The look and feel of a WordPress website or blog is controlled by its theme. WordPress comes with a free default theme, which is very basic. Most users replace the default theme or at least modify it to get a custom look. The default WordPress theme can be completely changed if you want to do that. But it does take time and effort. If you are not experienced in HTML, CSS, and PHP, we recommend replacing the default theme with one that is closest to what you want your site to look like. It will save you potentially hundreds of hours and you can start your site with a professional look from the beginning. Installing and changing themes in WordPress is incredibly simple and is done with one click. You can install a theme that was created by a professional web designer in a matter of seconds – the best starting point for your website.
Understanding WordPress Themes
What Are WordPress Themes?
All WordPress blogs and websites have a theme. Even if you use the default installation of WordPress and start posting articles and content, you will be using the default theme that comes with the platform. But you really don’t want to use the default theme unmodified. You will want to customize the default theme or install a new theme.
Now, if you know what you are doing with web development and want the challenge of creating your own theme from scratch, you can start with the default theme and make all of the modifications to customize it to your liking. But you don’t need to start from the “drawing board” to have a professional-looking website. That is the great thing about WordPress themes. Themes allow you to change the colors, heading styles, background, fonts, etc. without changing the content (articles, videos, etc.). The theme is independent of the content and you can change themes on your WordPress site with the click of a button.
Just because you add a theme to your website, that does not mean you must accept all of the features and the exact look of the theme. You can still change everything on your theme if you want. The advantage of buying a theme is that you get a major head start on your site’s design. You can start with a design that is ready for prime time “out of the box”, which you can tweak and customize a bit at a time, as you go along. That is so much easier than starting from scratch and for non-developers, it is the only way to go.
Free vs. Premium Themes
In addition to the free theme that comes with the WordPress installation, there are thousands of free themes available for you to download. But free themes are very limited compared to their premium counterparts, they are often produced by a single person, and they offer incredibly limited support (if any at all).
Premium themes offer premium quality. They are usually produced by teams of developers who work every day to test and improve their themes. Premium themes are sold by a company that relies on the sales of the themes for their business. They have a reputation to uphold as a business, and they need their themes to live up to the quality expected from their purchase price.
Security and code quality is also something to consider with themes. Free themes can be a security risk for your site if you go with the wrong one. The coding standards for free themes are not as good as they are for premium themes and that can lead to security problems (hacking, ad-ware spyware, etc.). Because premium themes are developed by teams of developers, they are updated often and adhere to WordPress guidelines and security protocols. Premium themes are also updated for compatibility with the latest version of WordPress.
Most importantly for beginners, premium themes come with premium support and a large community of users. Unlike free themes, you are paying for your support when you purchase a premium theme and can reasonably expect your support requests to be answered in a timely manner. Conversely, there really is no incentive for a free template developer to respond to your support request. With the large support community provided by a premium theme (not just the company employees, but also thousands of other users), you can get all of your questions answered. This is ideal for a WordPress beginner. You won’t get stuck trying to figure out things on your own – you will have a large support group to help you.
Buying Premium WordPress Themes
There are themes for almost any kind of site you want to build. There are themes for coupon sites, hobby sites, directory sites, eCommerce sites, blogs, news magazines; the list goes on and on. Starting with a theme that is meant for the type of site you are launching will significantly cut the amount of time it will take you to design your site. Changing colors and fonts is much easier than changing functionality. Getting the theme that is “made for” the type of website you are creating is the best way to start because the functionality is already there. For example, if you are creating an online mall website, you are much better off using an eCommerce theme than trying to convert a blogging theme into an eCommerce site.
Another thing to consider is how many themes you think you will use. Remember, WordPress is free and your shared web hosting account from Step 2 will allow you to host as many domains and WordPress installations as you want for the same price. Most theme developers offer access to all of their themes for a great discount versus if you were going to buy them one by one.
Do you plan to develop WordPress sites you will resell to clients using the themes you purchase? If so, be mindful of the type of license you get when purchasing your themes. While you are free to modify the code of any theme you purchase, some theme companies give you the rights to resell the theme as many times as you want and others require a developer license if you plan to sell them to clients. There are also theme companies that ask you to buy a license for each client install you resell, although you are free to use the same theme for your own sites as many times as you want with one license.
Finally, if you want the ability to get the original PSD files for your theme, make sure you get the license that includes them. Some companies charge a little more to include PSD files, while others don’t even use PSD files in their themes. Now if you don’t know what PSD files are, you probably don’t need to purchase them. PSD is the extension for Adobe Photoshop files. If you know Adobe Photoshop, getting the original layered PSD design files can be helpful for advanced modifications. However, you don’t need to know Photoshop or have access to PSD files to be able to customize a WordPress theme.
To get started choosing your theme, please visit the theme companies listed below and browse their offerings. Our guide lists some of the most popular theme companies for WordPress. You will surely find something that will propel your WordPress site way beyond the default theme, save you countless hours of design time and/or the need to hire a web developer.
Premium Themes For Blogs And Standard Websites
Premium Themes For eCommerce, Directories, Listings
1. In the WordPress dashboard, go to Appearance > Themes on the left menu.
2. On the themes page, switch the tab at the top to Install Themes.
3. At the top, click Upload.
4. Click the Choose File button. This will open a file selection dialog box.
5. Locate the theme’s .ZIP file(s) on your local computer.
6. Click Open.
7. Click Install Now. The theme is now installed.
8. To activate the theme, go to the Manage Themes tab at the top.
9. Find the newly installed theme under “Available Themes” and click Activate.
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