Wordpress Website Builders - What theme(s) do you like?

52 replies
If you are actively building Wordpress websites for clients, may I ask what theme(s) do you use/like and why?

The problems I'm having are:
- The sites I creating look good but not great.
- I'm spending way to much time fixing the nuances of the site or theme.
- I'm having to learn CSS. I'm spending way to much time in user.css.

(There's probably some Drupal, Joomla, etc. person out there laughing their butt off because I just don't know better. Doh!)

What I'm looking for:

1) To Create Great-Looking sites!
2) Ease of creating Great-Looking sites.
3) Ease of maintaining these Great-Looking sites

Note: The sites I create do not function as blogs. They function as static sites.

This is a follow up to this thread.
http://www.warriorforum.com/main-int...r-clients.html


Thanks for the input.

Joe Mobley
#builders #themes #website #wordpress
  • Profile picture of the author mikeroosa
    Elegant Themes, Woo Themes are good. If you want something with a lot of flexibility,check out Headway. I used that for several clients.
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    • Profile picture of the author Joe Mobley
      Thank you Mike. Welcome to the forum.

      I spent a few years in the Tampa/Clearwater area in my twenties.

      I'll check out the themes.

      Joe Mobley


      Originally Posted by mikeroosa View Post

      Elegant Themes, Woo Themes are good. If you want something with a lot of flexibility,check out Headway. I used that for several clients.
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  • Profile picture of the author Alex Barboza
    Catalyst | Premium WordPress Theme is easy to use and they have unlimited license so you can use it on your clients sites
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  • Profile picture of the author ginak59
    I love Woo themes, I've become very familar with Canvas and use it for almost all my niche sites, well worth the money!
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  • I use Joomla and have played with Drupal a bit. WordPress is far easier and quicker to develop. Just look at the 26+ million installations. WordPress Development moves fast. Joomla moves slow.

    WordPress plugin extensions are far superior to any I find for Joomla.

    Joomla commenting is sad.

    Thesis is a good platform as is the new Brian Gardner based Genesis themes.

    While some themes may look nice on the surface... Woo Themes do look good and are good for some purposes what is more important is the Back End.

    If you truly want to make high end projects you need to hook up with a Graphics Designer to help you "skin" the themes and focus on the backend.

    The bottom line is while clients want good looking sites, it's far more important to make high ranking sites.
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  • Profile picture of the author Michael Shook
    I get good results from Flexsqueeze for my clients. The navigation is clean. I have never had a problem with any of the plugins I use. And the support is good.

    You have to get a developer's license, but I made that back in one client site. I can have a new client site up and going in about 2 hours.

    I am not really web designer per se, so other folks that are more into serious web design may have a different opinion, but I get great results for my clients and that is pretty cool.
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  • Profile picture of the author xtrapunch
    If you want to total control, create your own framework which you can use as the base for all your themes. I do this. Problem with using others theme is that they don't behave the way you want.
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  • Profile picture of the author chooch
    I use the Socrates theme. It's very easy to use, even for beginners. The price is less than most premium themes for unlimited sites.
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    • Profile picture of the author SeanOBrian
      Originally Posted by chooch View Post

      I use the Socrates theme. It's very easy to use, even for beginners. The price is less than most premium themes for unlimited sites.
      can you give me a link for this

      thanks
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  • Profile picture of the author VegasGreg
    I use StudioPress the most. (I really like their older classic versions) and a few iThemes.

    The key is to find one that you like and get really used to it and comfortable with it. Then it gets easier and faster each time you use it.

    Also, spending a little extra to outsource (or focus your own time here if you are good at graphics) really nice looking graphics/headers can bring an average looking theme up to a really nice looking theme.
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    • Profile picture of the author dfs_dean
      I had been using Thesis quite a bit, but I've been working with a different theme framework lately. So now I'd suggest giving a look at Weaver (not affiliate link). Comes with a bunch of sub-themes, is easy to work with, has some CSS snippets to help you along, has a pretty good support forum, and it is free.

      Peace
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  • Profile picture of the author SoundsGood
    I happen to be looking into this very same thing right now...

    - I bought iThemes builder but couldn't get into it (not sure why).
    - I bought Catalyst but heard that the code wasn't super-clean so I didn't use it (not sure if it's true, though)
    - I heard Headway was "interesting" but also heard it produces non-clean code (who knows?)
    - I heard good things about Socrates but haven't tried it. Tempted, though.
    - I bought StudioPress Genesis a while back. While I struggle at times with the learning curve, I've done pretty well with it. I hear the code is very clean and the SEO is good too, plus the support forum is pretty good too.

