Free vs Premium WordPress Themes (Pros and Cons)

We are often asked by beginners how to choose between free vs premium WordPress themes. What are the advantages and disadvantages? If you too had those questions, then you’re in the right place. In this article, we will discuss free WordPress themes vs premium WordPress… Read More »

The post Free vs Premium WordPress Themes (Pros and Cons) appeared first on WPBeginner.

We are often asked by beginners how to choose between free vs premium WordPress themes. What are the advantages and disadvantages? If you too had those questions, then you’re in the right place. In this article, we will discuss free WordPress themes vs premium WordPress themes (pros and cons).

Free vs Premium WordPress Themes

Pros of Free WordPress Themes

First, we would like to mention that when we say free themes, we mean free WordPress themes that are listed in the official WordPress.org Themes directory.

We DO NOT recommend users to download and install any free themes that are distributed by other unreliable sources.

Free WordPress themes

It’s Free

The biggest benefit of a free WordPress theme is the cost, free. It lowers the barrier of entry to starting a blog.

However hearing the word free makes many people cautious. Why would someone give you a free WordPress theme when others are selling premium themes? What’s the catch?

Often people think free themes are low quality. It’s quite the contrary.

Strict Review Process

Free WordPress themes are actually held to a higher quality standard. All themes in the official WordPress theme directory go through a strict theme review process.

There are some very talented folks in the theme review team who examine and test these themes before they are included into the directory.

You can see this checklist of the theme review process.

Free WordPress themes are tested for standard compliant code, support for standard WordPress features, quality HTML and CSS, security, privacy, etc.

As you can imagine, it takes talented developers to build a quality WordPress themes that get approved in the official directory.

But why are they giving it away for free?

There are lots of benefits of giving and sharing.

It helps theme developers sharpen their skills because during the review process, the theme review team audits their code and suggest improvements.

It also gives them a chance to make their theme available to a large user base where people can use it, give feedback, and suggest improvements.

Other advantages are building reputation as a skilled developer, building a portfolio, getting paid jobs for customization of those free themes or even develop custom theme for clients.

So while the free themes are definitely good, there are some disadvantages.

Cons of Free WordPress Themes

Free WordPress themes usually have fewer options

Disadvantages of free or premium WordPress themes can be very subjective. What one person would consider a disadvantage, may not be a cause of concern for many others.

These are some common disadvantages of using a free WordPress theme:

  1. Limited support options – Free WordPress theme developers offer support through WordPress forums, but they are not obliged to reply to support queries.
  2. Limited Features and Functionality – Even though free themes support most standard WordPress features, many of them don’t offer extra features like creating buttons, using shortcodes, create landing pages, etc.
  3. Not so Unique – Free themes are used by a lot of websites and blogs, so your website will not have a unique design. Also there are usually limited options to customize the visual appearance of free themes.
  4. No Obligation – Free themes are distributed with no warranties, so if something goes wrong, you are pretty much on your own.
    1. If you use a free theme, and it doesn’t have a specific functionality that you’re looking for (please don’t leave a 1 star rating). You didn’t pay anything for this theme.

      Instead if you ask nicely or make a small donation, the developers are much more likely to add that feature in.

      Here’s how to properly ask for WordPress support and get it.

      Pros of Premium WordPress Themes

      Premium WordPress themes

      Unlike free themes, premium WordPress themes are available for purchase from numerous third-party WordPress theme shops and marketplaces.

      More features and customization options

      Elements you can drag and drop in Divi - A premium WordPress theme

      The biggest advantage of a premium theme is that you get more features and customization options.

      Due to the competition in the premium theme industry, theme shops are always trying to offer more features at lower prices.

      As a customer, you get themes that contain options like drag and drop builders, shortcodes, multiple layouts and templates, and unlimited color choices.

      Support and Updates

      Premium WordPress themes come with regular updates and support.

      Primarily because these theme shops are actually making money vs doing it for free.

      More Unique

      Because there’s a cost associated to premium themes, they’re less frequently used when compared to free themes.

      Not to mention the customization options give you the ability personalize your theme.

      Combining the two, your website will stand out and look unique.

      Cons of Premium WordPress Themes

      Performance of premium WordPress themes

      Not all premium themes are perfect.

      Here are some common issues that can be a disadvantage.

