When you first load WordPress you must also load a theme.
Although WordPress is a generic content management system, every WordPress site has particular individual coding that gives it a particular look, and a particular functionality. These are called themes and there are literally thousands to choose from.
Thankfully there are very many that are totally free, including the generic WordPress themes that come out each year and are usually the first one’s on display. These are titled twenty-seventeen, twenty-sixteen etc representing the year they were first made available.
If you’re new to wordpress then using one of the free basic themes is probably a good idea from where to start and to learn the basic mechanics of the CMS.
However, due to the fact that they’re free and commonly available, if you want to make your website stand out, or you want it to do something just a little bit different, then don’t use the generic theme.
You see, with WordPress, you can change the theme you use at any time and your content will remain. Only the design and perhaps the back office / dashboard will change.
That means that you can start adding content to your blog/website on a standard generic theme before you decide exactly how you want it look before it goes public.
So you want to change theme? Where do you look?
You can literally go to the themes tab on your dashboard to search for and demo the thousands of available themes. The best part is that you can preview what your site will look like if the new theme was installed before downloading. Then, if you find something you like, you simply click install and hey presto, your site is updated.
If it turns out that you don’t like it then you can easily change it back, though it’s good practice to be a little bit conservative here because downloading/uploading too many themes can potentially have adverse consequences if you go overboard.
The theme we use on this blog – Rehub Premuim WP theme
So what is a “good” theme?
This is an entirely subjective decision and depends largely on both your style preferences and what you want the site to achieve.
Most themes are offered for free, but with an option to upgrade to a pro version. Pro versions typically allow you greater flexibility on locating sidebars and menus but, depending on the theme, can sometimes add some really cool features.
A final word – when choosing any theme – make sure that it is mobile responsive. Any theme nowadays that isn’t, is just not worth spending any time on.
What are some examples of themes that I like?
I have used the Socially Viral theme for a number of my websites. It’s a theme designed to integrate well with your social media platforms, making posts, pages and the site itself easy to share and ‘go viral”, hence the name.
Although the free version is more than adequate, the pro version which retails for around US$59 adds so much more flexibility that I personally, just had to buy it.
Here are some of more popular premium themes in 2017:
According to their blurb, Oshine is “an incredibly dynamic, technologically modern, visually stunning, interactive, appealing and attractive WordPress responsive multi layout, multi-purpose theme, designed to be a creative, eloquent and expressive one-stop solution for a vast range of website applications, from business to corporate, personal to commercial, sizes big and small.”
Onshine is a drag and drop theme meaning that you can design some really cool pages without any complex knowledge of coding.
Soledad is the current holder of the WordPress sales record for premium themes so you’d think they were doing something right. They also have near universal positive feedback.
So what’s the best part? With over 250 home page demos, 5 article layouts, 3 sidebar layouts, and 6 portfolio variations, there are just so many well-designed and attractive combinations available that even though this is the most popular premium theme – every website will still look different.
Total is a “fresh-faced and clean, colorful and handsome, easy to use and tech-savvy, highly responsive WordPress multipurpose website theme”.
With a whole host of premium plug ins included, Total is certainly one of the most flexible professional themes around.
With a little bit of creative talent, you can convert a Total wordpress site into something that will impress your customers and readers.
Running an ecommerce store?
While there are plenty of dedicated e commerce platforms such as Shopify and Woocommerce, using WordPress for your ecommerce store will give you greater flexibility over design.
And there aren’t too many ecommerce WordPress themes better than Shopkeeper, with its versatile page designs using drop and drag.
Shopkeeper supports the WooCommerce Plug in to easily integrate great design with your products.
Merchandiser is another ecommerce theme designed once again to seamlessly integrate with Woocommerce.
According to their blurb, Merchandiser “easily and competently put together sophisticated modern commercial websites focusing on online transactions and with a full range of product display features and advanced shopping cart capabilities”
The theme supports individual product pages, reviews, animations and transitions and all the modern features you’d expect from a professional ecommerce site.
Once again, at a fraction of the price of dedicated ecommerce options, despite the upfront cost, it’s perfectly suited for any small to medium ecommerce business – that wants to look like a multi-million dollar company.
X is an incredibly flexible theme suitable for any niche and has established a very loyal following from amongst its users. The “X factor” so to speak, is the revolutionary idea that he producers of the X theme have come up with as a way of customising their theme using what they call “stacks”.
Stacks are completely separate designs included within the one theme to ensure that every website using the X theme will be original. This extends from basic elements such as logos, fonts and colors, to more complex site features, such as menus, sidebars and headers. All parts of the site can be customized and all the customizations can be previewed live without need to refresh your website.
There are currently four stacks available, but the producers intend to release more in the future – and all will be available at no extra cost to those who have purchased the theme.
From personal blogs to online portfolios to ecommerce and nich websites, Avada advertise their flexibility and versatility.
It’s also one of the most popular premium themes available on WordPress.
However, it’s popularity doesn’t mean you won’t stand out from the crowd as it’s customisable Fusion Builder allows infinite design possibilities. Of particular note are the premium sliders allowing images and videos to take a central role in your design in a flexible and exciting way.
Although perhaps on the more complex side of WordPress themes, due to its huge range of possible customisations, Avada prides itself on its customer support, helping their customers help themselves to designing beautiful and elegant websites.
That’s BeTheme not B Theme, because this theme is certainly not B-grade.
As one of the really good premium themes priced at less than US$60 it features multiple layouts up to 6 columns, with 44 demo sites to choose from.
Of particular note is their attention to site speed with their use of the AJAX Load More function, holding back images and other content from site visitors until they hit the ‘load more’ button and hence dramatically increasing the loading time for the site.
The site also supports multiple sidebars and is mobile optimised.
The above are just a very small sample of what is available and you are encouraged to look, read and try out themes that best suit your purpose.
As with plug ins, while there are plenty of great free themes available free of charge, please temper your expectations and understand that you get what you pay for – and be prepared to support all the amazing designers out there in the WordPress world who are producing these awesome themes for us WordPress users.