I recently built a business Web site for a friend using WordPress and was shocked at how easy it was to create something really good, really quickly. I used a commercial theme and a few popular plugins and wound up with something really nice that looked professional and didn’t look at all like a blog. I didn’t consider using free themes at all, and it looks like that was the right idea.
Siobhan Ambrose took a survey of some sites are highly ranked in searches for free WordPress themes and found that of the top 10 sites, the only one that you could trust was the themes pages on the official WordPress site. The piece is very well reported and also provides a ton of useful information on how to ferret out malicious code in WordPress themes and plugins. Her article is titled, appropriately enough, Why You Should Never Search For Free WordPress Themes in Google or Anywhere Else.
January 26, 2011 at 11:15 am
I’ve found that the best starter theme is to make a child theme of the default – twentyten. Even though it might not look very close to the design you’re shooting for, it’s thoroughly marked up, so that every WordPress view, feature, and widget is identified in the stylesheet.
It also encourages you to use the native functionality of WP, such as the menus, featured images, and built-in template selection. That makes it easy to apply updates.