How to find WordPress themes, quickly and easily

45 Comments

If you’re using WordPress, odds are you have started exploring the wonders that are WordPress themes. The right WordPress theme can make your blog pop, and while that won’t make or break your blog it might give you the inspiration to continue blogging and making a great site.

Sometimes it’s not easy to find the perfect WordPress theme. There are a lot of WordPress themes out there, but the perfect theme can at times seem like a needle in a haystack. To help you in your searching, we’ve put together the following guide to finding WordPress themes. If we’re missing a solid method, feel free to add your own tips in the comments.

The various methods we’ll be looking at are:

  • Browse the WordPress Theme Directory
  • Visit your favorite commercial theme provider or marketplace
  • Search for, and bookmark, collections of WordPress themes on various WordPress blogs
  • Use a theme finding tool: ThemeSorter, Theme Finder, other theme search engines

Browse the WordPress Theme Directory

We’ve all said our piece about the state of WordPress themes in the free dot org directory at one point or another. While the designs of Theme Directory themes aren’t always top notch, there are a few gems to be found. Plus, you never know when the quality might improve.

How you browse the Theme Directory is up to you. You can browse themes straight from your WordPress Dashboard from the Appearance > Themes > Install screen. On that screen you can search for certain kinds of themes. If you would like to browse a bit more casually, I would recommend visiting the WordPress Theme Directory directly. Check out the most popular themes, browse by tag, or just page through those most recently added.

Visit your favorite commercial theme provider or marketplace

Commercial theme shops are popular with good reason: people love quality work. By and large, the quality produced by professional theme designers and developers is top notch. So sometimes, depending on what you’re looking for, it’s best to stick to the quality and support you know and can count on. This won’t work out every time, but hey: when’s the last time you browsed through your favorite theme shop’s collection? It certainly couldn’t hurt.

Worth mentioning here are also theme marketplaces. They differ from what I call shops in that they offer themes from many different authors, rather than only a specific few. There aren’t as many marketplaces as there are shops: Theme Forest, Mojo Themes, Wonder Themes (when they are public), and Theme Garden are all marketplaces that may have what you are looking for.

On the topic of theme shops, WPCandy (and myself, actually) tend to be pretty neutral. There are plenty of folks out there doing awesome, awesome work. Which shops are your favorite, and which ones would you recommend others spend time searching through? Share with us in the comments.

Search for, and bookmark, collections of WordPress themes

Sometimes the easiest way to find WordPress themes is to let others do the work for you. There are a number of WordPress blogs out there (including our own, here) that take time tracking down WordPress themes for the sole purpose of collecting similar ones in a list for others. For instance, we have brought together a few collections recently:

You can see other collections within our Best Of section, or by heading straight to our Best WordPress Themes series. We’re not the only ones doing this, though. Oli Dale at WPLift has put together some pretty awesome lists over there too, which are easily some of my favorite lists around. One thing I would not recommend is simply searching for lists of WordPress themes online. You may end up finding themes that aren’t reputable, safe, or worth your time. In this case it’s very important to use trusted sources.

Do you have your own favorite sources for WordPress theme collection posts? Be sure to share them in the comments, particularly if you have assembled your own lists!

Use a tool to find your theme

If you’re looking for a very specific type of theme, sometimes the normal searching methods won’t work. In those cases using the methods listed above will take a long time. Instead, try out a specialty theme search tool.

We built Theme Finder a few months back to solve just this problem for ourselves. Currently you can use it to search for themes by color, by layout, and by price. It currently holds over 600 high quality WordPress themes, with new ones added every month.

I would also recommend checking out ThemeSorter, another similar theme search engine that operates a bit differently than Theme Finder. QualiThemes is another solid resource that’s useful for finding themes by searching for keywords. Yellow Themes is another theme search engine worth trying out.


Hopefully you feel a bit more equipped to find WordPress themes than you were before. Did we miss a solid theme resource? Share your own tips for finding WordPress themes in the comments below.

 

45 thoughts on “How to find WordPress themes, quickly and easily

  1. Hey Ryan,
    Great roundup!
    Thanks for including us in your shortlist.
    QualiThemes is a curated search engine that draws on the most up-to-date, beautifully-designed WordPress themes exclusively available from the most excellent design studios on the web. Stay tuned for more goodies!!

  2. i still use google from time to time, plus my subscribed rss feeds, i know what people say about using google, but before i activate theme(s) i always check each theme file to make sure nothing nasty is encoded.

    • If you know enough to scope out a theme before using it, that’s definitely something worth doing every time. Unfortunately that’s not something everyone can do, so pointing them toward reputable sources is best.

