DIY WordPress Design: Choosing a WordPress Theme

by | Aug 22, 2016 | 0 comments

You already know how crucial a great looking website is to the success of your online business but after deciding that WordPress is the platform for you, you are left with the daunting task of choosing a WordPress theme. WordPress themes can vary greatly in price from free to hundreds of dollars for a custom theme. There are also frameworks and child themes, which to make most people confused and ready to throw in the towel before they have even started. In this series, we are going to break down different types of WordPress themes and how to choose what is best for your business.


The 3 Major Theme Types

Stand Alone Themes

One of the first types of themes you will discover in your search are stand-alone themes. These are simply themes that are ready to go right out of the box. Moreover, these can be some of the most affordable themes to start with. Another advantage to a standalone theme is that is easier for content creators to use since you will not need to worry about compatibility issues since developers will handle this creating updates.

However, that is where the pros tend to end for standalone themes. If you “outgrow” your theme, you may find it very expensive to move to another theme. You may find that your needs no longer align with what theme offers and you will be left to find an alternate solution.

So if budget is your primary concern, start with a stand alone theme. 

If you are looking for a great standalone WordPress theme loaded with built-in features check out these few. 

Paisley WordPress Theme by BluChic

The Paisley theme is easy to customize chic theme. You can quickly change colors with a built-in color wheel; this makes it a breeze to customize to fit your brand’s color scheme. You can easily upload a custom image for your header and favicon. Updating this theme is as simple as one-click. This is a fantastic option for those looking for a great looking theme that is easy to use and has a clean, chic look.

Matty by CODE9ERS

Matty is a super powerful theme; that features an easy to use page builder, Visual Composer. With this drag and drop page builder, you can easily customize pages to fit exactly what you need your website to do and make it look like a professionally created website rather than a pre-built template.


You Landed by Making Rad Things

You Landed is the perfect theme if you are looking for great landing pages that collect email leads. It offers a clean, responsive design that looks great on every device. It allows unlimited color options, Google fonts, and front-end customization, making it a breeze to use.


Frameworks with Child Themes

Frameworks with child themes are a great option if you need a site with a bit more customization but don’t have the budget for a full-on custom website. Frameworks are also a great option if you are familiar with code and can make tweaks to your site as you need to. Child themes are great because the core of theme is a framework. This means that the bulk of the design is called from a framework and won’t require a complete overhaul of your site if you choose to update your theme later down the road. Because you generally need to purchase two separate parts for a framework and child theme to work in unison, it tends to be a bit more expensive initially.


One of the top frameworks that you can invest in is the Genesis Framework by Studiopress. A major reason to choose the Genesis framework is that it Search Engine Optimized right out of the box. This is crucial if you want to be found on the internet, this is the point of having a website after all. The Genesis Framework is also crafted with security in mind; this helps to keep your site secure from potential hackers. Because of the plethora of features that Genesis offers many developers choose to start with Genesis as the base, even if you opt for a full custom website.


Divine by Restored316

Divine is fantastic Genesis child theme created by Restored 316. This child theme offers six built-in color schemes or the option to create your own. You can easily upload graphics for your logo, and it is Retina ready. This child theme is also ready for WooCommerce.


Hello Glam by Hello You Designs


Hello Glam is great looking Genesis child theme with a Retina ready center logo option. It also boasts sticky navigation and easy color customization. Hello Glam also includes a built in pricing table and WooCommerce styling.


Retreat by TinselPop

Retreat is minimalist Genesis child theme. The clean and modern design includes beautiful share icons, responsive design, and three layout options. You can easily upload a custom header graphic or use the homepage slider option.


WordPress Page Builders

If themes are not quite meeting the needs of your website but you do not have the budget for a custom design another great option is utilizing a page builder. Divi is great page builder theme by Elegant Themes. Divi is a great option with the built-in page builder, layout options, and responsive design. The easy to use interface makes creating a custom website a breeze with drag and drop modules. Because of the robust features, the possibilities of what you can create with Divi are nearly limitless.

