The sources for WordPress themes are almost as varied as the designs and tweaks of the themes themselves. Each has some important considerations and, of course, reasons for using that source. Several source examples are as follows:

  • The official website. The advantages of this site are very straightforward–including free price, lots of options, clear information on the details of the theme, and support/update information.
  • Professional markets like are great options for more robust themes with more prebuilt template options, including some additional features and a wider variety of options. However, they rarely have free themes, and the cheap options vary according to periodic sales.
  • Various blogs exist with reviews and rankings on multiple themes. However, these are varied and the opinion is generally of one person instead of aggregated scores like you would typically find in a marketplace. Furthermore, if your need is a little more niche than the standard style of most themes, it will be quite difficult to find anything that will service your needs.
  • Build your own options abound, whether it’s to create a new website in HTML and then convert it through some PHP hacks, or simply to work with an incomplete Starter Theme or Theme Framework. Regardless of the choice, these require at least some general knowledge of coding, if not robust levels of comfort with HTML, CSS, and PHP, just to begin with.

Files and Needs

When evaluating a theme, we need to make sure it has several key components:

  • First off we need a style.css file, which is the main stylesheet. It’ll include info like the author’s name, version, and more in the header.
  • The index.php is the primary template file for the theme. It isn’t the only template you can include, but it’s the first spot for functionality storage.
  • Finally, the comments.php file is the comment template. Ideally, it should support threads, trackbacks, and allow different styles for comment types, including the author.

Decision Points

When it came time to choose my theme, I had several criteria and narrowing points in mind. While I didn’t mind something that would take a little more manual configuration, I also really wanted something that had regular updates and good support from the developers, because I didn’t want to have to install a new theme in a few months time due to security concerns or incompatibility with WP updates. I needed something mobile responsive, as there’s all kinds of metrics out there about how much people use their phones or tablets to at least preview sites versus a traditional computer. Lastly, I really preferred the idea of something free, as I’m currently rather on the broke side, and the typical WP templates I’ve gravitated towards in the past are a bit pricey. I selected Astra for the time being, with the hopes that I can leverage it into something good in the near future


I installed the theme off of the wp-admin dashboard, by accessing it through the theme store. Installation and activation was extremely straightforward, with very little overall fuss. Customization seems a bit limited as it appears that, like many similar products, the goal is to get you to purchase an upgraded version.