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Perfect WordPress Theme: Select The Right One For Your Blog

Steven 7 responses Blogging

When I first started blogging I was easily dazzled by all the pretty WordPress themes I found all over the Web and I’d spend hours at a time surfing for just the right one. I can’t tell you how many of those free themes I tried during my first year of blogging, but trust me, I learned several lessons the hard way. Let me save you some heartache. Follow these tips to choose the perfect WordPress theme for your blog.

Make sure it’s up to date

Type “free wordpress themes” into your search engine and you’ll find over 64 million results dating back to the dawn of time. Before you download any theme, look to see what version of WordPress it is. Generally, if you’re looking at Premium themes, this won’t be a problem. But some of the free themes have been floating around the web for years.

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Look for support

If you’re a new blogger and you don’t know anything about coding or the inner workings of themes, look to see if there’s a support site you can contact if you need help. Personally, I’m not much of a coder myself, but I’m also not afraid to try, so I’ve always had good luck finding the answers I need just using a Google search. But that might not be enough for you.

Look at the demo

Most sites who offer free theme downloads also have a demo site set up so you can see how it looks up and running. Always check it out. That little screen shot never really does it justice. You’d be wise to check it out in several browsers while you’re at it. Older themes might not have been updated.

Browser compatibility

There are something like 120 different browsers out there, and that doesn’t include mobile devices, so it’s important to check browser compatibility. Most theme designers will include a list of browser the theme is compatible with. If not, you can run a check on the demo across the most popular, including Chrome and Firefox.


I learned a lot about customizing my own blog during that first year and now it’s not even one of my main concerns when I’m looking at a theme because I know enough to change anything I want to myself. So, if you have the time, I highly recommend setting up a blog on a sub-domain so you have someplace to play and learn about customization without messing up your main blog.

Everybody wants to customize at least the header so they can include their own blog name and logo. If this is the extent of your skills, look for a theme that has a clean, definite header that you can easily replace. In other words, you don’t want a header that blends into the background. (Unless you’re good with PSP or Photoshop.)

Themes that have a lot of detail in the sidebars and background are more difficult to customize so if your skills are limited look for a simple, basic design to start with.

Many of today’s themes offer a wide range of easy customization options. Atahualpa is a free WordPress theme that’s a good example, or you can look at Genesis or Thesis, which are both premium themes. These are three of the most popular themes that allow you to completely customize your site, and all the work can be done from the dashboard so you don’t have to worry about messing around editing internal files.


Most WordPress themes are widget ready, but some of the free themes don’t support all widgets. Look at the designers description to find out about non-supported widgets. Most themes support widgets in the sidebars. For more customization options, look for themes that have widget areas in the footer and header areas, too.

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  1. Lauren

    This is a good list! I would also suggest checking the theme out on a mobile device. A lot of the new themes are making them responsive but not all of them. So many users are reading on their phones now it’s important to keep mobile in mind.

  2. Howard Lee Harkness

    “Type “free wordpress themes” into your search engine and you’ll find over 64 million results dating back to the dawn of time.”

    Yeah. And every last one of them will have hidden malware or unwanted affiliate links.

    The free WP themes on the wordpress.org site are safe. Don’t get a free theme from anywhere else.

    Best best is to buy a theme from an established vendor with lots of positive reviews. However, I’ve done well with free themes from wordpress.org — there are several thousand of them to choose from.

    The few themes I’ve spent money on have been disappointing. Thesis, for instance. It used to be pretty good, but the latest update sucks.

    I bought a theme for the blog that I’m linking to here, and I’m a bit disappointed in it, too. I will probably replace it with a free theme from wordpress.org.

    The only reason I haven’t written one of my own is that I’m scared sh*tless of security holes, and I don’t want to spend the rest of my life maintaining a theme.

    1. Every free theme doesn’t have hidden malware and affiliate links! Some of them have links to the theme maker or to the theme sponsors. And some of these links are obfuscated to make sure people don’t delete them, which I totally understand. When you don’t pay for a good-looking theme, the least you can do is leave the links in the footer. Unfortunately, a lot of people are just cheap and remove any credit to the theme makers.

      The problem with free themes from wordpress.org is that there are thousands (probably even hundreds of thousands) of blogs with the exact same theme. Not really a good way to stand out of the crowd…

  3. Very mice ideas and i will use them to improve mine. I think WordPress has simplified many things for us blog users. The point of updating your theme is quite welcome. Great job and thanks for sharing

  4. Yogesh

    Thanks for sharing theae simple yet useful tips. Selecting theme according to your niche is very much important. Theme must be simple to use and fully customizable such as we should be able to customize sidebars, header and body background.

  5. Lee J Tyler

    Great tips. I’m checking out the free theme you recommended. What do you think about using Headway on a free WordPress.org theme? Is that kosher? Or is it best to just save up until I can get a Genesis, Thesis or Elegant Theme? I have heard that Elegant Themes are restricted beyond a certain point. If you concur, I will take that off my list and add WooThemes. Thanks.

  6. Hey Steven,

    This are pretty and simple tips that can help get the right and the best themes for ones blog in order to aid a better blogging experience.

    Nice tips bro!