How To Choose A WordPress Theme

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Starting a blog is so much fun, but choosing the perfect theme for your WordPress blog can be a hard choice!

I started blogging back in 2002 before WordPress even existed!

I’ve used many websites and blogging platforms and I’ll tell you the hardest part has always been deciding on how you want your site to look.

Do you feel the same way?

The good news is changing how your blog looks is so much easier today than it was way back then.

How to choose a WordPress theme for your blog or website. Everything you need to know before you decide what theme to use on your blog. Tips for picking out free and paid WordPress themes, uploading and installing themes, for beginners.

There are thousands of themes available for WordPress and even drag and drop page builders.

In this guide we are going to talk about what WordPress terms you need to know that will help you pick your theme, how to decide between free or paid WordPress themes, what you should think about when picking a theme, how to install a WordPress theme and the 10 things you need to know when trying to decide what you blog needs now and further down the road.

WordPress Terms That Are Helpful To Know

  • WordPress – A powerful blogging platform. There are two versions of WordPress that you can use. is hosted by the WordPress company themselves and it lets you start a blog for free. It has limited functionality though even if you pay for more features. is the version of WordPress you install on your own host and gives you full control over your blog.
  • Theme – A theme is something you install on your WordPress blog to change how your blog looks and acts. It controls the colors, fonts, and layout of your blog.
  • Theme framework – This is like the foundation that themes are built on top of. A theme framework controls the change the way WordPress works and give you new options and features for layouts, or SEO. Themes that use a framework will require the framework to be installed before their theme will work. A popular example of this is the Genesis framework by Studiopress.
  • Parent theme – This is the theme that you choose to use whether it’s a free theme or a paid theme. Any theme can be considered a parent theme if you create a child theme based on it.
  • Child theme – These are sub-themes that you can create based on the parent theme (original theme). It will inherit the styling and function of the parent theme but lets you make changes to the child theme that won’t be deleted when you update the parent theme. It’s very helpful but not always necessary when you are first starting to blog.
  • Stylesheet – The stylesheet is a file that contains your theme’s CSS (cascading style sheet) code that controls how your blog looks including the fonts, colors, spacing etc. Making changes to your CSS will change how your blog looks.
  • Widgets -Widgets are features that you can drag and drop into widget ready areas of your WordPress blog. Depending on what theme you use it could have widget ready areas in your sidebar, header, and footer. Some themes have special widgets built in and you can add more with plugins.
  • Plugin – A WordPress Plugin is like a little app that you install into your WordPress site that adds new features to your blog. This can be anything from social share icons to SEO markup. Here are some of my favourite WordPress plugins for new bloggers.

Free Or Paid WordPress Theme

One of the great things about using WordPress to start a blog with is that there are thousands of free themes available you can choose from.

But even better there are also so many paid themes sold by web designers that are top quality, affordable and have great support.

With so many great free and paid themes available you might be wondering “Should I use a free or paid theme for my blog?

That’s a great question!

I used free themes for years on my WordPress blogs and some of them were really good! But back then it seemed like there were a lot less paid WordPress themes around and the free themes had a lot of features.

You can still get some great free themes but I’ve found that paid themes offer a lot more features, are updated more often and have real support for when you have a theme problem.

Here is a comparison to help you see the difference between free and paid themes:

Free WordPress Themes

  • Free to install and use.
  • Easy to install from the WordPress theme dashboard.
  • Can also be downloaded from WordPress or designers sites.
  • Updates are often slower than paid themes.
  • Less customizability options, many free themes won’t let you change the layout, colors, or fonts easily without diving into CSS code.
  • The code quality may not be as good as premium themes.
  • The designer may not provide support for free themes, leaving you with only the WordPress community forum for support or hiring help.
  • Could contain malicious code if downloaded from a site other than WordPress.
  • The theme could be used by many other blogs.

Paid WordPress Themes

  • Costs range from $10 to $100+
  • Easy to download the theme zip file from the designer and upload to the WordPress dashboard.
  • The theme is purchased from the designer or online stores like StudioPress, Creative Market, or ThemeForest.
  • Premium theme are often updated more often for security and new features.
  • Paid themes normally have a lot of customization options and make it easy to change the layout and look of your blog.
  • Support is available from the designer.
  • The code is normally a higher quality and causes less bugs.
  • Much less likely to contain malicious code.
  • Less blogs using the same paid theme.

There is nothing wrong starting with a good free WordPress theme for your blog.

If you are looking for a simple blog layout you may find this works just fine for you for years! But if you want more control over your blog look into buying a premium theme because they will often give you more value and make designing your blog easier.

How To Choose A WordPress Theme

Before you start buying themes for your blog take some time to really think about what you need and what you want your blog to be.

