With thousands of free WordPress themes available for download, how do you decide which one is right for you? Rather than base your decision solely on looks (ooh, that one’s purdy), take a look under the hood and examine the CSS, custom functions, and more. Having just switched themes, here are some tips on choosing the right WordPress theme for you:
Although you shouldn’t base your entire decision on looks alone, I still don’t recommend running a butt ugly theme. Give your visitors something pretty to look and they’re more likely to stick around. Your bounce rate will thank you later.
Layout & Usability
How many columns is too many columns? Can visitors easily navigate your site and access your content? Is it easy for them to subscribe or contact you? Before you can choose the right WordPress theme, it is important to understand your own goals and those of your readers. A good theme will accommodate both.
It should be easy to customize your free WordPress theme. However, if you have to dig through unorganized stylesheets or non-commented PHP code, the theme may be more trouble than it’s worth especially considering most default themes will need to be tweaked in one way or another.
Custom Functions & Features
Free themes typically include only the bare bones essentials and do not offer more advanced features such as custom 404 pages or stylized comments. Other goodies might include dashboard management tools for custom theme functions, built-in advertising options, and social media sharing solutions.
Theme Author & Support
Just because it’s free, doesn’t mean it’s any good. Would you rather download a free theme from an experienced publisher or a one-off designer’s coding nightmare? Additionally, does the author/publisher provide any support or regular updates for the theme?
All things considering, I opted to run a slightly modified free UBD Moneymaker Theme courtesy of Unique Blog Designs. It looks pretty, is usable, easily customizable, equipped with premium features, supported, and provided by a company known for their unique blog designs.