15 Best Free WordPress Themes Autumn 2015

A quick round up of some of the latest free WordPress themes, including a couple of older themes that I’ve not included in previous posts but feature here because they are consistently well rated and reviewed.

1. ColorMag

ColorMag wordpress theme

Extremely well-reviewed theme by ThemeGrill – ‘a perfect responsive magazine style WordPress theme. Suitable for news, newspaper, magazine, publishing, business and any kind of sites’.

2. Virtue

Virtue wordpress theme

I’m not always keen on ‘lite’ themes as the free versions sometimes do not deliver but the next few themes are so well-reviewed, that their free versions certainly warrant inclusion in this list.

First up, Virtue by Kadence Themes has been around for quite some time and has over 150 five-star reviews, which must make it one of the best reviewed themes in the WordPress depository.

‘The Virtue theme is extremely versatile with tons of options, easy to customize and loaded with great features. The clean modern design is built with html5 and css3 and uses the powerful responsive framework from Bootstrap to be a fully responsive and mobile friendly. It’s fully ecommerce (Woocommerce) ready with all the tools you need to design an awesome online store. The versatile design is perfect for any kind of business, online store, portfolio or personal site. We built Virtue with a powerful options panel where you can set things like your home layout, sliders, custom fonts, and completely customize your look without writing any CSS.’

The free version has a good deal of options but the even more all singing premium version is $45.

Continue Reading for Themes 3-15

Best Free WordPress Themes for 2015

It’s almost a year since my last round up of free WordPress themes, and there are certainly some great new themes out there, most now with a full screen look.

As ever, I’ve not tested all the themes, though all the themes look like they are from genuine trusted sources. Where themes have a pro version, I’ve had a look to see that the free versions are still worthwhile but it’s worth comparing free and pro versions to see what the difference is. Often the free version will have more limited colour, typography and page layout options, no slider or limited slides, less widgets or widget areas, and a new trend seems to be to offer WooCommerce compatibiltiy for the pro but not free version.

I have linked themes to their WordPress depository page if they are in it, but for themes that are not in the WordPress depository you may want to check them with the Theme Authenticity Checker Plugin or check the theme files at VirusTotal. So let’s get started:

1. Nirvana

nirvana wordpress themeNirvana is one of the most impressive free themes around at the moment.

‘a framework of over 200 settings in a user-friendly interface, a very effective responsive design, easy to use typography equipped with Google fonts, all post formats, 8 page templates (magazine and blog layouts included), 12 widget areas and a presentation page complete with an editable slider and columns’.

2. Storefront

Storefront WordPress ThemeGood contemporary theme from WooThemes.

‘Storefront is an intuitive & flexible, free WordPress theme offering deep integration with WooCommerce’.

Continue Reading for Themes 3-25

30 Best Free WordPress Themes for Summer 2014

The halfway point of the year seems a good time for another round up of the latest free WordPress themes. As usual I have steered clear of ‘free’ themes that are so limited that you really to need upgrade to premium to make any use of them. I’ve not tested all the themes, though all the themes look like they are from genuine sources. For themes that are not in the WordPress depository you may want to check them with the Theme Authenticity Checker Plugin or check the theme files at VirusTotal. So here goes:

1. Limo

Limo is an impressive modern free full screen theme from CodexCoder with a good range of features and options that you often only find in premium themes. ‘Limo is a beautiful HTML5 template Designed and Developed by CodexCoder. This template is validated by W3C and we attached lots of Features. Its awesome outlook and effects can easily attract visitors’. Limo WordPress Theme

2. Isis

‘Isis is a Simple, Clean and Responsive Retina Ready WordPress Theme which adapts automatically to your tablets and mobile devices. theme with 2 home page layouts,2 header style,10 social icons,4 widget ,Slider,3 page templates – Full width page, 4 google fonts, font-awesome service icon,Upload logo option ….. Isis is suitable for any types of website – corporate, portfolio, business, blog.’ Isis WordPress Theme Continue Reading for Themes 3-30

15 of the Best Free WordPress Themes for Autumn 2013

It’s been a couple of months since my last round-up of free WordPress themes and a quick check around the sites reveals there’s been a surprising amount of good new themes released recently. Some of the following themes are still quite fresh so bear that in mind if you are thinking of using them – most of the developers will welcome any feedback and suggestions for improvements. The themes are all responsive and it’s noticeable that Bootstrap is being used as the basis for more and more themes.

