Finally! – You’ve created a WordPress blog and you’re ready to write. But wait! There’s something not quite right…. Oh? That’s how it looks? Nobody would call standard theme “Twenty Ten”, awesome.
You’re going to need something more appealing than a default theme. Otherwise, you’re never going to attract readers. In other words, you’re going to need an elegant “skin” for your blog.
The ability to change the style of your blog is one of WordPress most useful features. You can do it without knowing anything about programming, databases, or other IT magic – right when you start learning web design. All you need to do is use any FTP client to upload files to an appropriate directory and then utilize one of WordPress dashboard options.
You can find hundreds of pages full of templates on the network – both free and premium based on your preference. Typically, you’ll see these types:
Frameworks – Parent Templates
This is a fairly small group. You can quickly build nice and clean child themes based on these frameworks. Usually parent themes are not incredibly sophisticated visually (most of them look worse than the likes of the “Twenty Ten” theme), but they are well thought out and CCS implemented. This means that you can create your own skins much quicker. The bad news is – You should have a basic knowledge of HTML, PHP and CCS in order to utilize them.
The best known frameworks include:
This is a very refined, open-sourced theme written by Ian Stewart. It is well structured and typically optimized for search engines. Despite not having a sophisticated configuration page, Thematic has had great popularity and it’s very simple to learn and utilize. If you don’t believe me, just look at the code.
It’s features include:
- Search engine optimized
- Thirteen widget areas
- Supports child-themes
- Compatible with plug all-in-one SEO and SEO Platinum
- Two or three column layout out of the box
- Modular CSS with basic typography and style resets
This was created by Justin Tadlock. It has a very clean and comprehensive framework with great configuration options. Parent themes as well as Hybrid Core child-themes are free, but you’ll typically have to pay about $25.00 for access to the forum and other detailed tutorials.
It’s features include:
- Support for child-themes
- Search engine optimized
- 14 Templates
- 9 Widget areas
- Great support with a good forum and many tutorials
It’s a free framework developed by Crowd Favorite and it’s available in four versions:
- Carrington Blog – A ready-made solution for Bloggers.
- Carrington Mobile – It’s mobile version.
- Carrington Text – It’s focus is on content.
- Carrington JAM – It’s very basic, without foundations.
Interestingly enough, Carrington does not support children themes. Despite this, it is one of the most flexible frameworks available. The main advantage of this framework is the ease in creating new “views” for various subsystems of WordPress. All you need to do is create a new template. Unfortunately, this increases the number of files which means that new users may be a bit lost in the beginning. But believe me, it’s a very effective and convenient solution once you get used to it.
It’s additional features include:
- A powerful template system
- Nice typography
- Comments organized as threads
- Use of AJAX to load content pages
This is not a strict framework, but it is a rather large theme. The majority of changes that you have the ability to make is through the configuration options of WordPress. I admit that this is a very convenient solution. In conjunction with a great set of plug-ins, Atahualpa is a very versatile theme for everyone.
Their biggest advantage is that they are free. Usually, they do not have a professional look and most of them are kind of basic. In order to fully exploit their potential and improve their appearance you would need to know HTML, CSS, PHP and WordPress itself. This may surpass the beginner webmaster’s capabilities. Despite this, it isn’t a bad idea to install a few of them on your blog in order to learn about their advantages and disadvantages.
If you compare these to free themes the difference is immediately obvious. They aesthetically are much more appealing. In many cases, they are also much more user-friendly. Their functionality and access is easily realized through the options listed on the blog’s dashboard.
Premium themes typically come with extended CSS styles, so it’s easy to insert tables, quotes and change the number of columns in your articles. Most of these themes support image sliders, short codes and different page templates (full width, gallery, contact pages, etc.) Support is also much better; you can ask questions on their forum and the author of the theme will answer them. However, you must remember that sometimes problems do not arise from the theme itself, but are caused by installed plug-ins. If you are not familiar with the programming, then you should consider using one of these skins. You will save quite a bit of time as well as your nerves.
At this point, I would like to warn you against downloading free premium skins from any questionably legitimate sources. One can easily add code that allows unauthorized access to your blog and/or your hosting.
How to find WordPress themes?
As I’ve previously mentioned, there are hundreds of sites that offer skins for WordPress. In my personal opinion, the best are:
A great source for inexpensive and great quality themes for WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and osCommerce. Everything is organized into categories, which include blog, technology, corporate, etc. I would definitely recommend this site. It probably has the largest collection of WordPress themes that I have ever used.
Despite the fact that there are a limited of themes, they all look fantastic and they have very powerful CSS styling. The list of features they have is very impressive, just take a look: Elegant Themes Features list.
High quality themes with very well-described functionality meaning that there shouldn’t be any unpleasant surprises. Everything is sorted into categories and each theme is built on the base of WooFramework.
They have a large collection of interesting skins based on the premium framework Genesis, which are also available for purchase on the website. The themes are very clear, well-made and are suitable for business pages.
This is a pretender site, but their skins make a very good impression. They are based on the Gantry framework and have a lot of CSS styles and support versions for smart phones.
WordPress themes are really cool feature for people who just started learning web design – you can easily increase your blog’s visualization and attractiveness by using any of these sites. It will certainly result in an increased number of visits.
This is exactly what I wish for you!