Best WordPress Themes for WordPress Beginners?
Up front, the answer to this question is Genesis by Studio Press. Genesis in itself is the rock-solid framework upon which several child themes can run.
I formulated this opinion after using dozens of different themes and building scores of WordPress sites. Throughout the years, my opinion has changed as I continue to use WordPress.
You can keep searching for the “perfect theme” or just buy Genesis, pick one of their themes, and get on with creating quality content.
Let me elaborate on some of my thoughts about WordPress themes and why I now recommend you start with Genesis.
*This site runs on Thesis because I’m an extreme minimalist. Thesis isn’t as easy to customize as Genesis, so if you’re a beginner, stick with Genesis.
What Makes a WordPress Theme Good?
Let’s look at elements which factor into what makes a theme good in the first place. You have to consider:
- The look and feel of the theme. Is it attractive and catchy to the reader?
- How well is it coded? (bugs, current trends, SEO best practices, etc.)
- How heavy it is before you start adding content? This affects load time.
- Is it easy for a WordPress beginner to set up and add content without having to hire a developer or designer?
- Is it responsive? Does it adapt to mobile devices?
- Does it look good on the majority of mobile devices?
- Does it function good on the majority of mobile devices?
- What are you trying to accomplish? (blog, online store, community, etc.)
You shouldn’t choose a theme based on appearance alone, but it is a serious factor. Nobody wants to visit an ugly blog. It’s like going to a dirty restaurant. You can serve the best food in the world but if the atmosphere isn’t at least tolerable, customers are not going to come back.
Pick a theme that properly sets the tone for the niche or genre you’re writing about. Genesis and its child themes have demo content and layouts ready to fit most topics.
A good WordPress theme needs to be as uncluttered as possible. It shouldn’t look or feel crowded. Give the reader some space to spread out, relax, and enjoy the content. Check out all the white space around this blog.
One more thing is that some of the very “pretty” themes out there are not coded well! Don’t be blinded by beauty. I’ve purchased themes that looked great but just didn’t work right. The functionality of the theme is more important than the appearance, any day.
Site Content Served Efficiently is the Objective
People may stop at a restaurant because of the location or ambiance of the building. They’ll roll the dice to see if the food is any good.
In the online world, people are not stopping by your blog just because they think the theme is pretty! Nobody has ever told me to visit a site just because it has great colors and a nice font.
Many readers arrive at your site via Google, searching for a solution to their specific problem or need. It doesn’t matter how good your site looks if you have junk for content or if it doesn’t function well. The reader is not going to stay and is certainly not coming back.
Serve good content efficiently. That’s probably 99% of the equation of how to run a successful blog. The appearance is really only 1% if you ask me, but important nonetheless.
Use Genesis and the technical end of your blog will be on solid ground.
A WordPressTheme Must Be Responsive!
Themes look different from device to device. Just because it shows up perfect on an iPhone doesn’t mean that everything will look ok on an Android device.
There are so many different mobile devices and browsers out there, it’s like the old saying:
YOU CAN PLEASE MOST OF THE PEOPLE
MOST OF THE TIME.
YOU CAN’T PLEASE ALL OF THE PEOPLE
ALL OF THE TIME.
What does responsive mean?
It basically means that the theme will adjust and adapt to any size screen it is displayed on. This provides the reader with the most efficient method of browsing and viewing.
A web page that is not responsive looks the same on a cell phone as it does on a laptop. What’s the problem with that? Well, if you try to look at the text and images on a mobile device, they’re too small to see! You have to pinch the screen with two fingers to make it magnify, and then pan right, left, up, and down in order to read what’s going on. That’s not convenient for the reader. This is a big deal because the number of mobile users is rising.
If you are reading this page on a mobile device right now, there is a good chance that you are holding your cell phone with one hand and scrolling down with your thumb as you read. It’s no big deal because you can navigate and read the entire site with one hand.
Now, your other hand might be holding a fork, a water hose, a tv remote, a beer, or the steering wheel (that’s not recommended by the way). These days, this is the way a lot of people browse on their cell phones. They read while doing a mundane task at the same time with their free hand.
If the website is not responsive, the person has to use two hands in order to navigate and read a page. That’s not convenient, nor even practical. It takes too long and is too much work. In today’s world, the reader is leaving your site immediately upon seeing that it is not responsive.
It just defies logic that in the year 2019, there are many legitimate businesses that still have not upgraded their online presence.
A WordPress Theme Must Be Easy to Customize!
If you cannot figure out how to make simple changes to your website, the thing is useless. WordPress itself is a fairly simple platform to understand. Elaborate themes are what make it difficult.
Don’t do as I did. Do as I say on this one. I used to spend the majority of my time learning HTML code, researching various plugins, reading about the ins and outs of WordPress, etc. The problem is that none of this makes money! I should have picked a theme and focused on adding quality content.
In the beginning, I would typically work with a theme that had the most features and bells and whistles. Then, I would spend weeks trying to learn how to edit the darn thing. Again, time wasted when I could have been generating content for readers.
Start with Genesis. It’s very easy to customize. Even a WordPress beginner can be up and running in no time. If you get confused, the documentation is detailed.
The support is fast and accommodating.
There are video tutorials as well.
There is Strength in Numbers
What does this mean? Stability.
You can be assured that the creators of Genesis will be around if you need them. The theme will continually be updated and any problems will be promptly addressed.
If you find a “pretty theme” somewhere that only has 4 total sales, how can you be sure that the developer will be around in one year to update the theme if it breaks after a WordPress update?