    Frankly I'd like to find something that is as good as Studiopress Genesis -- but a bit easier to use. Does such a thing exist??
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    • Profile picture of the author Manuelcrc
      Use woothemes... I use then and since I have used others also along the line, I can safely say they are the best.
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    • Profile picture of the author eric1508
      @SoundsGood

      I'm just curious about your reference to the Catalyst Theme code. I'm not sure where you heard that, but I can assure you that the code is clean and efficient.

      Just wanted to clear that up.

      Eric
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      • Profile picture of the author SoundsGood
        Originally Posted by eric1508 View Post

        @SoundsGood

        I'm just curious about your reference to the Catalyst Theme code. I'm not sure where you heard that, but I can assure you that the code is clean and efficient.

        Just wanted to clear that up.
        How can you make that claim? (who are you?)
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        • Profile picture of the author eric1508
          Originally Posted by SoundsGood View Post

          How can you make that claim? (who are you?)
          My name Eric Hamm and I'm the developer of the Catalyst Theme.
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          • Profile picture of the author SoundsGood
            Originally Posted by eric1508 View Post

            I'm just curious about your reference to the Catalyst Theme code.
            Originally Posted by eric1508 View Post

            My name Eric Hamm and I'm the developer of the Catalyst Theme.
            I see. Here's the thing: I had read in a couple of different places that the code from Cat was not as clean as another product (Gen) and that it could affect SEO ranking. This made me nervous so I never used the theme.

            Frankly I've read similar info about Headway (about the code), so it's not just your product being singled out.

            Unfortunately us non-coders don't know any better and can only go by what we read in forums. Know what I mean?
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            • Profile picture of the author eric1508
              Originally Posted by SoundsGood View Post

              I see. Here's the thing: I had read in a couple of different places that the code from Cat was not as clean as another product (Gen) and that it could affect SEO ranking. This made me nervous so I never used the theme.

              Frankly I've read similar info about Headway (about the code), so it's not just your product being singled out.

              Unfortunately us non-coders don't know any better and can only go by what we read in forums. Know what I mean?
              I totally understand. It's just a shame because it's untrue. That's the problem when people make statements like that. They're never tested so they are just taken at face value. But that's precisely why I popped in to comment. So my job is done here.

              By the way, most of what we hear about Catalyst and SEO is that when people upgrade to Catalyst from another theme their rankings either stay the same or get better. Not the other way around.

              Eric
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              • Profile picture of the author SoundsGood
                Originally Posted by eric1508 View Post

                So my job is done here.
                You couldn't have done it without me.
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                • Profile picture of the author eric1508
                  Originally Posted by SoundsGood View Post

                  You couldn't have done it without me.
                  So true!
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  • Profile picture of the author danemorgan
    The thing is that it all depends on what you want to do and what you're willing to do to get here. You can design some pretty sweet themes with three or four file overrides on the Twentyten theme and no onw ould know you made a TwentyTen child unless they looked at your stylesheet.

    I just did one this weekend for a client who wanted a blog added in a sub directory of her static site. I used TwentyTen as the base and I created my own style.css, header.php and footer.php. The final result exactly matches the pre-existing site with the exception of adding a sidebar. landing on the site, no one would even know it was a TwentyTen child and it took me all of an hour for the whole job.
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  • Profile picture of the author Adam Struve
    For mini sites and landing pages I use Simple Affiliate Theme.
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  • Profile picture of the author jonnyrhinestone
    Woo Themes is pretty awesome. It's not too expensive and you get some great options.
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  • Profile picture of the author J.M.Wilson
    I love Thesis and after using it on around ten different sites, I can now put together a professional site in a matter of hours... well worth it if you're technically challenged like me!
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    • Profile picture of the author Sheila Atwood
      Well you used the right term....Builder. I have been using iThemes Builder. I have never been happier. I checked out Catalyst and Woo, and I am thrilled with Builder. You can make your themes look just the way you want. No coding involved....except when you are ready to learn. But don't worry you will have plenty to keep you happy for a long time.

      Super support and video training.
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      "You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes, you can steer yourself in any direction you choose." -Dr. Suess
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      • Profile picture of the author SoundsGood
        Originally Posted by Sheila Atwood View Post

        Well you used the right term....Builder. I have been using iThemes Builder.
        I have Builder... but I just can't seem to wrap my head around it. How did you learn how to use it? (it's not exactly like other WP themes)
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        • Profile picture of the author Sheila Atwood
          First of all I watched the videos. And I started out very basic and simple. Then as soon as I had a question I could not figure out I got on the forum. Their response has be tremendous.

