While we here at Pixelita Designs prefer to “roll our own” hand coded themes for our clients, there are times when it might be good to start with a solid WordPress theme. Maybe money’s tight and you can’t afford to hire a web designer. Maybe you as a web designer have a need for a specific function and being more of a designer than a coder you opt to take advantage of a particular theme’s feature. Any theme can be customized, but generally, it’s best to start from scratch. But for those times and for those folks for whom that currently is not an option, here are our picks for the top ten (in our view) free and premium theme sites.
- Chris Pearson
- Chris Pearson is the creator of the Thesis Theme Framework, but before that, he released a couple of very nice themes, Neoclassical, Cutline and CopyBlogger, which was original the theme that Brian Clark used on his popular copywriting blog. You can’t go wrong with any of these themes.
- Theme Hybrid
- Justin Tadlock is a mover and shaker in the WordPress world. In fact at this past weekend’s Austin WordCamp, his name was bandied about quite a bit especially when it comes to theme frameworks and solid WordPress advice. If you don’t download any other theme, you probably ought to download Justin’s!
- Andrea Mignolo’s Minimalist Themes
- This site was a gem of a find. Andrea is a talented designer who’s cranked out some really slick minimalist (lots of whitespace) themes, all free for the download.
- Leland Fiegel is the mastermind behind the Themelabs free WordPress theme repository. Themelab is also a great resource for all things WordPress, as Leland is a self-confessed WP Expert. There are some great themes here, and they’re all free to download. Plus he offers community support for all the themes in the Themelab forum.
- Former ma.tt Blog Themes
- Matt Mullenweg, WordPress’s founder, has kindly released two of his blog’s previous themes to the public. Matt goes through themes every several years and he always hires top talent to create his new designs. So you can’t go wrong with a Matt Mullenweg theme.
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- Elegant Themes
- The name is no misnomer. Elegant Themes has some of the most beautiful, elegant themes available with rich graphics and lots of features. The payment system is pretty easy on the pocketbook, too. For a flat fee you get unlimited access to all the themes on the site.
- WordPress heavy hitters Brian Gardner and Brian Clark (Brian to the power of 2?) have teamed up to form StudioPress and they offer the very popular Genesis theme framework as well as many lovely child themes that work with Genesis. (And Matt Mullenweg, WordPress’s founder, is using the Genesis framework on his web site. The Genesis theme framework is a great boon to busy web developers because it offers a solid foundation on which to build a client’s site. Why reinvent the wheel?
- Woo Themes
- WooThemes has been around awhile and has a lot of themes in its repository — and not just for WordPress. You can also find themes for Expression Engine, Drupal and Magento here as well. Their pricing is a bit steep but when you factor in what you receive for the money, it’s not a bad deal, especially if you’re just a web master who has one or two sites to take care of.
- Headway Themes
- Headway Themes is a direct competitor of the Thesis theme framework. It was created by a handful of web developers who are active on Twitter and in the Headway community. While we haven’t tried this theme, it touts as one of its main draws the ease with which you can drag and drop elements around and change the look and feel of the theme without having to dig into any esoteric code. So for someone who doesn’t know much CSS or HTML and who doesn’t want to learn, Headway might be a good choice. The personal license is $87; the developer license is a mere $164.
- iThemes is the brainchild of Cory Miller who turned blogging and his love of WordPress into a thriving theme business. He, along with a handful of other developers and others create themes mostly for the small business owner. The price for a single theme is $79, or you can access the entire theme repository for $297. If you browse the iThemes offering it will be apparent to you that these themes are “strictly business.”
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Joni Mueller has been designing web sites for hire since 2003, when she first blew up her web host’s server by insisting on running Greymatter. Since then, Joni has designed for Blogger and Movable Type, TextPattern, WordPress and CMS Made Simple. She lives with her cat and shoe collection in a bucolic old section of Houston called Idylwood. For some strange reason, Joni likes to refer to herself in the third person. When she’s not working on web design, she’s ordering lawyers around. And blogging about it. Or both.