I often explain that WordPress themes are a lot like clothing. WordPress itself is perfectly functional out of the box, and comes with a couple of stock themes already installed, but just as you wouldn’t want to show up to an event looking like dozens of other people, you probably don’t want to settle for the pre-installed themes either, and for just the same reason. Themes are sometimes referred to as ‘templates’, but to me that isn’t the correct terminology. Template sites are sites that have been created for quick deployment, where you only change the contact information and site name, but they are otherwise identical to a large number of other sites.
The theme you ultimately choose gives your site its “Look and Feel.” For right brained types, choosing the theme is the fun part once you’ve got the technical part out of the way! If you already have something established that you want to work with, such as a business card, a sign, or a photo, or then pick a theme that matches them. The look should reflect you and/or the subject of your site as clearly and quickly as possible. Unfortunately visitors don’t spend time trying to work out what your site is about, so if you want them to stay, the site should quickly tell them know what you are offering.
For example, a pink baby site with images of things people associate with babies in the background, or a photos of the baby wearing a headband tells the visitor it is about a baby girl, as pink is a shorthand for ‘girl’ for many people.
If your site is about historic documents you might be wise to keep to more traditional fonts, and maybe keep to a cream and brown color palette to convey age. Ultimately the design is your choice, so spend some time thinking about what your readers will respond to in terms of colors, phrases and photos.
The colors, images and layout are all very flexible, so go and look at sites you particularly like and start to think about what you would like your site to look like. Bookmark or write down the sites you particularly like so you can go back to them again.
When you have installed WordPress it comes with two themes to get you started. It is a good idea to play with these options to begin with as they are fully functional, and can be changed to fit almost any color scheme.
If you look in dashboard of a WordPress site, you will notice on the “install themes” section you have an array of additional themes you can select, and quickly and easily install. You can select themes by layout, colors, and multiple features, and all these themes are free. Before installing the theme you can preview the way it will look on your site before choosing to ‘activate’ it and working with it.
Whatever you do, be very careful about downloading “free” themes as a the result of a Google search. Some of them have embedded viruses that can do harm to your site and data base. There are many reputable places where you can buy themes to use, but it is wise to play with the free WordPress themes from within your site, and see how they work, before you decide to buy a theme that may require more adapting than you can initially handle.
Not all themes are created the same way. Most free themes come ready to use, and if you want to change anything about them, you are usually out of luck. I prefer themes that simply provide a framework, and from which I can design a completely customized theme to suit the site and client I am working with. When you do come to buy themes I recommend visiting the sites for Headway, ThemeForest, Themify and Woo Themes to see some of the many themes that are available for use!