5 Simple Ways to Improve a Boring WordPress Theme

Does your theme look like every other basic WordPress site? Here are some simple updates you can apply to your theme to make things a a little more interesting and engaging. Most of these are fairly do-it-yourself friendly and can be achieved with a little bit of copy and paste or via plugins.

1. Add Post Thumbnails

This is a great way to make your theme more visually appealing. Don’t just stick to the standard 150px square thumbnails. Get creative with the sizes for a more unique design. If your theme doesn’t support post thumbnails here’s how to add them – simply paste this into your theme’s functions.php:

{code type=php}add_theme_support( ‘post-thumbnails’ );{/code}

Then you’ll paste this into your theme files where you want the thumbnails, perhaps on your front page or archives page:

{code type=php}{/code}

Adding post thumbnails can take a boring archives page from plain to awesome.

2. Display Related or Popular Posts Visually With Thumbnails

People love images. An image can say more than a title ever could. Try the nRelate Related Content plugin for a quick implementation of related post thumbnails. Or, follow along with my tutorial for showing popular posts from scratch.

3. Add the Themekit for WordPress Plugin

Themekit is a relatively new plugin that offers you a host of preconfigured options, including Google Fonts integration for sprucing up your theme’s typography.

Themekit also has pre-built controls for orders, text, checkboxes, radio buttons and more, so that you can easily add a little more style to your UI.

Never underestimate the power of a quality fontstack. If you’re handy with CSS you may want to check out a couple of our tutorials for implementing custom fonts using the @font-face rule, because it will give you more options than Google fonts. If you don’t enjoy working with CSS, then Themekit is a great entryway to getting custom fonts.

4. Utilize Custom Page Templates and Layouts

Not every page needs a sidebar with loads of meta content, archives, and the other typical WordPress stuff. If your theme offers custom page templates, make use of them. If not, you can easily create your own with some simple instructions from the WordPress codex.

You can also change some basic layout options via plugin shortcodes. Try a plugin such as the Easy Columns plugin to create a grid system or magazine style columns for your pages when it suits your content.

5. Remember: Less is More.

In art economy is always beauty. – Henry James

Don’t load up your site with too many social sharing outlets. Oftentimes, you’ll visit WordPress sites with every possible social bookmarking and networking icon attached to posts and sidebars. This is the last thing you want to do. People are bombarded with social networking every day. Get to know your demographic and display networks that are relevant to your users. Or, find a creative way to selectively hide/show the icons with JavaScript. Too many social icons splattered everywhere can make a site annoying. Keep your site as simple and focused as possible so your content can be the centerpiece.