Chris Perryman of Revelation Concept presented a guide to WordPress theme selection and development strategy

She’s an admin of the Advanced WordPress Group, knows her code, and rocks great design. If you’re getting into WordPress development, or need to setup a theme quickly, know this advice and check out the slides:

Presentation at the August 2014 Front End Authority meetup

Chris started off the night talking about what WordPress is, how to develop locally (her suggestion is ServerPress), and how the community is the most welcoming and helpful group you’ll ever work with.

One really interesting point Chris brought up was the ‘if WordPress is free, why should I pay you to set up my site?’ argument we hear a lot. The answer is a simple one: expertise. Anyone can do the research and gain the experience to setup their website and even run their own server from their closet. More often than not, you should rely on experts to focus on their skills while you focus on the content of your site.

The Options:


Premium themes are fully developed themes sold by individuals, dev teams, or theme shops. They typically target a specific niche (churches, musicians, photography portfolios) and are very malleable to support a wide range of use cases.

Just because they’re already developed and very affordable doesn’t mean a premium theme is the right solution. If you don’t know the code, make sure to check the support for the theme. Lots of themes are pushed out onto a theme store then forgotten, left to slowly grow old and broken. Beyond that, there’s the chance of the theme being filled with malicious spam.

Always review the feedback form purchasers.

ThemeForest : This shop sells tons of themes and is probably the biggest. Because so many people buy themes from ThemeForest, only consider ones that have healthy support discussion, ratings, and sales count


Frameworks like Genesis, Thesis, and Headway require development knowledge but give you a headstart in advanced functionality and design aesthetic. Some even have drag and drop interfaces. They’re a good middle step between purchasing a theme, and coding something from scratch.

Starter themes

Starters are a great way to learn WordPress fundamentals. Since there’s nothing already created, you’ll have to review the code documentation and tutorials to figure out how to build anything.

“You’re not getting something out of the box. You’re building the box.

Some of the biggies:

Things to consider

Every project is different so you’ll have to balance quality, speed, and budget. Each of these options will give your project different advantages and require a different approach. If you’re a PHP developer, it might be easier to go with a starter. If you have thirty minutes to launch a site, a premium theme will probably be the way to go. Or you could find the perfect premium theme that hits every deliverable of your project.

Check out the slides