1. Vantage

This looks to be a truly impressive free theme with a host of features usually seen in premium themes. The full screen front page slider looks great plus there’s a load of widgets and use of Page Builder to help create customised layouts. It’s a popular theme with 25,000 downloads in 5 weeks.

Vantage

‘Vantage is a flexible multipurpose theme. It’s strength lies in its tight integration with some powerful plugins like Page Builder for responsive page layouts, MetaSlider for big beautiful sliders and WooCommerce to help you sell online. Vantage is fully responsive and retina ready. Use it to start a business site, portfolio or online store’.

2. Openstrap

Another very impressive free theme, Openstrap utilises the Bootstrap Framework, and offers a whole host of features with plenty of widgets and page layouts.

Openstrap

‘The Openstrap theme for WordPress developed on top of Twitter Bootstrap Framework. The theme is fully responsive and can be viewed on any device. Openstrap theme provides 6 different layouts for posts and pages, 11 widget areas, 3 strategic menu locations, nicely designed and customizable footer with its own widgets’.

Continue Reading to View Themes 3-15

More of the Best Free and Responsive WordPress Themes 2013

This is another round up of free and responsive WordPress themes.Some free themes also have pro versions so when this is the case take care to check the free version has the features you require if you do not want to pay for pro. For example, the Panoramica theme, mentioned in my previous article, 16 Free Responsive WordPress Themes for 2013, which is an impressive free theme, now has a pro version, and the free version is not quite as good as it was.

In general, I have tended to shy away from listing basic or lite versions as the features are often quite underwhelming,and sometimes the free version is not responsive. This is no doubt part of a strategy to encourage you to go pro or try a theme but I have only listed basic/lite versions where the free version is still a good choice in itself.

1.Customizr

Customizr is currently the second most downloaded theme in the WordPress Themes directory, and with a good slider, plenty of widget areas, easy customisations, and a clean look, it is not hard to see why. From CPO Themes.

Cutomizr Theme

‘A  free responsive WordPress theme, easy to customize , built with HTML5 & CSS3 upon the Twitter Bootstrap framework. The clean design can be used for any type of website : corporate, portfolio, business, blog, etc. Choose a skin, upload your logo, set up your social network profiles and you are done!

It also includes a handy responsive slider generator (with call to action text and button) that can be embedded in any pages or posts. The theme supports five widgetized areas (two in the sidebars, three in the footer), up to three columns, nine post formats with special styles. It also comes with seven elegant skins and three handy featured page blocks for the front page’.

2. Discover

Another popular theme is Discover, from AntThemes, there are free and pro versions but the free version offers a lot, including a good slider with a side area for a call to action. Unlike some themes with pro versions, the free version is responsive .

Discover Theme

‘A very neat and clean orange and white business theme. The theme supports widgets. And features theme-options, threaded-comments and multi-level dropdown menu. A simple and neat typography’.

Continue Reading to View More Themes

16 Free Responsive WordPress Themes for 2013

More and more WordPress themes are going responsive with fluid page layouts that work across a range of devices. Here are some of the best free ones currently available:

1. Panoramica

This is one of my favourite free options at present with some nice basic customisations and the option to go full screen. From CPO Themes.

Panoramica theme

‘Panoramica is built with the intent of adapting to as many window sizes as possible. It has a fully fluid layout that gives it tremendous flexibility, allowing you to cater to both large and small screens alike. Its polished portfolio heavily emphasizes the use of images, displaying a clean slideshow in every portfolio item. And of course, you can customize its appearance through its extensive options panel’.

2. Pytheas

Pytheas is another good free option with enough basic customisations available to help create a decent site. From WP Explorer, who have a number of good free themes available on their site.

