In this tutorial we are going to discuss how to find a good theme. That’s a tricky thing because first you have to define “good”. If it’s beautiful does that mean it’s good? If the code is rock solid does that mean it’s good? Shouldn’t it need both? Does it have to have both? We are going to talk about that in this tutorial.
There really are two aspects, the quality of the code behind the theme and the look. You don’t necessarily need a theme that looks exactly the way you want your site to look when it’s done. You do want a theme that looks close enough that you can easily change it to get it to what you want. Often the quality of the code determines whether that is possible. If it’s well written and uses the customizer properly then you can take a theme that doesn’t really look like what you want and easily turn it into exactly what you want.
You will also want to be careful about where you get your themes. Themes that you get from http://wordpress.org are heavily vetted. People look through them very carefully looking for malware and things like that. They don’t necessarily look at design because design is very subjective and so you will find a wide variety of designs on wordpress.org
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder so you will find some that you think are just gorgeous and others that don’t really look that great at all but somebody else really loves them.
So we have talked about Wordpress.org and also the commercial theme repository. I also want to talk about finding theme reviews. If you simply google ‘wordpress theme reviews’ you will find thousands and thousands of theme reviews.
The problem with that however is that many of them are simply trying to get you to buy their theme. Rather than simply finding random theme reviews find a place that provides reputable theme reviews.
GoDaddy does theme reviews periodically. This review talks about some of the things I mentioned earlier, looks, responsiveness, good markup, proper code etc. They then make recommendations about a variety of themes. So when you look at theme reviews make sure you know and respect the place doing the review. Another article I would like to point out is from Web Savvy Marketing called “16 Tips to Review Before You Buy Wordpress Themes”.
This article doesn’t tell you what themes to buy, it tells you how to look at a theme and decide if it’s quality or not. This is a really excellent article and I strongly recommend that you read it. Lastly if you really want to know what’s in a good theme you can join the theme review team at wordpress.org. I mentioned that the themes on wordpress.org are heavily vetted and they are vetted by volunteers. You can volunteer too. You don’t have to be technically savvy and you don’t have to be a developer. There is a nice convenient checklist of things to go through and look at and you will be able to go through themes and look for quality. It won’t take very long before you can recognise the difference between a good theme and a poor theme.
To sum up, you can always get quality free themes from from Wordpress.org and the commercial themes linked to from wordpress.org are guaranteed to be solid, well made and well supported. If you are going to look for theme reviews get theme from places that you know and respect. Read up on what makes a good theme. There are many articles like the ones I have shown and as long as they are not trying to sell you a specific theme read all of them. Learn everything you can about what makes a good theme.
Lastly if you really want to learn then read through all the themes on Wordpress.org and decides which ones are good.