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Choosing a WordPress Theme – A beginners guide

What are WordPress Themes

Most of you will already know what WordPress is and what it is used for. My assumption is based on the fact that whatever ‘search’ you did online led you to this page so you can find out more about WordPress Themes for your website or blog. This is a guide meant for newbies (beginners) so, I will discuss the very basics about WordPress Themes.

What are WordPress Themes used for

A WordPress Theme is basically a set of files compiled together to create the overall design of a WordPress Website or Blog. These files are usually a mix of code files containing PHP, HTML & CSS code plus a bunch of media files (Graphics, photos and videos etc).

Once compiled all these files make up a ‘Theme’, which is then given a name. After that the developer will zip all the files with a compression utility and make it available for you to use. Pending on the developer the theme will either be given away for FREE or Sold as a Premium Theme.

Themes get installed into WordPress quite like you would install a programme (eg Microsoft Office) into your Windows/Mac Operating System(s) on your PC. Once a WordPress Theme is installed into WordPress the theme will then control the overall design (look & functionality) of your Website/blog. This includes the overall website structure and the addition of various added features/functions.

Compare a WordPress Theme with a Car…

See WordPress as being the Engine & Chassis of your car. The WP Theme is the body, interior styling and extra components showcasing your personal image and adding some functionality…

vw-beetles

What features or functions can a Theme control

There is no easy answer to this, but pending on the Theme and what has been built-in by the developer, it can pretty much control everything. Some themes are purpose built (eg. Directory Theme from Templatic.com) The below list is only some of the basics that can be enhanced and/or controlled by the Theme you choose:

  • colours
  • font styling
  • widget locations
  • extra widget functions
  • page layouts (or templates)
  • styles for blog posts and blog archives
  • Much much more…

Basic considerations when choosing a Theme

Again, I remind you this is a newbies guide and I’ll only touch on the basics for beginners. If you are just getting started with WordPress, the WordPress Theme Repository is probably the best place to go to find a suitable Free Theme for your website or blog. There are strict guidelines in place that ensure themes uploaded to the Repository comply with certain standards and that they are free from Malware and poor code in general.

When choosing a theme, these are the things I consider:

  1. It must be Mobile Responsive or support Mobile Landing pages
  2. It should have support for custom header area or header layouts
  3. It must offer several page templates for different layouts
  4. It must support unlimited colour schemes
  5. Must support Widgets in places other than the sidebar
  6. Must have a 4-5 star rating based on a 100+ reviews
  7. It should load relatively fast
  8. What extras are included **

* Skins are pre-set colour schemes built in the Theme that one can choose from.
** Extras included in the theme could be Social Media tools, Page Builder etc

Free vs Paid WordPress Themes

Now, we get into the FREE vs PAID Theme Options and which is better. Of late, I think the quality of the FREE Themes available has really improved and so has support for these Themes. I still recommend newbies consider a FREE Theme first, simply to get a feel for what it is like working with WordPress and to see how various Themes can alter you websites design and function.

If you need something very specific for your website, like an eCommerce Store, a Membership Site or to build something like a City Directory Website, then would I recommend you go for a Premium PAID Theme. If you just want to blog or build a personal website for your own use (to learn the ropes); Search for a FREE Theme. When you start making money from your website/blog, then look at getting all the fancy stuff PAID Premium Themes have to offer.

Some ‘things’ have to be learned the hard way

Do your research before choosing your theme. Unfortunately as a beginner you won’t know what to look out for, but this comes with time and practice. Don’t be scared to try something new, but always, always make sure you backup your website before testing anything on a live site.

Simple is best when you start out as there will be less features to overwhelm you. Unfortunately, you only get to learn about the inner workings of a theme once it is installed and you begin working with it. The ‘guru’s’ will advice you to setup a Test Environment, which is the way to go, but this is something to consider later.

TIP: If you have cPanel with your hosting account, making a FULL Backup is really simple. Ask your hosting company for a tutorial or advice…

If you are in the Make Money Online Niche: the FREE Flexibilty Theme is highly recommended… Free WordPress Theme for Make Money Online Niche

What FREE Themes would you recommend ?

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 Posted on : - Last updated on Jul 16, 2015
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