Choosing the right WordPress theme for an online store is somewhat hard for a new website owner. If you ONLY choose your theme based on aesthetics, in the long run, you may face issues you never know were there.
Along with aesthetics, your primary focus should be code quality, flexibility, extensibility and more importantly, make sure that it supports the plugins you will be using to run your website. If you are thinking about launching a WordPress powered ecommerce website, chances are you are considering WooCommerce as your ecommerce solution.
To begin with, make sure the theme you have selected is well-integrated with WooCommerce. Because WooCommerce uses a different template hierarchy to display the WooCommerce contents, i.e., Category, Products, and Single Products, etc.
If the theme is not built using WooCommerce theme development guideline, you will face lots of plugin incompatibility issues. So, it is better to check it in the beginning when you have less risk of losing content.
Now the question arises, “what are the best WordPress themes that are well-equipped to handle WooCommerce?” Contrary to the popular belief, a theme being popular or most selling doesn’t guarantee proper coding structure or plugin compatibility.
Check out this article by Automattician Danny Santoro. He looks after WooCommerce support issues, where he listed some popular themes that are doing it wrong on many aspects. Let’s see some of the major incompatibility issues people face when choosing a WordPress theme for running a WooCommerce powered website.
How To Check WooCommerce Theme Compatibility
Here are the steps you should take before deciding that it is the theme you are going to build your online shop with. If you see one of this 3 errors, then your theme is not compatible with WooCommerce.
- Theme Integration Notice
- Outdated Template Files
- Modified Using Hooks
Theme Integration Notice
After activating your WordPress theme if you see a message like:
You can also check this out from Dashboard > WooCommerce > System Status > Theme
The reason you are seeing this notice because your theme didn’t indicate whether it supports WooCommerce or not. You can click “Hide this notice” or add this to your themes function.php to get rid of this notice.
The above-mentioned code should only be applied when you are sure that your WordPress theme fully compatible with WooCommerce.
Outdated Template Files
After you install a theme and see a message like this. That means your theme has outdated copies of the WooCommerce templates.
You can check out the if there are any outdated templates in your theme from Dashboard > WooCommerce > System Status > Templates
There are two ways you can modify how you want to display your WooCommerce contents like products, single product page etc. You can override the WooCommerce templates either by copying the template files from your plugin to theme and edit them or use hooks to modify them.
- Using Woocommerce_content() inside your theme
- Using Hooks
WooCommerce uses templates of its own to display and overwrite the contents necessary to your theme. One major drawback of copying WooCommerce template files to your theme is that you have to continuously update these templates as soon as there is any major changes made to this templates by WooCommerce. Failing to do that will result in nasty error messages like above.
Follow these steps to update the outdated WooCommerce templates:
- First of all, make sure your WooCommerce is up-to-date
- Go to Dashboard > WooCommerce > System Status > Templates to see the list of override templates
- Compare the core version number and backup old outdated template files in a separate file in your computer
- Open the default templates from WooCommerce template files and check the difference against your outdated files (use Diff Checker to track the changes)
- Open the template with a text editor of your choice and replace the changes.
For more information, check out the WooCommerce documentation on updating outdated template files.
Modified Using Hooks
As stated earlier, one of the major drawbacks of using the catch-all WooCommerce_content() function is having to deal with outdated templates; it’s a time bomb. If a theme developer uses this method, he has to regularly keep an eye on latest WooCommerce changes. The perfect pick would be to pick a theme that developed using WooCommerce guideline and modified the WooCommerce templates using hooks.
There are lots of free themes available on WordPress theme directory that supports WooCommerce. But not all of them are developed following the WooCommerce theme compatibility guideline. We tested and analysed all WordPress theme available on theme repository and sorted them according to their performance. Here are top 14 free WordPress themes built using the standard WooCommerce guideline.
If you are curious to know more about the process and data, check out this spreadsheet.
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Disclaimer: This is a guest post by AtlantisTheme. The opinions and ideas expressed herein are author’s own, and in no way reflect Cloudways position.
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