      Nice to know the ins and outs though, right? :)

  3. It could be possible that someone encodes a script in a theme and not notice it. I always try only themes that legitimate websites use and if they advertise them via the theme’s link down in a footer place next to wordpress link. That is if it’s there.

  4. The quality of themes in the Extend repository has definitely gone up in the last 3 months or so since you wrote that previous piece. However, after re-reading it, I’m fairly sure that you and I have totally different ideas about “quality”.

    I’m referring specifically to code quality, not quality of the aesthetic design. The code quality of themes in the repo was frankly abysmal. The theme review process has definitely helped that out a whole heck of a lot. Also, as many people have noted, the theme review has helped them to become better coders and theme developers by going through the process and noticing where their own theme code suffers. We have tools to help with theme development now, and things have generally gotten better.

    The complaint that “90% of the themes are crap” is a valid one, but also understand that the theme review process deals entirely with newly submitted themes. Themes that were in the repo previous to the process which started just over a year ago have not been reviewed, and so those older themes might be dragging down your impressions. Look at the “newest” themes only to get the right idea.

    Also, while there is a valid point about WordPress being more than “blogging”, the fact of the matter is that 90% of the people who use WordPress do in fact use it for blogging. So where some people see a theme as “too bloggy”, somebody who is looking for an actual blog theme would not have as much of a problem with that. When considering design aesthetics, audience is important. Consider how many people have no problem with the look and feel of MySpace (shudder).

    And I’d like to point out that it’s easy to become a theme reviewer and help improve the theme repository. If you think it’s bad, wait until you start reviewing a few themes and see what gets rejected. Your impressions may change significantly.

    • I agree with everything you said here. I know that the quality of the code is tested for new themes, and the review team does a killer job. In that editorial I was suggesting the same thing, for the design side of the themes. There are a few standouts, for sure, but by and large the quality of the design of submitted themes isn’t really there.

      I think things are headed in the right direction. But I would still kind of like a theme design review team :)

  5. Hey Ryan, thanks for mentioning ThemeSorter! I hadn’t seen Qualithemes before. I like the search engine feel that it has. Another one that I have found useful is WP-Mojo. But still, I’m partial to ThemeSorter. =P

  6. Awesome article.

    It’s amazing to see how many theme shops are around and about these days, the selection really is massive if you know where to look and that’s why I enjoyed this post. I’m a web designer myself and I run into people on a daily basis who are looking for quick and simple ways of creating a web presence and am amazed when they have no idea of the world of themes.

    I am involved with a company called eFrog Digital Design, which also does WordPress themes and they’ve recently launched one called Occasions, along with a few others and I feel it’s worth mentioning here, purely because the themes are of high quality and are competitively priced. If anyone’s interested in the link, it’s efrogthemes.com

    Thanks again WP Candy!

  7. Hi everyone…

    I’d like to echo the “Great roundup!” sentiment. You have some excellent theme-houses and repo’s listed here. If I may, I’d like to offer another, that we’re a little proud of. eFrogthemes.

    We’ve got a bunch of superb designers and coders to ensure high quality code, great design and support when it’s needed, our custom Options Panel allows for easy theme customisation, without muss, or fuss, and we guarantee all eFrog themes are 100% safe to download and install. Our code contains no malware or viruses. Promise…

    There are a number of free themes on our site, and our popular ‘Greyzed’ theme is in the top 10 all-time most used themes in the WordPress.com gallery, with over 180,000 downloads.

    Come on over and take a look. Ask for me, I’m George :)

  8. You should really check our site http://www.yellowthemes.com , we launched this site back in mid January 2011 to help people search themes easily from various CMS (including WordPress).

    Up till now, Yellow Themes have indexed 7078 themes from 61 theme stores (including themes from wordpress.org). You can narrow down the search results by filtering the results by price, theme category and store name. The best thing is our theme crawler will update the themes automatically every time a theme store release a new themes.

  9. When searching for a gorgeous theme, I always count on ThemeForest, because there is so many to choose from, one or few of them will definately make my jaw drop. Of course, there are lots of individual companies, offering amazing designs, but I still have to browse through dozens of shops till I can make a final decision, so it’s hard to pick a favourite from smaller theme shops.

    • Yeah, they have a great selection. The biggest for commercial themes. Envato is a great company. I also like MOJO Themes which may at some point be real competition for ThemeForest.

      Eventually we’ll index the ThemeForest themes on ThemeSorter so you can search for theme and other providers at the same time. I’m sure some other theme search engines already have TF covered.

