013 - Finding the best rated WordPress themes (Genesis Chapter 1)

best rated wordpress themes
Wordpress themes are the most used themes in the world. This has brought thousands of great and poor themes in the theme market. 

Not knowing how to find the right theme for your website can be a headache.

This post uses online research and the pheromone trick to find the top wordpress themes used by top bloggers.

If you don't have any idea or still looking for the right wordpress theme to use for your blog, then read on.
Let's assume you find yourself in the following scenario.

You have found a great domain name, SSL certificate for your https protocol and a great hosting for your Website. 

You are now looking for a best rated WordPress theme.

If you find yourself in this situation and you are still contemplating on the right WordPress theme to use for your website or blog, read on.
This article tackles the following three list;

1.    To show the Qualities of a flawless WordPress theme.
2.    To show the characteristics of a poor WordPress theme so we can ignore them.

3.    Then finally to conduct online research on finding and probing for phenomenal WordPress themes using the pheromone trick.

So how do we identify or find a great theme?
What are the qualities to judge a perfect theme for a perfect website? These questions are very essential to the survival of a website.

As a beginner or an aspired blogger, your knowledge in finding out the qualities of a theme is related to how a cobbler finds the qualities of a leather material for a shoe before crafting.

WordPress themes are designed for people with no coding skills. You don’t have to be acquainted to any programming or web development language to install WordPress theme.

With simple button clicks and uploading of files, a website theme can be installed or changed.

Most themes are easy to install, others are a little bit difficult and requires small know-how skills. Some themes come with demo contents which helps the beginner to be able to create various pages related to their field of market.

There are 1000’s of professional themes, premium themes, minimal themes and free themes out there on the market to browse and select from.

Because of these numerous themes, trying to find the best rated WordPress theme requires savvy knowledge and experience.

However, the easy part of installing or discovering abundance of WordPress themes also comes with the toil in finding great ones.

If you agree with me that, searching for the right theme is critical and
best rated wordpress themes
knowing the qualities of a perfect theme is also very significant, then walk with me through this article.

STAY WITH ME. (I promise you this theme search journey will be a great one).

This article is based on an online search I conducted to find the finest themes installed by the top WordPress users.

We shall discuss more about how I arrived at who used the best themes and why they used these themes.

But before we dive into the deep sea and catch these themes, why don’t we first understand the qualities, factors and characteristics of an excellent theme?

Knowing how to find a great theme increases our chances in getting our online visitors to stay long on our website and utilize our page conversion rates.

Searching for the best rated themes.

best rated wordpress themes
When I started building websites, I was very obsessed with penetrating through every theme website and probing for the greatest WordPress theme.

I decided to use the keyword “best rated WordPress theme” on search engines to attain these themes.

Using this keyword didn’t convince me enough because I found, the top ranking websites with this keywords were only mumbling about their chosen themes with different agenda.

I ended up installing beautiful themes that I thought were going to do great wonders for my website. I was judging great themes with beauty alone and didn't consider other factors.

My dissatisfaction emerged when I became aware of how slow some themes were and how it was affecting my page rankings.

This is when it came to me that, speed is the most important factor for a theme.  Google ranking places the loading speed of a website as an important ranking factor. And the fast loading of a theme should very heavily considered. I needed a theme that was light as a further, smart and also very elegant in design.

best rated wordpress themes

The themes i discovered in most theme websites were just marketing their showcased themes because of the theme's high incentives and high marketing budgets which were not entirely related to quality.

best rated wordpress themes

I needed social proof. I needed something tangible and evident enough to be able to convince other people as well as myself.

Then it hit me. The strategy is just beneath my feet. It is a concept in this authority spider book. What if I use the pheromone trick?

YES. The pheromone trick is the best approach. If you don’t know the pheromone trick, I suggest you read the full contents.

The pheromone trick is the idea of mimicking targeted competitors and try to find out what they use.

When you go to Rome, you do what Romans do.  If I can get what the top bloggers are using, I can average these themes on a tabular form and reach which ones are most used.

That is the idea.
BUT WAIT. Before we start our theme search, we first need to identify and understand the true quality features of a WordPress theme.

We are supposed to be familiar with the structure of the WordPress theme before finding the best ones?

We must have a glimpse of the WordPress theme structure.
This is essential so we can identify certain flaws of some poor designed themes and have our way around them.

Some themes stand out in the presentational view, but might do poorly when loading.

Some themes also stand out in providing user backend tools and plugins to enhance quick publishing and easier navigation but are poor in speed when loading and includes plenty codes in the browser scripts.

When you get best of all worlds which is speed, presentation and user experience, then you are heading towards a perfect theme.

Sometimes knowing the structure of themes can help us to adjust them to reach their potentials.

We don’t necessary have to know all the details of each file in the theme folder, but knowing the plan view or hierarchy of the theme file structure and knowing the importance of some of the files might improve and develop our understanding and show us the right way to modify them.

The Structure of the WordPress theme.

Themes are the collection of files like html, css, php, JavaScript, Images, jQuery and contents that are combined to produce nice graphical interface for visitors to explore .

best rated wordpress themes

Qualities of a Great and Boundless WordPress theme.

