How I Chose My Theme: Bloggers Chime In
With 219 themes (and counting) to choose from, you are sure to find the right one for your site, whether you’re looking for a magazine layout, a photography portfolio, or a tumblelog theme. With so much variety, though, bloggers both new and seasoned sometimes find it tough to settle on one. Here to help you ask the right questions are bloggers just like you, walking us through their own decision-making process.
Getting sleek with Twenty Fourteen
It’s been a few short weeks since Twenty Fourteen, next year’s default theme on WordPress.com, made its first appearance. It’s already generating a buzz, with thousands of sites switching to its versatile, professional-looking design.
“I really feel that it has given a personality to my blog,” says Christine Spiteri of her eponymous site. “The majority of my blog posts are features, and I wanted my blog to look like a magazine.” Over at In a Lonely Place, Joanna, the film-buff blogger in charge, echoes similar thoughts: “Because I write about cinema and include a lot of photos, I want a theme that doesn’t get in the way of the power of these images. This theme looks and feels cinematic, so it really matches the content I’m putting into it.”
For Kerry Murphy, who runs the NASCAR news blog The Final Lap, the timing was right: “This is the type of theme I’ve been waiting for. It’s very clean and simple, but makes an impact. It looks professional, and displays all my info in an efficient manner.” AB, the photography-loving blogger running Perspectives on life, the universe, and everything, had a somewhat different calculation in mind. “I wanted a theme that worked well with my blog, which is comprised of photos from all over the world. This one really complements what I am trying to publish, and it allows readers both on PC and mobile devices to see my site how I want them to see it,” he says, referring to Twenty Fourteen‘s responsive design.
You should always look for a theme that strikes a balance between looking good and being functional.
— Joanna, In a Lonely Place
Other notable features of this theme? The ability “to highlight my favorite articles on the home page in either a grid or sidebar layout,” reports Christine, while Joanna adds, “I liked the option to feature older posts running across the top of the page,” in the theme’s featured content area. She concludes with this helpful tip: “You should always look for a theme that strikes a balance between looking good and being functional.”
Choosing Zoren, a clean, streamlined theme
Barbara, who runs knitting-focused blog Tumped Duck, switched to Zoren several months ago. “What I was looking for is a format that is all but invisible and unobtrusive — something that was clean, balanced, and presented a blank slate for my content. Zoren fit the bill.”
While she describes herself as “a theme designer’s worst nightmare,” Barbara approached the theme selection process with care. “Mobile devices have become the primary access to the internet for so many people that even I realized my blog needed to look good across platforms. Once I had narrowed the field to responsive designs, the deciding factor was visual appeal.”
Barbara then looked for specific features that were important for her knitting posts, which often feature images: “I like a single column with a right-hand sidebar, and neutral colors that allow my photographs to shine. I needed to be able to put in a custom header, and wanted the “pages” tabs to feature prominently. I don’t need any wacky widgets, but room for the basics was necessary. Zoren appealed to me visually and filled all of my needs.”
Look at blogs you like and figure out what makes you like them. Then decide what is most important about your blog and find a theme that allows the important stuff to shine.
— Barbara, Tumped Duck
As for advice for bloggers on the hunt for the perfect theme, here’s Barbara’s take: “Look at blogs you like and figure out what makes you like them. Then decide what is most important about your blog and find a theme that allows the important stuff to shine.”
Focus on the content with Writr
A recent arrival on the scene, Writr, a tumblelog theme at once subdued and sophisticated, is perfect for those who like to put their content in the limelight.
“Writr is content-focused, just like me, as I fancy myself a writer. But when I am not feeling particularly inspired word-wise, I post photos of my cats or links to They Might Be Giants’ videos, and Writr makes them look snazzy without any fiddling on my part,” confesses Halsted, of cygnoir.net. She’d just switched to this theme last week.
For Amy, the blogger behind Lovely Does It, it was all about flexibility and versatility. “I was looking for a theme with a good layout and that looked clean and professional, but also one that I could play around with and customize.” She particularly appreciated Writr‘s many out-of-the-box, free customizations, like multiple color schemes and a custom header image.
Amy’s philosophy is that choosing a theme is all about balance: “Pick something that suits the style of your blog, as well as your personal style. Know what is important to you in a theme and stick to it.” Ultimately, though, some trial-and-error never hurts (especially since you can preview all and any themes for free). “There are lots of great themes out there, so just play around a bit and you will find one that works for you!”
How did you choose your theme? Was it love at first sight, or a long process of elimination? Share your experience with us!