How to Choose Your Next WordPress Theme

It’s a new year, and I’m betting a bunch of you are thinking of changing up the theme on your site! If not now, maybe later. There are a few things to consider when choosing a new theme, and if you think about these ahead of time, you’ll save yourself a headache later.

What’s Your Budget?

There are thousands of free WordPress themes out there–but what a lot of people don’t realize right away is that you can get a “premium” WordPress theme with a lot of additional features and the support of regular development for as little as $20 at sites like ThemeForest, or you can gain access to every theme via Elegant Themes for $40. It’s a monthly fee, but you can sign up, download your themes and cancel before the next billing period. Bam! A whole bunch of themes.

Of course, if you’ve got $500 – $1000 to invest in your site–whether it’s because you want to expand into a magazine-style blog with sponsors to start bringing in income or you’re starting a small business–you’re best off with custom development.

How Much Customization?

Are you planning on customizing the theme you choose? If so, how much? Do you want to change an entire color scheme,  just swap out a logo, or leave it as it is? Decide ahead of time how committed you are to a theme that looks *just right*–down to every pixel–and make sure that the theme you choose has the customization options you want. Don’t forget about theme frameworks, either. There are a ton out there, with varying degrees of customization options, like Headway Themes, Genesis, Thesis, Builder, etc.

Special Features

Don’t forget to think about special features ahead of time! If you really want to display featured images with your post, get a theme that’s up to date with WordPress’s latest features and includes support for Feature Thumbnails. If you want to take advantage of WordPress’s easy-to-use Menu system, find a theme that supports WordPress menus! Consider both themes that have built in some of the special features you need–plugins are an option if you can’t find what you want with the features you want, but remember that not all plugins are created equal: you may or may not have trouble integrating complex plugins into your theme. Remember: Google it!

Do Your Research

Google around for people discussing the theme on forums, blogs, on Twitter and other social networks. Ask around–your blogging friends likely have recommendations. Or, ask a professional for advice (like me!) on where to go when looking for a new theme.

 

About MommyGeek

Caitlin, a.k.a MommyGeek, is a member of the iGeneration. This means she’s super into technology, and when the robots take over the world, will either be one of the first killed (she knows too much) or recruited to help enslave you (she knows too much – and sympathizes with the robots). She runs Rent a Geek Mom web design, and writes documentation, tutorials and works as Support at Headway Themes.

Comments

  1. Marj Hatzell says:

    Timely post, because I’ve been screwing around with themes and I’m about to purchase a premium one. Soooo…wordpress.com or wordpress.org? Inquiring minds wanna know.

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    • mommygeek says:

      If you want to choose your own theme, you have to go wordpress.org; wordpress.com hosts the blog for you, but you can’t install any theme – only pick from what they have available – and you can’t customize hardly anything.

    • IzzyMom says:

      WordPress.com also doesn’t let you add anything that runs javascript so that rules out certain things like most stat counters and a lot of 3rd party sidebar doodads and ad code. I’d definitely go with self-hosting. If you have any questions about it, Caitlin or myself can answer them for you :)

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