The 7 Most Customizable, Free WordPress Themes

 

I must start with a caveat – I don’t believe any one theme should be all things to all users. A few years ago, a theme used to simply be a pre-made design that you could apply to your site – an overall look and feel, not a “website in a box”. You used a theme because you didn’t have the design and/or coding skill to create your own. But, nowadays users want to be able to control every aspect of their site’s look and feel – basically design their site themselves, without doing any code. If you are not an actual designer, then there are many downfalls to this approach. But that is not the point of this post.

Now, as I write the update, Gutenberg is in full force. It’s still being improved but it’s already a very powerful tool, giving site owners a lot more control in laying out their pages. The theme landscape is evolving, and at this particular moment, it’s still figuring out what it’s going to become. The power of themes seems to be tending toward the set of blocks and pre-made layouts they can provide.

Needless to say, people like free themes and they also like flexibility. So here are 7 themes that fit the bill. I’m not saying they will do anything and everything you want, but for free, they are pretty extensive. I’ve tried to point out the features that are useful and/or unique, but that doesn’t mean I’ve included every possibility. But these themes are free, so you can try them for yourself at no risk!

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Troubleshoot Your WordPress Plugins with Plugin Detective

Troubleshoot WordPress plugins with Plugin Detective

Many issues that arise on your WordPress site will be plugin-related. Whether it’s a conflict between plugins, between a plugin and your theme, a buggy update, or whatever else may happen,  the standard troubleshooting procedure is to deactivate all your plugins, then turn them back on one at a time until the issue reappears. This process lets you isolate exactly which plugin is at the source of the conflict. However, if you have more than a handful of plugins on your site, which almost everyone does, this can be a time-consuming and frustrating process.

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How to Have Different Sidebar Content On Different Pages of Your WordPress Site

How to have different WordPress sidebar content on different pages

Updated: April 2018

Not all WordPress themes provide a way to have totally different sidebar content on different pages of your site. Some may provide a little flexibility with, for example a sidebar for the blog and a different sidebar for static pages, but sometimes you need more comprehensive control. You may need an additional set of navigation on a certain set of sub-pages, or you may want to hide some widgets on mobile devices, or for other specific conditions.

There are several different plugins that help you gain this type of flexibility with your site.

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Hosting Recommendations for your WordPress Site

web hosting recommendations for your WordPress site

There is an overwhelming choice of web hosts these days and it can be hard to determine which would be a good fit. A Google search will reveal many blog posts on the subject which are really are just a roundup of that blog’s sub-par affiliates that haven’t been vetted for quality.

I’ve been running my own sites for over 14 years now, and have also had many years experience with client websites and all their various hosts.  So I have direct experience with many different hosts and have also interacted with the technical support departments of many of them.

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How To Customize Genesis Child Themes: Design Palette Pro

Design Palette Pro - Customize Genesis

The Inner Beauty of Genesis

In the past, I’ve had mixed feelings about StudioPress’ Genesis framework. It was frequently recommended to beginners and non-developers, but the problem was that they would install it, and even with a nicely designed child theme, they would then complain, “but, where’s all the options?”

People immediately wanted to change things and when they didn’t see a massive options panel, they felt shortchanged. “I have to do CSS to customize this thing??”

But, herein lies the beauty of the Genesis framework. It’s not supposed to be Avada, Divi, X or any of the other “be everything to everyone” type of themes. When you purchase a Genesis child theme, you’re paying for the expertly-designed look and feel you see on the demo. They are not intended to be completely customizable by the user through an options panel. Of course, if you have the chops, you can certainly do anything you want with Genesis and its child themes, you just have to use their hooks system and know some CSS and PHP.

Some of you may be asking, “Well, where’s the beauty in that?”

Since working with WP Rocket (a premium caching plugin) I became painfully aware of just how badly some themes drag down a website’s load time.  While researching a blog post to showcase some of our customers’ fastest pages,  I found that most of the fastest sites I looked at ran on Genesis.

Because it doesn’t try to be everything to everyone, it’s really fast out of the box. And that’s the beauty.

“Yea, yea…..but…..customize! Fonts! Colors!” you may be grumbling at your screen.

Enter….Design Palette Pro

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Where To Find WordPress Themes – Free & Premium

Where to find WordPress Themes

LAST UPDATED: January 2017

Finding a good WordPress theme is perhaps one of the most challenging tasks in getting your site set up. It’s like the Wild West out there, with all kinds of cowboys claiming they’ve got the best theme to beat all themes. Who can you believe?!

Here are a few trusted resources for finding a reliable theme.

Premium & Free WordPress Themes

AlienWP – Their themes, which range from magazine-style, to portfolio, all share a minimalist aesthetic. They offer some free ones as well.

Array Themes – Thoughtfully designed themes with great typography. Some great choices for bloggers, photographers/designers and more. They have both free and premium themes.

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