Themes and Optimized HTML Output

It’s no secret that when most people think of WordPress themes, they think of designs.

Unfortunately, design is one of the least important aspects of any theme, and you could essentially “screw the pooch” by selecting a theme solely on the merits of its design.

When selecting a theme, you should start by focusing on the single most important characteristic—standards-compliant HTML that is optimized for search engines.

Does your theme exist to serve pretty flowers, or is it designed to dominate the search engines and deliver optimal performance for your users?

Theme Frameworks

Since 2008, the WordPress market has become inundated with a variety of theme frameworks. Frameworks are important because they place performance and optimization at the forefront.

Also, these frameworks can accommodate many different designs, making them far more flexible than the old “themes” of yore.

Your theme is the foundation for the front end of your website. Choose wisely; an intelligent decision here will make every other aspect of optimization easier, and it will also improve your site in the most basic, meaningful way.

Text vs. Code: Measure Your Theme’s Efficiency

While nothing can replace an audit done by a professional, you can still check the efficiency of your theme by using a tool that compares the total amount of text on your pages to the code required to serve that text.

Using this misnamed application, Code to Text Ratio [edit: link removed because tool has been shuttered], you can see the percentage of your theme’s output that consists of actual text.

Higher ratios are better—if your theme’s ratio isn’t 30% or more, you’re likely losing out on both loading times and search engine rankings. Ouch.

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