  10. Great article. I personally use the Arras WordPress theme. Its pretty stylish and such. You can check it out on my site at pistachiofiles.co.cc Again good article!

  11. Major oversight not to mention marketplaces like ThemeForest in this article. The competitive marketplace compels developers to provide good service and be responsive to questions and issues. As a buyer, I like that they allow me to sort the themes by the number of sales — just seems logical that the most widely purchased themes are less likely to be wonky. Plus competition = great pricing.

    • I agree that the marketplaces are worth a look. At first I thought the post made mention of marketplaces, or included them, in the section about theme shops. Just to make it more clear, I added to it with a few marketplace links. Thanks for the comment!

  12. Great post, I didn’t know at least some of them!
    Created a site that’s still in beta that gathers all the themes my team and I, fi nd worth mentioning.
    You can also search with the widget on the left, to have more powerfull search options. Your feedback is appreciated! Top CMS themes

  13. Yes,

    I also thought it was odd that the author excluded Themeforest. It is the largest marketplace for high quality premium wordpress themes in the world. I believe it is the highest rated wordpress site besides wordpress.org, so I wonder what the motive was for the author of this post to exclude it?

    I am not a designer, but strictly a buyer, and if I want to visit to see one marketplace the most innovative cutting edge product, Themeforest is the first choice. The commercial houses, while all producing solid products, are miles behind on features and innovation, and many of the marketplaces mentioned above have lots of themes that are either dreadful, poor copycats of other themes, and sometimes contain malware.

    I am not in any way associated with Themeforest nor do I even know personally any of the many wordpress developers who sell themes on it. . But since I and my company are extremely active buyers in the wordpress marketplace, I just found the exclusion very odd. Naming every wordpress site but the #1 ranked one in the bunch only makes me question the validity of anything I might read on a blog like this, and the agenda of the writer.

    And if you can’t afford a premium theme, certainly one of the best of the free themes out there is Weaver – it design flexibility and ability to manipulate its features puts many of the premium themes from some of the commercial houses noted in the article to shame.

    Just food for thought.

    • No need to go that direction with it. I updated the post to list the theme marketplaces I’m aware of. I didn’t include them at first because I didn’t list any theme vendor specifically, only theme search engines. After seeing a few comments though, it seems they are worth highlighting, rather than grouping them together with theme shops like I did.

      Just to be clear, I didn’t exclude anyone intentionally. I hope you’ll have a look around the site: we/I have no agenda except to provide folks with useful WordPress news and information. :)

    • I agree there are many high quality themes on ThemeForest but I would have to disagree that every designer on ThemeForest is light years ahead of designers at every theme company. Granted, there are some low quality providers but I doubt they sell anything and they are easy to spot. As for quality theme companies, there are dozens IMO. WooThemes is one that comes to mind.

      As for Malware and poor quality, that’s always a concern with free themes and one reason we stick to indexing only commercial themes from reputable sellers at ThemeSorter.

  14. Ryan, themefinder, qualithemes, and themesorter are great I use them to check whats out there, but I guess my question is how many people outside the wp community are using them,
    I mean the average guy looking for WordPress theme, most new comers are probably just searching google for free themes…

    I think all the theme developers should get together and sponsor themefinder, qualithemes, and themesorter and we all will benefit from it, just a idea,

    Marios

  15. Nice round up Ryan! Don’t mean to toot my own horn here but what about wpStyles.org? We actually spend sufficient amount of time and resource in manually reviewing themes, and negotiate discounts for our visitors. I.e you can get 15% off all ThemeFuse themes via our site! Worth a mention?

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  18. I know this post is several months old, but also check out the Themespotter WordPress Theme Marketplace.

    I am the founder and main contributor behind Themespotter and hope some of you will find it helpful. The site showcases the best WP themes from all the top designers (rather than bombarding you with thousands of themes you wouldn’t want), and has a strong focus around WordPress Business Themes.

    Anyway, I’d love to get any feedback! The site has been live since March of this year and we’re constantly adding features and looking make it as easy as possible for you to search, sort and browse themes.

    -Dustin

  19. Hi you should also checkout http://www.themescroller.com … a site that makes finding quality wordpress themes easier. There are currently over 3000 themes from marketplaces like woothemes, themeforest, elegantthemes and even the official wordpress.org directory. You can filter the themes by color, category, columns or layout and compare the preview screenshots in a nice grid view with endless scrolling.

  20. My tech guru friend swears by the “Thesis” theme, so that’s what I’ve adopted. I’ve found the 1.x.x version is a lot more user friendly than the 2.x versions out now though.

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