Alright so you got a blog, you got awesome content, and you pretty much marketed it to death using all the latest tools such as facebook likes, twitter, digg, reddit, and so on. But how come your readers aren’t sticking around? Where are all the comments, glory, and fame for your hard work researching those posts, gathering links, and making sure your spelling/grammar was perfect ?
It could just be your blog design – a good theme – a perfect canvas for your content art..
Anatomy Of A Good WordPress Theme ?
A “Theme” is the WordPress jargon for web page templates. In other words the color, font, heading, footer, background colors and everything else in your blog which is not the actual content.
Many WordPress sites will provide a selection of themes when you install your blog (first though, check the Presentation/Themes tab from the WordPress main administration panel to see what you have already). The abundance of themes and plugins available for WordPress is the main reason for its incredible popularity. Without being either a developer or a designer you can change the entire look of your site inside ½ hour. The only problem is choosing the one that’s right for you!
Don’t worry if you don’t know how to choose the right theme – read on here .Here is a complete word-press theme selection guide for you that will guide you to choose and select the perfect theme for your blog and also customize it by your own.
Plan – Realize What You Like
A blog design is pretty much like the clothes you wear. While you might be the coolest person you know that doesn’t mean you can go into an room and expect people to take you seriously when you are dressed in flip flops, got a neon glowing tie on, and haven’t washed in weeks. Now why would you dress your blog up in a similar fashion?
When planning your own site, you need to think long term. Think of adopting/buying theme as a long-term business investment. And just like any business investment, you should go about it diligently. Here is how you can find the best WordPress themes for your business and avoid a major disaster down the road
Make Note of Your Desired Features. Do you want two columns? Customizable colors? Three columns? Imagine a design on the basis of your purpose or check the competitors blog by search with your blog niche keywords and see who are performing well-whats the theme there-whats the color combination they used. Then combine your primary imagination and present search result findings. Decide a layout.
Your Product or Content
Plan for the theme that will best match and showcase your product or content.
You know well what you want and also future plan. Choice the theme on your target. Check the flexibility.
Free or Premium
If you are on a limited budget, spend the money on hosting and domain instead, even if it means putting a fantastic premium theme aside.
Read all terms and conditions about the WordPress theme and copyright issue before downloading it.
Design – Analyze What You Need
When someone visits your blog for the first time the design of your blog gives it a certain feel, it presents you in a certain way, and most of all it represents who you are. It is your online persona that people see before they read your content. You might have great content, but people won’t know if they leave your website after 30 seconds because they decided that you lack credibility and knowledge just based on your design.
Don’t think complex, everyone wants to see his site with best design and colors and that’s why maximum bloggers choose the complex themes which makes lots of trouble later to manage and customize- See the Matt cutts blogs or other very big bloggers theme. You will see the simplicity. Off course design matters. But try to be as simple as possible in the beginning. Because you have always options to customize and switch the theme later on.
It would save you a lot of time and effort if you know what to look for in a best WordPress theme. Do yourself a favor by considering these 3 things when choosing your best themes : theme layout and design, theme coding, designers’ skill and reputation.
Part 1 – WordPress Theme Layout and Design Consideration
WordPress Theme Layout
First thing first, ask yourself. What is the purpose of your site? Is it going to be a personal blog with a standard 2-column right sidebar layout? Or you want a magazine or a portfolio style site? Due to the abundance of quality WordPress themes available in the market, you should have no problem finding one to suit your site.
WordPress Theme Application
Now, you need to think of what features you need in the layout. Do you need a built-in featured content section, twitter apps, flickr gallery etc.? List out all the must-have and can-have built-in feature. Then bear those in mind when you search from among thousands of WordPress themes out there.
WordPress Theme Design and Color
When you have decided on your blog’s layout and features, the next thing is to decide the graphical and color element of the WordPress themes. Do you prefer image-rich design or simple minimalist type? This is quite personal so choose according to your taste.
High-contrast shades for various elements are important, to make each of them stand out. While a light, soothing background with dark lettering is preferred, many themes also look good with the reverse.
Your theme’s fonts and sizes will be critical. Fonts need not be funky. They need to be readable without straining the eye, yet should be go with the image you are projecting.
Does your theme use a background graphics or a cool mouse pointer? These things can work wonders to your page and give it a personal touch.
Are you using images in your theme? While this looks nice, it also means heavier pages that take longer to load.
Using an animated figure or an icon on your page can really bring it to life. It catches the eye and breaks the monotony of a static page.
