I have been getting this question asked a lot lately from fellow marketers, bloggers and even friends.
They all have one thing in common and that is, they all are interested in creating their first website on the Internet.
The easiest way to do this is using WordPress and this leads us to the following…
Question:What is the best WordPress theme?
Answer:It depends on what you want it for.
I can’t just recommend a one size fits all kind of theme because there is no such thing as the perfect theme.
Every WordPress theme is built around solving something. It can be fast loading times, great SEO capabilities, flexible customization, ease of modification, etc.
1. Identify Your Project’s Core Requirements
First things, first… Write down everything you need focusing on one single site only (one project).
- Are you planning to have a blog?
- Do you need to create landing pages, squeeze pages, sign-up pages?
- Are you planning to have a review-based website?
- Maybe a protected membership site?
- Is it for a niche-based site for selling affiliate products?
- Perhaps planning a huge three-part product launch?
You need to understand that the more things the theme can do, chances are the less specialized it is in every one of them.
Maybe you want the combination of a few of these and that’s perfectly doable as long as you make a smart choice when buying your WordPress theme (and that’s exactly what I’m going to help you with).
By now, you should have identified at least one strong core requirement for your project.
2. Understand Your Inner Geek
Knowing what your real skill sets are, can also help you pick the best theme for your needs, so here you go.
- Do you understand HTML?
- Are you comfortable with CSS?
- Have you edited PHP code before?
- Would you rather use selection boxes to edit your pages, squeeze pages, etc?
- Would you be willing to outsource or learn by yourself?
The more you know about how all of these things work, the easier it’ll be for you to edit and create the website that you want.
However, if you don’t understand anything of this and would be more comfortable outsourcing the development part, you can also do that (in fact, many marketers don’t know any of this, so don’t feel left behind).
If you want to be more in control, don’t want to outsource any of this and still, would like to give it a shot at designing your own website; then there are many themes that allow you to do exactly that.
So far, you should have identified two basic points here:
- Your main core project requirement
- Are you going the DIY route (do it yourself) or just outsource it?
3. WordPress, Themes, Frameworks & Child Themes
There are three possibilites when it comes to build a website around WordPress:
Before going any further, let’s quickly (and very briefly) define what WordPress is, so you can understand the layers in which themes, frameworks and plugins, actually fall in.
WordPress is a content management system (CMS) that you install on your server and it is absolutely required for building your website.
Think of it, as the foundation layer.
3.2 WordPress Themes
You install themes on top of WordPress and these are responsible for providing extended functionality.
Depending on the theme, these can include:
- SEO tweaks
- Extra Widgets
- Adsense ready
- Banner integration
- Social Media integration
- Easy theme modification such as custom headers, custom backgrounds, custom colors and more
There are literally thousands of WordPress themes out there, both free and paid.
3.3 WordPress Frameworks
A framework is installed on top of WordPress and its main purpose is to serve as a parent theme so child themes can be built upon or modified without altering the main file structure of your framework.
3.4 WordPress Child Themes
A WordPress child theme is installed on top of a WordPress framework.
Consider a child theme as a “skin” for that parent theme. So if you were to modify how your site looks, you only modify your child theme leaving your main framework untouched.
The advantages of working on an environment like this, is that you can work on your child theme as much as you want and if you do mess it up, you can install your child theme again and get your site exactly as it was in the beginning.
Important: this is NOT the same as having a backup file restored.
Here are two different scenarios for you to understand this better:
First scenario (not using a framework)
- Install WordPress on your server.
- Select a free theme or buy a premium theme.
- Upload the new theme, activate and configure.
Second Scenario (using a framework)
- Install WordPress on your server.
- Select a free framework or buy a premium framework.
- Upload the new framework (same as uploading a new theme)
- Select a free child theme or buy a premium child theme.
- Upload the new child theme, activate and configure.
If you think the second scenario is more complicated, it is the same exact thing as the first one, it just involves two extra steps that once you know what you’re doing, takes no more than just a few extra seconds to complete.
4. WordPress Plugins
WordPress plugins are basically additions used to extend your WordPress theme/framework capabilities.
There are thousands of WordPress plugins (free and paid) and you just need to look out for the functionality that you want and you’ll probably find something already created for it.
5. Real Life Examples
By now, you should have a rough understanding of what WordPress and plugins are, what a framework means and the main difference between a parent theme and a child theme.
It is a lot of information already (I know!) so let’s check a few real world scenarios so you can see how all of these pieces work together.
5.1 Thesis Framework
They refer to their child themes as skins and I was using this framework with no child installed right here on the marketing with sergio blog.
Thesis has a very robust platform, has amazing SEO performance and provides very easy access to modify its properties although if you’re feeling more creative, you won’t get far without having to dabble with a lot of code.
The Thesis framework does not offers any kind of free skins on their own.
You can support me by buying the Thesis Framework through my affiliate link here.
5.2 Genesis Framework
This is what you are currently seeing here on the site.
Right now I’m experimenting with the Genesis sample child theme but I may change it in the next days, like I said, I’m on an experimentation phase as I write this.
Genesis offers a few free skins themes and child themes here (all require the genesis framework to work) which I might say, are very sexy looking.
Genesis strongly encourages to install a child theme (same as a skin theme) before any prior work so this way you ensure your installation is non faulty and when the updates come, they can be applied without affecting how your site looks.
Again, you can support me by getting the Genesis Framework through my affiliate link here.
5.3 Optimize Press
This is a WordPress theme that its main strenghts reside on building membership sites, big product launches and has a wide library for creating custom squeeze pages.
On the technical side as it is a WordPress theme, this means that if you have a blog already installed and you still want to use Optimize Press, either you get a new domain name for it or create a sub domain name in order to use it.
Don’t know if you’re going to do a product launch soon but if you do, you can support me by buying Optimize Press through this affiliate link here.
5.4 Premise 2.0
Premise 2.0 is the direct Optimize Press’ competitor.
They are both built for creating squeeze pages, landing pages, membership sites, etc.
The main technical difference resides in that Premise is a WordPress plugin and not a WordPress theme.
In other words, you can add a lot of extra functionality to your current WordPress site without the need of a subdomain or a new domain for this to work.
To buy Premise 2.0 for WordPress, you can do so through my affiliate link here.
5.5 Optin Skin
This is a WordPress plugin and has just been released today.
The Optin Skin plugin, basically allows you to add more features to your site, no matter if you’re using a child theme or a regular WordPress theme.
Its main purpose is to add optin forms and social media boxes anywhere you want in your blog.
A ViperChill’s Glen Allsopp development, so you know this thing just HAS to work.
If you want to support me, you can buy the Optin Skin for WordPress through my affiliate link here.
Whew, this was a long update but I hope it helped you understand all these crazy terms about WordPress, frameworks and child themes on all those weird geeky terms.
You should know that there are a lot of affiliate links on this post and I’m not providing any kind of bonuses if you buy through them (sorry guys).
I am currently writing my first product and it’ll be about blogging from scratch and on that training I’ll address every single thing mentioned here but in more detail and perhaps even with videos.
In the meantime, if you have any questions about any of this, don’t hesitate to ask me either on the comment section, through my contact form or even replying back to me if you’re already on my subscriber’s list (through e-mail).
Hope you have an amazing start of week and let me hear about your own experiences with WordPress themes and frameworks and if I missed anything as well.
Until next time, take care!
PS. Tomorrow I’ll let you know why I’m moving from Thesis to Genesis.
It has nothing to do with one framework being better than the other, so stay put!