Selecting the Perfect Theme for WordPress

The process of finding a WordPress theme is both fun and stressful at the same time. While this may sound a little like an oxymoron to you, it is interesting to note that many new blog owners spent considerably long hours in trying to find the perfect WordPress theme.

WordPress Themes Sources

WordPress Themes

I bet the first thing you did or would do when searching for a WordPress theme is to google for “best WordPress theme“. That is a good start. There are literally thousands of themes online. What are the types of themes available?

  1. Download a free theme

    There are plenty of themes that cost you next to nothing, especially if you are looking to lower your costs of setting up your WordPress blog. However, do note that free themes generally have encrypted codes. And you don’t really know what these codes are for unless you get them decoded first. Plus, chances are that free themes are not updated to fit the latest WordPress versions and support is lacking, if any!

  2. Purchase a theme

    A premium theme is not very expensive these days. And some sites even give you free access to all of their themes with just one theme purchase. With premium themes, you get updated versions, IT support and no unnecessary hideous codes.

  3. Design a custom theme

    You could engage a professional to do so. Or you could do it yourself with the help of some sites which provides you the feature to customize professionally designed themes. Of course, this method is time consuming and requires a lot of hard work!

How To Select the Perfect WordPress Theme

The only drawback on searching for the perfect theme is it takes ages to find the perfect one, especially if you do not know what to look for. So either your blog is left idle till you find a theme or you end up changing theme whenever you find a better one. To make your life easier, here are some tips on what to look for when searching for a WordPress theme.

  • Find A Theme That Suits Your Blog Topic

    The traditional WordPress platform has evolved from “just being a text blog” to websites that cater for a variety of purposes. Therefore, it makes sense to look for a theme that fits your purpose or topic. Here’s a list of possible WordPress website and theme suggestions that goes with them.

    1. Traditional blogs
      These are article-heavy websites so you may want to look for simple themes, probably with 2 columns, one for the articles and a sidebar for widgets.

    2. Photo blogs
      Mostly set up by photographers and designers who wish to have an online presence to display their works. There are plenty of awesome photo themes with customizable background images and sliders, so that showcasing your work is easier. You may want to look for one that support shopping carts if you wish to sell your work online.

    3. Magazines and News blogs
      More often than not, these type of articles are accompanied with images, it would be appropriate to search for sophisticated themes with a good combination of text and images space.

    4. Business
      If you plan to set up a business website, then you may want to consider a theme with a good portfolio management feature and one that is flexible enough to be customized to suit your business.

    5. Multimedia
      This type of website requires multimedia support so look for a theme that enables you to easily create videos with functions like automatically resizing videos and publishing embed codes.

    There are obviously more topics than the above-mentioned. The point here is to find a theme that supports your website and topic requirements. It’s one thing to spot a lovely theme you like but if it does not support shopping carts for your online business website, then you should look elsewhere. I will suggest some helpful theme sites shortly.

  • Pricing

    It pays to decide on a budget (whether zero or a few hundreds) for purchasing of themes so that you won’t find yourself paying more than what you would have like to. Some pricing issues to think about are like:

    “Is the price for a single theme or do you get access to all the existing and future themes?”

    “What are the Terms of Service?” especially if you are contemplating to get a free theme.

    “Do you need to pay extra for updates and support?”

    “Does it come with GNU GPL license ie do I get to use the theme on multiple websites?”

  • Browsers Compatibility

    Your readers would be using a variety of browsers and devices to access your website so do make sure that your chosen theme is compatible with all major browsers. You can easily lose your readership if they can’t view your website.

    Check the compatibility features that are listed in the theme’s description. You can also try to view the theme demo on a variety of browsers to test its compatibility.

  • Functionality

    Whether you are getting a free or premium theme, you should look at its functionality in detail. Some things to look out for include level of customization, whether it’s widget-ready and plugin compatible.

    Does the theme allow customization and if so, how much. You don’t want to install a theme only to find that you either have to use the standardized header colors and fonts or mess around unintelligent-sounding codes to have them changed!

    Chances are you would want to have some widgets on the sidebar eg for recent & popular posts, search function, social media links and ads. Look for a theme that offers drag-and-drop feature.

    Find out also whether the theme incorporates certain features that otherwise would require plugins installation eg SEO friendly theme vs installing SEO plugins. It is always better to have the theme come loaded with such functions. However, if it does not and you find yourself wanting to add a plugin, then find out if the theme is plugin compatible.

Recommended WordPress Theme Sites

Elegant Themes

There are plenty of website offering themes for free and for sale. While it does help lower your total setting up cost, free themes do have its disadvantages as discussed above. As such, I do recommend that you find a premium theme (if you can afford it) to minimize potential challenges later. Here are a few websites which offer fantastic themes at affordable prices:

  1. Elegant Themes

    One of the most popular WordPress themes designer with fabulous themes and great support. They have one or two new themes released almost every month. For $39 one off payment, you get unlimited access to all their themes. Elegant Themes is definitely highly recommended for their great themes and great support! Oh, good one off pricing too!

  2. WooThemes

    Another awesome WordPress themes source. Offers a variety of themes from business to magazine to responsive themes to even free themes that come with great features. They have theme packages (you get your chosen theme plus bonus themes) and club subscription (for access to all themes).

  3. Themify

    A site for highly customizable themes, making it easy for you to customize without needing to learn coding languages. All themes come with lifetime updates and forum access. Similar to WooThemes, Themify also offers theme packages and club subscription to suit their clients’ requirements.

  4. Thesis Theme

    This framework is a premium template system for WordPress that you can customize and make it uniquely yours. Unlike many other theme-sites, they offer a 30-day money back guarantee.

  5. Studiopress

    Studiopress has some of the most interesting designs around. If you are planning a niche WordPress website eg dental service and real estate, then you should check them out. They also offer the Genesis Framework that you can purchase together or separately from the themes. This framework helps enhances your website’s SEO, gives you a choice of child themes and unlimited support and updates.

Theme Installation

WordPress makes it easy for you to install a theme. Just a couple of clicks and a few minutes later, your theme is uploaded and updated!

Step 1:
Download the chosen theme which is usually in a zip file.

Step 2:
Unzip and store the files in your hard drive.

Step 3:
Upload the files (using an FTP client like FileZilla) to your web host to the /wp-content/themes/ directory.

Step 4:
Activate the theme by logging into your WordPress admin panel and locating “Appearance”, click on “Themes” and finally click on “Activate”.

I do hope that you will find this article helpful in your search for a perfect theme. There are indeed lots of things to look for in order to optimize your blog while not compromising its functionality. But at the same time, there are so many themes available that there are sure to be one that’s just perfect for you.

Last piece of advice, do check out the list of recommended WordPress Themes designers above, in particular Elegant Themes and WooThemes.