Does the theme have a sense of uniformity and wholeness across the various pages in the site which would make it look like they are part of the same website?
Are all elements on the page clear and bold enough to be read without straining the eyes? An unreadable page is as good as an unvisited page.
Placing of elements
Is your page well-designed such that the most important things catch the roving eye first? And it is not just size, but also positioning, that determines this.
Does your theme have a sitemap? It is particularly useful for big websites where one is liable to get lost or confused.
Part 2 – WordPress Theme Coding
Majority of you reading this guide are not coders so I am going to describe in a way most of you can understand. Here I strongly recommend you to take a look at ThemeGrade.com which has done a very good job in reviewing the coding part of a WordPress theme in comprehensive ways.
Explaining the methods used by this site in the testing of a theme gives you a clear idea as to what to look out for in the theme coding. Simply put, this is what ThemeGrade has done. First, the admin section in the WordPress demo account has been configured to include several test items. When a theme is installed in the system, the preview page of the WordPress theme will uncover the coding issues, if any. If no abnormalities are found in the tested item, it will pass the particular test. A test item will be marked as fail If abnormalities are found.
I am not going to go into details of the each tests because ThemeGrade explains it well at their test criteria page but there are a few important tests deserve to be mentioned here.
Browser Compatibility – Is the theme compatible with major browsers?
Internet users browse on various browsers. More than 95% of them are using one of the 6 major browsers, i.e., Firefox, IE7, IE8, Safari, Chrome, Opera. The most important browser by far is Firefox. Always check the WordPress theme and see if it works with Firefox before checking on other browsers.
Code Compliant – Does the theme pass W3C tests?
A theme that is code compliant tend to rank higher on search engines. Also, a code compliant WP theme will tend to work well with different devices such as iPhone and PDAs.
SE Optimized – Is the theme optimized for Search Engines?
SEO plugins are available to help your blog’s ranking. However, some of the things essential in search ranking have to be built in the coding structure. For example, how early the post content appear in the source code is important for SEO and the plugins have no control over it. position many of the features are not applicable if the theme is not optimized. If you are using an SE optimized theme, your blog will rank higher on search engines than using other non-optimized one.
Part 3 – WordPress Theme Designers’ Skill and Reputation
Whether you are searching for free or paid WordPress themes, they are made available to everyone. Unless the themes are just released, there must be someone already have experience with the WordPress themes. Here I’ll show you how to decide if the designers are good and where to find users’ comment of both the designers and their work.
If you do not have the luxury of time (most of us don’t) to do a detail study on every theme, review the theme designer instead.
A good designer will take their themes seriously and there are a few ways to tell if he/she has what it takes to become one.
Theme Support and Documentation
This is one of the most important factors to tell if a theme is well developed. Go to the designers’ site and see if they offer theme support and well written documentation. If yes, don’t stop there but study how exactly they handle the support.
Most premium WordPress themes are generally well-coded and come with theme support/documentation. For free themes, you will have to dig further.
Ask yourself two questions when you evaluate the support of free theme designers.
1. What type of support does the theme designer provide?
There are normally 3 types of support provided by the theme designers; i.e., email, comment and forum. Be skeptical if the theme designers only offer email support as you can’t trace how they handle it. For the other two types of support, read what questions users have asked and see how their issues have been addressed. There is no better way to find out the skill of the WordPress theme designers than look at how they react with the users.
If you know someone is always there to help, the quality of the WP theme cannot be too low.
2. How soon is the response time?
WordPress Theme designers are always busy but if they are willing to spare some time to address your issues well without much delay, they are serious about their themes and you. If you find such a designer, their WordPress theme would be among the top 10% in the market.
Theme and Designers’ Reputation
By looking at the number of sites featuring a WordPress theme will give you an idea how popular the theme is. To find out, simply do a search in Google using this keyword:
[Theme Name] WordPress theme
Replace [Theme Name] with the theme you want to search.
Knowing the theme popularity doesn’t mean the theme is of high quality. You need to do more.
1. Visit the top 30 sites in the search result pages. If you see a couple of big sites listing the WP theme, chances are the theme is not too bad.
2. Do a more specific search. Add “review” to the search term. In the result pages, visit the sites in which review has been performed to the theme. If the site does a good job in reviewing WordPress themes bookmark the site for future reference. It will save you tremendous amount of time once you find a few trusted sources.
Other features to check –
– Social media integration
– Documentation & support
– Release date and updated date
– Mobile Compatibility Check In different Mobile platform like iphone, samsung etc.
