I remember when I first started with WordPress how daunting it was to choose a theme. There were virtually thousands out there and it was difficult to choose one I really liked. As soon as I selected a theme it fell down on limitations that weren’t apparent when I filtered it on the attributes I was looking for. I soon learned that there were many attributes one had to look for other than mobile friendly and attractive looking. As time went on I found a few themes that met my specifications and that I’m using over and over again.
One of the most important attributes for a theme is security. One has to be confident that the theme is safe, comes from a reliable source, is regularly updated. One should also check whether the author hasn’t lost interest in the theme. Unless the theme is a premium theme that earns the author lots of cash, a free theme generally doesn’t have a long life. It is good to check whether the theme is regularly updated. And if it is a paid theme it is very important to check whether the theme has not been nulled. A nulled theme is dangerous for hacking.
It’s easy to check whether the WordPress script is regularly updated for security. Generally an update for the theme should follow shortly after the WordPress script has been updated. It’s also easy to check in the support forum of a theme whether support inquiries are being regularly attended to by the owner. I only use themes that have been inspected by WordPress or paid themes from a reputable source like ThemeForest. Apart from a very helpful filter to choose a theme WordPress also includes support forums, reviews and generally warns a person if the theme has become dated. It also wouldn’t do any harm to do a general Google inquiry to see whether any negative links come up. Although if WordPress lists the theme there is a very good chance the theme would be OK.
Here are the attributes I’m looking for in a theme:
- Must be listed at WordPress or be a premium theme with a reputable owner
- Reviews and support forum must show that the theme is up to date
- It must be mobile friendly
- It should be flexible for customizing – i.e. I should be able to change the page layout, fonts, colors, element spacing
- It should have more than one menu
- It should have a good variety of widgets, sidebars and footers
Over the years I’ve settled down with the following themes listed in the order of the ones I use more regularly to the ones less used:
- Generate Press (basic theme is free – add ons paid)
I love this theme because of the way the owner has set it up. The basic theme is free, however one can pay for a whole bundle of customizers and I purchased almost all of them. It’s a theme that one can use for a great variety of new looks. The owner is from British Columbia, Canada and it is obvious that he is a proud owner and updating the theme regularly. It has been my favourite theme for a while now.
- WEN Associate by Wen Themes (free)
I fell in love with this theme because of how user-friendly it is, the wide variety of options in building a WP site and the attractive layout and colors. It works beautiful for a blog and the owner who designed this theme ensured that there are plenty of links to keep all of the posts together with easy reference to one another.
- Twentythirteen (free)
I love the TwentyThirteen WordPress theme because of its rich features. It’s one of the older WordPress themes that has been created and is being updated by WordPress. It is very ugly looking at first glance but very feature rich. What attracted me at first was that it offers three menus. When I was doing a WordPress course with WPApprentice, I also used this theme to create a child theme. The child theme became a theme I regularly use for new WP sites.
- The Box Plus (paid)
This is not a theme I use that much, but it is still worth considering. It has a classic conservative look. Looks attractive. Has more than one menu and many widgets and sidebars to add.
- The Flare by Themeforest (paid)
I purchased The Flare theme from Themeforest while I was doing a WordPress theme with WPApprentice. It’s a very sophisticated business theme with endless bells and whistles for creating business Websites. I’m not using this theme presently but can definitely recommend this for a business information WP site and blog.
- Storefront Woocommerce (paid)
This is also a theme I purchased while I was doing a WPApprentice WordPress course on Woocommerce. It was quite expensive. It’s great for setting up a WordPress site for selling products.