Every WordPress website needs a theme to tell it how to display the site’s content. The theme contains templates to determine where all the different elements should go and a style sheet to control their appearance.
One of the great things about WordPress is that you can transform the way your website looks and works just by installing and activating a different theme. The same content can be displayed in a completely different way to give a very different look to your site.
To illustrate this, I set up a test site for a fictitious photographer and tried out several different themes. You can see screen prints of the results below.
Please note that I am not necessarily recommending these themes; it was just an exercise to show how easy it is to change a site’s appearance. In each case I have just used the default settings whereas if I was using one of these themes on a live website then I would spend more time personalising it.
Most of these screen prints show a home page which displays blog posts but it is equally possible to move the blog off the home page so that it has to be accessed via a menu, or even to have a site with no blog element to it at all.
First, I used the three themes that come ready installed with all new WordPress sites.
Next I tried out a few of the free themes available from the WordPress.org themes directory. In each case, I made sure that the theme was responsive (so it would fit on small screens such as tablets) and that it had reasonably good reviews.
This theme from AlienWP displays the biographical information from the user profile.
Pinboard, from One Designs , provides various options for changing the layout and appearance of the site. I said earlier that I used the default options for this exercise, but in this case I did make a small change as the default shows a couple of blog posts with larger images before the grid of smaller ones.
For the Scrappy theme by Caroline Moore I had to upload featured images with a wider shape.
Finally, I used a couple of premium (paid for) themes.
Origin by Elegant Themes includes an interesting effect when the cursor hovers over the photographs. It looks nice but it’s a bit fiddly to set up because all the featured images have to have the same aspect ratio.
To use Elevation by Themes Kingdom I did have to add some extra content. This is a portfolio type of theme, which enables you to add projects, in addition to the usual pages and posts. Each of the photographs shown on the homepage is the featured image for a project. Clicking on one of the project categories, after the word “SEE”, filters the images to show only the projects in that category.