          What I like is that there is no code involved but it does take patience.
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          • Profile picture of the author joebel
            Try to use Flexx themes. It's very customizable and user friendly. It also comes on different colors and designs.
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          • Profile picture of the author SoundsGood
            Originally Posted by Sheila Atwood View Post

            First of all I watched the videos.
            Do you know where these videos are?

            Thanks.
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  • Profile picture of the author celente
    woo themes have been using them for a while and even have comments back from my clients how good they are! I guess that says it all.
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  • Profile picture of the author imfusa
    I would suggest you web2feel theme, or simplewp themes they
    are looking the best.
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  • Profile picture of the author sickbaomei
    If you just want to build static sites, why not consider XSitepro ?
    They are so easy to backup and migrate and you don't need to keep updating to the next version.

    Originally Posted by Joe Mobley View Post

    If you are actively building Wordpress websites for clients, may I ask what theme(s) do you use/like and why?

    The problems I'm having are:
    - The sites I creating look good but not great.
    - I'm spending way to much time fixing the nuances of the site or theme.
    - I'm having to learn CSS. I'm spending way to much time in user.css.

    (There's probably some Drupal, Joomla, etc. person out there laughing their butt off because I just don't know better. Doh!)

    What I'm looking for:

    1) To Create Great-Looking sites!
    2) Ease of creating Great-Looking sites.
    3) Ease of maintaining these Great-Looking sites

    Note: The sites I create do not function as blogs. They function as static sites.

    This is a follow up to this thread.
    http://www.warriorforum.com/main-int...r-clients.html


    Thanks for the input.

    Joe Mobley
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  • Profile picture of the author LA Grouch
    Atahualpa is by far my favorite theme. I use it for most client sites.

    It has an extensive CP where you can customize any part of your site. There is also a terrific forum where you can easily get help or codes if you're stuck.

    The theme is free and available at wordpress.org
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  • Profile picture of the author Alex Mayo
    I love using Headway. Good for beginners as well as advanced users of Wordpress.
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  • Profile picture of the author txconx
    If I'm customizing an existing theme, I like Twenty-Ten or Woo Themes' Gazette.

    If I don't want to deal with all the pre-existing formatting, I start with the Starkers theme.

    I'd have to say, however, that if you're offering webdesign or Wordpress customization as a service, you should be very familiar with everything that goes along with that - including CSS.
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  • Profile picture of the author Izaya
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    • Profile picture of the author karenloye
      Originally Posted by Izaya View Post

      Headway theme by far is the best, check it out.
      Can you please tell me whether you've encountered bugs with Headway? I've built five sites with Headway now, and I love it overall. However, three of the five sites have had major bug issues.

      With the first site, the leaf templates would not work and it took three weeks for a resolution (had to manually edit all pages on a 75 page site due to a client deadline). Second and third sites went great. Fourth site has issues with the nav bar not accepting edits to color. I would set and save, and it would automatically default to the original version. My most recent site has MAJOR issues in that when I reload the Visual Editor I'm totally losing the head graphic, leaf backgrounds I've changed, and other graphic elements.

      I really like the platform but am curious as to why I'm having so many oddball issues. It is holding up my design (which affects deadlines with clients) and I'm thinking I may have to move away from Headway for this reason. Can you please share your reasons for feeling Headway is the best? And whether you can suggest any ways to get faster resolution to issues I'm facing? Many thanks in advance for any experiences / suggestions you can share!
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  • Profile picture of the author haymanpl
    I've written a post about the Top 7 Best WordPress Themes

    As a wordpress developer, i like Thesis the best followed by Catalyst and Genesis. Headway are also very flexible and you don't need any coding skills.
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  • Profile picture of the author aini235
    My WordPress theme website
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  • Profile picture of the author rosetrees
    I agree with LaGrouch. I use Atahualpa for most of my WP sites. It's free and very flexible.
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  • Profile picture of the author badal4u
    What I do is using Framework themes like Thesis, Headway and Genesis, and get some good ideas about structure from various people have created for these frameworks.

    Yo can find them www.themegarden.com/
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  • Profile picture of the author danielmcclure
    I use different themes based depending on the clients specific needs. There are three main companies I use though:

    Thesis - Great but involves lots of css/function hacking to make it truly unique
    StudioPress/Genesis - Great out of the box but overcomplicates hooks IMO
    WooThemes - Modern looking sites that are great if you just plan on switching out a logo

    In addition to all of the above I have started looking into using Standard Theme as it has fully compliant code and can be used as a starting block when building a unique standalone theme. That said I do miss the hooks functionality found in Thesis/Genesis.

