How to Choose a Theme

Every WordPress site comes with a pre-installed Theme. The Theme dictates the way your website looks. Themes are extremely important because they provide control over the look and presentation of the material on your website. It’s important to keep in mind that when you change the Theme of your site you change the aesthetic without changing the core functionality, i.e.  all of your pictures, images, links and other content still exist in the same place. There are many Themes available for download that will work with your WordPress installation. As a child site on the FI network, your site will come installed with Twenty Seventeen Theme, as shown here:

Wordpress Default theme example

Figuring out what Theme will work best for you is often pretty difficult. Here are three main points to consider when choosing a Theme:

  1. Layout
  2. Features
  3. Subject

First, the layout. Each Theme will present a different layout. The layout of your Theme will determine how content is displayed. Theme layouts include the following:  grid layout, one column, two columns, three columns, four columns, left sidebar, and right sidebar. Each layout has its advantage. For example, a Theme with a sidebar provides a useful space to display widgets (search, recent posts, etc.) whereas a Theme with a grid layout provides a great way to display a gallery of photos. Often times, playing around with different Themes will help you figure out which Theme works best for the content of your site.

The next thing to consider is the Theme’s features. Theme features represent a set of specific functionalities that may be enabled by the author of the Theme.  In order to figure out what features your Theme needs, think about who your users will be. For example, one extremely important Theme feature is Accessibility-Ready, which ensures that the Theme adheres to accessibility guidelines. In addition, if your site will be used by international users perhaps consider using a Translation Ready Theme. There exists a long list of possible features. To learn more about Theme features, spend some time browsing through the endless list of WordPress Themes. Similar to your Theme layout, it will often take some experimentation to figure out which Theme options are necessary for your site.

Lastly, WordPress Themes are often made with particular content or subjects in mind. For example, the three Themes below show three different WordPress Themes which were each created for a particular subject. The left image shows an e-commerce Theme, the middle image shows a blog Theme, and the right image shows a news Theme. The examples show that the structure and layout of the Theme are often built to fit the content of the site.

Theme examples

Other possible WordPress Theme subjects include education, entertainment, food & drink, holiday, photography, and portfolio. If you have a clear idea what the main purpose of your site will be, choosing a Theme by subject is a great way to get started. Like was said above, the best way to pick a Theme is through experimentation. If you’ve created a child site using the FI main site, you will have access to a number of pre-installed Themes to play around with. If you’ve come across any Theme that isn’t already installed on the FI site, please reach out to the FI web developers with an installation request: We will do our best to support you.



The Futures Initiative
The Graduate Center, CUNY
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New York, NY 10016-4309