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Help us choose a professional Wordpress theme
June 28, 2011 12:19 PM   Subscribe

I need advice on a professional Wordpress theme for my organization's web site. We will be doing most of the site creation and maintenance in-house; our staff has no specialized knowledge in any web languages but is comfortable using Google and following directions for what to insert into various files. What theme is going to give us the least headaches for our efforts?

So far we've looked at Thesis and Headway; it seems from what I've read that Headway is a little more forgiving for folks with no CSS knowledge who don't intend to do anything too unusual and has a really nice drag & drop method of laying out the pages.

Additional features that would be beneficial for us include the ability to do lots of stuff from the theme interface, rather than behind-the-scenes and a good support ecosystem with lots of demos/examples/tutorials (whether official or otherwise).

What would the hive mind recommend for us?
posted by philosophygeek to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Are you going to want to change the visual elements? What is the site going to be used for? How often are you going to update it? Do you need a calendar? Do you need a photo management system? Are you going to allow members to add images, content? Etc. What exactly is the "lots of stuff" you are going to want done. I think you need to get more specific on your needs before the question can be answered.
posted by Vaike at 1:39 PM on June 28, 2011


We're going to have a fairly straightforward visual layout: main column with a sidebar, menu at the top of the page, etc. We may want to customize the appearance of particular kinds of pages (staff info pages will be different than service offering pages), but no particular page will be wildly different than generally accepted web design ideas. The site will be used for providing general information about our organization, the services we offer, and updates on new products/services. We will probably want a simple calendar for displaying upcoming events/sessions. We will be displaying photos from our events, but we don't yet know if they will be in a gallery or accompanying a blog-like recap of the event.

We will have only a couple of staff members at most adding any form of content.

By "lots of stuff from the theme interface," I mean that I want to be able to set design elements in there rather than modifying CSS sheets directly--that kind of thing. Being able to set fonts and colors for template elements (e.g., headings, links) are the big things I can envision now, but there may be other needs. In general, we're looking to stay away from code as much as possible since our staff has no particular experience in that department.
posted by philosophygeek at 1:46 PM on June 28, 2011


I love this theme, it's easily modded and really nice for displaying lots of different types of content.

http://www.tripleships.com/works/tanzaku/
posted by rudhraigh at 2:10 PM on June 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


You might check out Catalyst as a highly customizable theme. It's predecessor FrugalTheme was quite good.
posted by artlung at 2:25 PM on June 28, 2011


I like the look of StudioPress. Elegant Themes are reasonably priced, and they seem to have a lot of features. Both of those sites have a variety of themes - so you're likely to find something you like that is similar to what you want for your site, and you'll be able to convert it to your needs without much work.
posted by backwards guitar at 4:40 PM on June 28, 2011


You might want to check out Branded Pro - it's pretty customisable re. colours and has quite a few different page templates.
posted by cardamine at 5:26 AM on June 29, 2011


I'll make two recommendations:
1. You're going to want to change things heavily sometimes. Maybe a seasonal banner, maybe a special one week thing you want in the header, whatever. Artisteer is a really pretty badass program, and will translate to Joomla/Drupal/others if you ever decide to "upgrade." Seriously, if your staff can use Word, they can use Artisteer.

2. If you want to learn, I'll recommend the same theme that was recommended to me on here a couple years ago when I asked for a plain, basic sandbox theme. What I got was plaintxt.org. They've added more now, as I look, but basically you get plain, pure CSS templates written clearly that are extremely easy to modify.

2a. In any case, if you want to use a CSS editor (you do), try TopStyle. The free flavor is called "TopStyle Lite", and has most of the functionality.

2b. Get thee to Firebug. Awesome, because it lets you inspect elements to find the CSS family, and/or lets you make realtime edits to see how they look. Great for hammering down that font size or hex color. Also lets you look at load speeds for all elements in case you get a sticky plugin or something.
posted by TomMelee at 6:42 AM on June 29, 2011


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