If there is one thing that never gets easier when it comes to starting your own website is trying to decide what you want your site to look like. When you start a website or blog (especially in 2017) the look of your site will be one of the most important things for your success.
So since we’ve created lots and lots of websites we’ve narrowed down some of our favorite places to look for themes (also called templates sometimes) for our own sites, and we think you’ll love them too because of the clean designs they offer, ease of use, functionality, and also the terrific support that they come with.
Picking a Great Theme for Your Blog
Before we highlight these themes though, we thought we’d take just a minute here to expand on those four things that I just mentioned: design, ease of use, functionality, and support. These four things are key to any template that you choose for your blog. Take it from us when we say that if you don’t go out exploring for themes that get high marks in all of those categories then you are wasting your money. We can’t tell you the number of themes that we’ve purchased (and the money that we’ve spent) on themes that got high marks in one or two of those categories but not in all four, and we want you to avoid our mistakes. So, look for high marks in these four things before you ever open up your wallet:
We thought we’d start here because, let’s be honest, it’s the easy one. Most of you are probably aware that if your website looks terrible then it doesn’t really matter how good your content is because people just tend to steer clear of poorly designed websites whenever possible. So, it’s imperative that you find a theme that is clean in its design.
What do I mean by clean?
Well, generally speaking we believe you should use a theme that keeps as much attention on your content as possible. So that means steer clear of the magazine themes that throw a million things on every single page, or themes that have two, three, or even four sidebars. Can these things be utilized in certain circumstances? Definitely! But generally speaking bloggers, especially ones who are just starting out, need to focus their attention on simplicity. So we recommend you look for a clean, crisp WordPress theme that you are drawn to. If you are visually drawn to it, chances are the people you are producing content for will be as well.
Ease of Use
Second, ease of use. This one is probably slightly more nebulous, but it’s important. Some themes pass the visual test on the visitor side, but when it comes to the admin side they’re a nightmare. And so, look for examples of how the options that the theme has are edited. Is there an “options” panel included? Is Visual Composer included? Is this a theme that uses live customization through WordPress? These are answers that you should look for.
Unfortunately what happens with a lot of themes on the internet today is that they look visually stunning, but the average user cannot actually implement and recreate what is seen on a purchase screen and so most of the features go unused or the theme just never looks complete. Two things happen at this point. Either the user becomes frustrated and buys a new theme or they get frustrated and hire someone to set the site up for them (translation = you end up spending more money than you want to spend). So, take the time to research the usability of a particular theme.
This brings us to functionality. How functional is the theme that you are looking at? Some questions to consider when you think about functionality include:
- Is this theme up to date?
- Does it use plugins that are updated by their authors?
- What type of features does the theme include?
- Is WooCommerce supported?
When you think about your website’s theme you want to make sure that you are choosing a theme that is being actively updated and has features that are up to date for the current version of WordPress. A theme that hasn’t been updated in months or years is not a theme you want for your website.
Finally, does the theme that you are considering offer a dedicated support system for questions or bugs in the theme? If not, can we gently say… STAY AWAY!
The last thing that you want when spending $20-300 on a WordPress theme is lack of support. Things will come up that you need help with and so it’s important to have a theme that will offer you the support that you need in a quick and efficient manner. All the themes we are about to suggest mainly made our list because of the support system that is offered. In our opinion this is the single greatest thing to keep in mind when you are searching for your blog’s theme.
Without further ado, and with these things in mind, here are our picks for the best WordPress themes for your blog in 2017…
We stumbled upon Restored316 a couple years ago and were super impressed by the suite of web themes offered. Each seemed to us to be distinct and yet they all had the allure of being very similar. The cohesion that brings their website and designs together really speaks volumes of their professional design prowess.
Since that day we’ve further explored and played around with all of the demos and just love pretty much everything they do. If you are looking for a theme that is feminine, clean, and easy to use, you should definitely go with them.
Sometimes it’s hard to pick though, isn’t it? Well, Restored316 has help in that department too. Take their quiz to find out which of their themes is best for you.
Price: $59 + (must purchase Genesis framework separately $59.99) = $119 total
Shop Restored316’s collection here
Over the last five years we’ve built three different websites and blogs with Station 7 themes. You might actually notice that two of our family’s current websites are built on their themes right now! And we absolutely LOVE them (we built using Analogue)!
Station Seven produces both WordPress and Squarespace themes. Currently they have six different WordPress themes for sale that are all visually appealing and easy to use. The Station 7 themes are built using the very powerful Genesis framework from Studiopress (we’ll be writing about Studiopress later but for now just trust us that receiving this framework for no extra charge is an amazing feature of selecting a Station Seven WordPress theme).
The themes from Station 7 are designed for influencers and brands with a minimalist feel and clean and crisp lines and typography. We are huge fans of the functionality and the support that we’ve received has always been incredibly fast and helpful. One final note: We are also huge fans of the add-ons that Station 7 offers for bloggers like their social packs and blog packs — these are low-priced packs that help you make sure your brand stays on point.
We recommend Station Seven themes for:
- Shop Owners
Price: $59 (one-time / lifetime)
While most of the themes we are recommending here are under $65, we would be doing our community a disservice by not mentioning the amazing FloThemes. While this is definitely a premium option that we specifically recommend for creative businesses we think they are so good that even some bloggers should at least consider them.
FloThemes creates themes for businesses that connect beautiful design with excellent and easy to use functionality. Their themes include incredibly easy SEO optimization options and include beautiful typography. The price point may seem high at first, but when you consider the support that is top notch it makes it totally worth it. Like Station 7 above, our family currently own two websites that run FloThemes (Jaimee Morse Photography and The Heirloom Bouquet).
Because of the higher point of entry from a cost perspective we do recommend that you choose FloThemes if you have a proven business in place.
Shop FloThemes Collection here
We’re going to preface this recommendation with… We’re hesitant. Great confidence booster, eh?
We thought for a couple days on this one before including it because on one hand ThemeForest provides the single greatest library of WordPress themes on the internet today but on the other hand takes a little more work to weed through the things we’ve said to look for in selecting a good design. We want to be as helpful as possible to you and so we’ve decided to include it so that if you were unaware of its existence you now have access to this amazing library, and also because we’ve taken the time to find three themes we are confident about recommending within ThemeForest.
ThemeForest is, as we said, an online library for website theme builders from around the world to upload and sell their designs. Because of this you have thousands and thousands of themes to choose from. That means you have plenty of options, but that also means that you have plenty of bad options just waiting to be purchased.
Here’s our recommendation with ThemeForest:
- Pay attention to their rating system. It’s your friend.
- Consider the designer’s full library. Click on their profile and see how many themes they’ve built and how they’re all rated.
- Check the comments section.
- Play with the live demo as much as you can.
We believe that if you do these things you will help safeguard yourself from making a purchase that isn’t in your best interest. One of the beautiful things about ThemeForest is you can use their filters to get very specific about what you are looking for.
So, while we do indeed have a couple reservations about ThemeForest, overall if you take the time to do your homework we are confident you can use this resource to your advantage. And here are three themes on ThemeForest right now that appear to pass the tests we gave.
Start Your Website
We so hope that this post has been helpful to you. Selecting a theme for your new website can be hard and we hope that you find just the theme you’re looking for. As always, if this post left you with more questions leave a comment below and we are more than happy to help you out.
If you’ve selected your theme but are lost in the installation process check out our post: How to start a WordPress blog in 10 minutes. There we go through step-by-step how to get your site up and running fast.
Still have questions or concerns? Reach out and we’re happy to help you. There’s no time like now to start your website and we’re so excited to see what you create!