The biggest benefit to having your site built on WordPress is the ease of customization and the ability to be up and running in nearly no time. It’s why people who have never even had a website before often turn to WordPress to fulfill their need for an online presence. But, as many users can attest, a site is only as good as the theme it is built on. After all, your WordPress theme is the design element that most quickly and efficiently communicates the tone you want your site to have. For more professional endeavors, say if you’re hosting a site for your law firm, a brightly colored theme with all sorts of cutesy fonts probably isn’t going to be the look you’re going for. And if you’re running a site that’s a fan site for your favorite anime, you’re not going to want a dry “just the facts, ma’am” layout either. That’s not even taking into consideration theme functionality. In 2016, a huge share of traffic is actually coming from mobile (phones and tablets) rather than the traditional desktop. You did choose a responsive theme that intelligently scales your site depending on the device it’s being viewed on, right? Of course you did (and if not, now is your chance to remedy that). Remember, usability is extremely important. No one wants to pinch and zoom on their phone screen just to be able to read your site.
As you can see, picking the right theme is crucial to the success of your WordPress build. Luckily, much like finding cheap WordPress hosting services, finding good themes doesn’t have to break the bank. Though there are many premium themes available, you don’t necessarily have to pay anything to get a really nice site. If your website is a main driver of your business, or you run an ecommerce site, you may want to purchase a premium theme in order to get the exact look and functionality you need. For everyone else, however, a solid free theme is more than enough to have a professional looking site. Let’s take a look at some of the more popular WordPress themes of 2016.
It’s important to note that all of the themes listed here are both free and responsive. Non-responsive websites don’t make a whole lot of sense in 2016.
Shapely is certainly very “modern.” Modern meaning it is image heavy and caters to those with high quality displays who are looking to peruse and make quick decisions. Text will appear sharp thanks to the crisp graphics, but this is obviously a theme for those looking to present a portfolio of work that leads to some sort of “contact us” call to action. Its single page parallax design doesn’t lend itself well to the walls of text you’ll find on informational sites with individual articles. Shapely also supports easy integration with Google Analytics, Yoast SEO, and various contact form plugins for conversions. If you’re an independent contractor, artist, photographer, or any kind of creative, Shapely is a great free theme to choose.
Astrid is a bit more involved than Shapely, adding textual elements to the latter’s photo centric minimalism. In other words, if you want to actually have some readable elements on the page alongside your graphics, this might be the better theme for you. Astrid is a business theme, no question. Take a look at other business websites set up in recent years and you’ll see elements of Astrid there. The big eye catching banner at the top of the page is there. The smaller, symbol based elements with explanatory text are underneath. As you go down the page your potential customers can find out more about your unique services and results. The font and color options allow you to brand your site accordingly so you match the rest of your marketing materials. As far as integration, it is translation ready for international customers. WooCommerce support is also built in if you sell directly from your site, which is a huge benefit. If you’re a business owner that sells products from your site, Astrid is an amazing free theme that offers premium services.
Hueman is a theme for those editorial content producers out there. The wordsmiths will love this one. It has a magazine look to it, with eye catching header images, headlines, and article summaries. The theme supports ten posts displaying on the homepage so visitors can see a variety of your work. A threaded comment system is supported and, like Astrid, Hueman is translation ready for international readers.
While there are certainly more than three great WordPress theme options to choose from, these three highlight the main uses one might have for their site: portfolio, ecommerce, and editorial. There are plenty more themes to spotlight but start your search with these three today.