Most bloggers like to change their blog theme from time-to-time to maintain a fresh look for visitors. Ideally, you’ll probably want to make major changes to your theme every 1 or 2 years and not constantly, but that is a topic for another discussion.
If you use the most popular blogging platform, WordPress, you have basically 4 options from which to choose. Each of the 4 offers its own unique pros and cons, and hopefully one of the options will be a good fit for you and your situation.
One of the reasons so many bloggers use, and love, WordPress is because there are literally thousands of quality themes available for free, and more are being released every day. There is a great variety of free themes, and you can find one for just about anything you can imagine. However, the downside of using a free theme is that it will not be exclusive to your blog and it may not give your blog the optimal look and functionality. The most popular free themes are easily recognizable because they are used by so many blogs. What this means to you is that you will have a bit of a harder time standing out from the crowd with a free theme.
Who Should Use a Free Theme?
Free themes are ideal for personal blogs that are intended to be a hobby rather than a business. In this case, you’re not attempting to make money with a blog or to brand a business, so a theme that is used by other bloggers is almost a non-issue. Also, new bloggers who are just getting started or “testing the waters” may want to use a free theme temporarily until they know for sure what direction they want to go with their blog.
In the last year or two there has been a huge growth in the number of premium themes that are available. A premium theme is sold be a designer/developer for a set price. For example, you may pay $100 to buy the rights to use a premium theme. Other bloggers will also be paying to use the same theme, so it will not be exclusive to your blog, but it will also not be as common as many free themes.
Who Should Use a Premium Theme?
Premium themes typically feature a very high quality design for an affordable price. They’re the middle ground between free themes and a custom design, and so they’re a great fit for anyone who is serious about their blog but unable or unwilling to pay for a custom design. Additionally, most premium themes will come with some type of support or assistance from the developer.
A Customization of an Existing Theme
Both free themes and premium themes can be customized by anyone to create a more unique look for a blog. If you have a little bit of experience and knowledge of WordPress and CSS, making some customizations to a theme is not that difficult. For example, changing color schemes will only involve making some simple changes to the stylesheet. Adding a custom logo or header image can be done by making some changes to the header.php file.
Who Should Use a Customized Theme?
Anyone that isn’t afraid to do some experimentation with their theme can benefit from added customization (of course you’ll want to save a backup of the existing theme in case you make any changes that you want to undo). A basic free theme can quickly turn into a much more effective theme with a few customizations.
Rather than making some changes to an existing theme, you have the option to hire a designer to create a completely unique theme for your blog. This is of course the most expensive option, but if it’s done well it will also have the best results for your blog. There are plenty of designers out there who are willing to do the work, and there is a pretty big variety in terms of price and quality.
Who Should Use a Custom/Professional Design?
Any individual who is making a good income with their blog should consider having a professional design. In many cases it will be money well spent. Most of the top blogs have unique themes, and poor quality design could keep you from reaching your blog’s potential. Additionally, business that have blogs should also consider professional designs, as the theme will be a reflection on the business.