If you’ve ever set up a WordPress blog site then you’ll know that the default themes (in 2014 at least) are not too bad. Unfortunately many people never get beyond those themes, not even changing the headline picture and certainly never investigating the many thousands of other themes there are out there.
The first thing to consider is the layout. 2 column, 3 column or 4? Widgets or not (what are widgets anyway?) Loads of colours or just a few? Think about the image you are trying to portray. An artist or photographer – someone who works with colours will possibly want a really colourful theme or just a plain one so that nothing is distracting from their work. A business might already have selected company colours and just want their website to reflect those – this is when you’ll need a theme which allows you to select exact hues and shades rather than just red, green or blue variations on a basic idea.
Of course, for the dedicated CSS & PHP programmer, changing any colour might just be a matter of rooting around in the .css files, or it may be a matter of paying someone to do it for you, but many of the premium WordPress themes available allow you to do this from a control panel making it easier for anyone to select background and font colours to something of their own choosing.
Another advantage of a premium theme is that fewer people will be using it. As a rule, marketers, especially at the novice stage, are reluctant to spend too much money on something that they think no one will pay attention to, but people do notice these things and ‘me too’ themes will get spotted and commented upon. It is worth spending a few dollars more to get something that is unique and can be tailored to what you want. If you’re not sure to begin with, see if a premium theme that you like has a free version (limited selections or layouts, sellers banners or links) that you can at least try with your ideas, before you splash out for the full version (which is what I’m doing on this site).
Your blog is your showcase, so make the theme something that people notice – for the right reasons.
PS: A widget is a piece of code that allows extra things to happen, usually in the right side column. So the sign-up, categories, recent posts and my request for you to join in, are all widgets of different types. Some are built into WordPress and some are extras through plug ins or part of the theme. More on plugins in another article.