Divi is another great option if you know a bit of CSS and can take the look of the website to a whole different level. Divi, like Genesis, takes security seriously, they have been awarded the Scuri Safe Theme seal.

Divi also includes A/B testing, if you run a business, you will understand the importance of testing things like headlines and sales pages.

When purchasing the Divi theme, you are also given access to plugins created by Elegant Themes, including Bloom a fantastic lead capture plugin.


How to Choose the right WordPress Theme

Now that you know a bit more about standalone themes, frameworks with child themes and page builders you can move on to narrowing the list to decide which is best for your business. Factors to remember when deciding include budget, comfortability with HTML and CSS, and time.

While free themes are always an option, I would advise that you steer clear of them since they are often not maintained by developers. This could result in your theme not keeping up with WordPress and quickly becoming outdated and more of a pain to move to a more sophisticated theme later down the road.

There are thousands of options for you to choose from on sites such as Creative Market and Elegant Themes, and you are bound to find something that is beautiful and fits your needs.


Under $50

If you are on a limited budget of under $50 I would recommend finding a stand alone theme that fits your needs.

Make a list of the features that you would want to implement on your site. Do you need e-commerce on your site? Would you like to display a portfolio of your work? Is blogging the primary purpose of your site? By knowing exactly what you are looking for it will make choosing an affordable theme much easier.


Under $100

If you have a budget for less than a $100 for your website, you may find the Genesis framework with some of the themes they feature a great solution. However, the more customized themes tend to run between $50-$100 not including the Genesis Framework.

The other solution if your budget is under $100 is the Divi Theme. This includes everything that Elegant Themes offers, including great looking lead capture boxes.

Tech Knowledge

Total Newbie

If you knowledge of all things techie is practically non-existent you will want to choose a theme that has visual editor features built in or drag and drop design to make creating your page a bit more custom for your needs.

Just be sure to check what features the theme you are looking at provide so that you are not left fumbling to find solutions to change a color of a certain aspect to match your branding.


Comfy with Code

If you are comfortable with HTML and CSS, then you will find that making minor tweaks to your new theme a breeze. This makes any theme an option, although you may opt for a “lighter” theme that will allow you to add only the features you need without bogging the page load time on your site.


Fill my Calendar

If you tons of time to spend working on getting your site perfect than choosing a theme that has the basic features you need will suite your needs. You can take the time to search how to implement aesthetic features you want to see on your site.

Totally Booked

If you are strapped for time, you will want to choose a theme that is nearly ready to go out of the box; you may need to make minor color tweaks with a visual editor. However, the faster you can hit the ground running the better.


Creating a great looking website that fits your needs will start with a solid theme. However, you will find that there will be things that you want to tweak as you grow and how trends evolve in the digital world. It may be hard to determine if a certain theme will provide you with what you need a year from now, but it is not uncommon for sites to rebrand or update their websites every two to three years.

 Ready to start a website but overwhelmed by WordPress theme options? This guide explains the three major types of themes and helps you decide what is best for your website.

Sarah Crosley

Sarah Crosley

Founder of The Creative Boss

RECOMMENDED POST:  How to Learn a New Digital Skill

After years of trying to run an online business I have seen quite a few ups and a whole lot more downs. I spent hours every day researching how to make a go at some elusive, passive income. I felt like it was something that was just a myth, and then I figured out what the real meaning of passive income was: to work smarter, not harder. It’s not just sitting around watching the dollars pour into your bank account, but you can create products that will sell and still be sitting on the beach or at home in pajamas, and I want to share with you what worked for me. I don’t want you to spend years trying, failing, and throwing in the towel.

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Who is Sarah?

I am the founder and lead designer here at The Creative Boss. After years of running handmade shops on Etsy and scouring the interwebs for tips and advice on how to grow and succeed online, I knew that there needed to be a change!The Creative Boss was launched to offer a one stop shop for busy creatives who want to succeed online with ease.
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