What is the Best WordPress Theme to use as a Site Designer

As a graphics designer that does a lot of work with WordPress site. I get ask the following question the most.

What theme should I use for my WordPress site?

The answer to this is never simple as it depends on what you are looking for in a theme. With so many WordPress theme choices out there it can be confusing as to which theme you should choose.

In this article I have gone over major points you should consider when choosing a WordPress theme.

As a graphics designer you have even more questions to ask yourself than the average person when looking for a WordPress theme.

Here are just a few:

  • Is the theme design friendly?
  • Does the theme load fast or slow the site down?
  • Does the theme have built in plug-ins or reliant on other plug-ins?
  • Is the theme user friendly so your clients can handle minor changes once the site has been delivered?
  • What is the client looking for?
  • How will this theme grow with the site?
  • Should I use a Free or Paid Theme

These are just a few questions site developers and graphics designs have to ask themselves when choosing a theme for a client or their own site.

I personally like to keep my sites simple using my main header for the graphic splash that makes a site come alive. Another good way to make a simple site theme stand out is to use  typography and modifying the font colors.

Here are a few benefits to taking this approach:

  • My site loads much faster as it is not graphic, javascript, jQuery and CSS heavy.
  • This cuts down on conflicts within the site.

This is the same approach that other major companies take such as Apple and Google. These companies have already put in all the hard work, time and money into researching what works so why not use it.

When it comes to picking a theme for a site it is very important to weigh the pros and cons to make sure the theme will fit your needs and grow over time with the site. Once a site is well established it is very difficult to change the theme. It is a good practice to choose a theme from the start that is proper and able to grow with your WordPress site.

Here are some major points to look for when choosing a WordPress theme.

  1. Make sure the theme is properly coded. This is the first and most important thing to check when looking for a WordPress theme. You can test that the theme validates by using the w3c validator this is a free tool: http://validator.w3.org/.
  2. Another very important thing to remember when choosing a theme is you will have to turn the site over to your clients when it is finished. You want a theme that they can handle based on their user level.
  3. Check that the theme can then be modified easily. Themes that you can modify major graphical aspects from the Admin panel are the best. (Example: Thesis Theme is good for this).
  4. Make sure the theme is not reliant on other plug-ins. When themes rely on plug-ins this can get messy when WordPress updates and the plug-ins developer does not. For more information see this excellent article from Tips and Tricks HQ.
  5. Make sure the theme fits your scope of work. A theme defines a site, you want to make sure the theme you pick defines the site according to its theme and content.

Paid Themes vs. Free Themes

As a designer working on a client’s site you also have to think about cost. This leads to the next questions.

Should I use a free or paid premium theme?

My answer to this is if you have the budget for this then always go with a paid WordPress themes.

Paid themes usually have the following:

  • properly coded
  • support options
  • updates

My suggestion for the best paid WordPress theme for designers is Thesis Theme. Thesis theme has many flexible design options right in the admin menu. Any modifications you can not do from the WordPress admin menu you can do by using CSS.

If your client is on a tight budget and you have to use a free theme make sure you find one that fully answers the questions in this article.

Do you have a favorite theme you like to use? If so feel free to leave a comment below with your suggestions.

About the Author: Korin Amin is one of the co-creator of Creative Design Studios and Graphics Designer. If you would like to know more about Korin you can visit our About page here.

3 thoughts on “What is the Best WordPress Theme to use as a Site Designer

  1. Another great article from your guys. I have to agree I love the Thesis theme and usually suggest this WordPress theme to my clients. I also follow the good practice of trying to pick a good theme from the start as you mentioned it is very hard to change the theme once a site is established.

    Design GIrl

    • @Anders, I love the 2010 and 2011 but they do limit what you can change design wise (without code modification). The thing with Thesis is you are almost limitless and you have the ability to apply a skin. But I would say for a starter site 2010 or 2011 is the way to go. Then upgrade to something like Thesis when you need to. =)

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