After having good content, the most important aspect of a site is selecting the right WordPress theme. The theme not only determines the look of the site, but it also greatly impacts the ease in which WordPress can be used and customized, as well as how well it ranks in search engines. Therefore, understanding and selecting the right theme should be given a lot of thought.
What are WordPress themes?
As WordPress is primarily a content management system, websites using it need themes and plugins for the features most people want. Themes installed on WordPress can instantly change the look of the site and add a wealth of new features that gives even novices the ability to change what a site does without having to do any kind of coding.
The actual design aspect of a WordPress site is controlled by themes, which are basically website templates. While a typical website template only offers a set site design, these theme templates actually integrate with WP and can totally alter websites for the desired appearance. This integration allows many different aspects of the theme to be controlled from the administration section of the website instead of requiring complicated code editing. It also allows for themes to incorporate SEO tools and other benefits.
The look of a website is easily considered to be one of the most important aspects for both the site owner and website traffic. An unappealing site can actually drive away traffic or keep them from focusing on the important content of the site. This makes themes extremely appealing because they give site owners access to professional web design work for free or a very affordable price.
Some of these themes will not allow a lot of customization, but others can be the exact opposite. The best of these themes may have numerous design templates to choose from, while also allowing graphics, text styling, and color choices to be customized as needed. This allows beginners to have the ability to build their own site, since all of this customization is simplified by the theme.
A WordPress theme can also offer even more advanced options for users who do have web design knowledge. These options can allow for custom coding to be added to the template for a variety of reasons, giving advanced users both the convenience or WordPress and flexibility.
Where to find a theme
Unfortunately, there is not a single centralized location where people can search all available WordPress themes to download for their site. The closest thing to this is the WordPress repository, which contains free, open source themes and plugins that have been developed by WP users. The repository can be searched through WordPress.org or the administration section of any WP site.
The most important thing to remember when it comes to choosing a theme is to make sure it is supported, as users will find that their sites are suddenly not working after they update if the theme is not kept current.
The default theme that comes with WP is a decent theme which allows some customization, but there are even better ones that can be found in the repository, such as the Weaver theme, which offers many more options. These more complex alternatives can take some time to get used to using, but they will allow inexperienced site designers to customize things on their site that would ordinarily be nearly impossible to do.
With the WP repository as large as it is, those who would like to use a free theme, particularly if it is a specific type, are often better off doing so through a search engine.
Some popular free themes include:
- Twenty Twelve is fully customizable, easy to use and included in the default WordPress installation.
- Atahualpa has a difficult name, but it offers are a lot of features that make it very customizable while remaining well in the reach of beginners.
WordPress has a fee of its most popular free themes here.
Premium WordPress themes
Even though there are quite a few free themes for WordPress available in the repository and elsewhere on the internet, there are also many different commercial or premium themes. They will generally have a one-time price to buy them to use on an unlimited number of domain names, although some of them may have monthly fees or even charge for each domain name.
Most people will want to make their WordPress site for free. However, premium WP themes can actually offer a number of advantages for site owners. The most obvious of these advantages is the variety of features that are typically available for users. In general, the actual quality of the web design work in the templates is much higher with a commercial product.
Although the extra power of a premium theme for WordPress is usually the most appealing aspect, there is one other thing that is extremely important that many site owners do not consider until it is too late. The core WP software is constantly being developed by many people, so new versions are continually released.
As the core WP software gets improved, new features are generally added, and old features may be removed. The result of this development causes other additions, like themes, to eventually break if it is not kept up to date with changes to the WordPress core script. A site owner simply cannot depend on the developer of a free, open source theme to keep it current.
Commercial alternatives are constantly updated to ensure the happiness of their customers and to allow them to continue to sell their product. As a result, websites can possibly end up with a broken website design after upgrading WP to a new version, and they may not be able to get the problem fixed unless they are using a premium theme.
Finally, it is a lot easier to find premium themes that are optimized for certain types of marketing. For example, some are setup to offer the best product reviews, one’s own products or digital products.
Popular premium themes for affiliate marketers and others
Socrates: Developed by and for marketers, it comes monetized for AdSense and ClickBank. It also has tools for SEO. It includes lifetime upgrades and support and claims to have the best support forum for any theme.
ClickBump has quickly risen to become one of the most popular WordPress themes in use today and is what this site uses. It is designed with internet marketers in mind with ad and SEO features incorporated into it. For example, there is automatic ad rotation, custom post titles and H1 headings, the ability to specify were individual widgets appear and other neat features. Once the theme is installed, a large number of templates can be selected from within the theme that will allow for the look of the site to be completely changed with a few clicks.
ClickBump is continuously being upgraded with new and enhanced features. For example, there is an improved Google Authorship toolset and more optimization for mobile platforms. The theme is fast loading, flexible and rapidly rose to become one of the most popular WordPress themes.
Thesis by DIYthemes
This is another very popular theme that offers great control. It makes it possible to manipulate virtually every part of the layout without knowing coding and produce unique designs. With its template editor, you can easily build the template you want and use different ones for each page if you choose. In addition, with Thesis Box, you can quickly add the functions you want to the pages of choice. It offers personal as well as developer options that both include lifetime upgrades.
Affiliate Theme 2.0
As the name suggests, this theme comes recommended by many top internet marketers and greatly simplifies the process of creating affiliate sites with WordPress. It has a setup wizard for new users, and it is good for everyone from the technologically challenged to the most experienced.
One feature of note is its niche skins. There is an affiliate marketplace where they can be bought and sold that create a huge variety of skins that can be used to create any type of site.
This framework, offered by Studio Press, is extremely popular and claims over 86,000 users. The system is explained as WordPress being the engine, Genesis the frame and body and Studio Press the paint job. A single price offers unlimited websites, updates and support. It is search engine optimized and offers many designs to choose from as well as almost every customizing option in the industry.
The framework is built to be secure and offer maximum flexibility.
For more premium themes, theme marketplaces are good places to look. They carry many themes from different authors and make it easy to search for just the one you need by types, sales, price, data and other parameters. Two of the most popular are ThemeForest and Mojo Themes.
Some things to look for in a theme
- Easy customization: Even inexperienced users should be able to greatly alter the look of the site relatively easily.
- Ease of use: The different features of the theme should be presented in an organized way that allows everything to be found quickly and easily.
- Simple navigation: After having use content, the number-one concern for site owners should be having good navigation to allow visitors to easily find what they are looking for on a site with good menu and search integration.
- Advanced features: To avoid having to install too many plugins, it is best to have the features integrated into the theme. For example, SEO tools for search engine optimization and Adense integration if ads will be featured on the site.
- Speed: As covered in ways to speed up WordPress, the theme needs to be designed with speed in mind and not use to many heavy images, frames and the like.
- Plug-in comparability: Some themes, particularly those who are not kept up to date, will crash or malfunction with many plugins.
- Support: Almost everyone runs into problems and needs support at time. A paid theme should have good support. A popular free theme will likely have forums and websites offering advance.
Installing WordPress themes
Once you have decided on the theme, the process of installing it can be completed in three easy steps.
- First, go to Appearance>Themes in the admin panel.
- Either do a search and install the theme from WordPress or upload it from your computer.
- Activate the WordPress theme in the Manage Themes tab in Appearance>Themes if it is not already activated. Note that it is possible to activate and use any theme installed here at any time simply by clicking on “activate.”