Select – Exactly What You Want
It might sound shallow, but we humans have to deal with so much information overload in this day and age that we have developed a system to deal with this overflow of information. We make quick assessments based on rules of thumb we have developed over time from surfing the internet. According to research, the more experienced a web user is the less time they spend on a page before moving on. So its time to finalize and select your theme . Before click on download try to avoid the following five mistakes –
Five Blog Design Mistakes that Make You Look Dumb
…and how you can avoid them when creating a blog design
1. Hard to find RSS button
Now why would you hide it from you readers?
2. Hidden dates
Hiding dates only frustrate users .
3. Ads > Content
This communicates your priority to the reader and they are more likely to leave before reading any content.
4. Sidebar = Link dump
Don’t make this mistake unless you don’t want people to use the sidebar.
5. Large blocks of text
It’s almost impossible to read large blocks of text without crying. Avoid this!
WordPress Themes : Suggestions
Unless you are aiming to build something very complex, the free themes will be enough (at least until you get some traffic) .
Before concerning about making a good first impression you need to concentrate in getting an impression at all .
Many features often don’t lead to a great result . You should concentrate on getting the features you really need, but not more (at least not much more) . The loading time of your website is one of the major aspects if not the ONE aspect that dictates if your visitors will bounce . Remember that every extra feature will take some more loading time, so if you choose the most complete theme, you are not necessarily doing a good job, especially for the mobile users .
That is how important the free themes are! They give you an opportunity to establish a loyal community before you have the resources to invest, the free resources made the publishing power accessible to everyone . Make use of it .
So when looking for free WordPress theme sites then check the sites who had evidence of testing of the themes plus ongoing user support of the themes – there are huge and massive alternate of choices so you can avoid the very popular i.e. common themes – after all you don’t want your blog to look like everyone else !
Top 5 Free WordPress Themes
Themes can make your blog look like a newspaper or even a regular website. Themes exist that are optimized for SEO – so your blog will rank well with search engines such as Google , Themes also exist which include Google Adsense ads pre-installed . Themes can be girly pink or midnight black – the choice is all yours and for those of us with limited design ability its a wonderful set of choices to make !
There are thousands of free wordpress themes available on the web. Finding the best free wordpress themes is quite a difficult task . The number one problem with free themes is that sometimes they just don’t work . Often that’s because there’s been an upgrade of WordPress which has broken an existing themes . Sometimes it’s because the theme hasn’t been tested in all the common web browsers. Remember even though you know that FireFox or Safari are better than Internet Explorer that doesn’t mean that the majority of your readers aren’t still using IE – its hard to argue with software which appears free on you PC after all .
WordPress themes should be downloaded from trusted sites only otherwise will have to face the security risks
Four Free WordPress Themes, you can start your blog
1. Arras Theme
Arras wordpress theme is best suitable for News and Magazine blogs . It has got nice featured slide show at the top of the main page which rotates 5 featured posts one after one for few seconds . Another impressive part of arras theme is the 3 featured posts area right at the bottom of the featured slide show in which 3 other featured posts are displayed with images in 3 columns . This free wordpress theme is customizable too having options to set the 2 columns and 3 columns for the layout and custom menus without editing the theme.
- Download & demo: http://arrastheme.com/
- Responsive: Yes
- Category: Blog,Portfolio
This is another free wordpress theme that can be put in the list of best themes just for it’s magazine look and feel. The default theme itself very customizable and fashionable .This theme also has options to customize layout . It has got impressive threaded commenting and also has got nice widget supported sidebar too which brings a real shine to the blog . This is best suitable for any blogs .
- Download & demo: wpthemedownload.org/infimag/
- Responsive: Yes
- Category: Blog ,Portfolio,
Intros is another best free responsive and mobile friendly theme for wordpress which has very attractive magazine style layout with featured post at the top and multiple widget areas. You can also intermix widgets with the featured post content. Change the color scheme of the layout as you like with out editing the css style file . This is best suitable for magazine and news style websites .
- Download & demo: http://www.magpress.com/wordpress-themes/intros.html
- Responsive: Yes
- Category:Blog ,Portfolio,
Swift is one of the best free wordpress themes that is SEO ready and have own search engine optimizing capabilities . It has a featured magazine style layout and adsense ready too. It also loads faster and server friendly too . Though it is a free wordpress theme it has got all premium theme qualities too. It has got tabbed interface and featured post slider . It is widget ready theme with a total of 6 widget areas which enables you customize your layout in more powerful way .
Some of the paid themes – Elegant Themes – These are used by some of our Blogger and they’re very happy with their support and wide variety of different themes