Choosing a WordPress Theme: 10 Essential Tips

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Do a Google search for WordPress themes and you can spend an entire day surfing websites. Heck, you don’t even have to turn to Googe, just do a search right from the dashboard of your blog. Every Tom, Dick and Harry designer who wants to promote his design skills has created a theme – some free, some expensive, some good, some…not so good.

custom wordpress theme

Here are 10 tips for choosing the right WordPress theme for your blog or website.

  1. Choose a professional looking theme if you’re planning to make money. That might mean a well-made free theme and it might mean you need to spend a little money on a premium theme. Just remember – you only get one chance to make a good first impression.
  2. Does it promote your brand? You’ll see the popular free themes in use all over the web – your visitors will, too. If you’re using your blog for business you’ll want something you can customize to promote your brand.
  3. What themes are your competitors using? You definitely want your blog to stand out from the crowd.
  4. Is it coded for SEO? A theme can look awesome for your visitors and be a total mess where the search engines are concerned. Look for themes that are coded for better SEO.
  5. How are you planning to monetize your blog? If you’re planning to add banner ads in the sidebar then you’ll want a theme that has at least two sidebars so you have room for your categories, archives, and other popular widgets, too. Can you easily add sales and landing pages? Will it support scripts so you can add opt-in forms?
  6. Will your company logo work with the theme? Some themes are easy to customize, like Atahualpa or Thesis. Others require you to mess around in the code and that can be a real hassle. If you’re going to use your own logo make sure to choose a theme that blends well.
  7. What if you have a problem? Some of those free themes floating around the Web are older than the Internet. Make sure you choose a theme that has support available in case you have questions.
  8. Is it widget-ready? Widgets make a huge difference. With widgets everything is drag-and-drop. Without widgets? Be prepared to do some html coding.
  9. Some free themes are simply vehicles for the designer’s own affiliate links. Some themes also contain links in the footer which you can’t remove unless you pay a fee. Be careful. Choose themes from reputable designers and make sure you know what you’re getting.
  10. Test it out first. If you find a theme you like, give it a test run. To install most themes you just have to click a button or two. Try it out. Scroll through the navigation. Check out how everything lines up. How do your images and videos look? Is the theme overwhelming your content? If you don’t like it, just deactivate and then delete the theme and go find another.

If you like shopping then you’ll love trying on new blog themes. Some blog owners even change their themes to reflect the season. Your blog will go through many stages of growth as it matures, just like a person or a brick-and-mortar business. So don’t worry. If your blog grows out of this theme, you can always just install a new theme and freshen it up.

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  1. Dragan Palla

    I agree with all these tips. As far for choosing WordPress theme I’m definitely for professional one. I know it requires a little investment, but it’s worth the money because of better SEO, updates, support etc. After all premium self-hosted theme is the WAY for starting an successful online presence.

    Thumb up for the post.

    1. For people to think you are a professional blogger, you have to LOOK like a professional blogger… And premium themes help you achieve just that.

  2. Julia Spencer

    In my opinion, WOrdPress themes are the best ones, because of their easiness in installation and further usage and because there is a huge choice of them

    1. Yep, I think so

  3. great tips for wordpress begineers

    1. Thanks kane!

  4. Lubna Gem Arielle

    Hi Ste

    Thank you for sharing your tips – these are all important factors.
    To me, striking a balance between them will varies from person to person and their needs.

    Through trying various themes and as a non-techie beginner making her own wordpress site, I found No 7 shot to the top of the list and became heavily weighted.
    Digging a little deeper, I was also interested in the nature / user-friendliness of the Support and wanted something that was widely-used so that I’d increase my chances of finding my questions answered in the forums.

    This was from my experience trying a couple of independent theme providers with my first site.

    The first had great-looking themes, but an unwieldy Help Forum – my main question was how do I navigate this forum?
    Another provider is acknowledged as having a versatile theme and I’ve seen some great sites that use it – the language they used was WAY over my head.
    A couple of times, I was told that the issue was one for WordPress and WordPress said to ask the Vendor.
    In the end I used a wonderful designer to implement my site.

    For my latest project, like many, I wanted to build my own site as it’s started as an experiment – it’s not the right stage for me to invest in expert help.

    So, wanting something super simple, with the most open access to help and information, I chose the most basic, free WordPress theme.

    It is a starting point. As the project develops, I’ll start looking at themes – WordPress Premium and even independent themes.

    If you or anyone else does know of anything that’s super-easy to use, I’d love to know!

    Best wishes

    1. Well, thanks a lot for this detailed comment Lubna!

      It’s always great to read about other people’s experience…

  5. These are wonderful suggestions. I am in the process of changing my website theme, and my webmaster and I are evaluating a few. Easy of navigation and ability to put in a custom header are top concerns. There are so many options, that if you can’t get the look you want on your blog, it’s easy to try another theme.

    1. Well, the situation was a little different with Dukeo because I developed the theme myself from scratch because I wanted something completely unique while putting a strong emphasis on SEO…

      I’ll definitely check your website again on a regular basis to see how the new theme is coming ;)

  6. Terry

    Instead of going through the hundreds of themes, do you have some exceptional themes that you can suggest?

    1. Hello Terry!

      I would advise you to take a look at my post: How To Start a Blog.

      About half way through the post, there is a section called “The Perfect Design For Your Blog“.

      I have made a selection of several premium themes that will allow your blog to look a lot more professional and help with SEO at the same time.

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