If you have a website, or are thinking of getting one, chances are nearly one in three that it will be built with WordPress, the most popular Content Management System (CMS) today.
Every WordPress site has a theme that controls the colors, page layout, fonts and many other attributes. Because the theme files are separate from your core WordPress installation, you can change your theme without affecting the content and structure of your site.
Themes don’t just affect the look of your site, though. Some include features such as contact forms or sliders that you can add to your web pages without using a plugin. These features may be lost if you later decide to switch to a different theme.
If you want a free theme, do yourself a big favor and select one from the WordPress theme repository. Although you can find thousands of other free themes on the internet, some of them insert malicious code or undesirable links into your site, and it will cost you more to hire someone to clean up the mess than you’d pay for a premium theme in the first place.
The WordPress repository allows you to filter by layout, features, and/or subject to narrow down your options. In addition, it gives you reviews of each theme and the date it was last updated. As WordPress itself is updated regularly, it’s best to pick a theme which has been updated recently.
For detailed guidance in choosing a free theme, read Free WordPress Themes: The Ultimate Guide.
Don’t assume that a theme is good just because you have to pay for it. Some of my clients who purchased from a “theme marketplace” have run into problems later on, only to find the theme was no longer supported. That’s why I recommend sticking with well-established, reputable companies like Elegant Themes, Beaver Builder or StudioPress – or at least make sure the theme you’re looking at is up-to-date and has good reviews. Disclosure: These are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission.
You will often have to pay a yearly fee to be eligible for theme updates. This is not a time to skimp! If you don’t keep your theme up-to-date, it may not work with newer versions of WordPress or some of the plugins you may be using.
If you wish to create your own website but don’t have coding skills, you’re best to choose a theme that’s as close to your vision as possible. Otherwise, you may find it challenging to customize it to your liking.
If you’re working with a web designer, provide them with at least three websites you like, and what it is you like about them. A skilled professional will be able to customize a theme to capture the unique essence of your business, regardless of the actual theme used.
For example, I used the same premium theme as the starting point for this site and the three shown below. Can you tell?
Choosing a WordPress theme can be fun, but don’t rush to pick one out before you’ve at least outlined your content. Your website design should highlight your message – not the other way around.