Pytheas Theme

Continue Reading to View Themes 3-15

Quick Guide to Using WordPress

This is a quick guide to using WordPress after it has been installed. It has tried to focus on the essentials so there’s much more to WordPress than in this guide, but we hope it will help you to get to know the basics.

The Dashboard

WordPress has an administration area known as a dashboard. This is the page you go to when you log in and it is where you control most of your site’s features and content. When you first log in to your site, you will see a big blue box suggesting you customise your site with various other suggestions to get started.

Before doing this it is perhaps worth familiarising yourself a bit more with how WordPress works. On the left hand side, there is a menu with various items. This menu comprises of the main features and controls of WordPress. Click on each item for a full menu for that item or hover over each item to get the main options for that item such as ‘add new’.

You also have various options running along the top of the page including comment and update notifications, and a quick facility to add new content. On the top right hand side, you can change what is displayed on your page by clicking on Screen Options (each administration page has its ownscreen options to modify what is displayed). On the top left side, if you hover over the site name, the option to click on Visit Site appears. This is useful to keep track of your changes, and if you open this in a new tab, you can see the changes you make by refreshing the page after each change.

wordpress dashboard screen

Posts

This is where you add your blog posts. WordPress began as a blogging platform and posts still feature prominently on the site. To create a new blog post, simply click on ‘Add New’. You are then taken to a text editor where you can add a title, text, photos and other media. You can group posts together by choosing a category for each one.

To add a photo or other media into a post (or a page), click on ‘insert media’, and upload a photo or choose a photo from your media library (see below).
Once uploaded, insert into the page – you can align it to the right, centre or left, and there are size options too. The positioning of photos does not always look as it will on the screen in the editor – to double check, you can view your live site at any time by hovering on the name of your site on the top left hand side and then clicking ‘view site’.

Once you have finished your entry, click on preview, save draft or publish if you are ready.

Pages

This is where you create your site’s pages. Click on ‘Add New’ and you are taken to the editor, just like in posts. Pages can have parent pages so a page of Windsor Castle might have a parent page ‘Castles’ and you can reflect this in the menu settings (see below) – you can set this under page attributes on the right hand side.

wordpress edit page screen

The front page of the site is set as the blog by default but you can change this. Create a page and then on the right hand side, look for Page Attributes, and choose ‘blog’. Each new blog entry is then automatically added to that page. You also need to go to settings, then ‘reading’ where you can choose which content will appear on your front page and which page is for your posts (blog).

Appearance – themes, widgets, menus

Depending on your theme, you will have a number of options to help you modify and customise your site’s appearance.

  • Theme
    Your site’s appearance is largely controlled by your choice of theme. You can customise and modify themes to achieve a better look and feel, and you
    can change themes. WordPress comes with two default themes, currently Twenty Eleven and Twenty Twelve. These are quite good but many people are using
    them. You can find a new theme on the web or search from the themes menu page. Once you have found a theme, you download it as a zip file but there is
    no need to unzip it yourself. From the Theme menu in WordPress, choose install theme, upload it and then preview and/or activate it. If you do change a
    theme, and then want to go back to your original theme, bear in mind that you may lose any changes you have made to the theme’s appearance including
    backgrounds, colour changes, widgets (see below) and headers for example. It’s therefore best to preview a new theme before activating it. You can
    manage, search and install new themes from the themes menu.
  • Widgets
    Most themes come with a number of widgets (small apps) that you can display in certain locations according to the theme (e.g. the sidebar). This
    usually includes items such as recent posts and a search box but might also include a Follow Me or Flickr widgets. To use a widget, you simply drag it
    from ‘available widgets’ to the desired location on the right hand side.
  • Menus
    Your menu options depend on your theme, but you can configure which pages or categories appear on the main menu, and other menus if available, and
    adjust the order. On the left hand side, click on the post, category of page you want, then on ‘add to menu’. Once added to the menu, you can drag it
    to the menu position you want. Most themes allow for sub-menu items under a main menu item – simply drag an item to the space below a main menu item
    where it will then be indented a little.

wordpress menu screen

  • Header, background and theme options
    Provide various ways to customise the look of your site e.g. by changing the background colour, the layout or uploading an image to use as the
    background. Again, the choices available will depend on the theme.
  • Editor
    This enables further customisation but is best left to people who understand code!

