Although your content is the most important part of your blog, you shouldn’t overlook the design of your website as well. Having a great looking website not only looks more professional, but it can also attract more readers. For WordPress blogs, it starts with choosing your website theme. One of the great things about using WordPress is that you have a ton of free website themes you can access from the WordPress.org repository. When you initially install WordPress, or have it installed for you by your web host, you’ll get the default WordPress theme. You definitely want to change to a new theme to give your blog a more customized and appealing look.
WordPress Theme Options
You basically have two options for your WordPress themes. You can use one of the many free themes available in the WordPress.org repository or you can opt to pay for a premium theme. When you’re just starting out with your blog, using a free theme is fine. However, if you plan on using a free theme, stick to the ones in the WordPress repository as these are more reliable.
Changing Your Theme in WordPress
To change your WordPress theme, just click on the Appearance=>Themes menu link in your WordPress dashboard and click the Add New button. You can scroll down and find a theme that you like, or you can use the Feature Filter option to narrow down your selections to your specifications (colors, number of columns, etc.). You can preview how the theme looks with your blog and, if you like it, you can activate it.
One note on adding new themes: You can go ahead and add as many as you want while you try them out. But once you decide on the theme you’re going to use, it’s a good idea for security reasons to delete the themes that you’re not using.
Using a Premium WordPress Theme
While the free themes you can access in the WordPress.org repository are fine for most blogs, after a while you might want to think about upgrading to a premium WordPress theme. Premium themes offer more customization and better support should you need assistance. Two of the most popular sources for premium WordPress themes are StudioPress and ThemeForest. I use themes from both of these companies and they each have their own advantages.
StudioPress themes are built on the Genesis Framework. They are some of the most efficiently coded themes that allow your website to run more effectively. They are also very easy to customize using widgets and some Genesis plugins. You can take a look at the current lineup of StudioPress themes available here.
ThemeForest has thousands of premium themes you can choose from. The advantage with ThemeForest is that you can get more customized functionality that is not found in StudioPress themes. On the flip side, ThemeForest themes are sometimes criticized for being bloated and not as efficiently coded as StudioPress. Personally, I’ve had good experiences with ThemeForest and haven’t noticed a decline in my website performance. You can check out what ThemeForest has to offer here.
If you’re looking to upgrade to a premium WordPress theme and are trying to decide between StudioPress and ThemeForest, it really comes down to whether you need more functionality (ThemeForest) or you want the more efficiently designed themes (StudioPress).