If you want to get the most out of WordPress, you will want to take advantage of the versatility that templates, or themes, can provide for your blog. Whether you’re looking to build a news blog, portfolio, knowledge base, or even a business website, WordPress themes can do it all. The functionality, appearance, and usability of each theme can vary drastically from theme to theme. Further, some themes are free while others require payment. If you want your site to do something specific, you can even hire a WordPress developer to customize an existing theme for you, or even build a new one from scratch. For these reasons, it is important to have a solid understand of the WordPress themes to build a successful blog. This article will explain the different types of WordPress themes, and where you can find them to get started with a successful blog today.
Free WordPress Themes
Free themes are the easiest to use, and generally are the best starting point for most bloggers. Due to the rich developer community that has sprung up in recent years, a wide assortment of themes are available for download online. One of the best places to get started with themes is on wordpress.org, WordPress’ own official website. At the time of writing, there are almost 2500 free themes available on the website, with nearly 100 million downloads. This is the easiest way to get free themes that will reliably work well on your website. This theme directory can even be accessed directly from the WordPress Dashboard on your website itself. Just login to the WordPress Dashboard, click on Appearance, then Themes, and finally just search for what you are looking for in the search bar provided. Some of the best themes can be found under the “Featured” tab.
Many professional theme development companies have created free themes in an attempt to demonstrate the functionality of their themes. Some of these are genuinely free, but be careful as some developers will disable most features in an attempt to encourage you to upgrade to the paid version of the theme. Some examples of genuinely free themes from reputable providers include WooThemes, MojoThemes, and ThemeFuse. These can be an excellent resource, especially if you are looking to try out a particular theme developer before making a purchase.
Premium WordPress Themes
While free themes are enough for basic blogs, they usually lack critical features, come with no support, and are often poorly maintained between WordPress updates. Therefore, you will most likely want to consider purchasing a premium WordPress theme. For the most part, these themes are inexpensive, usually ranging from $10 to $50 for a single template. Most major theme developers offer subscriptions and one-time purchases that give you access to their entire library of themes. These can be quite expensive, usually costing between $200 and $300. For long-term bloggers though, these lifetime subscriptions can save a lot of money, as they come packaged with hundreds of beautiful themes.
We have written in-depth about some of our favorite sources of premium themes. Take a look at the list below for a list of developers to consider for your blog:
- Elegant Themes – One of our favorites, Elegant Themes are affordably priced at $69 per year, and come with over 87 beautiful themes to choose from.
- Theme Forest – With over 1400 WordPress themes, Theme Forest truly lives up to its name. Templates can be purchased individually from different developers, but a subscription plan is not available.
- Studio Press – While Studio Press can’t match the volume that some of its competitors, it certainly makes it up on quality. Best of all, its themes can be customized using the Genesis Framework, which allows you to change virtually any design element without the need for any technical skills.
- Mojo Themes – Like Theme Forest, Mojo Themes offers a large library of premium themes created by independent developers available for individual sale. Currently, over 700 themes are available on the website.
- Theme Fuse – While Theme Fuse features just 33 themes, its club membership price of just $199, and profound quality, make it one of the best theme developers available.
WordPress Site Builders
Recently, some theme developers have begun developing WordPress “frameworks” that allow non-technical users to build custom theme designs without the need for coding skills. Some of these frameworks perform surprisingly well, and are very simple to use. As mentioned, the Genesis Framework by Studio Press is one of the best solutions on the market, costing just $59.99. Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress, has recommended Genesis in the past. Other frameworks include Headway Themes and Thesis by DIY Themes. Both Headway and Thesis market themselves as “drag-and-drop” site builders, offering simple design solutions for ordinary bloggers.
Before hiring a developer, you should consider these solutions as affordable alternatives to the expense of custom WordPress Design. In addition to cutting costs, they can allow you to personally shape your blog’s design into your vision. Some industry-leading blogs, such as Search Engine Land and MattCutts.com use frameworks such as Genesis. By grounding your site’s design in one of these frameworks, you yourself can return to the editor to make small changes or customize individual pages on the fly. Even if you do decide that custom design is best for you, we still recommend that you discuss framework integration with your developer.
Custom WordPress Themes
If you really want to create something unique, sometimes the default features of WordPress won’t be enough. While plugins and frameworks can extend the capabilities of WordPress, possibilities are still limited to the default functionality of the applications. Advanced functionality, such as custom scripts, applications, games, member’s sections, animations, or advanced design features will often require the aid of a seasoned professional.
The most difficult and important decision you will need to make is which developer to hire. There are thousands of developers available for hire, but many will exaggerate their abilities to get you the results they purport to provide. Here are some factors to consider when hiring a developer:
- Past work and portfolio
- Experience working with WordPress
- Years of experience developing for WordPress
- Reputation and References