After installing WordPress, the next step is choosing your WordPress themes.
Your theme is basically how your site will function and look to your visitors. The way your theme and the way your blog looks is the first impression your readers will have.
WordPress themes add structure, functions and visual displays to your website.
The first thing many people think about when considering a WordPress theme is the price.
Do you have the funds available to opt for a premium theme?
Are you confident that a free theme gives you the flexibility and support you may need for your website?
When it comes to WordPress themes, there are free options and premium options.
To start, let’s talk about the differences between free themes and premium themes:
Free WordPress Themes
- Simple Layout and designs
- Limited settings and options to change the look of your site
- Generally, you don’t have access to any customer support
- The theme curator may stop publishing support updates for the theme.
- Anyone can produce a free theme, so there are alot of clunky, bloated, and/or poorly coded themes.
- 10,000+ other blogs and websites will have the same theme
- Cost is free, which is great when starting out on a budget
Premium WordPress Themes
- Beautiful and complex designs are available
- Lots of customization options
- Well organized and easy for beginners to customize the features
- Typically, excellent customer support.
- Quality is generally very high because themes are sold by companies and they are trying to satisfy customers.
- Themes are relatively cheap ($25 – $125)
Should you buy premium WordPress themes or go for a free one?
When trying to decide if you need a free or paid theme you need to consider what your website's purpose is. If your website or blog“ simply a hobby, where you just want to share your adventures with your friend and family, then a free theme would be a great choice.
If you are building a website for your business or plan on trying to monetize your website then I suggest that you go with a premium theme.
You might be saying, “$60 for a theme? Why would I do that when I can get one for free?”
Paid themes are actually a bargain when you compare it to hiring a web developer to design a website for you. Themes usually run from $50 to $100, and the theme creators often provide wonderful support for when you have problems.
If this website is your business then it is your livelihood. Consider it a business expense and incorporate it into your budget. It will save you time and money in the long run.
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Where is the best place to find WordPress themes?
There are many places that you can find WordPress themes.
Below, I’ve compiled a few of my favorites theme providers.
All of these premium WordPress theme creators have been around for quite some time and they have their business infrastructures built around offering quality support and stable themes for just about every industry.
The framework comes with child themes for the ultimate customization and stability.
In short, the Genesis Framework is so popular because it’s secure, super fast, great with SEO and simply beautiful.
Pretty Darn Cute –
Pretty Darn Cute creates beautiful feminine child theme to work with the Genesis Framework.
Lindsey, the gal behind Pretty Darn Cute, is amazing. She has been creating websites since 2005 and she still takes care of all the customer support herself.
She provides you with WordPress video tutorials, customization tutorials, a Facebook community, step by step setup tutorials, and she directly answers any questions. And her designs are amazing too!
Elegant Themes –
The folks at Elegant Themes knew what they were doing when they named the company.
The themes sold here are always elegant and beautiful.
If you want to grab the attention of your viewers go with one of the striking themes from Elegant Themes.
ThemeForest is one of the top dogs in the WordPress theme business. The website is flawless for finding something that fits your site.
They also have a few other company sections for items like stock photos, audio clips, animations and more.
Framework or Standalone WordPress Themes?
You may have noticed above that I mentioned the Genesis Framework, well what the heck is that?
Frameworks are WordPress themes which use subthemes called child themes to improve customization options for the user.
What the what? – at least that is how I felt when I first heard about frameworks.
So picture you are in the market for a new house(this will be our theme). In looking for a new house there are a few different options.
- Buy an existing house (theme) that is 100% complete. All you have to do is move your furniture (your content) in.
- Work with a builder to build a home in a new community. You can pick from a set of the builders' plans (framework) for the layout of your new house. During the building process, you can now also choose your knob finishes, flooring, cabinets and etc(child theme).
What are the differences between standalone WordPress themes and a framework?
Standalone WordPress Themes
- Typically have lots of setting options.
- 10,000 people may have downloaded the same free theme so don't expect your site to be unique.
- Modifying the options can be very hard so you may be stuck with what the designer initially did.
- Good support can be found in the designer communities.
- You can find standalone themes at places like ThemeForest, MeridianThemes, and Elegant Themes.
- Frameworks work off parent themes to control child themes. (So you have to technically install two themes.)
- More customization options and unique designs.
- Advanced modifications are simple and usually only take a few clicks.
- Many have drag and drop editors which make frontend changes super easy.
- Support and communities are always helpful for frameworks.
- Some of the more popular theme frameworks include Genesis, Thesis, and Gantry.
Some Final WordPress Themes Do’s and Don'ts
Do think about the features you want in your theme ahead of time.
It is important to determine which features are essential and which you can live without before you select a theme. When searching for a theme you need to focus on what features are really important to your website.
It is very easy to get swept up in the fancy designs while browsing.
Ultimately, less is more when it comes to your theme. The theme you choose should only have the features that will help you accomplish the goal of your website.
So try and avoid unnecessary features and themes that clutter your website.
Which brings us to the next point…
Don't pick a “BLOATED” theme.
A fancy, feature-rich theme might look nice, but it can severely affect site performance.
There are almost unlimited features to choose from when it comes to themes.
Music players and picture reals can be amazing if you NEED them on your website.
If you don't absolutely need them then all they are doing is slowing your website.
Be sure to restrain yourself against installing every feature you think is cool.
Site speed and performance is very important to keep in mind.
Do choose a responsive theme.
Did you know that 80% of users are viewing your site on a mobile device?
Having a responsive theme design means that your site is super easy to use on multiple devices.
This means that it’s compatible with mobile and has menus and other widgets that are easy to navigate on a mobile device.
Your theme should allow your site to be able to transition from multiple devices without any problems. When you shop for a theme the features list should state whether or not the theme is responsive. If it’s not responsive, run away.
Do choose a theme that is SEO ready.
SEO is super important in today's internet.
Make sure that the theme you choose supports SEO plugins or at least has a basic SEO framework.
Look for SEO mentions in the feature list and check the theme demos and see if it loads quickly. Slow page loads are no good for SEO.
Don't choose a theme that has a font that is hard to read.
A themes font is very important to keep in mind when choosing between themes.
You want quickly capture a reader's attention and draw them in so they won't abandon your site.
If your website uses a font that is hard to read then your visitors will click out before they are through the first paragraph.
Make your fonts simple, sophisticated, and readable. The most popular fonts on the internet are Roboto, Open Sans, Lato, Raleway, Oswald, and Playfair Display.
Do consider premium WordPress themes or frameworks.
While free themes are great for those on a budget, they can present some issues.
Aside from the quality of coding potentially not being up to par, by using a free theme, you take the risk of it not being updated regularly, a lack of support, and the theme author abandoning the theme altogether.
Premium themes are dynamic, typically offering more features than free ones, which can help you stand apart from the crowd.
I hope this tutorial has helped you become more aware of the different elements to look at when choosing a theme. What’s great about WordPress is if you do decide to change themes down the road, you’ll have the flexibility to do so.
I’d love to know what theme you ended up selecting, leave a comment and let us all know why you picked the theme you did.
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