“Looks aren’t everything”

Wait what do looks have to do with picking a WordPress theme?


You know what I’m talking about. You’re scrolling through the interwebs, pulling your hair out trying to decide on a theme for your website. You come across a few that are just meh, but then one catches your eyes that is just Drop.Dead.Gorgeous.

The beautiful stock photography and layout has caught your eye. You’re drooling. You’re picturing your website looking just as pretty and glamorous if not more so – and you click the Buy Now button because you found a theme that’s going to make you look amazing online….

You eagerly check your email, download the files, upload them to your website and start to follow the instructions to configure your website…

A few hours or a few days later you have buyer’s remorse.  Your website doesn’t even come close to how the demo site looked, not to mention there are a few other issues – like you can’t get your email configured or you realized you pictures don’t look as glam as the demo site…

Sound familiar?

In the past I always used to pick WordPress themes purely based on looks. I’m such a visual person and a total sucker for beautiful images and photography. Buuuuut…..after going through and changing my themes so many times because it didn’t have the right look or my theme didn’t quite have the functionality that I needed,  I realized I needed to have better criteria in place to choose a theme that looks good, functions well for my website visitors and highlights my business and online presence in a positive light.

Over time, I’ve realized that picking a theme becomes significantly easier when you have:

  • Your ideal customer in mind,
  • A solid grasp of you Core Business Objectives or Your Business Model
  • You have a great content strategy – which in my definition includes web copy, images, stock photography and web graphics.

One of my favorite reasons for using WordPress as a platform to build your website is because there are literally thousands of themes to choose. Of course, this can lead to overwhelm – especially for us non-techie folks. So just how the heck do you decide which WordPress theme to use for your website? (You know I’ve got some tips coming up…)

How To Avoid Choosing The Wrong WordPress Theme

*This post contains affiliate links. Which means if you click on a link that I’ve provided,  it might be a link to someone who will give me a commission if you buy something from their site. This is at zero cost to you. See my full disclosure policy here.

1. Consider Premium Over Free

If you’re legit about growing your business and having a professional online presence, then a premium WordPress theme should be at the top of your Business Wish List. It is so worth the investment, and here’s why:

  • Better support and documentation.
  • Better security.
  • Better coding.
  • Better design and customization options.
  • Saves you time (free themes save you money but cost you a lot more of your time.)

There is absolutely nothing wrong with bootstrapping in the beginning if you’re just starting out. But as your business grows and you start to generate some revenue for your business, definitely consider upgrading to a premium theme. You can typically expect to spend anywhere from $25-$75 for a high-quality theme.

The only exception I would insert in here is the Make Theme by Theme Foundry. If you go with any free theme – this is the one to check out. Make is probably one of the better free WordPress themes out there, especially for beginners. It’s a drag and drop theme, well-documented and definitely worth checking out.

Other Free WordPress Theme Sources:

WordPress Theme Directory – the WordPress repository has several free themes that you can choose from to get started. Also, most WordPress installs automatically come with 2-3 free themes that you can play around with to get a feel for the look you are going for.

Free Themes by WPExplorer – Offers a variety of free themes for business, bloggers, photography and portfolio-style websites.

Free Themes by Colorlib – Free, mobile responsive themes.

2. Have A Solid Content Strategy

I cannot tell you how much easier it will be to choose a theme for your website once you have this in place. Having a great content strategy in place serves as the foundation of your entire website and online business. It will give you clarity and peace of mind, so that you will stress less and focus on the more important thing, which is to build an online presence that resonates with your customers.

If you couldn’t tell from the above scenario, the biggest mistake that most entrepreneurs and DIYers make is that they choose a theme purely based on looks. Avoid buyer’s remorse and make sure you have the images, graphics and web copy that will fit and mold with your business, your branding and appeal to your customers.

3. Consider Theme Functionality

Let’s say you wanted to have certain features and functions on your website, such as the ability to display a portfolio, have a section for testimonials, create landing pages, eCommerce. Not to much to ask, right?

All of these things can be accomplished with plugins – but if you can find a theme that has one, some or all of these features already coded in, I say go for it! Now I’m not knocking plugins at all here! One of the beauties about WordPress are plugins, which help to extend the functionality of your website. That being said, not all plugins are good plugins, and too many plugins can bog down your website or adversely affect your website functionality. We don’t want that.

(Related: Top 10 Recommended Plugins and 4 Premium Plugins to Consider)

 4. Look at Mobile Responsiveness

There are some absolutely gorgeous themes out there – that are not mobile responsive at all.

I have 3 kids and time at my actual lab top is a privilege and a dream. So I buy, browse, search and read from my cell phone and iPad all the time. So do you and your customers. That being said, it’s a given that your website ( and therefore the theme you choose for your website) should be mobile friendly across all devices. Otherwise you’re missing out.

This is all great, but Chrissy – Which WordPress Theme Do I Use?

Well gosh, I thought you’d never ask. Based on everything I mentioned, I have two recommendations:

1. Genesis Child Themes by StudioPress

Seriously trying not to geek out here. I’ve been using the Genesis Framework and Genesis child themes for well over 3 years and I absolutely love them. It’s my preferred choice of WordPress themes, and what I use on my site and the majority of my client sites.

Reasons I love and recommend Genesis Child Themes:

-SEO friendly
-Well-coded and updated on a regular basis
-Amazing documentation and support
-Strong community ( check out the Facebook group)
-Huge variety of themes available from both the founders at StudioPress and several 3rd party developers.
-Large number of plugins developed specifically for the Genesis Framework (add blog post)

Genesis Pricing Options:

  • Just starting out? You can buy the Genesis Framework by itself for $59.95, which comes with a free sample theme.
  • Ready for more? You can buy the Genesis Framework plus a child theme (cost: $99-129.95). This website is built on a custom version of the Minimum Pro theme.
  • Ready to Go Pro? You can buy the Pro Plus Developer package for $499.95 plus $99.95 annual recurring fee, which gives you access to all their themes, any themes they release in the future and certain themes from 3rd party Genesis developers.

2. Divi by Elegant Themes

Whether you’re a beginner WordPress user or an experienced web developer, Divi will do the job.

Best features about Divi:

-The drag and drop functionality that’s built into the theme. So if you’re a DIYer you can literally build your website from scratch without having to touch the code.
-Built in modules such as : eCommerce, videos, buttons, landing pages, sales pages and pricing tables
-if you’re a developer you can add custom CSS classes to each section to give it a unique look.
-Divi also has a growing community on Facebook

Pricing Options:

  • Just starting out? You can buy an annual $69 license which will give you access to Divi plus all the other 80+ themes from Elegant Themes
  • Ready for more? Upgrade to the annual Developer License for $89 which gives you the same access plus all Elegant Themes’ plugins
  • Ready to Go Pro? A one time upgrade fee of $249 grants you lifetime access to everything.


And there you have it! I hope this information was valuable to you, and  I would love to hear your feedback in the comments below. How do you choose your WordPress themes?