For a number of years, WordPress (http://www.wordpress.org) has been enjoyed increasing attention in the academic community. It is open source, has an incredibly easy install process (especially for a server side app), is remarkably flexible, and has a great development community behind it. Part of the allure of WordPress is that it has a very flexible templating system. If you are so inclined, you can build a theme pretty easily – all you really need is a decent knowledge of CSS & XHTML + a little PHP. But what if you don’t want to dig your hands into developing a custom WP theme? The great thing is, as mentioned before, there is an incredible community of developers behind WP – including people who develop themes (both free & pay). The big question is where can you go to find great themes for WP. Here are some places to start:
- WordPress Free Theme Director (http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/) – WP actually maintains a directory of free themes on their site. There are just shy of 1000 themes in all – so there are lots to choose from. The quality of the themes vary – some aren’t that polished, while some look really good.
- Smashing Magazine (http://www.smashingmagazine.com) – Smashing Magazine is a great source for graphic, digital, and interactive design content. The cool thing is that they regularly do rundowns of the best designed (free) WP themes available (check out 100 Excellent Free WordPress Themes, 100 Amazing Free WordPress Themes for 2009, and 83 Beautiful WordPress Themes You (Probably) Haven’t Seen). Smashing Magazine regularly commissions pro web designers to develop WP themes – which they then release free to the public (themes like Smashing Multimedia, Paper Wall, Imprezz, Vintage, and Blues)
There is also the issue of premium themes – themes that you’ll need to buy. The popularity of WP as a publishing platform has created a market who want to develop and sell themes. The good thing is that premium WP themes are usually more polished and fully featured than most free WP themes. The downside is that (duh) you have to shell out money for them. There doesn’t seem to be a sense of how much premium WP themes should cost. So, you’ll find themes that are $20 and themes are are $90 (or even more) – its a matter of looking around. Here are some good places to start:
- Woo Themes (http://www.woothemes.com/) Well designed themes that have a lot of built in features – but often pricey.
- Theme Forrest (http://themeforest.net) Wide variety of themes – most of them not that expensive.
- Elegant Themes (http://www.elegantthemes.com/) Well designed themes and a great price – $19.95 for complete access to all their themes
The bottom line is that which ever way you want to go – pay or free – you’ve got a lot of options.
Where do you get your WP themes from? Have you designed your own theme and want to share? Is there a great resource you want to share with other profhackers? Please share!