme even easier to use. While Avada is the cheapest template on this list, it comes with more limited customer service (our failed WordPress theme was one from Envato just so you know). However, it makes up for this customer service lag with template and customization options.
Avada Usability Score: 9 out of 10
Pros of Avada WordPress Theme
- Most Popular. The people have spoken. Avato is the number one selling WordPress theme of all time.
- The Second Cheapest Option. Avada is available for $40 with a regular license. That’s the second cheapest of all the WordPress themes on this list.
- User-friendly. There are SO many ways to customize this WordPress template.
- Variety. You get a ton of modules and functionality customization with this template.
- Professional. Makes a WordPress theme truly look and function like a custom build.
- Suitable for many industries. Use this theme for most industries.
Cons of Avada WordPress Theme
- Limited Customer Service. With the base plan, you only get six months of customer support from Envato. Our original theme was monitored by Envato, and frankly, it sh*$ the bed. We had issues with customer support a couple of times because the structure of the site broke. Not necessarily the best sign for a web dev powerhouse!
- No Pricing Options. Even if you want to get more customer support by paying extra, you can’t. You can only extend support to 12 months for $10.
4. Jupiter X Pro by Artbees
The Jupiter X Pro theme by Artbees is one of the best-selling WordPress themes at ThemeForest, one of the bigger pre-built template companies around. With over 160+ business website templates, you’re sure to design a unique-looking website.
Jupiter X Pro Usability Score: 9.0 out of 10
Pros of Jupiter X Pro WordPress Theme
- Great Reviews. Most buyers seem very satisfied with this theme. It has an average 4.75 star rating and over 5,000 reviews.
- Fast and Responsive. According to reviews, Jupiter X Pro is one of the fastest loading WordPress themes among top-rated themes. Fast load time impacts your UX and SEO value, so the faster, the better. You know, because people spend an average of 15 seconds on a website before jumping ship. You don’t want to lose them before it even has a chance to load!
- Lots of Templates. Choose between 200+ templates for total customization of your website—no matter your industry.
- The Most Affordable. You can buy the regular license for $29 and extend support for under $7 more.
Cons of Jupiter X Pro WordPress Theme
- Extended Support. As we mentioned above, we had an issue with an Envato template that went out of service—resulting in a rebuild of our website. This theme has great reviews, but it’s something to watch out for since it’s available for download through the Envato marketplace. You have to purchase extra support, but it’s under $7 (as of Black Friday 2019).
5. Bridge by QODE
If you want more than just a theme, Bridge is the one for you. It comes with an amazing collection of examples and lots of features. It’s nice to know that this theme will probably be around a while as its team is growing fast and gaining recognition from sites like ThemeForest. Plus, that common problem of your site looking nothing like the sleek demo all but disappears with their single click to install demo content. We love the Parallax layers (visual depth) layers on the pages that make your site pop and engaging.
Bridge Usability Score: 9 out of 10
Pros of Bridge WordPress Theme
- TONS of designs. Choose from over 400 demos. That’s an insane amount of options for a mere $60.
- Affordable. Snag this template from Envato for under $60.
- Gaining Steam. This WordPress theme is getting attention for its ease of use and high quality functionality.
- Popularity. We’re not sure who’s telling the truth, but Bridge is also touted as the best-selling creative WordPress theme.
- Plug-ins Included. Plug-ins are usually pretty cheap, but we love when you get bang for your buck. Bridge comes with a handful of preloaded plug-ins many businesses find useful.
Cons of Bridge WordPress Theme
- Possible Bugs. With customization comes ways for bugs to work their way into the code. Some customers have complained about buggy code. However, this can all be fixed with a professional developer and customer support.
What to look for in a WordPress Theme
Now that you know which themes we love most for 2020 website development, here’s how to choose the best one for your business.
Look for Great Technical Support
If your site functions as a portfolio or a glorified business card, you can probably pick a simple theme with limited support. However, if you run an ecommerce business or a more complex site, you should purchase a commercial theme with a support team you can count on. You want to make sure that when you have questions, someone will be there to answer you.
There are thousands of themes on the internet. Anyone can create and upload themes for people to use. Don’t be tempted to go for the cheapest or a free theme. Base this decision on reviews! Look for established themes that have been in service for several months to years. They will have reliable reviews and a proven track record of working.
