In this article tripwire magazine gives you essential tips for how to get the right Look & Feel on your website by using themes. The article also covers some of the most popular online and self hosting publishing platforms available.
Creating a web-site or blog takes only a few clicks with your mouse today and unless you really want to pay for it you can start publishing for free. The options are simply endless and it is not the focus of this article to provide a comprehensive list of hosting options. A few of the most popular and solutions will be covered in this article as a starting point for new publishers. Themes / templates for popular CMS platforms have become a industry in itself and there are basically hundreds of websites selling premium themes or theme club memberships. On top of this there is a massive number of website using free thems to drive traffic to their domain.This theme trend is in my opinion going to change the way we are building web sites and blogs. In stead of starting from scratch designing a Look and Feel in a graphics application like Photoshop most people will today start browsing for templates that can either be used from the shelf or with some modifications. So where can all these themes be found? It’s simply not possible (and not the intention with this post) to list all the good resources in this article but you will find examples that should get you kick started on hunting the themes you Need.
Free hosting on popular publishing platforms
If you’re looking for both a hosting solution and a theme for you new startup blog or website there are plenty of options. Some of the most popular free online web publishing services found today is:
On these services you simply sign up and tart publishing your content right away. If your looking for more flexibility than you can typically find in these hosted solutions you should consider seperate hosting for wordpress (wordpress.org) or using popular CMS platforms like Joomla and Drupal
Searching on Google also reveals a number of free hosting plans for Joomla and Drupal. Joomla in particular is an interesting choice as the number of themes available for it is huge. On the other hand you can get really cheap hosting plans that offer one click install of the most popular pulishing platforms and you have to be aware that a commercial hosting solution typically will give you more options for backups, subdomains, e-mails etc.
Things you need to check before you choose a theme
- Check the quality before falling in love! Themes may look very good on a screenshot but once taking into use turn out to be impossible to use and not developed to support most popular Browsers and Operating Systems on the market. Themes that have a preview function avalable gives you a good idea of how the themes if working (menus, sliders, etc.). Previews also allows you to test the theme quality. Check out some of the tips in this article: How does you website really look?
- Careful with free themes! Some theme collections contains commercial themes that are just offered free to download. Before you start using a theme that you downloaded for free make sure you google the theme name just to verify fx. that it is not licensed to a theme club.
- Determine what will be your target audience and consider what type of layout the will prefer. This may be hard but your content should to some extent match the look and feel of your web site and not necessarily what you like yourself.
- Take a look at the whole theme as well as the parts and pieces, including the color, layout, design, multi-post view and single post view (blog themes), navigation, and all the details.
- Make sure that the theme if not a orphan that no-one is maintaining anymore. You should be able fx. to upgrade your CMS if important upgrades are made available and still have a working theme.(unless you can maintain and customize it yourself)
- Read the licens restrictions carefully. Are you allowed to modify the theme? Are you doomed to having a copyright statement on you website giving credits to the developer? etc.
- Good themes for CMS platforms like Joomla comes with demo data that you can pre-load to get an understanding of how the Theme can be used.
- Good themes are full packages. This means that downloading the theme and installing it as described is all you need to do. It should not be necessary to download modules or components from other sources that needs to be configured correctly and in the right version for everything to work. Reconsider a theme if it has too many external dependencies.
- Good themes typically comes with a theme overview / Module Positions chart that shows you where the content you put in will be placed. Here an example from a Joomlart Theme (JA Cooper – Automotive news)
How do you find the Themes you need?
Themes can be found on Blogs
Many bloggers write about the themes they find useful and want to recommend to their readers. So blogs can be a very good source to finding free high quality themes and because most blogs have large and nice pictures ir is likely that you quickly will be able to browse through a large number of potential interesting themes.
Smashing Magazine delivers useful and innovative information for designers and Web developers. This includes some very fine lists of free themes for WordPress:
- 100 Excellent Free WordPress Themes
- 83 Beautiful WordPress Themes
An overview of beautiful, but rather unknown themes you might have missed.
- 21 Fresh, Usable and Elegant Themes
A quite pretty selection of elegant yet well thought-out themes.
- 10 Fresh and Clean Themes
The beauty of these themes lies in their clean look supported by a legible content presentation.
- 8 Fresh And Clean WordPress Themes
Other blogs providing lists of free themes:
- 13 WordPress Magazin-Themes
from Dr. Web Magazine
- 17 Specialty WordPress Themes
Joomla2u is a Blog-style website containing a large collection ( nealy 1500) of free themes for Joomla.
Theme Clubs will give you access to some of the best themes
The clubs may be a good choice for web designers that need access to many high quality themes for their clients. Typically mamberships give access to all themes and modules for the period of subscription but clubs may have thier onw rules.
Joomlart is one of the largest Theme Clubs providing Joomla CMS Themes. Joomlart club gives you acces to around 70 high quality themes.
More than 60 premium themes available for club members.
40 Premium Club Themes and 18 Free.
ithemes offers high-quality premium WordPress themes for photographers, designers, and businesses.
There are many sites providing huge lists of both free and commercial themes.
TemplateMonater sell Themes for typically aroun 60$. The main orientation of the company is web design with an emphasis on affordable web design products and services. Thier library is currently one of the largest on the Internet, with over 20,000 website template designs. On average, 450-500 new designs is being added monthly.
Premium themes for Joomla and Drupal at prizes around 30$. This site also offers a few free themes.
Large collection of more than 2000 professional Joomla Themes and catalog of theme providers.