Every great WordPress site has a great theme, and it’s amazingly easier than you’d think to get one! Read Part 1 in the Great Web Tools Series: Why WordPress?
My Favorite Themes
Elegant Themes – beautifully hand-crafted themes with a ton of variety, great support, and the most helpful freebies and tutorials around! Their blog is an absolute gem, deserving of its own post, which it may get! Check that out right now (no, really. I’ll be here when you get back…)
Back? And it’s only been two hours? You must do great on diets…
Warning: There be Geek Terms Ahead
Anyway, I’ll probably be using their Divi 2.0 to set up the Unbound Series Bible site (coming soon!). I highly recommend it! And if you’re going to use that, you absolutely have to check out Divi4U – Luis has made the most wonderful plugin to further customize Divi, and he’s super nice! I’ll be doing some detailed coverage soon.
Update: Feb 2016 – I still love ElegantThemes, but I’ll be using Themify (see below) for the Series Bible site, probably Split.
The only caveat I have to Divi is that it is so designed for pages, for nearly static sites, that it can be hard to manage to set up something like I have here. You’ll need more plugins than with the next themes below, to add certain functionality–it you’ve never had it, you might not miss it, but having had it (I was with Themify first), I found it frustrated me. Luis’ Divi Children plugin adds some of that back in, and ElegantThemes adds some with each update, but it can be an issue, depending on what you want.
Their support staff, however, are top-notch, and have gone WAY above the call on helping me customize various parts of Divi.
This site is using a modified “Ultra” theme from Themify. I love the Builder and if you need to use custom css, it’s logical and comparatively easy to find. (And now they’ve added add-on modules, so if you find a theme with the perfect menu, but you really want that timeline, well, you can have that, too!)
They have visually stunning themes that, if you’re not as much of a control freak as I am (please, tell me you’re not), are truly astounding right “out of the box.” Their new Music and Event themes (among others) look like something big-name LA producers would have, not Joe Schmoe in Podunk, WA. (It does always make me wonder when I see fancy parallax sites with video backgrounds now. . . is someone sitting in their pajamas running this thing?)
Like ElegantThemes, the support at Themify is first rate. They will bend over backward to help you achieve whatever it is you’re after. Never be afraid, with these theme clubs, to ask for help. Trust me, there’s someone on that site who knows less than you!
Their blog is not the amazing resource that ElegantThemes’s is, but they still offer freebies and some neat extras, and you don’t have to be a member to benefit. And they’re posting more and more helpful stuff as time goes on.
Last One, I Promise – Ultimatum
Ultimatum Theme is a bit different from the previous two. Unless he’s changed the way it works, you pay once for life (the other two are based on yearly memberships, although you can get a lifetime developer membership). Ultimatum is even more of a true framework and it will give you an, well, ultimate level of control you won’t get anywhere else. But, with great control comes great responsibility, young Jedi…uh, sorry. I get a little giddy thinking about all that control…
Ahem. Back to business. Ultimatum, in some ways, offers too much control: you have to design it from, really, the blank page up. There are now some “templates” available–that’s relatively new, and you can do pretty much anything your heart desires with Ultimatum, but there’s a learning curve and that can be…discouraging.
They do also have excellent support and the most amazing community of users – it really is a community, with users contributing software fixes, constant help for other users, and just an all over warm & fuzzy feeling.
Well there you have it. I’m not a developer or a designer, but I managed to create a pretty darn cool site (I think, anyway) using the tools above.
You can read Great Web Tools Part 3 here!
What do you think? What do you use? What’s your favorite? What are your web horror stories (oh, boy, do I have some). . .