This is another common stumbling block for any new website builder. Knowing how to choose a WordPress theme is actually very straightforward.
It can be incredibly frustrating when you are first starting out, just settling on a the right theme. You've got all your plans of how the site will work and what you'll write about, but you have no idea how you want it to look. Or rather, you've got an IDEA, but you can't find a theme that suits that idea.
Sometimes I wish there weren't quite so many different themes available to choose from. Every new page that I navigate to makes me less certain on my decision.
How To Choose A WordPress Theme? Just Keep It Simple
That's why I really think you should just hold off on the decision initially. A theme can actually inhibit your site's growth, because you'll be trying to get your content to fit the theme, rather than vice versa. Unfortunately, you never know how a site is going to turn out until you start growing it.
The best strategry then, is to just choose a simple clean FREE theme like Twenty12 or Pagelines and start adding your own content to it. Over time, you will have a much clearer view of what you want your site to do, how you want it to look, and what sort of requirements you have for your theme of choice. That will make it a million times easier to choose the right one.
Another reason for this strategy is that you will ultimately want to buy a premium theme. I'm sorry, but free themes really require an exceptional amount of experience and copy writing skills to become a great website. Most “free” sites look like that. They are amateur and written by beginners, and it shows.
If you can get your site to WOW your visitors by presenting itself in the right light though, you'll be starting out on the right foot, and this is where a premium theme comes in.
So, start out with a free theme, get your site moving along and growing, then switch to a premium theme which suits your needs. I'll recommend some of the better premium themes below.
Don't Go Crazy
Whenever I change theme on a website, I always have a day or two fiddling and tweaking, learning my way around the theme. The better the theme (in terms of appearance and functionality), the more I need to pore over the documentation and support forum.
It's a proverbial pain in the backside.
When you are new and learning all the other ins and outs of WordPress or affiliate marketing strategies, you really don't have to be coming to terms with your theme as well. Just keep it simple and move on when you are ready.
Below I'm going to talk about choosing a theme when you are finally ready to move on.
Going More Advanced
So let's say you've got some pages on your site, you're posting regularly and the site is growing. By this point you should have an idea of how you want users to navigate the site and how you want it to look.
It's time to ditch your basic free theme and move on to something more complex. It doesn't have to be a premium one at this point, but if you are willing to invest a bit of money, I recommend heading over to WPZoom and checking out one of their themes.
The support and documentation of WPZoom themes are excellent compared with others, and the Dev team isn't going to suddenly abandon you. They're in it for the long run.
Finding a theme to sit your needs can be tricky, but you can follow the tips below to help you decide:
Choosing your theme
- Check some other sites that are similar to yours (same niche or category) and see what sort of design works for them (but don't just copy it).
- Always go for a clean, light (white if possible), theme. Modern sites follow this style.
- If the theme looks too complicated for you, or more than you need, don't use it.
- If choosing a premium theme, make sure it is well supported and regarded highly.
- Remember that no theme is permanent, so you can always change design later on.
The two places you should go for a premium theme are WPZoom and Themeforest, but with TF, be careful that some themes on there are not great or well supported. Browsing these two sites should give you some great ideas.
For free themes, you can use Google to search for theme ideas, or just make a note of any themes you like on sites you've visited before. Usually the theme name/author is down in the bottom right of the site (as with this one).
Terms like “Popular WordPress themes” or “Best XYZ Category WordPress Themes” will work well.
My final piece of advice is “Don't sweat it”. If you can't find something you like, just stick with something basic until you get a better idea.