If you’re looking to get started with WordPress, or if you are considering updating your free theme to a premium theme, then you’ve come to the right place. WordPress is a fantastic community that offers plenty of customizable features. However, some of those customizations can feel overwhelming. If you are new to WordPress, you’re probably wondering a lot about the differences between free and premium themes.
Are premium WordPress themes worth it? For some, Premium WordPress themes will be worth it. While many new users might want to jump to the free option to keep costs low when starting a new website, but it might not be the best for your website in the long-term. So, if you start with a free theme, chances are, you will need to upgrade at some point later.
Since there isn’t a lot of information available on the Internet today covering free and premium WordPress themes, we created this article to help you out. Below we’ll talk about the pros and cons of free items, the pros, and cons of premium themes, as well as when you might want to use a free theme versus when you should upgrade to a premium theme.
Why Pay for Premium WordPress Themes?
There are a few reasons why you might want to pay for a premium WordPress theme. We’ll give you a brief overview, and then start listing out the different items you’ll get with each type of plan. If you are new to WordPress, then it might seem odd to start paying for something immediately. Many new users feel that if there’s a great free option, why should you pay for a premium option?
Many start-ups approach WordPress this way, and it follows a cost-saving mentality. Many people that start a new blog or website try to keep costs low initially. While that’s a good idea when you are first beginning, it doesn’t make sense over the long-term.
If you purchase a premium WordPress theme, you’ll wind up with extra features and advantages you won’t get with a free account. Also, remember that a market would not exist for premium WordPress themes unless a lot of people were purchasing and using them.
When you’re thinking about whether you should use a free WordPress theme or a premium one, then you’ll want to consider a few questions below:
- Are you going to need to purchase a premium theme, so you own a gorgeous website?
- If you pay for a premium theme, does that mean your website will run faster?
- Are there disadvantages to only using a free theme?
- When it comes to free and premium WordPress themes, which one should I use based on my project?
As you think about these questions, we are going to get a bit more in-depth with them below so that you can start assessing whether you want to use a premium WordPress theme or a free WordPress theme. First, we’ll begin by covering the free themes on WordPress
WordPress’s Free Themes
If you want to use WordPress’s free items, or you at least want to explore them, there is certainly nothing wrong with that. You’ll be able to find free themes on WordPress after you install a fresh instance of WordPress on your web host. You can find information about the different items in the WordPress theme directory.
To get there, go to “Appearance,” then select “Themes,” and then select “Add New Theme” on your dashboard area. If you need more information, you can read this article on how to install a WordPress theme. While that’s not the only place to locate free WordPress themes because thousands of open items are everywhere on the Internet, we’ll talk more about finding free ideas on the Internet later on in this article.
One reason it’s helpful to use a theme that WordPress provides, especially when you are new, is because all of those themes have received the official approval of WordPress. When WordPress gets a new theme to look over to ass to their theme directory, they put it through a strict process of review.
When WordPress starts reviewing a new theme, its theme review process includes a strict plugin that analyzes the submitted theme against WordPress’s stringent requirements. If the item receives approval, then the theme you’ve created will be manually analyzed by WordPress’s team of theme developers. If the idea can pass both these phases, later it is released to the public in WordPress’s official theme directory.
Now that you understand a little bit about how free themes work on WordPress, we’ll cover the pros and cons of using open items with your WordPress Website.
WordPress’s Free Themes: Pros
So, what are the advantages you’ll get if you go with a free WordPress theme? There are several reasons why an individual might want to start with a free WordPress theme. We’ll cover those advantages in more detail below.
#1: Anything Free is Wonderful
It’s difficult to argue with the concept that anything free is terrific. If you are a new website owner, and you are just getting started with WordPress, then free is especially a great thing for you. Or, if you are the type of website owner that likes to experiment often and change things up now and then, free themes might work well for you.
Remember, if you use a WordPress Premium theme, you’ll likely have to pay for it. CodeinWP tells us the usual price for a premium WordPress theme is $57. Some people that sell items don’t give you returns on your payment. If you wind up not enjoying the item you bought, or it doesn’t work with the plugins you need to have, then you may have purchased something you cannot use and wasted your hard-earned cash.
#2 Official Approval
If you’re using the free themes that are listed in WordPress’s theme directory, then you’re using a theme that is officially approved. All free items that are offered through WordPress’s directory have passed the strict multi-step review process created by WordPress.
#3 Minimal Designs
If you use a free WordPress theme, you’ll be working with a minimal design process. You won’t have to worry about the features and widgets you’d otherwise get with a premium theme. When you are new to the game, that can be a relief, especially for people that are learning WordPress as they go along. If you don’t have a lot of plugins on your free theme, you might wind up with a pretty fast WordPress website. If your site is more rapid, you’ll bring up your technical SEO.
#4 Free Themes are Simple and Easy-to-Use
We cannot stress enough how user-friendly the free themes are in WordPress, which is important for users when they are just starting. Since free items are typically used by newbies, they were all created so that they were simple for beginners to use. That’s what makes the WordPress theme approval process so beneficial.
