When you choose the right WordPress theme, your site will be easy for readers and customers to use, and a pleasure to look at. Choosing the wrong theme can cause problems.
So out of the thousands of free and paid WordPress themes available, how do you know which one to pick?
Free vs Premium Themes
There are thousands of premium (paid) themes, and tens of thousands of free themes available.
If you’re creating your website as a personal blog, journal, or showcase for your photos, videos, arts or crafts you may be able to get away with a free theme.
WordPress comes with free themes pre-installed: TwentyFifteen is the newest one, and it’s a good, basic blogging theme.
Another free theme I like is called Atahualpa. It’s updated frequently, it’s highly customizable and the framework is solid.
A word of caution. . .
Don’t go searching on Google or anywhere else for a free theme for your WordPress site. Many of them contain malicious or harmful code. Here’s a longer explanation of why it’s a bad idea.
If you’re creating your website as part of a business or money-making venture of any kind, you’re better off with a premium theme.
How to Choose the Right Premium Theme for your WordPress Website
When you’re purchasing materials to build an actual house, you want to do business with a reputable company that offers quality products and stands behind them.
Choosing a theme designer is no different.
I’ve chosen to work with two design companies. I’ve chosen these two because:
- They’ve been in business for a long time
- They offer a solid product — their code is strong, uncluttered and they keep it updated
- They offer a high level of support, including documentation and online assistance
- They offer a wide variety of designs to meet a wide variety of needs, and their designs are attractive
Here are my go-to theme designers:
Where’s Your Blueprint?
If you’re building a house, you know that your framing contractor will want blueprints to work from. What are the dimensions? How many storeys? Where are the doors and windows?
When you’re choosing the framing for your WordPress website, start with the blueprint for your website.
What are you using it for? If you plan to showcase your stunning, fine art photographs, your needs are very different from mine, for example. So, before you even start theme shopping, answer these questions:
- What’s the main purpose for the website?
- What will be my primary type of content — text, images, video or audio?
- What will be my secondary type of content?
- Will I be selling anything directly from the website?
- Will most of my readers/customers/clients come from my local area?
- Will I have a members-only section of the site?
Once you have the answers to these questions, you can start looking at themes.
Each of the theme designers I listed has tools to help you narrow down your search so you can choose the perfect theme.
The type or category of theme you’re looking for depends on your site’s main purpose and the type of content you’ll mostly be featuring.
Common category types include:
- News or Magazine
- Corporate or Enterprise
- Traditional Blog
- Specialty or App — specific themes for real estate agents, schools, restaurants, or events, for example
The theme’s layout refers to the number and placement of columns. Keep in mind that the home page can be very different from the other pages on the website.
Features refers to what the theme can do. Can you change the color scheme easily? Does it display cleanly in a phone or tablet?
StudioPress lets you filter all their available themes by
If that’s not helpful enough, they have a nifty little interactive tool that makes it even easier.
When you see a theme you like, click the Live Demo link. You’ll be able to look at the home page and inside pages. You can also change the color scheme and other features to see what they’ll look like.
Elegant Themes lets you browse among their 80 themes with menu that includes categories and features. As with StudioPress, click the Live Demo link and see what the different options look like.
Don’t know how to choose a WordPress theme? I’ll make personalized recommendations for you!