Choosing The Right WordPress Theme

Posted on Saturday, September 5th, 2009 at 10:21 am in

What Will You Need?

First of all, you need to decide whether you’ll be running a web site or a blog that invites comments and discussion. Whilst most themes will work as well for a blog as they do on a basic, no discussion, site, you don’t want to find out that your comment display options are limited on your busy blog three months down the line.

If you’re not going to use Posts or comments, ignore any comment enhancements or featured post extras. They’ll be a bit pointless if you’ll be only be using Pages.

Layout

Next, decide what kind of layout you want. 1 column? 3 columns? A narrow or wide display? Focus your search on these decisions. using the Tags page on the WordPress Theme Directory might help in that respect.

When you start to view theme, try not to be too swayed by color. It’s usually far harder to change the layout of a theme compared to changing its colors – although themes with lots of graphical elements (patterned backgrounds, rounded boxes etc) also have their own problems.

To Hack Or Not To Hack

If you are comfortable using XHTML, CSS, PHP and WordPress template tags, go for themes that don’t have custom options. They’re often the easiest to hack.

If you’re non-technical and didn’t understand half of the last paragraph, look for themes that are widget-ready and offer custom header and/or sidebar placement options.

Something Old, Something New

Make a note of the last time a theme was updated. One that hasn’t been touched for years is far less likely to work effectively with the latest version of WordPress compared to one that has been updated recently. Take time out to read any comments posted against the theme. They might forewarn you potential problems.

Preview First

Use the Preview option to view themes in action. OK – so you only get to view a demo front page within a window but that page is carefully constructed to try and give you a good idea of how the theme will look on a working site. Scroll right down. Check the various Headings. Examine the list displays. How readable is the text generally? The closer this preview corresponds to what you want on your site, the smaller the risk that you’ll need to undertake any heavy customisation.

In Summary

Time taken choosing your theme — rather than grabbing the first one that takes your fancy — will pay dividends in the long run.

Happy hunting!

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