When the WordPress theme approves free themes, they make sure that the open items they offer in their theme library are easy for newbies to use. Another great thing about many of the free themes is that they are compatible with almost all of the WordPress plugins.
If you want to use free themes outside of WordPress, we recommend checking out Just Free Themes as well as MH Themes.
Now that you know about the benefits of using a free WordPress theme, we’ll move on to discuss the cons of using free WordPress themes. That way, you’ll be able to assess if a free WordPress theme is right for you or not.
WordPress’s Free Themes: Cons
While free is always great, if you select a free WordPress theme, you might be limiting what you can accomplish with your website. So, if you do opt for a free theme, you might wind up holding yourself up a bit. To help you decide whether you should get a free item or a premium WordPress theme, we’ll go over the cons of a free WordPress theme below.
#1 Limited Features
If you use a free WordPress theme, you’ll find that the features you can make use of are limited. You won’t get a lot of functionality. So, if you plan on growing your website, or you already have a more extensive, professional website, a free theme might not work well for you.
#2 Free Themes are not Innovative
One fundamental trick in marketing to make your site useful is allowing it to stand out from the crowd. If you use a free WordPress theme, that’s going to be much more challenging to accomplish. Several of the free items on WordPress have millions of downloads. That means using a free theme won’t make the appearance of your website very unique. You’ll get a lot more innovation out of a premium theme.
Keep in mind that anybody can download a free theme and have no payment barrier around them. So, a lot of similar websites use the same style of WordPress themes. With free themes, you cannot customize your site as much as you can with a premium theme. Unfortunately, if you use a free WordPress theme, the people that visit your site often are bound to notice it eventually.
#3 Free Themes are not Updated Often
If you wind up using a free theme, you might run into another problem as you create your WordPress website. Many of the open items you’ll find available to you on WordPress are not updated very often. That means they might not work well with the new updates of WordPress’s CMS.
#4 No Support
If you’re using a free theme on WordPress, you won’t get any support if you run into a technical issue. That’s because many people contribute to the development of open items. WordPress has no way to figure out who made the theme once it’s submitted. After that, the only help you’ll be able to get is third-party help from forums and social media groups. Unfortunately, if you go that route, you might not get a quick reply or any reply at all.
#5 Unofficial Free Themes can be Coded Badly
If you wind up getting a free WordPress theme that’s not from WordPress’s official theme depository, you may wind up with a website that is poorly coded, meaning it can be buggy. If your site is buggy, then you are likely to experience security issues, which are never fun.
#6 Not all Free Themes are Wonderful
While there are some great free themes out there, not all of the open items you come across will be designed equally. So, whenever you decide you want to change an idea, you’ll need to make sure that you know about what you’ll be able to do with it.
Why Develop a Free WordPress Theme?
You might be wondering why so many developers create free themes for WordPress if they aren’t making much money from them. Many people generate WordPress themes because there is a potential for upselling. With an open concept, people can try out what the developer has to offer. However, whenever you start with a free theme, you’ll have some limited functionality.
That means you’d have to purchase the premium version of the same theme eventually to expand out your website. However, this isn’t a bad way to approach the development of your new website. If you think about it, allowing users to try something out for free before totally purchasing the theme allows users to test the theme out first before buying it.
Unfortunately, some people develop free themes so that they can get their malicious codes onto other individual’s sites. While that’s not usually the case, it does happen from time to time. So, you’ll need to make sure you are very careful if you decide to pick a free WordPress theme that’s not from the WordPress website itself.
How to Find Your Free WordPress Theme
Remember, if you purchase a free theme from WordPress, you’ll wind up running a greater risk for running into malicious code than simply purchasing a premium theme. Below we’ll give you some advice about what you should do before you use any free WordPress theme that isn’t from WordPress’s theme depository.
- When you find a free theme that you like outside of WordPress, you should do a quick Google search on that theme. In the search bar, type in the website’s name or the theme’s name, or both, and look for any negative comments about that particular theme.
- When you first download your free WordPress theme, you should scan your item for viruses. You can use VirusTotal to do that for free.
- You can also manually look through the theme’s files, although that does require some time and effort. The areas you’ll most often find bad backlinks on a concept are in the CSS and footer.php file areas.
- You’ll also need to make sure you check on the authenticity of your theme. You can use some WordPress plugins to do this, like Theme Authenticity Checker.
- If you’ve uploaded your new theme onto your website, then you should scan your entire website using Google Safe Browsing. To do that, all you need to do is add your domain name after the end of this URL, http://www.google.com/safebrowsing/diagnostic?site=.
When to Use a Free Theme versus a Premium Theme
Whenever you pick a new theme for your WordPress website, you’ll need to think about more than just the overall looks of the item. You’ll also need to choose a concept that will help you meet your content needs. So, it’s best to use a free WordPress theme when you are doing one of the following:
- You’ve decided you want to make your blog.
- You don’t mind if your website looks similar to some other sites.
- You are only worried about basic website functionality.
- You feel you can quickly learn how to use WordPress without a lot of support. This option will work out well if you are just using WordPress for its blogging features.
