A few things I learned about WordPress themes

As I mentioned in a recent post, I am in search of a new WordPress theme for this blog. I already figured out that choosing the right theme, while theoretically very easy, is one of the most difficult things in one’s blogging life – probably the toughest decision to make in a blogger’s life.

After a couple of weeks’ search for the ideal theme, the following are my thoughts about WordPress themes in general (I hope my loud thinking may also help a fellow blogger while hunting for the right theme for his/her blog)

  • Most themes – whether it is $200 professional themes or free ones – require a lot of customizing to make it look unique and branded according to your blog needs
  • If you were to design a new theme, start with a clean codebase (e.g. WordPress default themes) as many themes are not really coded by programmers
  • Magazine themes are only as good as your image stock and they are
    not suitable for most blogs
  • Most of the theme designers actually copy paste themes (own or others’) and make minor changes to arrive at a different theme. So you need to think twice before picking a theme out of 20-30 that a single designer has to offer
  • The claims such as SEO optimized and AdSense ready themes are more like sales tactics. On-theme SEO optimization and changes to host ad slots can be done really easily
  • ‘Widget ready’ is an overstatement! Unless you have a theme from the stone age, most of them are widget ready anyhow
  • A big part of your branding needs can be taken care of by having a killer header (logo + changes there in)
  • Theme customizing is really an expensive thing to do though it is not something that happens every day. I am talking about the case where you need unique branding
  • The hype about highly colorful, anime-based and over-branded themes is slowly coming down. Now a days, professional bloggers are more inclined towards neat, light and properly engineered themes like Thesis
  • Though not frequent, major WordPress upgrades can trigger certain amout of work on your themes. Hence – unless you are a programmer yourself – it makes sense to go for a theme that promises after-sales support
  • Fixed width themes are still the most popular option despite the PC monitors getting wider
  • If certain plugins are mandatorily required to run a theme properly, don’t go for such themes
  • Theme selection is not getting any easier with 1000s of themes out there to confuse you. Hence, if you are in doubt go for a professional theme

In principle if you are not developer, Webmaster, designer and SEO expert (on top of being a blogger) life can get really difficult on the great WordPress platform.

Any thoughts folks?


  1. @Jacques, mostly themes can come cheaper if their codebase is small (which means less time they took for development). But pieces like Thesis may be a well engineered product though the final outcome as in rendering/SEO etc are not much different.

    @Kim, Thanks Kim. With every WordPress upgrade, I am worrying about a scenario when they pull out certain features…custom fields may be still there but a big worry in terms of potential problems as Harsh mentioned.

    Though, I don’t like magazine themes, recently I downloaded a lean magazine theme and started my new theme development on that. Of course, I removed all featured stuff, thumbs etc. Hopefully D$ will be relaunched on the new theme in another week or so.

  2. moserw :

    Customization is so necessary with a theme and one of the reasons I prefer to not change a theme every so often (something I used to do a lot before). Now with every theme change I end up changing everything from Google code to just about everything else. But I do agree, getting the right theme certainly goes a long way.

    moserw’s last blog post… Noodle Soup Recipe!

  3. wait till u guys see our theme for Charlie Claw’s – Wasini Island. It’s K2 with about 30 random banners showcasing pics. K2 rocks!!! http://getk2.com

  4. Sushie :

    Very good article.
    I have make many searchs to find a design for my blog, yeah it’s free, i don’t have money to spend right now xD, i prefer to not change the css code, i don’t want to do an error, i’m so su** at css, php and others “internet languages”…


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