How do I pick up a theme for my wordpress blog from thousands of freely available themes out there?
This is really a tough question. Some bloggers, even the experienced ones, spend so much time looking around for the perfect theme to beautify their blog. There are themes with lots of images in header and every where they look amazingly beautiful. There are themes that are simple and elegant. Themes, with functionality to improve certain aspects of your blogging experience. Themes designed for SEO and themes designed to be used with advertising programs such as Google Adsense. There are three columns, two column and single column themes. How do you know what is right for your blog?
Here is how I do it. First of all I try to think what I want to achieve with my new blog. Like this particular blog that you are currently reading is a place to share tips. So I needed a theme that was easy on reader’s eyes so that they can read the content, apply it somewhere, and then leave a comment if they want. This approach to design is called Usability and it helps a lot in the long run. This blog is new, so I also needed a theme that is easy to modify for my future needs.
I wasn’t sure about sidebar and layout. But then I thought that I don’t have enough content at the moment to fill the two sidebars with interesting items. So I decided to go with a single sidebar theme such themes are also called two column themes sometimes. Right sidebar or left sidebar? I remembered reading somewhere (probably here) that people read left to right so if you put your content on right and relevant links and navigation on the left then it is easy for them to quickly find what they need.
So this the first step of choosing the right theme. You need to think what you want to do with your blog and think of a layout that fit both your’s and your readership’s needs.
The Next step is design, color, and layout. There are so many colors in this beautiful world and please remember that we all love colors. So even if you are into simple looking web pages make sure that it has some colors too. While browsing the theme directories you will see many themes and I would suggest that you bookmark the themes that you like on your way. Once you think you have browsed enough themes then look into your bookmarked themes. And select a few that you like most.
In my opinion themes with large image headers containing pictures of irrelevant things are not very good. because these images provide no benefit to your reader. Still if you prefer images in your header then make sure that they are not too big.
Optimizing your blog for search engines and advertising programs is no more a hassle. But it could be if you pick a theme that is not easy to modify or relies on some plugins that you don’t really need. You don’t really need to pick up a search engine friendly theme, because it could easily be done later on with either plugins or manually. You also don’t need to pick up a theme that has room for lots of advertisements. Because such themes are used widely by bad websites and if your visitor has seen such websites already he would think that your blog looks like those trash sites so it would be useless as well.Choose a theme that is easy to modify and you can always add your advertisement code in it.
Widgets or No Widgets?
Depends on how easy you want it to be, I personally feel easier working with themes in my text editor. But lots of people like the comfort of Widgets. So if you want to make adding items to your sidebar simpler then you go for widgets ready themes.
While picking up a theme don’t just think about the attractiveness. Look for a theme that is easy for your readers so that they can easily navigate your website or blog. Also make sure that the same theme is easy for you too, so that you can work with it in future and add features to it if the need arises.
How do you know that the theme you want is easy to modify or not? I particularly check the theme in theme-editor. Since I feel that most editing goes on in sidebars so I look at the sidebar template. Themes that use complex div structure in sidebars are difficult to use. I prefer themes that have simpler sidebar code so that I could add my own items easily.
Another quick tip, don’t just go for the popular themes. If you browse the theme directories deep down you would find some really amazing themes that are not already used by hundreds and thousands of blogs. Also make sure that you add your own branding to the theme. Like your own image in header, or your customize it so that it looks uniquely yours.
Caution: Please remember to look at the theme carefully. There are some dirty minded people who add links to adware and spyware sites in wordpress themes. Some people even add their own Google Adsense code in themes. So if you see any such thing you can either remove the code or simply choose someother theme. The best place to look for themes is the theme directory at official WordPress site.