Five Ways to Discern a Quality WordPress Theme

There are probably 100,000 WordPress themes out there for the choosing.  Take away 50% broken or outdated and  another 20% unfinished junk and you’re left with 40,000 usable WordPress themes.  Ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but the truth is there are way too many themes to choose from.

Among every theme that is built for current versions of WordPress, there is bound to be a design you like and that meets your needs.  This article will help you develop your ability to identify quality themes from the rest.  Separate the wheat from the chaff.  The cream from the milk if you will.

It begins with a careful eye, and ends with reliance on your gut instinct.

1. Look for the obvious rating

This only really works for marketplaces where the user base moderates quality.  Obviously a premium theme provider won’t rate any of their own themes poorly.

2. Read the Discussion and Feedback

Almost every theme designer has a feedback mechanism or a discussion forum.  Some providers make these forums viewable for only purchasers.  Read these forums carefully and see what the common issues are.  More importantly, how fast are the theme developers in responding and resolving issues?

3. Check Compatibility

Well developed WordPress themes are compatible across all modern browsers, operating systems and across commonly used WordPress versions.  A quality theme should be backward-compatible to version 3.1 and fully compatible with the latest version of WordPress which is currently 3.4.  Cross compatibility should be seamless (ie: no hacks or core modifications required).

4. Check for Comprehensive Documentation and Instructions

Every theme claims to be “well documented“, but what does that really mean?  Just including two pages of instructions does not cut it.  Look for a long, detailed PDF of instructions.  Check every feature you are interested in against the documentation.  If anything is missing, confront the developer.  Documentation should be detailed enough that you can easily set up a theme, but not so detailed that it takes forever to read.  It should be well organized with a linked table of contents as well.

Good documentation should also be written well and grammatically correct.  Not everything needs to  be written in English, but for documentation that is, it should be correct English.  Theme documentation built into the theme itself can be very helpful.

5. Look for Frequent (but not too frequent) Updates

Frequent theme updates mean the developer is committed to ongoing support and quality.  But daily updates mean they are quick to make changes without being thoughtful.  You can check for update frequency through the WordPress SVN or developer download page.

Ready to find a quality theme?  Check out two of our favorites: ElegantThemes and ThemeForest.

The Complete Guide to WordPress Editing: Part 2

Whether you’re completely new or have been blogging for a while now, you’re probably still not using everything available to you as a blogger on WordPress. It took me a few years of blogging and developing plugins before I really started getting it. I’m going to save you time and write up what I’ve learned here.

This complete series on writing and editing posts with WordPress will cover…

  1. Customizing Your Interface & Getting to Know Permalinks
  2. Mastering Text Formatting For Your Posts
  3. Leveraging Post Scheduling & Post States
  4. How to Make Private and Password Protected Posts
  5. How to Enable and Disable Comments & Understanding Trackbacks
  6. Finding and Using Theme-Specific Options

Today you’re going to learn about how to master basic text formatting for your posts (as well as some best practices). Today we’ll handle the options you should know about, but may have felt too stupid to ask.

How bold of you to lean my direction…

Making effective use of bold and italics is important. Since you know what Bold and Italics are, I’ll give you a couple of guidelines for when to use them:

  • Bold: Call out an important phrase, and create visual difference for better skimming.
  • Italics: Use for emphasis — particularly when you’re comparing two things to each other.

Allow me to list your options…

People love and share lists.

Make sure you learn to use actually formatted lists. This makes it easier for users to:

  • Scan your content.
  • Digest your content.
  • Share your content.

By using consistent formatting, your readers will be able to quickly glean the information they want while they scan, and quickly determine whether it’s worth sharing with their friends.

There are two types of lists, both available in your text editor: Ordered and Unordered.

Ordered, as you may suspect, is a numbered list.

Unordered will show bullet points.

Use appropriately.

Write that down, that was brilliant…

Ever wanted to quote a website or person in your blog post?

There’s a nifty feature called the Blockquote in your editor. It’s right next to the list icons.

This is an example of a blockquote.

Each theme will handle the blockquote a bit differently. If you’re using a free or cheap theme, you may discover that your blockquote doesn’t look any different at all — but if your theme is quality, it should stand out from the rest of your text.

I can’t justify your right alignment…

The same way you were probably already familiar with bold and italics, you’re probably already familiar with text alignments.

For long blocks of text, it is best practice to leave the formatting to the default left-aligned (like this post is written in).

 However, sometimes things call for centered text.

In extreme cases, you may even find yourself in need of right-aligned text.

Please be cautious about going overboard with special alignments, as if you vary things too much, your readers will stop trying at all.

Can you link these words for me?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked to add a link to a WordPress post because it felt too overwhelming.

No more! I am now going to send all my friends to this post.

Write out your anchor text.

What’s that? Anchor text is comprised of the words that are hyperlinked to another web page.

Once you are satisfied with the text you want to be linked, you can select them with your cursor and click the link icon. Once you’ve filled out the link you want, and click “OK” and you’ll have linked text.