I have been using Blogger since 2007 when I started blogging. I switched High Country Mom Squad over to WordPress in 2009 (well, actually my long time friend Ben Cotten did it for me! he ROCKS), and thus began my love affair with WordPress.
I never really had a huge gripe with Blogger. It worked, it was easy to customize, it was free. But as I progressed in blogging, I really wanted some advanced functionality. Moving from hobbyist to professional, blogger was beginning to show itself lacking the features I wanted. The plug-ins and intuition of WordPress make it the best pro-blogging platform, in my opinion.
I recently switched Real Life over to WordPress, and I did it all by myself! (Well, mostly. I had to get some help from one of my workshop partners from Talk of the Town Social Media Workshop, Boomer Sassman.) And I still have a little batch of code above the header that I can’t get rid of)
Lots of people switch over to wordpress, and their first question is a HUGE one: How do I choose a theme from the THOUSANDS available? Is a free theme just as good as a paid theme?
Well, I am NO WordPress expert, but I’ll share just a few of the things this beginner has learned when picking a theme.
Looks Matter, but functionality is SO much more important! You (or a WordPress Designer) can always change the basic look of a theme. But the way it works is more important.
- Does the theme make it easy to add plug-ins?
- Does it have built- in SEO?
- Can it function as a “Magazine” style, or as a chronological listing?
- If you have several authors, does it support separate Author Pages?
- Does it have a “Featured Story” section, or can you add one?
- Some themes have built in Ad blocks where you can insert an ad banner or code?
How did I choose my themes?
My three main sites needed different functionality, so I chose three different themes. The most important thing is that they are all created by a well-known and great designer, so I knew they would be good.
SarahPinnix.net is sort of my “landing page” or “Online Resume.” This is the page linked to my Twitter Account. I wanted a central location for people to find everything that I do. So I just need to feed other areas of my online life into the site. I chose Social Eyes Theme, by Mod Themes. I didn’t customize it much, because I already loved the colors and layout. It was a little tricky to add everything I needed, and I still need to import my Real Life/HC MomSquad feed into the blog portion, and You Tube Feed into the Videos Portion. However, I found good help in the support forms and tutorials.
I also made Business cards based on the design of this theme!
RealLifeBlog.net is on the Lifestyle Theme, by Studio Press, designed by Brian Gardner. Brian is a very well-regarded wordpress designer, and the support forum is top notch. (Although some of their help people get really snarky with newbies. They’ve never done it to me, but I don’t like that). The colors are easy to customize, but you have to know CSS. I always get really nervous in the Theme Editor Section. The support forum do have extensive tutorials regarding customization. I needed the magazine/ category functionality, and the split sidebar. I absolutely love it.
High Country Mom Squad is built upon the Proximity News Theme, by Nathan Rice. I LOVE the clean look of the page, and the intuitive functionality of moving the posts down the page according to category. It also allows lots of articles to be on the page at once, while still looking relatively simple. Proximity Theme also has great author pages, as the Mom Squad has multiple authors.
Is a FREE theme just as good as PAID theme?
In my opinion, I will always recommend paying for a good theme. I am as big a cheapskate as anyone, but when it comes to your WordPress Theme, you DON”T want to skimp. I have used a few free themes, but always found them lacking. I’ve ended up frustrated, and bought a theme anyway!
I’d love to hear from YOU! What theme did you choose, and why?
FEEL FREE TO PUT YOUR AFFILIATE LINKS IN YOUR COMMENT! (only links for WordPress themes please) And if you are not an affiliate for your WordPress Theme, you need to become one!
And by the way, here are some more things I recommend, from Web Hosting to Fitness
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