If you are planning to set up a new website or redesign your existing site, but don’t have enough money to spend to pay the designer fees, consider using a professionally designed WordPress theme. Most people are able to modify the theme by themselves, or you can have a designer modify it for you for a much lower fee – and still save a lot of money.
If you are looking for a WordPress theme, the good news is that there are literally THOUSANDS of themes available for WordPress. The bad news is that you will have to choose just one for your website (which can be challenging, if you have problems with making choices when presented with too many options, like I often do).
Most of the themes are FREE, which is usually a good thing – believe me, I love free – however, in this case I believe it’s NOT the best way to go.
If you expect quality design and support that will provide answers to your questions, I recommend you purchase your theme template from a respected source. Also, most paid themes come with back-end functionality that free themes don’t provide. For example, some paid themes will allow you to change the colors specify the number and width of sidebars, change your header graphics, add your feedburner id, advertising, analytics code, right from the dashboard (without the need to tweak the code).
Plus, if you end up needing to customize the theme even further, the code of premium themes is usually very clean and easy to work with.
My suggestions for the best premium WordPress themes are:
Thesis. I have been using Thesis for a long time now, and I really love it. It works straight out-of-the-box, without any tweaking. The layout is very flexible, allowing you to choose the width of the columns, how many columns you want (1, 2, or 3) and where you want your sidebars to be located (left, or right-hand side). Once you buy it, you will get lifetime updates of the theme – with new features and more powerful features available with every new release. I have to admit, though, the out-of -the-box design is very plain, so you’ll need to spend time tweaking the colors, and designing custom header, if you want a blog design that stands out from the crowd. I also don’t like the fact that there are no footer design options from the admin panel. Plus, Thesis is rather pricey ($79 for a single-site license, about $180 for multiple sites), compared to other themes.
Elegant Themes. I really love the clean design and rich textures that many of the Elegant Themes use. For $20 subscription price per YEAR for ALL themes, it’s hard to beat the price, too. You will get the Photoshop files too.
StudioPress. I have so far only used the Agent Press theme, but I can say it was easy to work with, even customizing the html code has been super easy. I love their magazine themes, and especially the newest Platinum.
ThemeForest. At ThemeForest you can buy HTML templates as well as themes for popular CMS products, with prices ranging from just $5 up to $40. There are some great WordPress themes on their site, but there are so many of them, that it may give you a headache just trying to find what you need. They are contributed by different authors, so their quality may vary, but the good thing is that you can see how many purchases were made, the average rating that the theme has, and read user comments. In the comments area you may see if the users have any problems with the theme, and whether the author responds to the questions in a promptly.
When choosing a theme for your website, consider:
* What is the main objective of your site? Is it to display your portfolio? Sell a product? Build a list of subscribers? Build an authority blog? Display properties for sale (if you are a real estate agent)?
* Who is your audience?
* Who is your competition?
* Is it easy to customize?
* Where will you put your opt-in box?
* Do you want advertising on your site?
* How much content will you have?
* How will your content be organized: where will the categories, pages appear, do you want top navigation menus, etc.
* Will you be posting lots of video, audio, pictures? Some themes are specifically designed for video or pictures.
Still can’t decide? Check out your competitor’s sites. What do their websites look like? What features do they use? Where is their opt-in box? Do they use pop-ups?
Of course, you don’t need to obsess about which theme to choose, as with WordPress, changing the theme is super easy.
All you have to do is to upload the theme to the Themes folder of your website, go to the Themes page on your administrator’s dashboard, click Activate, and ta-da, there you have it – a completely new look for your site!
Note: OK, so in reality it’s going to be more work than just that. You will usually have to adjust some settings, because every theme is different. But it’s still super fast, when you consider that you are getting a completely redesigned website!
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