Choosing a theme for a WordPress.com-hosted blog is more difficult than choosing a theme for a self-hosted WordPress.org site.
For one, you cannot customise a theme in WP.com unless you go for the premium theme or custom-designed theme ($30 a year fee) route where you are given access to change the fonts or the CSS stylesheet of your selected theme.
For those who prefer to stick to “free themes”, there are a number of excellent themes that you can choose from.
I select themes which meet my requirements like –
(a) The theme’s layout is appropriate for the type of content I want to create for my blog. This means that if I want my blog to be a photoblog, then I use a theme for photoblogging. For newsy content, I use a theme that has the look and feel of a news or news-magazine site.
(b) The theme’s overall appearance (color, typography, background) is suitable to the readership I intend to reach.
(c) The theme is updated to leverage on WordPress new features including social media functionalities.
The fourth criterion I also apply in choosing a theme is that the theme’s coding should be SEO-compliant. Since I use only “free” themes for my WP.com blog, I apply this requirement to themes for my self-hosted sites.
From the range of free themes available at WordPress.com-hosted blogs, the themes I like most ~ at least for Working and WordPress-ing ~ are the following (theme descriptions as per designer’s blurb):
A somewhat dirty, grungy theme with two widget areas and several customization options, including Custom Background, Header Image, Post Formats, and more.”
Remarks: This is the theme this site is using as I write this post.
The 2011 theme for WordPress is sophisticated, lightweight, and adaptable. Make it yours with a custom menu, header image, and background — then go further with available theme options for light or dark color scheme, custom link colors, and three layout choices. Twenty Eleven comes equipped with a Showcase page template that transforms your front page into a showcase to show off your best content, widget support galore (sidebar, three footer areas, and a Showcase page widget area), and a custom “Ephemera” widget to display your Aside, Link, Quote, or Status posts. Included are styles for print and for the admin editor, support for featured images (as custom header images on posts and pages and as large images on featured “sticky” posts), and special styles for six different post formats.
Remarks: This is WordPress’s current default theme.
With a featured posts slider on the front page, a wide, one-column template on image and video posts, and archives displayed in gallery format, Selecta is well-suited for blogs which focus primarily on showcasing videos or images. It comes with six color schemes, support for video, image, aside, gallery, quote, chat, and audio post formats, custom header, custom background, and four widget areas — one in the left sidebar and three in the footer.
Remarks: I should try this next time.
This theme supports widget, theme-options, and translation is ready. Also including page-navigation and multi level dropdown menu.
Remarks: I should try this next time.
A bold, colorful theme that lends itself well to personal blogs and daily journals.
Remarks: I will try this next time.
A dark and grungy theme with drop-down menus and a widgetized footer.
Remarks: A very impressive theme. I installed it last month for this site, but used it only for 3 days because it was displaying a bottom-page ad over which I do not have any control. Not really sure why ads were showing up.
A stylish and fun theme with a custom header, custom background, and multiple alternate color schemes. Supports featured images for index and archive pages and in the Bueno featured posts widget.
Remarks: I am using this in one of my self-hosted sites, www.pinoykomiks.com for demo.
A theme featuring a custom header, custom background, and five widget areas – one in the sidebar, four in the footer. The footer also shows a maximum of three featured (sticky) posts. It comes with four different color schemes. It supports several post formats including aside, gallery, image, quote, link, chat, video, and audio.
Remarks: I am using this in one of my self-hosted sites, www.justanotherbloodywebsite.com
Packed with six layout options, six color schemes, a spot for you to link to four popular social network profiles, and support for aside, image, and quote post formats, Mystique can meet the needs of many types of blogs. Further customize the design by adding a custom header and background.
Remarks: I am using this in one of my self-hosted sites, www.crazyprices.ws
A group blog theme for short update messages, inspired by Twitter.
Remarks: I am using this in one of my self-hosted sites, www.cooltext.org