The ultimate WordPress theme is out there – the quest continues . . .

Last week my post My quest for the ultimate WordPress Theme was Freshly Pressed. The response has been absolutely overwhelming. Thank you to all those who read my post, “liked” it, left comments and re-blogged or re-tweeted it. I read every comment and email I received, and hopefully have responded to you all. I also went to look at the site of everyone who left a comment. All I can say is WOW – there are some really beautiful sites out there. In fact there were some I’d never seen which were outstanding, some of them using themes that I would never personally have considered (until now). So I have decided that I will be featuring more of those sites on my blog in future. Just to give people an idea of what is possible with the different themes.

Another amazing site. This one using the “Under The Influence” theme. (Click on image to enlarge.) Site at

What was very exciting to me is that so many other WordPress bloggers shared my quest to find their ultimate WordPress theme. The discussion that came out in the comments was wonderful, and I think of great value to theme designers.

I especially want to thank the WordPress “theme wranglers” for writing about it on their site (see post here), because they brought it to the attention of other theme designers. Some of whom were kind enough to share their thoughts.

One of those designers, Tim Bednar (click on link to access his site), left this comment (edited) which summarized the discussion very well:

One of the developers that uses my Ashford theme sent me a message saying that I should read this post. I am glad, the post and comments are awesome.

As a theme developer, it is not often I am able to read discussions like this outside of our echo chamber. So needless to say, I am learning a lot. Here is what I’m learning:


  • like WordPress but often do not like their theme
  • do not want their theme to look like everyone one else’s theme
  • are disappointed by nice looking themes that lack functionality
  • get unexpected and unwanted results when switching themes (even to try them out)
  • want “post formats” to look different than standard posts
  • want to customize: fonts and size, colors, header, backgrounds, layout (number of columns)
  • want to customize their size with out modifying CSS and if they do, they often get unexpected results
  • are pretty much on-their-own when customizing themes

Joe Golton (AKA Filter Joe) left a comment with what he called a “reader-centric perspective”. If your blog is all about your writing and you want people to read and absorb it, I encourage you to read his post Site Design for Reading. He’s got some really great ideas.

I also want to thank Panos from the site wordpress tips for helping to answer some of the queries I got. Here is somebody who is even more obsessed about WordPress themes than I am – in a good way! 😉  Please check out the wordpress tips site, if you’ve got any questions about, or issues relating to, your theme. Or if you’re trying to find a review of a theme.

Once again, thanks to everybody! After seeing how keen people are to make the most of their blogs, I am sure that they will find their ultimate WordPress theme.

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Categories: Random


I live on the Southern coast of South Africa, and write about the things that interest, amuse or inspire me. You can find me at and (my photoblog)


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29 Comments on “The ultimate WordPress theme is out there – the quest continues . . .”

  1. Lu
    July 27, 2011 at 5:07 pm #

    It was a great post – and all the comments were fantastic 🙂 The amount of time that you took to respond to everyone in person and reflect on their choice of themes is testament to how great a blogger you are!! Well done 🙂

    • July 28, 2011 at 10:46 am #

      Thanks Lu! I’m really interested in WordPress themes and how people use them, so it was a lot of fun for me to check out everybody’s sites.

  2. July 27, 2011 at 5:33 pm #

    I had clicked ‘subscribe to comments’ when I left my first comment on that past – and as a result, felt like I was running a marathon of comments and comment replies with you over the last couple of days! It was absolutely mindblowing, Lisa. I am *still* out of breath, and I didn’t even manage to read all the comments. Yet.

    Above all, though, I am in awe of you for taking the time to reply to all of them and giving such thoughtful advice and considered feedback. At 245 comments (!), that is an incredible achievement.

    Honestly, Lisa, I think it would be quite okay if you were to have a cup of tea with bikkies now, or if you were to take Rosie out for a game of catch or something on the beach? You totally deserve a rest. 🙂

    • July 28, 2011 at 10:50 am #

      I have also experienced the “marathon of comments” effect a number of times! At least I get a heads-up when a blogger I follow has been Freshly Pressed. I hate missing out on their achievement.

      Why do you think I let Estie handle Monday’s post for me? My brain was fried after the weekend! I enjoyed some time away from my computer.

  3. July 27, 2011 at 6:44 pm #

    I am so excited for you, Lisa! The attention your post got was well-deserved. Is it fun to discover how much you have to contribute, or did you know it all along? And I’m so honored to have you as the very first subscriber to my blog so many months ago.

    Hugs to you, my friend—–Blogging brings the world together!


    • July 28, 2011 at 10:53 am #

      Thank you Kathy! I had no idea that people were that interested in the topic of WordPress themes. Or my views of them, at any rate. Willie and Riekie had been encouraging me for a while to write the post (I think they were both tired of hearing me go on and on about it!), but I kept putting it off. Shows that sometimes you must listen to others.

  4. jacquelincangro
    July 27, 2011 at 6:52 pm #

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed. I noticed your listing the other day. You deserve it, after all of that research!

    I like your review of the themes, but I really like seeing what other people are doing too. Thanks for deciding to make that a regular feature. Keep us posted. (ha ha, get it “posted’?)

    • July 28, 2011 at 10:55 am #

      Ha-ha! 🙂 Thanks Jackie! The research bit was a “labour of love”! I also like to see what other people have done. I think part of my problem in finding my ultimate theme is that I’m always seeing things I like on other sites, which I don’t have on mine.

