Who isn’t talking about WordPress right now? Seriously, WordPress is my first love. It’s what my website is built with and it’s what my 62 year old father’s brand new website is built with. It’s intuitive and easy to use. So easy that I didn’t even have to walk him through writing his first post. This is the man who was so excited when he first learned to text that he sent me 4 text messages that only said, “Look, I’m sending a text message!”
So, if my father can learn to use WordPress, you can learn to use WordPress. I promise. As with all software, there is a slight learning curve while you get used to it, but trust me, once you do, it will be worth it.
I’m going to help you out with the most difficult part of building a site with WordPress – finding a theme. There are so many themes available on WordPress and they all offer features, customization, and ease of use at various levels and various prices. So, if you find this article helpful, you’ll see more of them focusing on features, pricing, and purpose. If you don’t find this article useful, pretend like someone else wrote it.
But, for now, we will focus on FREE WordPress themes. Everyone loves free! I’m going to pull my favorite themes from across the internet to show you the breadth of themes available and the different features in each one that won’t cost you anything but time.
Clean Retina by Theme Horse http://www.themehorse.com/themes/clean-retina/
I’m starting here because it’s a personal favorite of mine. It’s actually the theme I use on my almost a food blog (I tend to ramble and rant more than post recipes). I love it because it’s clean and it’s customizable. Built right into the theme options is a page for CSS updates. I appreciate a theme developer who encourages people to use his theme the way they need to. I was able to make this theme my own by using the in-theme options and then changing the CSS to get the feel I wanted.
This elegant theme comes with a lot of subtle design details; notice the “scroll” button that stays in the bottom right corner when navigating the site. Clean Retina keeps up with the times. It will look just as great on your phone or retina display as any other computer.
Artificer – Woo Themes http://www.woothemes.com/products/artificer/
Personally, I love Woo Themes; talk about a WordPress Powerhouse. Woo Themes doesn’t just stop at themes, they also have plug-ins to make the themes achieve your end goal. The result is a group of themes and plug-ins that are designed to work as well separately as apart. A lot of the Woo Themes and plug-ins are available for free, or you can purchase a subscription and have the availability to download multiple themes.
Why Artificer? Well, it’s a free theme that is designed to be a store. Yep, it’s actually a shopping cart and partners well with all of Woo Themes’ widgets, including Woo Commerce! The design is simple, so your products don’t get lost amongst too many “features”, and as with most Woo Themes, it is responsive, so it’s easy to purchase from your shop on the go.
Helix by Fab Themes http://www.fabthemes.com/helix/
Wow. I love this theme and I really wish I had a need for it, but unfortunately, I don’t. But, if you’re a photographer, videographer, graphic artist, painter, or any other image-centric vocation, this is the theme for you. While this theme does require the Options Framework plug-in to work (this is available for free download through WordPress.org), the installation of that plug in is so easy, and this theme is definitely worth the extra step.
Helix gives you all of the features available to standard WordPress themes, compatibility with pages and blogs, and the eye catching full-screen image rotator draws your clients in before they even read anything you have to say.
Oxygen Theme by Alien http://alienwp.com/themes/oxygen/
I like the Oxygen Theme because of its professional simplicity. This is a great way to introduce your company to the world. The theme is responsive, which as you know is important in our portable lifestyle. It is easy to customize with multiple widget areas, multiple menus, a built-in light box, and customizable back ground. It also includes a featured content slider, so you are able to easily update the focus of your home page if you are running promotions or want to highlight part of your business.
Researching a theme is the first step to building a successful WordPress website. You want a theme that has a general feel that you are looking for, or has enough customization available to make it fit your website.
When selecting a theme, take your time, install a few themes and try them out. Make sure it is easy to make changes to the site and that you are comfortable using all the features available to you through the theme options. Remember, no two themes are exactly the same on the back end, so you need to be as comfortable with changing your website as you are with looking at it.