Share Your Favorite WordPress Themes with Domain Campers

I don’t know about you, but I find the process of theme selection a chore up there with cleaning bathrooms. Sometimes you get lucky, but it can also be overwhelming.

For Week 7 of Ontario Extend Domain Camp we are introducing people to finding and trying on themes, ones available in the WordPress Theme collection.

Like we did for plugins we ask experience WordPress folks to share a theme from the WordPress Directory that they think are good starters.

For example, I’m a big fan of the themes by Anders Noren because they are clean designed, and nor overly complex to use.

Share some theme recommendations along with a link to one of your site that uses that theme. If you use a Premium theme, explain your rationale for using one that you paid money for,

To me it’s the worst part of building a site, I spend way too long trying different themes and of course every use case warrants a different style (not to mention some themes that want to be everything and do it all somewhat poorly). So rather than a theme I’ll throw out some things I mentally look at (which conveniently apply both to plugins and themes):

  • How many people are using this? Sorting by Popular will help a lot. It’s not that there isn’t gold hidden below the fold, the issue is usually more related to how well supported it will be and in that case numbers win. If tens of thousands of people are using a theme there’s a good chance if there were an issue it will get fixed rather than leave you in a lurch.
  • Premium is a blessing and a curse. I’ve bought my fair share of premium themes, primarily from Themeforest, and a lot of times I’ve found the possibilities much greater with them in terms of building a professional site (and frankly paying $30-$40 for a theme seems a small price to pay to be able to streamline the building process a bit). That being said it’s definitely harder to upgrade premium themes so you have to be mindful of keeping things up-to-date versus getting updates right in the dashboard and the same cautions with the repository apply to sort by popular and read reviews so you don’t get burned on a bad theme and find yourself out real cash for it.
  • Read the docs: Most themes provide decent documentation (if they don’t that’s enough of a sign to steer clear) so I’d encourage you when looking at a potential theme to save yourself all the clicking and read up on it before hitting that activate button. It can be frustrating to search around trying to update a header or change page templates and not being sure if what you want to do is even possible and it’ll be much easier to evaluate that from documentation before you dive into it on your site.
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I agree, and I loathe the themes that ty to do everything, they end up like operating systems into themselves. Simpler ones are always best in my book.

I’ve done several sites, including my own using the Cover theme – what happens is once you understand a theme, you can repurpose it easily. I also use these theme on NetNarr and the Ontario Extend Domains site

Another non-answer from me . . .

I’ve stuck with themes based on Bootstrap recently. That lets me build more complicated post structures on the fly but also allows me to switch themes down the road to another bootstrap-based theme.

I’ll double down on Timmy’s comment and say that I absolutely avoid freemium themes if I’m not going to buy the real one. Like Alan, I have no interest in having to learn a theme instead of just using WordPress and trying to customize those OS-type themes is a huge pain.

I have tried a number of different themes, and consider many of the things that Tim has already mentioned. Is the site for blogging? Is it for showing images or videos? Will it be updated regularly?

I am thrilled to be using the Calling Card Theme - called wp-dimension and available in GitHub - by Alan, it was a simple clear cut theme that let me delete my about . me account which I had used for a long time as sort of a one page digital business card. I do actually make use of most of the SPLOTs Alan has developed in one way or another.

I have also been using Fukasawa by Anders Noren for simple clean tiled and image based websites. The filtering capability makes it flexible for photography, portfolios, bug picture collections, whatever you like.

On the paid side I use a theme called Academy that I purchased from Theme Forest. At the time I was looking for a theme was a bit like an LMS but could be built in WP. Adam Croom demonstrated a course he had made using the theme and it seemed to fit that project well. As someone who can’t really create my own themes this worked as a solution because the development and organization of the dashboard was done and I could just get to work arranging the content and activities.

I’m pretty old-school, so I’m a big fan of Atahualpa because it’s got a zillion customizations but they’re easy to do.

Plus, although the “support” looks small at the Wordpress .org site, its BytesForAll developer site has a huge forum. Fixed many a problem for me over the years.