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7 Things You Must Avoid When Choosing Your WordPress Theme

Ugly ThemesAre you looking for a new theme for your WordPress blog? Here are seven deadly things to avoid.

  1. Unsupported Themes
    Free theme providers often move to other projects or don’t have time to fix problems or modify design. Generally this isn’t a problem for premium themes, but always check the track record of the author before basing your brand on a particular design.

    Before finding the Thesis theme, I used a few free themes by Sadish. He provides very consistent support to his customers. In return, you must link back to his site.

  2. Outdated Themes
    The corollary to unsupported themes is an outdated theme. Many older themes don’t support the latest features of WordPress. If they haven’t been updated recently, the chance that they will be updated in the future is probably slim.

    Having a theme that keeps up with the the WordPress application is an important part of keeping your site upgradeable.

  3. Themes that Don’t Validate
    Validation isn’t the end-all, be-all in site value. Ultimately most users don’t care if you site validates, they only care if it works for them. But validation is a relatively good indicator of how much care a designer puts into their coding.

    If you aren’t a programmer, using a markup validation service to check your site may give you some useful information about the expertise of the designer.

  4. Themes with Dark Backgrounds/Light Text
    While there are some folks who prefer a dark background with light text, the vast majority of web users find such sites hard to read and less appealing. Most blog readers — even those who favor dark backgrounds — find dark text on a light background to be readable and acceptable. Almost no one objects to such sites.

    Given these facts, there is an easy way to please most every reader: use a light background and dark, legible text.

  5. Themes with Navigation Nightmares
    Nothing turns me away from a site quicker than non-intuitive navigation. There is so much good information on the internet, there is simply no reason that I should have to waste my time poking around, hunting, and searching for what I need.

    When you choose a theme, it must fit your content and your presentation. Make it easy for visitors to find what they need and they’ll be back for more.

  6. Incomplete Themes
    Some themes have great looking home and post templates, but no options for static pages, pages without sidebars, etc. Choosing such a theme will severely limit your ability to present your material in the most attractive and sensible way.

    Look for templates that offer the full suite of options. This will give you flexibility and room to grow.

  7. Ugly Themes
    Certainly beauty is in the eye of the beholder and site design is a subjective exercise. But some themes don’t appeal to any significant portion of the population. Avoid designs that most people hate, even if you don’t.

    When I designed this site, I showed it to over a hundred other professional bloggers for feedback. Even with years of blogging experience, some of the feedback surprised me. Similarly, when Men with Pens redesigned their site, they accepted feedback from readers and made changes to suit. Good idea!

Over the years, we’ve used many themes. Early last year we settled on the Thesis theme. We love Thesis and install it on every client site. It has a clean look that’s easy to customize. Upgrading is simple. And support is second to none.

If you’re looking for a new theme that can grow with your site, we highly recommend Thesis.

{ 15 comments… add one }
  • Dana January 31, 2010, 1:34 am

    My free theme wanderer is stop when i use atahualpa. It is the most powerful free theme in my opinion.
    .-= Dana @ Blogging Update´s last blog ..Why Do I Rarely Follow A Blog Contest? =-.

  • Alison Moore Smith January 31, 2010, 2:31 pm

    Hi, Dana. Not exactly sure what you meant, but thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  • Ileane January 31, 2010, 9:02 pm

    Hey Alison, I’m using the Atahualpa theme on my blogging wire and it’s very customizable also. I’m not sure if it is more flexible than Thesis, but they do have good support. Everyone speaks highly of Thesis.

    Thanks for the tips.
    @Ileane
    .-= Ileane´s last blog ..Some Serious Blog Engagement =-.

  • Parker January 31, 2010, 10:01 pm

    I’ve used atahualpa in the past. Not bad for a free theme. Looks pretty good out of the box, but I had problems with it, like in IE displays and getting some page templates to work right and to customize the CSS.

    I’ve been using Thesis for almost two months. It’s the best theme I’ve ever used. Never had one problem. I’m not a great programmer and I can still really work it over. Love it. And the hooks are super.