1. What Is Your Blog Goal?

The first thing you should think about is exactly what you would like your blog to be. This will be really important as you are choosing your theme.

For example, if you want your homepage to be a full-width landing page with different sections that focus on the services you offer, with a great free lead magnet offer the theme you need is very different then a theme that only displays simple blog posts and can’t go full width without a sidebar.

Some Important Things To Think About:

  • What type of blog are you starting? Is it going to be photo heavy, mostly text-based, or are you including podcasts and videos?
  • What’s your goal? Are you starting a charity blog, a news site, or focusing heavily on affiliate sales?
  • What niche are you starting? While you don’t have to fit inside the box and do what everyone else does, there are many themes that have been created to fit the needs of specific niche sites. An example is the Foodie Pro WordPress theme. It’s a classic, simple but beautiful WordPress theme created for food blogs.

Spending some time looking at blogs you love can really help too! You could create an inspirational board on Pinterest to save theme, design and color ideas to as well.

2. What Functions Does Your Blog Theme Need?

The next thing you really want to look at is deciding what features your theme needs to have.

The truth is you probably will never find a blog theme that has all of the features you would like to see but it’s really helpful if you can get as close as possible.

For example, when I’m looking for a new WordPress theme one feature it must have is the ability to have some pages go full width, and turn off the sidebar, headers, and footers.

Why? Because I like to make my own landing pages for newsletter opt-ins and sales pages in WordPress.

I often will use Thrive Architect my favourite page builder for this but often now I will simply use the native Gutenberg block editor to make easy pages.

For that to work well I need the ability to set a page to full width.

3. What Do You Want Your Blog To Look like?

Your theme will provide the base of your styling and layout so it’s important to get as close as you can to the design you like in a WordPress blog.

But there are many ways today that you can make layout changes without changing your theme too.

Often I will love a WordPress theme for its post layout and header area but I might not love the options for the homepage layout.

This is where I love using a simple drag and drop editor like Thrive Architect to change how my blog looks.

What this means is you can install a WordPress theme that you like the basic look of but then us an editor like this to create the page or post layout that you really want by simply dragging sections of your page around.

This is a very easy way to get a custom blog look without hiring a designer.

4. Mobile Responsive Is A Must

Can you even believe that just a few years ago having a mobile responsive site was “new”? Many themes didn’t offer this and you had to change themes or use plugins to add this function to your blog.

Today there is no question about it your blog theme must be mobile responsive so that it adjusts in size depending on the screen size your reader is viewing your blog on.

Depending on your blog’s topic 50% or more of your readers are probably using mobile and this number will continue to rise.

Google rolled out a mobile-first update and now prioritizes mobile-friendly websites in search results.

The easiest way to see if a theme is responsive is to simply resize your browser screen when looking at the theme demo page. If it’s responsive you’ll see the layout move around and adjust to the screen size.

You can also copy and paste the URL of the theme’s demo page and test it in Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test page.

5. How Fast Is The Theme?

You will want to make sure that the theme loads fast too. Just like having a responsive site is important it’s just as important to have a fast one!

Some themes like Astra are coded in a way that lets them load quickly with a minimal amount of requests. Others can have a lot of requests and be slow to load because they use a lot of images and scripts.

Try running the demo sites through a site like GT Metrix to see how it scores for requests etc.

If you are finding a lot of problems it may be better to look at another theme.

6. Is It Compatible With Plugins You Need?

WordPress provides a powerful framework for building your blog on, but the real power comes from WordPress plugins. It’s the functions added by plugins that make it possible to do anything you want with your site.

There are many must have plugins, ones like Yoast, ShortPixel, and Ninja Forms that I use on all WordPress sites. You’ll want to make sure whatever theme you use is compatible with the plugins you need.

7. Does It Have Good Reviews And Ratings?

It’s always a good idea to look for reviews of any product before you buy it and that includes blog themes. Maybe more so with blog themes because installing an out of date plugin can cause so many issues and could have security problems.

If you see a theme in the WordPress theme database and it hasn’t been updated for over 6 months and isn’t up to date with the latest WordPress version, I would probably pass on that theme.

Read the reviews for the free themes there and check the support requests tab too! If you are seeing a lot of bug reports that aren’t being fixed or replied to look for a better-supported theme.

8. Does The Theme Have Good Support?

One of the big downsides to using a free WordPress theme is you aren’t guaranteed support. Often this isn’t a big deal until you have a problem.

If you are using a free theme and have a problem with it the developer may not provide support. This means you either have to fix it yourself or hire a developer to solve the problem.

With paid themes, you will normally get 1 year of support with your theme and have the option to pay a reduced rate for support after that if you need it. While other themes are a one-time price with free support as long as the designer is in business.

