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What is a WordPress Theme?

A WordPress theme is the web design element added  to create the design and functionality of your website (without changing the structure of the basic WordPress framework). I love the analogy provided by John Haydon:

A WordPress theme is your superhero clothing. Your WordPress Pages, Posts, Permalinks and other basic structural elements are the arms, torso and legs of your superhero. The theme is the cape, lariat, boots and gloves.

When Do You Choose a WordPress Theme?

When you are ready to set up a web site with a blog as your business marketing hub, there are 7 main steps: (and we’ll discuss each step in a separate post. Stay tuned.)

1. Choose and register a domain name.

2. Set up your hosting account.

3. Update the nameservers.

4. Install WordPress.

5. Choose a WordPress theme.

6.  Make a list of first few blog post topics and get started on them.

7. Customize WordPress (activate theme, change permalink structure, plugins, categories)

In this post we’re going to address how to choose a WordPress theme because it’s a question that came up in our November Q & A session.

Where to Choose a WordPress Theme

To get off to a quick start, we recommend choosing a free WordPress theme from the WordPress Free Theme Directory at  because:

  • It’s the one-stop-shop of theme shopping. You’ll find a huge selection under one “roof”.
  •  It’s easy to pick a theme that you know has been recently updated (which means it’s compatible with recent changes to WordPress).
  • You can quickly choose a theme that you can live with for a year while you concentrate on developing and posting content on your site rather than spending a lot of time choosing a theme.

It’s  more difficult to pick a free theme from other sites because unlike shopping at the superstore (e.g. the WordPress Free Theme Directory), you’ll be shopping the small boutiques which means searching and browsing different websites.

Your choice is: shop where there’s a huge selection of different brands/models of a particular item, or go to a small shop that only carries two or three. When just getting started, it is better to go to the superstore to get a better idea of just what is out there.

Free  WordPress Theme VS. Premium Paid Theme

The disadvantage of choosing a free theme initially is that free themes are seldom as flexible or customizable as you’ll want your theme to be in the long run.

Ifyou decide to opt for a premium (paid) theme, we recommend the following WordPress theme providers:

1. Woo Themes

2. Thesis

3.  iThemes

4. Headway

Criteria to Use When Choosing a WordPress Theme

1. Color doesn’t matter, but layout is important. Make sure you check out the layout of various kinds of pages and make that how the elements are laid out on the page and how people get from one page to another (navigation) “works”.

2. The type of content you will be presenting and the basic look and feel need to match. For example, business sites often have a geometric look while artistic sites vary from stark black and white presentation of photo galleries to asymmetrical layouts of “exploding” artwork.

Lorelle has a post that sums it up like this:

Think about your content subject and what first impression you want your viewers to have when they visit your site. Match the look and feel of the site with the content and viewers will quickly “get the picture” of what information can be found on this site.

Resources on the Web