October 1, 2011 E3

How to Find the Right WordPress Theme for Your Blog

Learn how to find the right WordPress theme for your blog and get that custom look you have been looking for with this tutorial.  Installing a theme is very easy if you just follow this step by step instruction.  First, we will show you how to shop for a free theme using the built in Feature Filter.  Then, we will look at some things you should consider when selecting the right theme for your needs.  Finally, we will discuss and list some popular premium theme market places for purchasing a top of the line theme.  Once you’ve found the perfect theme, check out our article on How to Install a New WordPress Theme to get it up and running.

How to Find the Right Theme for New WordPress Blog

Using the Feature Filter to Shop for Free WordPress Themes

The Feature Filter is a powerful tool to sifting through the thousands of available free themes.  For many blogs, a free theme is all that they need, and a purchase is neither necessary nor appropriate at their current stage of development.  To use the Feature Filter, log in to your WordPress Dashboard and follow these instructions:

  1. Scroll down the menu and click the down arrow to reveal the sub menu options under Appearance
  2. Click Themes
  3. Click Install Themes
  4. Select check boxes for your preferences
  5. Click Find Themes to begin the search

Find Themes in WordPress Appearance Menu

What to Look for in a Theme

How should you choose your blog’s new theme?  You should consider your personal preferences both for appearance and functionality.  Think about your blog’s purpose as well as the type of visitors you wish to attract and retain.  Additionally, the functionality your theme needs must support what you want your visitors to do once they arrive at your blog.  Make choices that work not just for the content of your blog, but also work for the kind of visitor experience you would like to have.  There are two ways to choose a new theme, either a premium theme you can purchase from a third party designer or from the free WordPress Theme Directory.  There are four basic things you should look at when selecting the right theme in WordPress:

  1. Colors
  2. Number of Columns
  3. Fixed or Flexible Width Columns
  4. Widgets and Features


You want your blog to be readable by your visitors, so keep that in mind when choosing your color preferences.  When you select the check boxes, you are indicating you wish to search for themes containing those color selections.  Try to choose contrasting colors to make reading text easy or, more simply, choose either Light or Dark to browse by the overall color scheme.  Try deciding on which colors you do not want, and then going from there in order to increase your potential theme searches.  Don’t worry too much if a theme does not have the exact color scheme you want, you can always change the colors of any element on your theme by manually editing the CSS code.

Number of Columns

Deciding on the number of columns is critical to any aspect of design.  Just look at newspapers or magazines and you will see the importance of picking the optimal number of columns to have.  The number of columns your blog has will determine the visitor experience.  For example, a two column theme will give you the option of having your main column populated with post content on one side and widgets or other features in the other column on the other side.  In our experience, this is the best option, as it provides a wide column area for your blog content and a thinner column, called a sidebar, for your widgets and features.  The E3 blog uses a two column design for its interior pages.

Fixed or Flexible Width Columns

You should tend to prefer themes that are flexible width.  This allows different sized monitors to view the information similarly.  Otherwise, a smaller monitor viewing your blog may have to scroll horizontally to view the rest of your blog.  Some bloggers prefer a fixed width theme because it allows them to control the readability of content more precisely.  However, in my experience, I’ve found that most of the free WordPress themes already considered this when designing the theme.

Widgets and Features

Always pick a theme that has widget support enabled.  This allows your blog to take advantage of widgets and the interactivity they offer your visitors.  Widgets are small pieces of code that enable different functionalities.  Most free themes have many widgets pre-installed, such as Archives, Categories, Blog Roll, and other areas.  Premium Themes tend to have even greater functionality, such as “Subscribe by Email”, “Ecommerce”, and more.  Browse through the themes and their available widgets and decide on a good fit based on what you wish to accomplish with your blog’s visitors once they arrive.

Premium Themes vs. Free Themes

Free themes are OK, but you may want to take your blog to the next level by purchasing a premium theme from a third party designer.  There are thousands of premium themes out there and finding the right one can be a daunting task.  Premium themes are much, much more customizable and often come packaged with powerful widgets, comprehensive support and tutorials, and fine tuned code design which enables easier CSS and HTML editing.  Premium themes usually range in price from $20 – $100 and are well worth the investment.  While there are hundreds of different premium theme designers to choose from, there are several, well established places we have found that offer the best value for your money.  Some premium theme designers prefer to sell their themes in a subscription based purchasing model, where you pay a yearly fee for unlimited access to all themes.  Other providers prefer to sell each theme individually.  These are my top picks for premium theme markets:

Take a lot of time when considering buying a premium theme.  Many times following a purchase a buyer will realize the theme is not suited for their needs or is too advanced for their skill level.  Make sure to browse the support and trouble shooting forums to see if the theme is right for you.  Once you have decided on a premium theme, visit the article How to Install a New WordPress Theme for a step by step tutorial.


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