In case you didn’t know, ThemeValet was finally (properly) launched as a result of me re-reading Dan Norris’ 7 Day Startup book – in which he lays out a system for launching an idea fast – while on holiday.
And a key part of that book lays out how to use a pre-made WordPress theme to setup a basic WordPress website cheaply, by yourself in order to get your new idea off the ground.
Of course the range of different themes can be overwhelming and it’s also hard to know the quality and support behind the themes if you’ve never used one from that company before.
Fortunately I have a lot of experience in this area, so I’ve made it my task for today to give you some solid recommendations.
For this list, my priority is design and reliability (looks good on all browsers, things don’t break unexpectedly), rather than fancy but ultimately pointless theme features.
The main goal is to create a striking landing page that will help you get your message out. And while we’re more concerned with launching fast, than slowing ourselves down worrying about unnecessary details, design does matter.
So if you can get a great looking site from day one, why not?
Also, to try to give you some variety I’m only going to pick one theme from each ‘theme shop’, though in most cases I could have picked more from each one.
Altitude Pro (by StudioPress)
Yes, you’re not doing a double take. This is the launch theme for ThemeValet (i.e. the one you’re viewing now) and has been lucky enough to attract a lot of compliments.
It’s strength undoubtedly is its homepage but it also supports inner pages and blog posts (like this one) too.
Altitude Pro is made by StudioPress, one of the oldest and best theme shops in the game and they have a lot of design talent (in the likes of Brian Gardner, Lauren Mancke and Rafal Tomal).
So by picking a StudioPress theme for about $100 or less you can get a great looking modern theme that looks like it could’ve cost way more.
Basis (by The Theme Foundry)
The Theme Foundry has some fantastic designs, many of them blog focussed but, of all their themes, the Basis theme is probably most appropriate for new product or service launches.
(There’s even an alternate landing page template that comes with it).
Hatch (by Themedy)
I have to admit I prefer a site that looks more finished than a countdown version, but I guess it wouldn’t be a list of pre-launch / launch themes without a countdown theme in here somewhere.
Yes, there are a lot of free countdown themes, but I like how the guys of Themedy have done Hatch.
Sprinkle (by Restored 316)
If you’re looking for a more feminine style for your startup WordPress theme, I recommend checking out the stunning collection of themes by Lauren over at Restored 316.
I could’ve picked out a few different themes but I’ve gone for Sprinkle. It has a variety of homepage widget areas and a prominent subscribe box.
And the design is fantastic.
Storey (by ThemeZilla)
Made by one of my favourite WordPress designers Orman Clark for his ThemeZilla theme shop, Storey is an elegant theme that could suit all kinds of businesses.
If you like this style of themes I also encourage you to check out Orman’s themes in general because he has a few others in a similar style to this one.
Swank (by Pretty Darn Cute)
Lindsey Riel over at Pretty Darn Cute has created a lot of great WordPress themes but my favourite is probably Swank.
If you’re looking for a clean, light look for your 7 Day Startup homepage you can’t do much better. It also has an email subscription box and social media links prominently displayed.
Kickstart (by Lean Themes)
And finally, I have to admit more than a little bias here because I’m the co-founder of Lean Themes, but since launching our Kickstart theme we’ve had a lot of praise for it.
Like Altitude Pro it has a lot of homepage widget areas you can play with (to fit almost any kind of content) plus a stronger header image space.
It’s even had praise from the likes of Andrew Warner, interviewer of many startup founders over at Mixergy!
PS Got a favourite theme you want to give a shout out to? Let us know in the comments below (please feel free to include a link to your website if you’re still using the theme on it).
PPS And if you found your perfect ‘7 Day Startup’ launch theme but don’t want to set it yourself, we can do it for you from $99. Just browse our homepage for more details on how it all works or get in touch if you have any questions.