Finding an original WordPress theme

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Shopping for a good WordPress theme for your blog can be a huge challenge. How do you find one that has all of the elements you need, but still feels original? It seems like anything on the main WordPress Theme Viewer is either forgettable or inadequate, and many of us lack the technical skills to develop a fully-customized theme. Here are six quick tips to help you conquer the boring blog blues, and come out with something that original and dynamic.

Start with the WordPress Themes Directory. As you begin to identity things that work and things that don’t, you can borrow some of the searching tips below and migrate over to Google for some queries YOU think of that span the wider web.

  1. Search by most recent: sometimes the newest WordPress themes are the most advanced and original, so limit your searching by including the current year, or just the past 3 months, etc.
  2. Find one theme you ALMOST like, and visit the homepage of the designer of THAT theme. It’s likely that he/she has created other themes that will be up your alley. Some of my favourite WP theme designers include Allan Cole and Darren Hoyt
  3. Look for themes that are compatible with the latest version of WP (at the time of writing, the current version 2.7, with 2.8 is currently in beta). Again, like tip 1, it ensures your theme will be new and pretty original — for the time being.
  4. Check out people’s personal stashes of WordPress-related bookmarks on del.icio.us. (Here’s mine.)
  5. Find out what specific style of WordPress theme you want, and narrow your search down to those types. For design professionals and illustrators, I’d recommend using queries like “portfolio style wordpress theme” or “photo blog.” Other possibilities might be things like “magazine style” or “2-column.”
  6. Use search.twitter.com to look for themes that are making people talk. On Twitter, following entities I Heart WordPress will give you some pretty good re-tweeted tips.

Of course, any theme you choose will depend on you to take it to the next level with your customizations: modify it enough to make it truly your own.