WordPress is a great way to develop a website online. It offers a way to make a website with minimal coding and can be customized easily.
The first thing that you need to do when starting to build your site is to choose how it is going to look. WordPress calls this a theme.
There are thousands of themes available. The list of choices can be daunting. So with this post, I’ll try to give you an understanding of what’s a WordPress theme and how to choose a good one that reflects your style and expertise.
What’s a WordPress Theme?
I’m sure you have gotten dressed up for a party. You look in your closet to find just the right thing to wear. Are you going to a formal, hanging out with friends or trying to impress the boss. These choices will determine how you present yourself. A WordPress Theme is similar to getting dressed up. It gives you the clothing for your site, it sets the style.
Inside WordPress there are several types of code. There is html, the markup language that is used to present a page. There is .php, the background code that calls functions and passes information back and forth. Finally, there is .css (cascading style sheets).
The .css determines how your site will look. It determines the font, colors and layout of the site.
Put it all together and you have a WordPress site with style!
WordPress does the hard part for you, all you need is to choose the theme!
What Criteria do I use to Choose a Theme
Free WordPress Themes can be downloaded from the WordPress.org site. There are currently over 2,000 of these available. Not all of them should be used, most will work OK but many have been abandoned by the developer and are no longer supported in the current version of WordPress (Currently Version 4.01).
First, look at the theme, read the description, view the Preview, does it have the features that you want? Is it easy to adjust the color and sidebars? Does it look like something that you wouldn’t mind seeing every day for the next 2 years. If you agree that you like the look then it is time to look more deeply into the theme to make sure it is a good solid theme.
First Check the Stats, has the theme been downloaded a few times, how about a few thousand times. How are the ratings in the right column? When was the last time that the theme was updated? If the theme update is within the last few months, has it been updated since the last time WordPress was released?
This is usually a good indication that the theme has good support and is being actively maintained. There is nothing worse than getting a site all arranged with your theme and down the road finding that it isn’t compatible with the latest WordPress version.
Check to see if the support is active. Have the support threads have been resolved? It may take awhile for a theme company to fix everything, make sure that the developers are actively maintaining the theme. Often users are new to WordPress and have questions that aren’t really theme specific. View a few of the support tickets and see if people are generally happy or if there are some serious issues with the theme.
Finally, check the reviews. Are the reviews positive? How many are there? In most cases if a theme has problems, the reviews will let you know that there are problems and that perhaps you should look at a different theme.
Is the Theme Responsive?
There is one more thing that is imperative to check. The theme needs to be responsive!
Between 30 and 50% of your visitors will be using tablets or mobile phones. There are more mobile devices added each day. A theme that doesn’t display well or makes a mobile user scroll around on their phone will cause people to leave your site. You won’t have any engagement or a way to help them because they will be gone.
Choose a responsive theme that will adjust to any device! ‘Nuff said.
Filtering the Results
There is a filter on the WordPress site that will bring up a list of features that are included in the themes. I highly recommend using this to sort for a theme that has the features that you like. If nothing else, select responsive themes and narrow down your choice to those that are available.
If you do a bit of research, a free theme can be a good choice.
Paid or Premium Themes
I’ll leave it up to you to decide if a theme is worthwhile buying. I do have a few recommendations that are worth mentioning.
The first two choices have a background framework and then customized themes that sit on top of the framework. StudioPress calls these Child Themes, DIY themes calls these skins.
- StudioPress: StudioPress is the creator of the Genesis Framework.
- This is a core set of code that takes WordPress and adds features that will enhance the operation of your site, provide a secure platform and handle all the background core functions of the site.
- On top of the Genesis Framework, a child theme then sits on top of the framework and provides the style for your site.
- StudioPress has a large installed base of developers and provides stellar support for their themes. If you need a customization done or need to find help for some style changes, there is someone that will help.
- DIY Themes: DIY themes provides the Thesis theme.
- This is a versatile customizable theme that provides a clean look, strong SEO support and blazingly fast load times.
- The Thesis theme is used by many of the top bloggers on the internet as well as the personal blogs of some of Google’s employees.
- Elegant Themes: Elegant themes offers all of their themes and plugins at one low price. The themes can be used for your sites or for clients without an additional site license.
- The Divi theme, their flagship theme, is highly customizable and comes with many different modules to customize the site look and layout without the need for any code knowlege.
- Many of these themes are responsive.
- SEO friendly features and easy integration with third party tools.
- A full set of exceptional plugins allow you to add some very powerful features to your site.
- This site uses Divi as the theme of choice.
Wealthy Affiliate and WordPress Themes
As a free Starter Member at Wealthy Affiliate, you are provided with 2 WordPress sites to develop for free. With these sites you are somewhat limited to the themes that are available. You can choose among 12 of the most popular and test out how well they work and how to lay out a site. Although the themes are limited, you still have a place to create your site, work out how to make it look and get moving in the right direction with learning to create a site in WordPress. All for free.
When you upgrade all themes from any supplier are available. With this level, you not only have access to all of the training at Wealthy Affiliate but you are able to host 25 sites that you have purchased (Registered the URL) and you have access to 25 development sites that are subdirectories of the Siterubix domain. Moving a development site to your own domain can be done with one click.
I’d love to hear what experiences you have had with WordPress Themes. Are there any that you like but haven’t been able to get working?
What do you look at when you are searching for a theme?
Do you have a favorite theme? Why do you like it?
Please comment below or send me your question from my Contact Page.