Be aware that many website builders show you how many times people downloaded the theme. Volume isn’t enough of a deciding factor when you’re getting ready to spend thousands on a new website.
Factor in Price
Most themes are super affordable. For instance, the average price of a WordPress theme is $57.54. You can even buy lifetime memberships to avoid paying annually and save in the long-run. Free may sound great now, but if you’re pretty sure you’ll have a lot of customers in the next 12 months—customers who need customer support or other more complex features—it’s wiser to invest in a theme that will grow with your business. In short, don’t cheap out for short term gains.
Look for SEO Customization Options
Not all themes come with features that will help you boost your SEO. However, building a website on WordPress is a great place to start; we find it to be one of the best CMS platforms for SEO optimization.
But SEO goes beyond keywords, blog content, and your Google Maps ranking When you choose a theme, you need to factor in other SEO best practices like load speed, mobile responsiveness, and seamless plug-in integration. WordPress comes with the Yoast plug-in—one of our favorite for DIY SEO. Just make sure the theme you choose will support the healthy SEO you work so hard to build.
How to Build Your New WordPress Website
1. Determine if You Need a New Website or UX Tweaks
You may love the idea of a fresh new website for a new year, but this may be a want, not a need. Determining if you need a website redesign or copy and ux optimization may come down to two questions. Do you have conversion problems? Is your site dated and lacking in modern functionality? If your problem centers around conversions, you may need to rethink your content strategy. This would include changing your website copy and hiring a pro to analyze where the user experience breaks down.
If you realize your website is outdated and dysfunctional, you’ll probably need a website redesign. Make sure your site looks modern, supports video, comes with mobile responsiveness, and has the bones to support features unique to your business.
2. Come Up With a Priority List and Budget
How much does it cost to build a website in 2020? Several thousand to six figures. Before your eyes bug, determine what you have to spend and your priorities. This will be your key in determining a budget. If you make a killer website but don’t save money to market it, that’s no good. If you skimp on functionality in favor of a more expensive design, people may visit your site, but bounce due to bad UX. So make your priority list. Determine what it will take to design a killer website in the areas of design, content, and functionality—all specific to your exact needs. How much of those things can you do yourself? What do you need to outsource? When you see the range of pricing come back, you can start weighing your options.
3. Determine Your Ability to Handle Your Website Build in-House or if You Need to Hire Someone
If you’re biting your nails on this decision, perhaps these considerations will help you make a more confident choice. Think about the amount of customization you need. If a free, standard website theme suits your needs and you have coding experience, you may be able to create a website yourself. If not, you should hire someone. It may cost more upfront, but your time is money too.
4. Choose a Website Designer and Developer Wisely
You may have heard stories about website developers holding sites hostage or disappearing completely. It happens. But we’re here to save you some trouble and give you tips to hire the right website designer or developer at the get-go. First thing to know: Most people aren’t exceptional designers and developers. You should look at their portfolios closely and carefully. Also, confirm a set price or budgets can burgeon to ungodly amounts. Create a contract and statement of work and sign it to lock them into certain deliverables to a certain price. When it comes to price negotiations, if someone won’t give you an estimate or range, they probably don’t understand your vision or want to eke more money out of you with an hourly rate. We suggest you keep looking as this is often a major red flag.
Who We Recommend WordPress Themes To Versus Custom Website Build
There are pros and cons to choosing a WordPress Theme over a custom website build. However, the biggest pro of them all is cost savings. If you own a small business and don’t have $20K+ to invest in a custom site—and your business model doesn’t demand the functionality of a custom site—by all means go with a template.
However, if you do need a custom site, then you need to invest the money to do this right. Your website is the MOST IMPORTANT part of your online presence. It’s the foundation of your brand. Set it and the rest of your digital marketing strategy up for success from the start by building a responsive, modern, and UX-centered website.
Taking the time to research the BEST themes of the year will definitely help you make sure you are picking the most responsive, modern, and user friendly themes currently available. If you have questions about website redesign and copy optimization, don’t be shy. Get in touch and we’ll steer you in the right direction.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2019 and has been completed revamped with the latest WordPress themes, website development stats and tips, and more. Everything you need for smooth web dev sailing in 2020!