On the other hand, you should consider using a premium WordPress theme when you are doing one of the following:
- You are planning to use WordPress to create a business website. Or, you might be considering expanding the functionality of your website because you want to do some e-commerce activities.
- You want to make sure your website stands out from the crowd.
- You want your website to have a lot of functionality.
- You don’t want to deal with WordPress without a support team.
Keep in mind that several premium themes, as well as plugins, can be found online if you search around enough, and sometimes for free. However, it’s better to use themes and plugins only from reputable sources, or from the WordPress theme depository.
If you still aren’t sure what to do, you might need first to figure out the primary goal of your website. Depending on whether you are making a blog, a photography portfolio, or an e-commerce website, you’ll need a WordPress theme that works for your goal. Also, keep in mind, the more advanced you want to make your website when it comes to functionality, the more difficult it can become to run and maintain.
Now that you understand the pros and cons of free themes on WordPress, we’ll move onto giving you a little more information about a Premium WordPress theme if you’ve decided you’d instead use one of those when you begin your WordPress Journey.
WordPress’s Premium Themes
If you’re working with a premium hosting service, then you might want to utilize a premium WordPress theme. A premium WordPress theme does take a bit of cash but think about that money spent as an investment in your company’s future. Keep in mind that if you purchase a premium theme, you will be paying a premium price, but you’ll also get an item that offers premium features.
When you want to find the perfect WordPress theme for your website, purchasing a premium theme will give you a lot of functionality as well as support when you need it, updates so that you stay on top of the game, a lot of customization options to make your website stand-out, and better security features. Also, with a premium WordPress theme, you’ll be able to make a very innovative website that resembles no other sites.
WordPress’s Premium Themes: Pros
If you’ve decided already that you want to purchase a premium theme, here are some of the features you’ll need to look for:
- Make sure the item you pick is compliant with WordPress standards. It should be up-to-date, offer the latest versions of the software.
- Ensure that the theme you’ve selected is responsive. If your website is responsive, then you’ll get a nice boost in Google. Remember, Google looks at mobile-responsiveness when they conduct their ranking.
- Using a premium WordPress theme ensures that your website will be compatible with all kinds of browsers.
- You’ll be able to customize your WordPress premium theme easily.
- With a WordPress premium theme, you’ll have an item that performs well when you use it with other plugins.
If you’re wondering what the top-selling premium WordPress themes are, check out this post.
WordPress Premium Themes: Cons
While premium themes aren’t great, not every premium theme that’s available online will work well for you. There are a few disadvantages that come with premium themes that you’ll want to be on the lookout for:
- Some premium themes are poorly coded. You may think the idea looks lovely, but the coding standards might be horrible. If you wind up with lousy coding, your website won’t work with all plugins. That’s because not all of the premium themes go through the same strict review process as free ones on WordPress.
- You may feel you have an overabundance of features with some of these premium themes. Sometimes theme developers add a lot of features you don’t need into their items because they are trying to sell as many themes as possible. You most likely won’t use every feature, but they’ll still be there, slowing down the progress of your website.
- You may also have an issue when your premium theme crosses over into the plugins domain, saying they have functionality that they should not be offering.
Locating Excellent Premium Themes
If you want to find reliable, pretty premium themes, then the best way to do this is by purchasing your item from respected developers. If you decide you don’t want to purchase your premium theme from WordPress, two reliable theme shops we can recommend are StudioPress and Themify. If you want an excellent drag and drop page builder, try using Elementor Page Builder.
Pay Attention to the Premium Theme You Want
You’ll want to make sure that when you are purchasing a theme, you aren’t hiring anybody to set your item up for you. Also, you won’t be getting an exclusive license, and these themes do not typically come with warranties or money-back guarantees.
Reliable, honest theme shops will allow you to see their documentation and support forums, which you’ll want to use when you need more help. With a premium theme, you should be paying to get additional support and help with your item, too.
How Do I Choose?
If you still aren’t sure whether or not you should purchase a premium WordPress theme or opt for a free one, you should consider a few things. We’ve created a list of points for your consideration below. After you consider these points, you should be able to decide whether you should opt for a premium theme or a free theme.
- Do you want several features, customizable options, sliders, and other fancy items on your website?
- Do you feel you can figure out WordPress issues on your own, without any support?
- Do you need a professional theme that’s innovative, or would you feel just fine with a basic theme?
If you are new to WordPress and you just want to make a simple blog or website with your family, then using a free theme should work for you. We’ve got a list of different free WordPress blog themes for you here.
However, if you are a business, whether you are a large or small, then you should consider using a paid theme. That way, you’ll get the helpful support and customization you’ll want to make an innovative, attention-getting website.
When trying to think about whether you want a free WordPress theme or a premium WordPress theme, you’ll need to consider the goals of your website. Depending on what your goals are for your website, you may or may not need to pay for a premium theme. For example, if you simply want to start a family website or personal blog, then you’ll probably be okay with a free theme. However, if your site starts to grow or you already own a small business, then you’ll want a premium theme.
With a premium theme, you’ll be able to customize more features and offer a lot more innovation with your website. Premium themes help you to stand out from the crowd.