I will ask your permission so we can spend some time discussing the potentials of a great WordPress theme. I believe this is very imperative and compulsory.

The process of designing automobiles involves the execution of countless ideas and intelligence like speed enhancements techniques, spectacular shape designs and quality engineering tactics of metals and compounds.

These same methods and processes from automobiles are practiced when designing WordPress themes. 

The performance of a theme is now judged on speed, responsive designs and the quality of the components of the theme like the arrangements of the css files on the pages, JavaScript files, images and other objects.

The engineering and manipulation of these files and objects on the pages while they load will affect the performance of the theme.

As an authority website builder, you are not required to discern in detail all these techniques.

But you must know their qualities, and be familiar with the tools available to test and explore these qualities.

When you become familiar with these qualities, you will be like a football manager who knows the right player for a position during a game.

The right theme for a news website might not be the same for a business oriented website.

The following list some of the qualities of a great theme .
·       A great theme should harness the power of speed by using compression techniques, render blocking JavaScript techniques and css compression techniques. (These techniques can be achieved or identified by first using the Google Speed Test Page.)

·       A great theme should offer image optimization techniques like using alt tags, title tags and use light weight images to render the page.

·       A great theme should practice responsiveness and mobile platform methods to target gadgets, peripherals and mobile interfaces. (One of the technique is using css fluid method like using percentages instead of pixels for widths and other structure measurements).

·       A great theme should make the availability of Meta tags for the pages and articles like Meta descriptions, Meta titles and schema tags. (These are some of the Google ranking factors to consider)

·       A great theme should also provide the user with the ease of usage through the backend like customization of fonts, colors, moving of gadgets and other objects.

Finding the right theme for your website should be based on an immediate factor which is speed.

Some WordPress plugins also contribute to the performance of themes. We shall discuss this plugins also.

I intend to place speed as the most important factor when selecting a great theme because, when your theme loads slow, and a competitor aims the same keyword your article or website aims, you will be overtaken because of your themes slow speed.

There are some factors that might be affected by the speed of a website’s theme.

The weight or size required of a website page as recommended by search engine optimization.

Your site initial loading page must be not more than 400 kilobytes. This factor is a combination of the images, contents and your hosting server’s rate of responding to page request abruptly.

So finding a fast loading server might also play significant role.  Other factors include the size of some objects on your pages like the size of images that shouldn’t be more than 100 kilobytes and also the sizes of some files like JavaScript and css that can be compressed to apply more efficiency.

As a website blogger and builder, you have to be able to prevent these small technical issues or hire someone to tackle them.

These small tricks if studied carefully can be done within some hours.
I personally speed up my own website with these techniques and I will ask anyone who is passionate about their site do the same.

Speeding up a site is comprehensively tackled in the article how to reduce size and speed up your WordPress Website.

The small advice here is to make sure the theme you use and the articles you publish reduces the size of images to lower than 100 kilobytes.

Normally, gif images and jpeg images are lighter than png images. Whilst png images looks nicer and pixel rich.

Your theme must also be responsive, as in dynamically changing the screens width to fit various gadgets and peripherals. Most developers use fluid techniques through css and css3.

As a website builder, you don’t necessary need to know how to create all these techniques, but you must know how to identify themes taking advantage of all these techniques.

And most importantly knowing the right plugins to install. You must also make it a habit of finding fast loading themes and modifying their files by using compression plugins like “Check and Enable GZIP compression and “WP Super Cache.

You will then use Google page speed checker to check the speed of your site and compress the files that are affecting your loading speed. 
This is done with file compressors and JavaScript compactors.

So how do we know whether a theme uses all these techniques? Glad you asked J

Before we find out how to test themes using these techniques or try to modify the ones in that direction, I want us to first find the right themes first.  

I decided to conduct research on finding the best theme to buy as a website beginner. I didn’t want to waste time on this research but also wanted to be efficient.

I decided to find the top earned bloggers according to their income stats, and most importantly, what themes they use.

At the beginning I was very anxious to find their themes because I knew more about the WordPress structure.

I knew that the WordPress folder structure has a folder arrangement containing the keyword “/wp-content/themes/”.

And that if I can get these bloggers website, use a browser and right click by selecting the source code to identify their themes, I will or might arrive at what am looking for.

And going further, I can find the theme they use which comes after the folder name containing “/wp-content/themes/themename/”.
Then I will gather the names of the themes, check their speeds and complete with my great theme selection.

I decided to find the best and authentic WordPress themes dominating and doing the good job by performing well in terms of quality, sales, ratings, dominance and speed.

The following is what happened during my research. I used the keyword “top bloggers income”.

best rated wordpress themes

Anil Agarwalfrom bloggerpassion.com publishes reports on top bloggers income occasionally.

I decided to pick the top ten bloggers from his list to compare what theme they use. However these top bloggers found a way to customize and conceal their themes.

I witnessed a level of sophistication and private customization making my research a little challenging.

