A WordPress theme is simply a set of files that define the layout, structure, appearance and features of your website. When you first install WordPress it comes with a few default themes. The WordPress 2015 theme is the most recent theme package in WordPress Version 4.1. These default themes tend to be quite limited in functionality, but you can begin blogging immediately to get a feel for the theme.
But no doubt you will quickly want to graduate to a more capable theme. There are numerous sources for both free and paid WordPress themes. A starting point for free themes is with WordPress itself. The vast majority of these free themes are produce by independent developers and listed with WordPress.
WordPress does validate that those themes are compatible with WordPress. The code quality of the themes can be quite broad. A poor quality theme may work with WordPress, however they can contains errors which can effect the overall performance of the theme. Some of the themes offered on the site may no longer be supported by the developer or not be compatible with newer versions of WordPress.
Paid themes are the next step up from from free themes. They can still suffer from the same pitfall of free themes. Generally, they tend to be of higher quality and better supported. Some sources for quality paid themes include, Themeforest, Elegant Themes and Mojo Themes.
Premium Framework Themes
Premium frameworks are ‘best in class' WordPress themes. They generally are ‘two-part' themes. The first part is the ‘parent theme' or framework. The second part is referred to as a ‘child theme'. You need both parts for the website to work. Examples of frameworks include Genesis by Studiopress, the Thesis Framework, and the Woo Framework. These premium frameworks offer distinct advantages over standard themes, including: dedicated support, superior coding to maximize performance and speed, built-in functions and scripts to enhance customization, and they may be tuned for exceptional search engine optimization. One of the greatest benefits of a framework/child theme configuration is that your site won't break when the framework is upgraded.
What I Use
I use the Genesis framework for all of my sites. It has a large user base and is well-supported by StudioPress (its parent-company). Most of their child themes are HTML5 / CSS3 compliant, optimized for speed, SEO and are mobile responsive (meaning they work well with mobile phones and tablets)
I can't recommend them highly enough and will expand Genesis' features as this site begins to grow.
Read more articles in the How to Build Your Bulletproof Blog series:
- How to Build Your Blog – Introduction
- How to Select and Buy Your Domain Name
- How to Buy Web Hosting for Your New Blog
- How to Point Your Hover Domain to Your Bluehost Account
- How to Install WordPress
- How to Set Up WordPress User Names
- Configuring WordPress Permalinks
- Configuring WordPress General Settings
- How to Choose a WordPress Theme
- How to Install a WordPress Theme
- How to Install WordPress Plugins
- WordPress Security and Backup
- How to Publish Your First WordPress Post
- How to Create Your First WordPress Page