A WordPress theme is what gives a website its design elements: layout, colors, menus, etc. There are literally thousands of WordPress themes available, so choosing the one just right for you can be a challenge. The information below will help you understand your options. Our web portfolio lists the themes used in various sites we’ve built.

If you find a theme you like, but want to change some aspects of it, like colors, background, menus, some layout options, most such changes are quite easily made. But of course, the closer a theme is to just what you want, the less customization needed.

There are a few different ways to understand the various theme options available:

  • There are 3 levels of “off-the-shelf” vs. custom themes:
    1. Regular themes (free or premium, see next bullet) are “off-the-shelf” ready to download, install, and activate; then you’re off and running.
    2. Child themes are custom themes built “on top of” a regular theme, so your website’s design elements are likely to be mostly from the regular theme, but some aspects have been customized. (See Why WordPress? to learn more about the “modularity” of WP and why it’s good -which also explains why child themes are a great way to customize a regular theme.)
    3. Custom themes are just that: custom-built from the ground up. Expect to pay more for a custom theme, up to $1,000 or more.
  • The two broad categories of regular themes available are Free and “Premium” themes for sale:
    • Free themes are great, and there are a lot to choose from! The best way to find and install them is directly through your WordPress installation. The Install Theme button links you to the database of more than 2,800 free themes at wordpress.org, and all of these themes have been carefully reviewed and vetted, so you can trust they are well-made an do not contain malicious code or hidden “backdoors” that hackers can exploit. (This does not mean they’re perfect or have no security issues; see Security for more on this.)
    • Premium themes are those for sale through other websites, and there are a lot of these available as well. Most of these will also be carefully reviewed and vetted to be well-made and secure. A few of the very popular sites for premium themes are: