Best WordPress Themes or Templates

Although my talent lies in custom web design, a custom web design is not the appropriate solution for everyone.  There are many factors that go into determining what is an optimal path for a client to take when choosing how to fulfill the need for a new website or a website upgrade.  Sometimes, generally due to budget realities or an urgent timeframe, using a pre-built template can be the right solution.

Think of it like buying a suite (or dress) off the shelf rather than having one custom tailored.  If you can find one that fits as is, great.  Or maybe you find one that is a close fit, so you have it customized to fit your needs.  In that case, what you get for what you paid is a good deal.

The flip side is that there is a limit to how much something can be altered.  If you try to change something too much, or in the wrong way, you end up with a mess and would have been better off starting from scratch – both financially and with regard to fulfilling your needs.

What Steps Should I Take if Considering Using a Template?

Before you start looking at templates, you first want to decide what you are looking for, with regard to aesthetics, functionally and layout.  Without knowing this up-front, you will get lost in the sea of templates.  This is because even with a template, you still need to decide how to best present your business to achieve your goals effectively using a template.

In order to arrive at some idea of what aesthetics, functionally and layout you need, you need to first start with the basics.

  • What is the purpose of your website?
  • What are you intending to accomplish?
  • Who are you targeting your website for?
  • What differentiates or defines you or your business in a unique and valuable way?
  • If you are targeting your website for different groups (ie. existing customers/clients, new customers/clients, high-end clients, low budget clients, young, old, male, female, athletic, spiritual, etc.), where are your priorities given the limited space on your home page?
  • What content do you need for my website; what content do you have for your website now; and where, how and when will you realistically obtain what you do not have?
  • Do you plan to engage with users via a blog, forms, newsletter signups, etc.?

And so on…until you get to a point where you can sketch out on paper what your home page will look  like with regard to layout, what functionality you need, and what characteristics define the aesthetics you are after.

Need Help?

Even if you can’t afford to have a website custom designed and developed for you, (which would include all of this), what you could do is consult with a web designer or web professional to guide and help you through the process of mapping out what you need, selecting an optimal template, customizing the template in any way needed, (if needed), and then adding your content to the site, (as much as you wanted or needed).  Find a web professional you like, whose work speaks well for what they can do, and who has a personality that you feel you can work with.  This stuff should come naturally for them and this is money well spent.

That said, lets take a look at some template.  Even though you will likely want to go through the process above before selecting a template, I suspect you might like to just look around for a bit and see what is out there – to get an idea if there are any, or many, that you even like and think could work.

The Templates

For this post, I am going to stick to WordPress template.  WordPress is the worlds most popular website content management system (CMS).  There are many CMS systems out there, but that is another article.  You can consult with a professional on the right system for your needs, and then use this list if WordPress is recommended as a good option.

These are just some of the resources out there, not all – just some that I know of and have bookmarked, used, reviewed, etc.  If you are a developer and wish to add your templates to the mix, feel free to comment to this post and share about them that way.  If I like them, in time, I will add them here.

And if you use a template from one of the developers listed below, please share your experience and put a link to your site in the comments below for all to benefit from.

DISCLAIMER:  I have not tested out themes on all of these resources.  I have only gathered them as a list for anyone searching.  You need to do your own research and decide for yourself if they are well built and well supported.  Test out the demos.  Contact Support.  Review their forums and see how well they support their customers.  Look for reviews and feeback online.  And if anyone has had experience with any of these themes, again, please feel free to share your comments below.

Free WordPress Themes / Templates

Premium WordPress Themes / Templates

Generally better quality, more feature rich and better supported.  Cost range mostly from $20 to $80.  A good bargain for the price.

Note: Some themes are a one time price and have a recurring fee for continued updates and support.  Although the later may sound more expensive, it is a good business model for a business, helping to ensure that their themes have the ongoing funds to continue support and updates over the years.

  • WooThemes • {They have been at it longer than any other WordPress theme developer I know.  I would expect a professional and polished experience all around from them.}
  • ThemeTrust • {Clean, professional, modern, unique. Many are *responsive.}
  • Themeforest WordPress Template • {Great resource for premium themes by multiple developers.}
  • The Theme Foundary • {Their designs are more subtle than many others.  Simple, creative, elegant, and less robust – all in a good way.  I use one of their themes for this blog. (No time for my own website, ugh.)  Good customer support.}
  • Theme Fuse • {Creative and attractive. They have many niche themes, ie. weddings, artists, coffee houses, realtors, etc.}
  • Designer Themes • {Super nice looking themes.  The thumbnail from this post is from one of their themes. Once you click on the link above, hover over any yellow square icon to see a preview screenshot of that theme.}
  • Mojo WordPress Theme Marketplace • {Another marketplace with themes by different developers.  Nice designs.  Take a little time researching developer to assess long term support.}
  • MySiteMyWay • {Simple, clean, elegant themes.  I have used them and they are built well with nice features and good support.  Their website shows the many feature options well. And now their themes are all *responsive.}
  • ThemeZilla • {Creative. Clean and well designed by a professional designer.}
  • UpThemes • {A few nice looking, clean and professional themes.  Support 1-2 business days.}
  • Graph Paper Press • {Primarily targeted to “photographers, artists, bloggers and other creatives” as they say on their website.  Like many of the others you have seen above but there may be one that is just right for you.}
  • Elegant Themes • {Nice looking themes.}
  • StudioPress • {Been around for a while.  Built off the Genesis theme framework if you know what that is.  Nice looking themes.}
  • iThemes • {I did not used to like their theme designs, but in Sept 2013 I found myself on their site and saw some nice new themes.}

Premium Ecommerce WordPress Themes / Templates

  • WooCommerce • {E-commerce themes by WooThemes that work with the WooThemes e-commerce plugin.}

*Responsive refers to themes that were built to “respond” to the device viewing them, so they can tend to be more mobile friendly.  Learn More about Responsive Web Design & Development.

 Let me know if this was helpful if you have any comments.  What are your favorite themes?

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