Media

This is your media manager where you can view your media files or upload files ready to insert into posts, pages or galleries.

Plug-ins

wordpress plugin screen

WordPress has a huge range of plug-ins to increase your site’s functionality or features. Make sure you have the Tiny MCE Advanced plug-in installed and
activated – a much better editor than the standard one. Other good plug-ins include the essential Akismet which blocks spammy comments on your
blog (ensure you get your ‘key’ to activate it), the All In One SEO plug-in to help optimise your site for search engines, back up tool BackWPup and social media plug-ins such as AddThis.

The easiest way to search and install a plug-in is from the plugins menu. Click on Add New and search the WordPress Plugin Directory.

Comments

This provides various options to manage and moderate comments on your posts and pages.

Users

You can add users to the site with varying rights, roles and capabilities – Administrator, contributor, subscriber, editor or author.

(see http://codex.wordpress.org/Roles_and_Capabilities).

Settings

There are a large number of options under settings and you can change various things such as what appears on your front page and how many blog posts are displayed though many of these you won’t necessarily need to touch. Settings for plug-ins also appear here including the All in One SEO Pack and TinyMCE Advanced and you may want to tweak these.

It’s a good idea to change the settings for permalinks – this is how your site’s url (internet) addresses will be displayed for each page or post as soon as you start your site. The WordPress default settings are not very friendly. It is probably best to change to ‘day and name’ or ‘month and name’ if your website is heavily blog based or ‘post name’ if it is more of a static website.

Other Features

Some themes come with extra options such as:

  • Portfolio – some themes include a portfolio. To create a portfolio page, you first need to add a new page in the pages menu, and set the template to portfolio. Once the page has been created, to upload a photo, go to Portfolio, and select ‘add new’ and then select ‘Set featured Image’. This takes you to the media manager where you can choose an image to add or upload to the portfolio. As with other posts, portfolio items can be placed into categories. You can also add text in the text editor to describe the photo. If some of your photos do not display, you may need to go to settings, permalinks and then just click on save changes – this resets your site’s internal links.
  • Home Slides – for use on a photo slideshow. This option helps you add photos for the slider – bear in mind most sliders work best with photos cropped to an optimum
    scale for that slider. Adding a slide is the same as adding a portfolio post but you also have the option to link at an external photo hosted on
    another site.
  • Highlights – small snippets to highlight content that you can place on the front page. This option allows you to add and edit your highlights.

Updates and back-ups

WordPress is updated fairly regularly, and so are its plug-ins and themes. This usually increases security or fixes a bug, but be aware that updating WordPress and its plug-ins can have an impact on your site and so it’s a good idea to back your site up regularly. In particular, you may lose any customisations you have made, and  some plug-ins can cause problems if they are not compatible with the latest version of WordPress. WordPress will notify you on your dashboard or plugins page when you have updates available, and normally, it is just a matter of clicking on update to do so. Note that if you’re with 1&1 hosting and you installed WordPress via the one-click application, you will not be able to upgrade WordPress automatically, only manually.

See also: http://codex.wordpress.org/Updating_WordPress

Theme Providers

There are many readymade WordPress themes out there for many purposes – for hotels, artists, estate agents, bands, newspapers – anything really. Good premium themes come at a price (from $40ish or you can sometimes subscribe to access a number) but there are some good free themes available too. If you install a free theme, make sure it’s from a reputable source as free themes often contain malicious code.

wordpress theme options

For good theme providers, check out:

Theme Forest – leading and established theme provider

Elegant Themes – clean and, indeed, elegant themes

Woothemes – good range of free and premium themes

Wp-Explorer – good range of free and premium themes

Suffusion – highly rated premium-like free responsive theme with ‘power-packed’ set of options

MintThemes – impressive range of niche themes though not the cheapest