    As a sidenote; if you are just getting involved in "actively building Wordpress websites for clients" you WILL find yourself in the css files a lot if you plan on keeping your clients happy
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    • Profile picture of the author SoundsGood
      Originally Posted by danielmcclure View Post

      if you are just getting involved in "actively building Wordpress websites for clients"
      Which theme would you most recommend for THIS? ^^^


      Thanks.
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  • Profile picture of the author InitialEffort
    I like Thesis and Flexibility. I also use a lot of custom themes for squeeze pages and sales pages.
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  • Profile picture of the author itrainedmydragon
    With the wide variety of themes available these days, it can be a real challenge picking one, especially for IMers, as we know that there is a lot more to a good theme just good looks. I understand your challenge of feeling like you're spending too much time fiddling with CSS and such, rather than growing your business. Here is what I've found to be helpful:

    1. Choose a developer that has excellent documentation, including how-to videos, in some cases, of how their theme works and how you can customize it.

    In this regard, I have found StudioPress themes to be really top notch. The Genesis framework is incredibly powerful and the StudioPress themes run on top of it. Once you learn how Genesis works, it's much easier to figure out how the child themes work.
    WooThemes are another developer that give you GREAT documentation. I've purchased themes before that work great out of the box, but if they aren't coded and documented well, you will have a rough time figuring out how to make them do what you want.
    I LOVE RocketThemes for Joomla templates, though I haven't used any of their WordPress themes yet. I expect that they are great, since their Joomla themes are amazing. Their tutorials and documentation is the best I've seen and their forum is moderated by helpful staff who is willing able to help you out.

    2. Whichever theme platform you pick, try to stick with it. This way you can learn it really well and you'll know how it works and how to fine tune it for your purposes. It's amazing that two well developed themes from two different developers can have such different capabilities and design philosophies, but they do. It's really hard to be an expert on all of them. Lately, I've been sticking with StudioPress themes and I've got a good handle on how to get them to do what I want.

    On a side note, I think the same thing holds true for plug ins. There are lots of SEO plug ins for Wordpress, and a lot of them will do what you need them to, but they all tackle things in different ways. I've found it helpful to pick one, figure out its nuances, and use it on all my sites instead of fiddling with a bunch of different plug ins that sort of do the same thing.

    I hope that was helpful! Have fun!

    If you ever have a problem or question about getting one of the StudioPress or Woo themes to do what you want and can't find in answer in your forums, just message me. I've built enough sites with those platforms that I can probably give you some direction.
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    • Profile picture of the author JBroyer44
      Personally I don't think you can ever get the exact functionality you want for a static site unless your willing to do a little html/css work. There are some great themes out there that give you great flexibility with their dashboards, Athalupa comes to mind here. But if you want everything to be perfect you are either going to have to search a wile to find the theme or build one yourself.

      I redesigned my companies website last summer after not being happy with athalupa (however you spell that) So I learned the necessary skills and built my own theme. I already had some html/css knowledge and learned what i needed to work within wordpress. It really wasn't that bad.--- Swimming Pool Service and Construction Amesbury Massachusetts if you want to check it out. still need to get the IE font replacement working only have it for chrome and firefox right now.


      As far as themes I like currently:

      Arras Theme (free)
      Wordpress Review Theme (paid)

      and I find a lot of cool themes on ThemeForest for clients as well as some of my own sites.

      also our content creation site is built on a free theme called Boldy which is also pretty cool for a business theme.
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  • Profile picture of the author Scott Skinner
    Socrates for wordpress and I recently purchased XsitePro for my Html sites and it ROCKS!
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  • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
    Banned
    I like Woo themes a lot. Gazette (customized) is one of my favorites.
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  • Profile picture of the author Shannon Herod
    I use Headway theme for everything. It is the best theme out there in my opinion. You can do anything with it, without knowing a lick of code.

    Shannon
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    • Profile picture of the author paulie888
      Originally Posted by Shannon Herod View Post

      I use Headway theme for everything. It is the best theme out there in my opinion. You can do anything with it, without knowing a lick of code.

      Shannon
      I'll have to look into this further. While I love using Thesis, sometimes if you just want to customize a site quickly, you run into a lot of roadblocks trying to tweak the css and hooks to get things just right.

      Paul
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