When I set up this personal site, I decided straight away to use WordPress as the platform. I’m a huge WordPress fan, not just as a blogging platform but as a general CMS. It’s very easy to use and flexible, which makes training and maintenance easy, and for many of the projects I’ve worked on it provides a great solution to most content needs.
One of the big decisions when setting up your own blog is to decide how it’s going to look. Basically you have three options:
- Use one of the many free themes available online (see lists of links below for some good examples).
- Pay for a premium theme.
- Hire a designer to design a theme for you.
I’ve taken all three of these approaches in the past and they all have their merits. For this site I decided to start by seeing if I could find any suitable free themes. Here’s some of the places I looked:
- 50 Beautiful Free WordPress Themes
- 50+ Free WordPress Themes for Personal Blogs of High Quality
- 15 High Quality Premium-Like WordPress Themes
- 10 Unusual and Original WordPress Themes
- 20 More Free First-Class WordPress Themes
- 45+ Must See WordPress Themes
- 83 Beautiful WordPress Themes You (Probably) Haven’t Seen
Keep an eye on the excellent Smashing Magazine for regular new collections of free high quality themes.
I experimented with many of these, and although some looked great, there was nothing that offered the right balance of minimalism, optimisation and flexibility that I required.
Looking into Premium themes was my next step. I found some great looking themes at the following:
But I finally settled on the excellent Thesis theme, by Chris Pearson. This theme (and if you’re reading this on my site you’re looking at it now) has a simple elegance that makes it aesthetically perfect for my needs. It’s also very well optimised for search engines and provides great flexibility for creating new layouts without getting into CSS or PHP coding – check out the gallery of blogs using the theme to see how much can be done with it.
All in, it’s well worth the $164 price tag ($87 for just the personal option), and I highly recommend it.
I’ve set up quite a few self-hosted WordPress sites in my time, so if you want any advice on how to do this, or you are having difficulties, drop me an email and I’ll see if I can help.