9. Does The Theme Have Good SEO

SEO is so important in growing your blog and your WordPress theme is a big part of that. You can have a great looking theme that generates badly coded HTML that can affect how you rank in search engine results. For example, some themes don’t use proper header structures.

This is why so many designers will market their themes as SEO optimized.

10. What’s Your Budget?

You need to decide how much you can spend on a blog theme.

If you want to get a theme framework that will let you use multiple themes like the Genesis framework you are looking at a $59 one time fee. Then you still need to buy a theme to run on top of that and they tend to run $50 to $75 on average.

That’s not a bad deal but when you are first starting a blog it could be too much and that’s ok.

Although if you can swing it starting off with a great theme will save you a lot of time in the long term because you won’t have to change themes often.

Another option is to buy a theme that doesn’t use a standalone framework, is powerful and easy to use.

My favourite WordPress theme Astra, it’s a powerful theme that is also easy to use, affordably priced for the pro version and has a free version too!

I’m using the Astra Pro theme on most of my blogs and love how easy it is to change any setting I could ever want. Fonts, colors, buttons, the archive layout, blog page layout, and yes even the spacing if items too.

If you have to start with a free theme I would recommend using one that also offers a pro version with great reviews like Astra and then upgrade to the Pro version when you need more options.

How To Install A WordPress Theme

Installing a new WordPress theme is really easy! But the steps you follow will be a little different if you are installing a theme from the WordPress theme area in your dashboard or uploading a theme you bought.

How To Install A Free Theme In WordPress

Installing A Free WordPress Theme

In your WordPress dashboard click on the Appearance menu in the left sidebar. Then select themes and add new.

Searching for a free blog theme in WordPress

Here you can simply type the name of a theme or layout type into the search bar and see what comes up.

Installing and previewing a WordPress theme.

You can click on the theme preview to see what it would look like in full screen before installing it.

When you have found a theme you like click on the install button. Then when you are ready to use that theme click on activate and it will become your live theme. New themes are not activated by default so it’s ok to install a theme and then activate it when you have time to customize how it looks.

Don’t miss my beginner’s guide to installing WordPress themes for more information including uploading custom and paid themes.

WordPress Theme Suggestions

Twenty Nineteen

How to pick a theme for your WordPress blog.

If you need a free theme that is rock solid and just works the default Twenty Nineteen WordPress theme is a great choice. Made by WordPress it’s lightweight and easy to customize. The Twenty Sixteen is another simple but easy to use theme you can try.


Refined Theme

Refined is a beautiful WordPress theme based on the Genesis framework. It’s easy to install and use and has lots of widget spaces so you can make your site look exactly how you’d like quickly. Out of the box, it’s a feminine looking theme but you can easily turn off the background texture and change the colors if you want a site with more white space.


How to pick a WordPress theme for your blog, free and paid themes.

Juliet is a beautiful and feminine theme for WordPress. It’s perfect for lifestyle blogs, fashion blogs, and even personal blogs. I love that this one has two skins included so you can have a feminine look or a more minimalist look all with the same theme. It’s integrated with WooCommerce and has lots of options. It comes in both a free version and paid.


Best free and paid WordPress themes and how to pick one.

Astra is my current favourite WordPress theme because it’s fast, lightweight, easy to use. It was also made to work with page builders so if you are a fan of drag and drop page building you will love this theme!

They offer a free version that makes a great starter but if you want different header layouts, and full customizability you’ll want to grab the pro version of Astra.

A bonus is that they have many pre-made themes built with Eliminator or Beaver Builder that you can import to a new site and then just start customizing your layout if you like.


GeneratePress WordPress theme is a great free theme to try. Learn how to choose the best theme for your WordPress site.

This is another easy to use theme that comes in both a free and paid version. It’s a rock solid theme that’s been around for a long time, very lightweight and a great choice for your blog theme.

How Did You Pick Your WordPress Blog Theme?

Do you have a WordPress theme that you love? How did you decide on what theme to use? Share your tips in the comments to help others find their perfect blog theme.

1 thought on “How To Choose A WordPress Theme”

  1. It was such a great article which was on the right wordpress theme. Here are some steps and considerations to help you make an informed choice:
    1.Define Your Website’s Purpose and Requirements
    2.Consider Design and Visual Appeal
    3.Assess Responsiveness and Mobile-Friendliness
    4.Evaluate Customization Options
    5.Review User Reviews and Ratings
    6.Check Compatibility and Support
    These are some points which I want to include in your article. Readers, If you want to develop your wordpress website or redevelop your website, you can visit an IT company like Alakmalak technologies. They will never let you down.

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