Pursuing more led me to another discovery. Most themes are finger printed with the name of their developers in the file at the location “/wp-content/themes/themename/style.css” where the domain address "www.thewebsitename.com/" is preceded.

Some sites made these developers known by leaving out their theme names, others removed them. Fortunately, those that left the theme names were more than those that didn’t.

Those that left the developers remarks made it appeared to be a sign of respect or appreciation.

Anil Agarwal’s list onJune 2016 from bloggerpassion.com showed names like Pat Flynn from Smartpassiveinncome.com, Matthew Woodward from MatthewWoodWard.co.uk, Harsh Agarwal from Shoutmeloud.com, Jonny from JohnnyFd.com, Justin from SoOverThis.com, Michelle from MakingSenseOfCents.com Alexa from SingleMomsIncome.com and more.

Aside from Anil Agarwal’s list, I had some top bloggers in mind too. This list include QuickSprout.com by Neil Patel, Brian Dean from BackLinko.com and AOL’s techcrunch.com

Going to the sourcecode from the browser as done with either right clicking on the page and clicking on View Page Source or navigating to the sourcecode page with the URL: “view-source:http://yourwebsitenamehere.com/” with your browser opens the html codes or using the shortcut Ctrl + U on windows machines.

best rated wordpress themes

The source code of the browser will open as shown below.

You will then search for the keyword “/wp-content/themes/”, to arrive at the link by typing “ctrl + F” on windows machine and “CMD + F” on mac machines.

This will be found only if the site uses WordPress theme, else the site doesn’t use WordPress or is highly customized to conceal it theme.

best rated wordpress themes

During my search for these theme links on each html source code of these top earners blog websites, TechCrunch uses WordPress but at a very high level of customization.

In fact they were using WordPress VIP which is managed by wordpress.com. Wordpress.com’s VIP management charges a minimum of $5000 per month. (Sorry guys, TechCrunch cannot help us with our great theme journey unless we want to dump $5000 dollars per month on our theme journey.) Not Good for a beginner unless you are super rich.

Such WordPress VIP sites spends 5,000 to 40,000 dollars of cash for WordPress.com to manage their themes, site performances and hosting.
However, the good news is the top bloggers showed great results. 

QuickSprout.com used WordPress theme, searching further brought me to the style page below. QuickSprout used WordPress Genesis theme by studiopress.com (BINGO)J.

And studiopress.com is owned by Brian Clark who is also the owner of CoppyBlogger.com. 

best rated wordpress themes

Backlinko.com used WordPress Sage 9 theme. Sage 9 is an opensource and a Modern starter theme with a frontend development workflow. Created by developers from roots.io.

To use sage 9, you might need people with the right knowledge like the developers from roots.io  

best rated wordpress themes

ShoutMeLoud.com used the WordPress theme genesis once again by studiopress.com

best rated wordpress themes

To prevent this article to be flooded with more images, I have decided to present all results in a tabular form.

Top Website Bloggers Earnings, Themes, Site Speed and Theme Authors.

Site Name
Est. Monthly Income(2016)
Theme /Template
Theme /Template Name
Theme By


Table Summary:
Site speed

Note: The sites that performed poorly in terms of speed might be affected by server speed, images or some heavy weight contents not necessary related to the performance of the theme they use.

Example: I found out Johnnyfd.com’s desktop site speed was affected by the heavy file sizes like png images and high size uncompressed css and JavaScript files.

I have mailed Johnny about this issue. If not, he should pay me small Johnny Ca$H and I will gladly fix it for him on his serverJ.
Abby’s site Justagirlandherblog.com’s desktop page speed was 4% and very bad. I have mailed her, showed her where she is supposed to fix and asked whether she might let me do it for small fee. (YEAH I NEED THE CASH).

The problem about Abby’s page is contributed to big sizes of images with png formats making site load slow. Compressing these images might speed up the site exponentially.

And Lastly Dave & Vicky’s AvocadoPesto.com scored 0% from the mobile page speed. This specifically contributed to a single image weighing as heavy as 8 megabyte.

I believe this image was taken from some high pixel camera and uploaded straight to the site. Hey Dave, just try to fix this issue with the email I sent you okay? OR YOU CAN CONTACT ME J

As you can see, some sites did extremely well with speed performance. Quicksprout.com scoring 85% desktop and they used Genesis theme.
MatthewWoodWork.co.uk scored 85% and used a theme by mythemeshop.com.

I actually couldn’t verify the main theme. Hope anyone can help me out here.

MakingSenseOfCents.com scored 61% mobile and 72% desktop and the theme used was Genesis theme (Olive & Ivy Design Theme).

SingleMomsIncome.com scored 58% mobile speed and 77% desktop speed and used the Genesis theme (customized by pixelmedesigns.com).
DumbPassiveIncome.com also did very well with desktop speed scoring 85% and mobile scoring 62% with the Genesis theme (eleven40 Pro Theme).

Other sites used different themes not related to Genesis and did extremely well like ByRegina.com with the Brad Hogan theme.

Numbers don’t lie and I believe we have all gone through this together.  
If you think you are convinced about using the Genesis theme, be my guest. You can check out more Genesis Themes here.

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