How to Find a WordPress Theme
When it’s time to search for a theme for your WordPress site, you may approach the research with a great sense of “wonder” and “mystery.” Who knows what the thousands of amazingly talented WordPress developers have created for you to discover?
Or you may approach the research with a great deal of “dread” and “despair.” What happens if you don’t find that “perfect theme” for your WordPress site?
If you’re familiar with the world of WordPress, you may have a mixed reaction, a bit of dread mixed with a sense of wonder.
Many WordPress site owners make the common mistake of endlessly searching for themes, focusing on site design (“how it looks”) rather than functionality (“how it works”).
If you are new to WordPress themes and frameworks, you may find this introduction article helpful.
Finding a suitable theme is very important. It represents the foundation for your website. So let’s get started on the searching process.
Where To Search – WordPress.org
The first place to search for a WordPress theme is wordpress.org/themes, where you’ll find over 2,000 free themes to choose from!
For a theme developer to showcase their product on one of the top websites in the world (30+ million monthly visitors, top 100 on Alexa) is quite an achievement.
WordPress.org have strict coding standards for theme developers. Submitted themes are reviewed against a set of criteria. You can be assured that themes offered via wordpress.org are free from any hidden malicious code. However, there are no guarantees the themes are free from “bugs” or issues.
If you’re looking for a theme to purchase (known as a premium theme), you can use wordpress.org to find a free theme you like and then check the developer website to see if they also offer premium themes.
Where To Search – Google/Yahoo!/Bing
You could use one of the major search engines to find a theme, but you’re more likely to find a website owned by an affiliate marketer who has picked a number of popular themes to promote, both free and premium.
Searching for a WordPress theme is very popular, as you can see from these results (over 95 million in Google, and 23 million in Yahoo!)
If you find a free theme using this method, be sure to check if it’s also promoted on wordpress.org. If it isn’t, the best advice here is to leave it alone. If it’s not good enough to pass WordPress.org scrutiny, then it’s not worth the risk of building your web business on a shaky foundation.
Using WordPress.org – What To Search For
Searching for themes on wordpress.org is easy. Simply choose the “Themes” option in the navigation menu (see below)
You can then choose to search for themes using keywords in the search box or use the advanced filters and tags.
If you chose to use keywords, the trick here is to keep the phrases simple. WordPress.org is not a sophisticated search engine! If you use multiple keywords, separate them with commas (see below).
To use the advanced filter/tag interface, click the link indicated on the Themes Directory page. Then choose the filters and select the match criteria (Match ALL of the checkboxes, Match ANY of the checkboxes).
Hint: you can also achieve the same search results if you look for themes from within your WordPress Dashboard (under Appearance > Themes).
Using Major Search Engines – What To Search For
If you can’t find what you’re looking for on wordpress.org, by all means give the search engines a try. You’ll find plenty of results to review. The challenge will be to sift through the results and find the true gems without losing your focus and wasting valuable time.
Using a generic search term such as “free wordpress theme” will not help you narrow down your search. There are simply too many search results for this broad term. It’s better to add qualifying terms that relate to the key features you’re looking for, such as “responsive” or “magazine layout” or “photography.” You can make a list of these key features as you think about the purpose of your website and the design elements you’re looking for. Or you can think about a theme that mirrors a well known style (ex., Facebook, Pinterest).
|Design Element||Website Purpose||Features|
|Grid Layout||Portfolio||“portfolio,” “grid”|
|Magazine Layout||News||“magazine,” “news”|
|Responsive||Mobile Audience||“responsive,” “mobile”|
|Similar to Facebook||Social Community||“facebook,” “community”|
|Similar to Pinterest||Photography||“pinterest,” “photography”|
One other way to approach your search activity is to find a theme related to your niche. For example, “free wordpress theme recipes” for a site focused on vegetarian recipes or “free wordpress theme travel” for a site focused on a travel destination. If your site’s purpose is directed to affiliate marketing or building a community, you can search for themes for “membership site” or “affiliate marketing.”
Use Your Competition To Find the Best Theme
If you know a successful competitor website is using WordPress and you really like the look and feel and functionality of their site, imagine if you could “mirror” what they’ve used.
Note: this is not advice telling you to copy their content!
Visit http://whatwpthemeisthat.com and enter the domain name of your competitor’s site. This online tool will inspect the website and report back on the theme and plugins used.
Regardless of how you narrow down your search for a WordPress theme, you should always evaluate the WordPress theme you find based on your own requirements. Stay tuned for our next article where you’ll learn how to evaluate your chosen WordPress theme for relevance, stability and reputation.
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