How to Pick a Great Theme

Last Update: October 16, 2019

One thing I see a lot of new members struggle with when first starting a site is how to pick a great theme. So, today I’d like to share my thoughts on how to go about it.

WARNING!

Okay, so first things first. If you are a new member and you are also new to WordPress — meaning you have no experience finding your way around the site dashboard — there is one theme and one theme only that I recommend you use…

The ONLY theme you should be using right now is the one Kyle is using in the training videos. (I won’t mention it by name here because it may change in future updates; just watch which one he uploads.)

Yes, I know that the one he uses is not fancy with tons of bells and whistles. And there is a reason for that. Use it anyway.

Sure, it’s not the prettiest theme out there, but that doesn’t matter right now because, if we’re honest, no one is coming to your site anyway. At least not yet.

The more important issue is that you learn your way around the system. And the easiest, and quickest, way to do that is by watching what Kyle does with his theme, you do the same, and then if your site does not look exactly like his you immediately know you missed something. This kind of instant feedback will help you correct mistakes before they turn into nightmares later.

Now, with that out of the way, if you know what you are doing and still looking for a theme, here’s what to focus on…

It Looks Great

Duh, right? lol

Seriously, though, let’s discuss exactly what a theme is.

Think of a website like a car. If WordPress is the engine that makes the thing go, then your theme is the paint job that makes it look great.

The key takeaway here is that the theme is your visual presentation. As such, you might see features on other sites that appeal to you and you would like to include on your site. Likewise, you might see features that you don’t like and may want to leave out. Make sense?

Here’s the catch: try to pick a theme that has those features you’re looking for right from the start if you can. Taking an existing theme that doesn’t, and then trying to change it to include that stuff can be a frustrating experience unless you are good at things like HTML, CSS, and other computer languages. And, let’s face it, if you were, you likely aren’t reading this post anyway :-)

It Has Great Customer Support

Ugh! I speak from experience when I say one of the worst things you can do is upload and try to use a cheap, basic theme that has no support. If you are fairly new at this you will have questions, and you need to be able to get a hold of someone that can help. Indeed, if you can afford it, I recommend you go with a paid theme with a good track record of support such as Genesis or Divi, for example.

A great way to “test” if there is good support is to head over to YouTube. If you find tons of videos on how to do different things with the theme, that’s a good sign. If you search for your potential theme and get nothing, you may want to pass.

By the way, one way that you probably don’t want to count on is by asking for help with your theme here at WA. It’s not that you can’t ask, of course — that’s what we’re here for — but you shouldn’t count on support because the chances of another member having the same theme as you is fairly slim as there are literally tens of thousands of themes out there to choose from. Best to stick to something more established, which brings us to our next point…

It Has Great Reviews

Like anything else online these days, a long history of great reviews can tell you a lot (on the other hand, a history of bad reviews can tell you a lot, too.)

Yeah, the example site they present for the theme might look amazing, but what’s under the hood, so to speak, might be a nightmare. Other users who have worked with the theme can tell you that.

If you find a theme with dozens, or even hundreds of four and five start reviews, that’s a great sign.

The Theme is Responsive

What does responsive mean? A responsive theme is one that will automatically adjust itself regardless of which device the reader is viewing it through.

For example, the layout on a desktop will naturally look different from how it looks on someone’s iPhone. And you want a theme that will look good on both.

It sounds crazy in this day and age given how much we rely on our phones and tablets, but believe it or not there are still themes out there that aren’t responsive which can make your site look like garbage on the "wrong" device, so choose carefully.

Conclusion

As you can see, there is a lot more to consider than just, “Does this theme look fancy?” Take your time picking the right theme for you.

You want a theme that looks good, is user-friendly, and fits your niche if possible. Follow the tips I outlined here and you’ll improve your chances of picking the right theme from the start.

Please share any tips you have for choosing a great theme that I may have overlooked.

As always, take care and keep writing :-)

Join the Discussion
Write something…
Recent messages
ExpatMark Premium
Top blog of the day for me. Now I know what link to give to someone asking about a theme. Thanks bunches AJ.

Did you do the TEFL thing?
Reply
AJTrimble1 Premium
Awesome. Thanks. Still working on TEFL... just difficult finding the time. lol
Reply
ExpatMark Premium
I can relate.
The days are getting shorter and the nights are getting long, as the song says.
I get messages 3-4 times a month from social media sites asking if I am interested in a teaching job. I got one from the head of an Engish school yesterday from Tbilisi, Georgia. I have been offered jobs in Germany, England, and Romania just in October.
Reply
CMKetay Premium
Awesome info, AJ. My theme fits with my niche, but I'm having a heck of a time figuring out how to maneuver things around in it to get it not only the way it looks in the example, let alone how I want it to look. Oy! But when I do get it, I will have accomplished something pretty signficant - for me, anyway! Thanks as alwasy for sharing!

Christine
Reply
AJTrimble1 Premium
Thanks
Reply
HeidiAnders3 Premium
Great advice, my friend - as usual! :)
~Heidi
Reply
AJTrimble1 Premium
Thanks :-)
Reply
FKelso Premium
Wish I'd had this post to read before selecting my theme. Thanks, AJ.
Reply
AJTrimble1 Premium
Sorry. Hopefully you've figured things out by now. And remember... you can change a theme at any time :-)
Reply
FKelso Premium
I've been thinking of changing the theme of my cat blog, but fear has thus far stopped me.
Reply
Joes946 Premium
AJ, great information as usual. I use the one Kyle uses. Works!
Thanks for all your good help.
Joe
Reply
AJTrimble1 Premium
Thanks, Joe. Sticking with Kyle is a great way to go, especially if one is unfamiliar with the inner workings of the WP dashboard.
Reply
Joes946 Premium
Agree
Joe
Reply
Top