  5. Estie
    July 27, 2011 at 7:38 pm #

    Well done Lisa. I agree with Reggie that you need a break after all the well written replies .

    • July 28, 2011 at 10:56 am #

      Thanks Estie! Thank you also in taking over blogging duties earlier this week. My brain hurt after all those comments and emails, and I just needed time to relax and not think.

  6. July 27, 2011 at 7:38 pm #

    I was also very impressed that you took the time to not only reply to everyone that left a comment, but went to look at their blog. I am not sure that I will ever find the ultimate WordPress theme. I keep reading about or seeing new things and I think I need to try them. If I had not clicked on your article last week though, I would still be scratching my head. What a difference a week makes!

    • July 28, 2011 at 10:57 am #

      I love looking at blogs and blog design, so it was really like being in a candy store for me. I’m glad that you found the post useful. I learned such a lot from the experience too.

  7. July 28, 2011 at 12:05 am #

    I didn’t notice your listing on FP. Congratulations – again. It was a great post. I looked at the blogs of everyone who commented on my blog when I was pressed as well. It makes for interesting reading.

    • July 28, 2011 at 10:59 am #

      Thank you Debra! It’s absolutely fascinating to see how people arrange their blogs, and what they write about, isn’t it?

  8. July 28, 2011 at 1:36 am #

    belated congratulations on Freshly Pressed.

  9. July 28, 2011 at 7:03 am #

    Thanks for putting the links from your readers’ contributions in one easy-access post! The thought of going to look for it in all those comments had me sweating. 😉

    Frankly, I’m a bit jealous of all the people who manage to do simple, elegant and just plain good looking blog setups. Like you say, there are some really neat ones out there so I’m looking forward to seeing them spot-lighted on your blog, because I just KNOW that you’ll find them! 🙂

    {sigh} At this rate, I’ll never stop fiddling though!

    Oh yeah, do let us know under which category you’ll feature these posts so we can jump right to them please?

    • July 28, 2011 at 11:03 am #

      I am not sure if I managed to get all the links from the comments, but definitely the main ones.

      If you enjoy changing your blog layout and design, then why stop fiddling? I’m already contemplating changes I want to make to my blog! 😉

      I still have to decide how I’m going to feature nice looking blogs, but I’ll definitely make it easy to navigate to the posts.

  10. July 28, 2011 at 11:12 am #

    I have the vigilance theme. The main thing I like about it is it allows me to have an alert box on the static page.

    • July 28, 2011 at 11:26 am #

      I love the simplicity of the Vigilance theme, but I also really like how you’re using it. You’ve set it up as a site, rather than the traditional blog.

      Thanks for your comment! 🙂

  11. July 28, 2011 at 1:37 pm #

    What a great idea to feature different themes, layouts and material. You certainly have an eye and give very gracious support. You’re a very committed friendly blogger. Thank you.

    • July 28, 2011 at 1:44 pm #

      Thanks for your kind comment! I enjoy the interaction with other bloggers, and if I can help, I will.

  12. July 28, 2011 at 5:04 pm #

    Lisa: Thanks again for a fabulous post! You should work for WordPress! Seriously, your reviews of the themes and functionality are so incredibly helpful. I would love to enhance my theme to a more functional one like yours. Is your format an upgrade? Are there other upgraded formats you would recommend? I’m willing to pay money to get better functionality yet I don’t just want to copy your theme!!!!! I’m not sure how customizable the Dellcious Magazine theme or other ones are. Of course I would prefer to make the theme my own and don’t want it to look exactly like other people’s blogs. Any thoughts?

    • July 29, 2011 at 6:22 am #

      Nicole, I have not made many CSS changes to default theme – yet. You can check out the premium themes available on here:

      Your current theme really suits your content, but if you decide to go with a premium theme, then try and find blogs already running it. For example for my theme, I would type:

      +”Blog at” +”Theme: Delicious Magazine”

      into Google. The first bit is to try and weed out the sites just discussing the theme.

      I do not have a problem if you decide to go with the same theme as mine – 516 other bloggers already have! 🙂 What will make it different is your content, and how you decide to change the layout. I would consider very carefully though changing from the Twenty Eleven theme. It’s got functionality that I wish my theme had!

  13. ßτίɱε
    December 4, 2011 at 2:58 pm #

    Is it possible for you to help me with my theme ‘Matala’? If not, it’s okay. If so, please help.

    I want to have a custom background made by me or something, but if I do that, I think it will mess up the ‘pages’. Is there any way you can help me? Thanks.


    • December 5, 2011 at 9:28 am #

      Hi there! Thanks for reading my post and leaving a comment. 🙂 I see you currently using the Vigilance theme on your blog. I’ve checked the Matala theme and it’s really easy to change the background. You just have to load a background image – or even just choose a solid colour as a background. It won’t affect anything else on your blog, and you can revert back to the original if you change your mind. Just go to the dashboard and then from the side menu pick Appearance -> Background.

      Hope that helps . . .

  14. ßτίɱε
    December 17, 2011 at 12:59 am #

    Ok. Thanks for helping! But I really am enjoying the easy-to-use Vigilance theme. Thanks!


    • December 17, 2011 at 7:02 am #

      Vigilance is a great looking theme. Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment! 🙂


  1. From MistyLook to Comet in the Skies: Welcome to the new look Grains of Sand! « Grains of Sand - October 16, 2011

    […] a post that was deservedly recognised and Freshly Pressed! – and her follow-up article The Quest Continues, that I got excited about the prospect of giving my blog an entirely new look. Notes from Africa: […]

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