  • Suresh Khanal February 1, 2010, 2:27 am

    I was looking for a new theme for my new extension of new.psexam.com and I was looking for free theme. I’ll consider to go for paid theme after some time.

    Finally I settled on the current thing. I hope its flexible. The design I liked but I’m not sure how other people will react it. Because the site is about Computer Education the look similar to Windows 7 will suit in some way.
    .-= Suresh Khanal´s last blog ..Reader-friendly Blog Design – Checklist. =-.

  • Don Power February 1, 2010, 4:53 am

    Hey Alision and all!

    I”m using Thesis on my blog. I purchased it because it was supposed to be “coding free” – which did NOT turn out to be the case.

    I think it is probably a good theme is you know CSS and PHP ( I don’t) so I spent a lot of time customizing it when I really should have been writing content.

    I’m looking for another theme now for a daddy blog I’m about to start and I won’t be using Thesis!

    Any suggestions?

    Thanks!

    – Don
    .-= Don Power´s last blog ..Askimet, I am very love you FREE =-.

  • JR February 4, 2010, 5:30 pm

    I learned this the hard way when I spent days tweaking a theme that was actually not updated or supported and several of my vital plugins did not work.
    .-= JR´s last blog ..Last Chance to Buy The Best Spinner Tool for Half Price =-.

  • Brad Harmon February 4, 2010, 6:45 pm

    Alison,

    I haven’t made the jump yet to a PRO theme. I am worried with each passing update that my current free theme will cease to work, but I have been lucky so far. When I decided, or more than likely forced, to change themes I really like what I’ve seen with Thesis. I especially like the administrator panels. They are so much better than the standard WP panels.

    Brad
    .-= Brad Harmon´s last blog ..Jesus Says Use Your Boss’s Money to Make Friends? =-.

  • Alison Moore Smith February 5, 2010, 2:03 am

    Thanks for all the great comments, everyone.

    Don, no theme is “coding free” if you want to super hack it. 🙂 The point of Thesis is that it is easy to change fonts, colors, links, headings, number of columns (3, 2, 1), position of columns, add a teaser (in many varieties), add multimedia box, etc., all without a bit of CSS, PHP, or even HTML. And the hooks add a bunch more customization by just dropping code into the fields.

    After hacking away at all the template files for years, that’s like a dream. And all the customization stays put when you upgrade. More to the point, you CAN upgrade after customization. That is a dream come true to me. 🙂

    JR, I feel your pain. Been there!

    Brad, some free themes are well supported. You’ll have a better chance with those. If/when you do jump, give Thesis some consideration.

  • mk akan February 15, 2010, 6:11 pm

    i am presently using a free theme and never considered all these.I definitely will get a premiun theme,thesis or headway.for now,i will make sure the free themes i am using complies with your suggestions.
    thanks
    .-= mk akan´s last blog ..How To Totally Clean Up and Kill Mistakes, Omissions and Typos In Your Blog post =-.

  • Alison Moore Smith February 15, 2010, 7:02 pm

    mk akan, thanks for stopping by.

    There are some good free themes out there. Just be sure they they are robust enough for your current needs and will expand as your blog becomes more and more successful!

  • GG February 20, 2010, 7:47 am

    nice information, Thanks

  • Selurus February 21, 2010, 1:40 am

    Thesis seems to be a very popular theme among the premium themes. I’m currently using a free theme. This article is very useful for someone choosing a new theme for his site. :up:
    .-= Selurus´s last blog ..Google Reader =-.

  • Tim Ryan September 30, 2011, 1:42 pm

    For me, I think it’s also important to consider themes that are widget-friendly as there are WP themes that are not. As for support, you would want a theme that has good support available as well.
    Read Tim Ryan’s inCREDible post…Jim Cramer Optimistic on FL Real EstateMy Profile

  • hesham March 2, 2015, 5:50 pm

    Thesis seems to be a very popular theme among the premium themes.
    Read hesham’s inCREDible post…“إتش تي سي” تكشف عن نظارة واقع افتراضي وسوار ذكيMy Profile

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