Choosing a WordPress Theme

Changing your WordPress theme is very easy, so you can have some fun downloading and changing the look and feel of your site.  There are a few things you should look out for when choosing a theme.

Ideally you should have some posts already on your blog, as well as a static page, some comments e.t.c. so that you can see what the various pages of the theme look like.  You see, a theme contains a number of theme files that handle the various components of your blog.

e.g. there will be a theme file for the sidebar, one of the homepage, one for single posts pages, category pages, comments etc.  If you don't have some content in posts, pages and comments, you wont be able to see what the theme will look like for all components of your site.

You'll find that there are a number of different types of themes.  These include single column, two-column & three-column templates.  Those with multiple columns can have a sidebar on the left, the right or both.  Some templates even have two sidebars on the same side of the page (typically the right side).

You need too decide which layout you prefer for your site.

When looking for a theme, here are some other things to look out for:

1. Choose a template because of the structure and layout, not the colour.  Colour can be changed with a little knowledge of CSS.  The thought of that might frighten you, but with a tiny bit of knowledge, and some bravery, you can do it!

2. Check out the way the following look: front page, single post, archives, category, search view and comments.  Does your single post view have a sidebar?  Not all do and I recommend you choose a template that does.

3. A lot of WordPress Themes are free.  This is great, but most have a link back to the authors site, and this link is likely to be on every page of your site.  Check out the theme terms, and see if you can remove the link.  If you cannot, decide whether you want to be leaking “juice” to the authors site.  If you can remove it, do so, but I recommend you do add a link to one page to the authors site, just as a way of saying thanks.

4. How many other blogs use the same theme?  If you use a free theme, be aware that it may be on thousands of other blogs.  Is that a problem for you?

5. Is the theme “Widget Ready”?  When you first start out with WordPress, I recommend you only use themes that are Widget Ready.  These themes will allow you to modify the sidebars of your themes without having to mess with PHP code.

6. Does your theme use headers properly.  HTML code uses H1, H2, H3, H4, H5 & H6 tags for headings.  Have a look at tip #14 on this page.  It gives good advice on what to look for in a theme.  Of course, if your theme does not meet these criteria, you can always hack it yourself  if you have a little knowledge, but for beginners, its far easier to pick a theme off the bat that does what you want.

7. Make sure the template is updated frequently so that it can be used with the latest versions of WordPress, and is likely to be updated as WordPress is updated.  e.g. some older themes may not be able to handle some of the newer features like “tags” (and widgets – see point 5 above).

Once you have chosen a theme (there are some resources below to help), read the tutorial on Installing a WordPress Theme.

WordPress Theme Resources

You can find a number of WordPress themes here:

WordPress Theme Directory

If you don't want to go the free route for your themes, I have found a great selection that I am personally using – they are the Revolution Worpdress themes.

These WordPress themes were introduced to me by a friend who is a WordPress Expert, and I love them.  Depending on the license you buy, you can get the themes for single use, or multiple use.  You do need to have a little more technical knowledge to use these themes, as you do need to do some simple editing of the PHP code, but the themes do come with video tutorials, and a forum for support.

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