Improve Your Look with a Customized WordPress Theme

One of the features of WordPress that is most appealing to bloggers is the theme system. With WordPress you can find literally thousands of free themes, pay for a premium theme, or design one yourself. Most bloggers choose free themes for obvious reasons. However, it can be difficult to stand out from all of the other people using the same themes.

If you want to differentiate yourself but you don’t want to pay for a premium theme, you always have the option of customizing one of the free themes. By editing the CSS file you can easily make drastic changes that will help visitors to see a more unique blog and remember you. I’d like to list some resources that can make this process as simple as possible. First, we’ll start with some free themes that are ideal for customizing. These themes are all somewhat basic in their design, which makes it easier for you to perform some modifications.

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Kubrick

Kubrick

The default WordPress theme is a great starting point. The CSS file is neatly categorized and ready for editing. Just by taking out the background images on making some minor CSS changes you’ll have a vastly different theme in no time.
More info about Kubrick

Copyblogger

Copyblogger

After having great success with their own blog, Copyblogger released the free theme for others. On the subject of customization, they say it best:

One of the things that I’ve found to be true in the theme development world is that you simply cannot give people enough flexibility with regard to the elements they can customize on their own – things like colors, type faces, sidebar widgets, etc. The challenge, of course, is to accommodate all of these things in an elegant, seamless manner that does not “break” the theme or even disrupt the continuity of the text on the page.

More info about Copyblogger.

Unsleepable

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Unsleepable

Unsleepable is a simple, yet attractive, theme that creates a great starting point if you’re looking to customize.
More info about Unsleepable

Cutline

Cutline

Another great starting point, Cutline is one of the most-used and most-customized themes around. It provides a clean, simple starting point to work from.
More info on Cutline

Big Blue

Big Blue

Big Blue is a theme I came across while research for this post. It’s a 3-column, widget-ready theme that is waiting to be customized.
More info on Big Blue

Internet Center

Internet Center

With Internet Center you have the option of 2 or 3 columns. It provides a nice design that will give you plenty of options.
More info on Internet Center

Blank WordPress Themes from Tomorrow’s Laundry

Blank WP Themes

If you’re looking for a little bit more control over your design but you want to save some time, these themes are exactly what you want. They give you the basic layout and you’ll be able to style everything how you like it.
More info about Blank Themes

Here are some resources/tutorials for learning more about customizing WordPress themes:

If you’re interested in changing the colors of your theme, you’ll find some great resources in Find the Perfect Colors for Your Website.

If you’ve customized a theme for your blog, leave a link in the comments, I’d like to see it.

Published September 13th, 2007 by

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18 Responses

Comments are now closed on this post.

  • WarriorBlog, September 14, 2007

    I wish I had my blog sidebar was on the left.

    Ever since I started blogging a month ago, I tried to search for a theme that look good and unique, but I really couldn’t find one that is better than the one I have now.

    It stand out from the rest if you ask me and it look very nice.

    Finding the perfect theme for your blog can be difficult, took me over an hour to find that theme for my blog.

  • DaveRH, September 14, 2007

    Personally, I’m against templates for blogs in principle. In the crowded blog market, you need every bit of help differentiating yourself that you can get…you need someone like…oh say Vandelay design to come up with a completely unique design for your blog! :)

  • Donald T, September 14, 2007

    Blogs with template themes are amazingly easy to use. It gives the user a layout to follow, organizing the content. Furthermore, for those bloggers who have no sense in design, it’s a great way to ensure that your site looks good, coz it was probably designed by a designer anyway.

  • Vandelay Design, September 14, 2007

    WarriorBlog,
    I like your theme. If you want the sidebar on the left it’s really just a few minor changes to the CSS file. Thanks for your feedback!

    Dave,
    Thanks for the plug! I agree that you need differentiation, but my point is that differentiation is possible by just modifying a theme. Creating one from scratch isn’t always necessary. Here’s an example: take a look at the Internet Center theme in the article and then visit Average Joe Blogger. He modified the theme and it has a very unique design that sets it apart from others using that theme. I think he was able to do a good job without creating a new theme. Of course, this doesn’t work for a blogger who has no experience with html and css.

    Donald,
    Thanks for visiting and for your comments. I agree with your points, it’s nice if it can be customized a little though, rather than just using a popular theme that so many others are using. By the way, I’m a Host Gator customer.

  • Jon - FreelanceFolder, September 15, 2007

    hey Steven, I’m working on my first theme (from scratch! woohoo!) I’m not a big fan of “default” themes, I can’t help but to customize. My favorites so far are Cutline, Networker ( http://antbag.com/themes/ ) and the new Revolution theme from Brian Gardner ( http://revolutiontheme.com ) I use Networker on SmartWealthyRich.com and Revolution on FreelanceFolder.com (of course I customized ‘em) ;)

    Off to check out those posts you mentionned!

  • Karthik, September 15, 2007

    I use Copyblogger myself and I can vouch that its a great design that is coded with SEO in mind. I’ve just tinkered around with the colours a bit to personalize it.

  • Dave RH, September 15, 2007

    Well, it still looks like he’s using the template, even though it’s modified quite a bit. It’s just my personal feelings on the matter, but I’ve always thought getting a custom design should be one of the top priorities.

    Modifying a template is great for tiding you over until you can get a custom design made, but I still think custom designs are the way to go!

    All three of my blogs have custom themes :)

  • Vandelay Design, September 15, 2007

    Hey Jon,
    NetWorker looks like it would have been a good one to include on this list. When I’m looking for a theme to customize the ones that are attractive but simple stand out to me. Good luck with you own theme, let me know when it’s finished.

    Karthik,
    Your blog is a good example of how just changing colors can make a big difference. It really doesn’t look like all of the other Copyblogger theme users and it didn’t require major changes.

    Dave,
    Very valid points. Thanks for your thoughts.

  • vincent, September 18, 2007

    You can find good themes on the the wordpress website.

  • mlankton, September 22, 2007

    Nothing sucks like running into someone else’s site that looks exactly like yours. It diminishes your brand. A lot of these themes are on the blank-ish side, and with a little hacking can be customized into something you won’t run into during your browsing.

  • Web Site Design and SEO, September 9, 2008

    I will download some of those and will use it as the barebones of the theme im going to work with. Thank you.