So you’ve installed WordPress and now you want to start making it your own, For that you’ll need a WordPress theme. WordPress comes preinstalled with a theme. As I write this, we are currently on WordPress 4.0 and the default theme that it ships with is called Twenty Fourteen. No doubt Twenty Fifteen is in the process of being designed ready for next year as since 2010 WordPress has followed this nomenclature starting with Twenty Ten. As this guide is aimed at WordPress beginners I’m guessing that you may have some questions so I’ll try to answer those first before we move on.
What Is A WordPress Theme?
Ok, if I said a theme is to WordPress what a car body is to a car would that make sense? Imagine your car without a body. It would just be a chassis and an engine, that is essentially WordPress without a theme.
WordPress is a content management system or CMS for short. In a nutshell, a CMS stores content such as blog posts, pages, images, forms etc and you can configure the CMS to display the content in whatever way you like. The theme helps to create this layout as all themes are slightly different. So, going back to our car example again for a moment, if we look at a Mini, it’s available in all different guises. 2 door coupe, convertible, clubman etc. essentially the same chassis and engine (ok you purists will argue that the Countryman is a different chassis but I’m just going to ignore your heckling! 🙂 ) and with just a different body on top.
So as in the example of the Mini, a WordPress website or blog get’s it’s look from the theme. As you can see below, these are three different themes, each can be customised not only to display content in a different format but also to use different fonts and colours to give your WordPress a unique look.
The Difference Between Free And Premium WordPress Themes
I’ve seen some great websites and blogs built on free WordPress themes however, a word of warning. If you are going to use a free theme then I’d always recommend that you go for a theme from a known publisher. As I’ve already mentioned, WordPress comes bundled with a free theme and I’ve seen great sites that have built using this theme.
The reason for ensuring that you’re using a theme from a well known publisher is to guarantee you continuity as and when WordPress releases an update. You don’t want to be changing your theme every few months because it’s incompatible with the latest release of WordPress!
It’s for this reason that I’d strongly recommend that you consider a premium theme, not just because of continuity but because you’ll perhaps want to have more control over how your website looks. Different themes have different functions and options such as built in portfolios to showcase your work, testimonial gadgets to display your clients comments and they offer various options to easily change fonts and colours. Some themes now even offer a drag and drop facility for WordPress beginners! Click this link and take a look at the video on the front page to see just how easy the drag and drop WordPress themes are. What’s even better is that they also produce a plugin (a plugin is just an add on that you can install with one click) that allows you to use their drag and drop feature with any other WordPress theme! I can’t tell you how exciting that is! Take a look at the Themify Builder Plugin here
Where’s The Best Place To Buy WordPress Themes?
I’ve tried many places over the years but my favourite place to buy is without a doubt ThemeForest. Click the link to visit. I’ve built countless websites using themes from here. You can sort themes by rating, number of sales or how new they are. I’ve used themes from here for some years on websites and blogs for businesses of all sizes.
What Is A Child Theme?
Good question! A child theme is one of those things that you wish you’d heard about before you started to build your WordPress website or blog. Thankfully, most premium themes have one included.
Why do you need a child theme? Well, if you can imagine, a theme is simply a collection of files written in php and css that control the way WordPress displays and functions. One of those files is called style.css and this controls many of the display elements. It controls the font size, the font colour, the background, the gaps between different elements and much more. Imagine then that you’ve customised your website and suddenly you find that your theme has an update available. If you apply the update, then all the changes that you’ve made to your website ( that have automatically been stored in the style.css file) will be overwritten by the update. Disaster!
A child theme contains the customisations that you make that aren’t affected when you update the main theme, The parent theme acts as a base for the child. The parent theme contains the programming that creates the function and features of your site whilst the child theme contains the images and styles that form the base for your site’s layout and design. It sounds complex but it really isn’t. To use a child theme you simply install the main theme, then immediately install the chid theme and activate it. WordPress looks after everything from there on in. Simple!
Don’t be afraid to play around with WordPress, customise your theme, play with the theme options and take a look at how it changes the look of your website. It won’t bite you, you won’t break anything. By playing around with it you’ll get to see how things work. It all sounds very daunting at first but it really isn’t.
So, take a look at the short video below, It explains how to install a WordPress theme. Once you’ve watched it, go and install a theme yourself. Install a free one at first and play around with it. In fact, what the hell! Install a couple, get used to them then once you’ve found your feet, consider buying a premium theme from somewhere like ThemeForest.
Whilst you’re there, take a look at three of my favourite themes, these are themes that I’ve used many times to build websites for businesses of all sizes.
Avada Theme I’ve lost count how many websites I’ve created with this theme
UDesign Theme This used to be my all time favourite because of it’s flexibility
X Theme A stunning, relatively new WordPress theme that is quite possibly the best out there at the moment.