WordPress themes for starters: how they work and how to choose the best one?


It’s time to talk about WordPress themes for starters! Are you planning to build your website but a topic “WordPress themes” gives you chills? That’s why I’m here!

Let me start with something really important that not enough people are saying: getting your website set up on WordPress is hard. If someone is saying that it takes “only 5 minutes”, this person is referring to registering and dealing with what’s already set up (which is a total crap). Another option: maybe this person has never actually enjoyed anything simple and has not the smallest idea on what does this term mean.

Anyhow. I might create an article series out of this whole WordPress for starters thing because I had a crazy hard time starting and, hey, I’m a tech-savvy person, working online, using various apps and programs from day to day… But there literally were NO useful resources that were EASY to understand. Let’s get to the case!

What is WordPress?

Let’s start with something very general. WordPress is a website creation platform and most of the bloggers and creative business owners are using it for their websites. Meaning, if you’re into creative business and you’re checking the field masters, most likely, you’re seeing a website made on WordPress.

WordPress is accessible to everyone – you don’t have to be rich, famous or a smart-ass developer to make your website happen.

When starting a blog or website on WordPress, use wordpress.org instead of wordpress.com. The difference is pretty simple: .org is used for paid personal websites like website.com while .com is used for free blogs like website.wordpress.com So if you’re going for a paid version – choose .org! If you’re going for a free website – then this article is not for you.

Suggestion: Choose .org right from the beginning. The price is not high and it’ll be worth it a big time! And keep in mind – your website’s url WON’T end with .org, it’s still all up to you.

What you need to know about WordPress themes

You might feel like it’s the easiest part of the whole setup process but it’s really not.

WordPress theme is the basic design your website will have. So the process is the following: Registration (WordPress account) >> Purchase of WordPress hosting (you pay for WP to keep your account up) >> Purchase of domain (website’s url) >> Theme choice for your website & how it will look like.

There are free and paid WordPress themes. Purchasing a WordPress theme doesn’t mean that your website will be ready in 5 minutes. It usually includes a lot of adjustments.


Free WordPress themes

Free WordPress themes are offered by WordPress itself but can also be found all around the internet. In case you use WordPress variation, you’ll be able to Preview it right away and Install it with one click. If you’re downloading a theme from another source, you’ll have to upload a ZIP file to your WordPress. Not that hard, just a different way to do things!

Keep in mind!

Free WordPress themes usually are pretty simple yet effective for some blogs. WordPress offers a variety of free themes for different kind of websites: blogs, portfolio sites, e-commerce websites, etc. What’s really important: unless you’re keeping everything really simple, it’s super hard to create a professional looking website with a free WordPress theme. Not impossible but definitely hard for starters.

Suggestion: Use a free theme if you’re just starting and you’re not so sure where your website is going. You can also use free WordPress theme if you want to explore the options WordPress offer, learn to tweak it on your own. And yet another way to go – choose a free theme if you’ve found one that you love oh so much and you’re not interested in changing it. That was the case with the theme you see on this website, by the way!

Things to remember about free themes: 

– Free WordPress themes usually look good on the preview but look like a total crap when you Install it. Why? Because you have to tweak the details to make it look like it was in the preview and usually it’s hard to figure them out on your own…
– They rarely have any documentation with them so there will be no information on how to work with the website;
– Many free themes come with additional information on plugins you should add to your blog. Add them right away because additional plugins can make a big difference!

Free WordPress theme I suggest: Illdy 

There are not many adjustment options and you have to work with what you’ve got. But the theme is really pretty and it doesn’t look free at all! Besides that, it has some amazing features that other free themes don’t offer.


Paid WordPress themes

Paid WordPress themes can be purchased from various websites, for example, themeforest.com. The average cost of a paid theme is $50 – $70 but it depends on its features, it can also be as high as $150. It’s a one time purchase you have to make and then you get ZIP folder with all files you need, besides that – you can use purchased theme on as many websites as necessary. The set-up is just as easy – you just have to upload this ZIP folder you got! For some themes, it will be necessary to register purchase code further on etc but you’ll have all guidelines on how to do that right away.

Here’s where you have to be careful with paid WordPress themes. Basically, you never know what it actually does until you really have it. Most of paid WP theme ads are really specific and they look gorgeous – they offer you options to drag&drop your content, fully manage everything, use demo content. But it takes a lot of tryouts, fails and learning to actually do it. It’s rarely really that easy as they advertise.

Things to remember about paid themes: 

– Each paid theme is set up differently. Meaning, if you purchase one and learn how to work with it, you’ll have to learn all from zero with another purchased theme. Very often, same features hide under different names, they have another navigation system etc.
– Paid themes come with documentation. There you can find a lot of useful information that will help you to set everything up!
– They also offer so-called “Demo content”. This will be the content you saw in their design preview before making your purchase. By installing demo content, you’ll be able to see how your website would look like. Later on, you can work on all demo content details and just change them. It’s always a great way to start a completely new design since mostly everything is already set up!
– Purchased themes very often need additional plugins and you’ll find a list of them added to the documentation. One other reason to definitely check it out! Very often, plugins make all the difference!
– Sometimes more expensive themes give you more freedom but it’s not always the case!
– Try to stick with drag&drop themes. They’ll be easier to manage!

Paid WordPress theme I suggest: Kleo

It costs only $59 but it gives you unlimited freedom to build your website the way you want it to be built. They also have more than 20 demo content variations which means – you can start with more than 20 different designs and go from there!


Before you go…

Remember that by taking on a free theme you won’t get the feeling of how WP works with a paid theme, drag & drop options etc. Don’t run away if the first impression is not as you’d like it to be! It all takes a bit of time and there’s definitely a learning process you’ll have to work on.

What to do if you have no idea how to work with any of this?! Here are few ideas:
– Choose Squarespace for your website creation. Here’s a comparison of WordPress vs Squarespace and the same comparison a few years later from my own perspective. In short: WP is more for those who are up for building long-term serious websites for their businesses while Squarespace is better for starters, portfolios, etc.
– Give yourself some time to learn your way around WP. Start with a free theme, do some research for paid themes and purchase one. At first, they always seem like mission impossible but don’t try to rush things!
– Hire someone who can help you! If you have no time and nerves to go in there, it’s definitely a good solution.

Good luck and let me know if you need any help!


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