      1. Poor Code – Some times you may end up buying a premium theme that looks pretty but has poor coding standards which could make it incompatible with some plugins. Mainly because these themes don’t have to go through a strict review process.
      2. Too many features – In order to sell more themes, theme developers can add too many unnecessary features into their themes. You will probably never use all those features, but they are still there making your website slow.
      3. Crossing over into Plugins domain – Sometimes WordPress themes can cross over into plugins domain, offering functionality that they are not supposed to offer. For example, creating custom post types, shortcodes, and other things that would disappear as soon as you switch theme

      How to find premium themes that are really as good as promised?

      The easiest way to find a good reliable premium theme is by buying it from one of the trusted theme shops and developers.

      The two well-respected premium WordPress theme shops that we recommend are: StudioPress and Themify.

      For drag and drop page builder, we recommend using Beaver Builder.

      You can also check out our showcase sections for more theme shops that we like and trust.

      Know what you are buying

      Remember that when you are purchasing a premium WordPress theme, you are not hiring that theme shop or developer to set it up for you. You also don’t have an exclusive license and theme developer does not offer any warranty.

      Most good theme shops will give you access to their documentation and support forums where you can get more help if needed. This preferential support is actually what you are paying for.

      Any good theme shop should have a good support system, documentation, and help available for you to set up your theme.

      I am confused… How Do I Chose?

      When chosing a WordPress theme for your site you need to ask yourself a few questions.

      1. Do you really need lots of features, custom theme admin options, sliders, and other goodies for your website?

      2. Can you troubleshoot WordPress issues on your own or you need help with them?

      3. Do you want a professional looking theme that’s not very common or you are fine with a basic layout?

      If you are just starting out with a personal blog or family website, then a free WordPress theme would be sufficient for your needs. Here is our list of 43 beautiful free WordPress blog themes to help you get started.

      On the other hand, if you are a small business, then we will recommend you to go with a paid theme. It gives you the extra customization features and options while giving you the peace of mind that support is available should you need it.

      How to Get Started With WordPress

      If you are new to WordPress and are not quite sure how to get started, then check out our step by step guide on how to start a WordPress blog. It will walk you through setting up your first WordPress website like a pro.

      You can also see this guide on how to learn WordPress in a week (or less).

      We hope this article helped you learn how to choose between free vs premium WordPress themes. You may also want to see our list of 24 must have WordPress plugins for your website.

      If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

      The post Free vs Premium WordPress Themes (Pros and Cons) appeared first on WPBeginner.

How to Choose The Best Premium WordPress Theme for Your Site

When you are starting a blog, choosing the right theme is crucial for your success. During the process, you will likely have to decide between free WordPress themes vs premium WordPress themes. Often users ask us which one is better and what’s our selection process… Read More »

The post How to Choose The Best Premium WordPress Theme for Your Site appeared first on WPBeginner.

When you are starting a blog, choosing the right theme is crucial for your success. During the process, you will likely have to decide between free WordPress themes vs premium WordPress themes. Often users ask us which one is better and what’s our selection process when choosing a premium WordPress theme. In this article, we will cover how to choose the best premium WordPress theme for your site. By the end, you will know exactly what to look for and what you absolutely need to AVOID!

Choosing the best premium WordPress theme

Free WordPress Theme vs Premium WordPress Theme

One of the main reason why a lot of users choose a premium WordPress theme over a free one is because you get guaranteed support.

Free WordPress themes are often built as a passion project, so you are not guaranteed to get support or updates.

On the other hand, when you pay for a premium WordPress theme, you get good documentation, access to support, and regular updates.

Some theme shops even go beyond and offer video tutorials, demo content, and even a free blog setup service.

Aside from that, premium themes are make your website more unique because free themes are being used by everyone.

Having said that, here’s what you need to look for when selecting a premium WordPress theme.

1. Aesthetically Pleasing Modern Design

Modern web design

You will probably be using this theme on your website for quite sometime. You users will become accustomed to it. That’s why you need to choose a theme which is aesthetically pleasing and can be used for a long time without requiring any major changes.

There are certain elements of design that are used by all good designers to create beautiful websites.

  • Good Color Combination
  • Awesome Typography
  • Clean Layout
  • Beautiful Images

Together these elements create a beautiful harmony and consistency that appeals to your users. It not only looks great, but it also helps you achieve your business goals.

Most premium themes come with unlimited color choices and built-in tools to select fonts. You need to make sure that your premium WordPress theme uses better typography out of the box.

Don’t just look at the homepage. Go deeper in the theme demo and explore other sections. For example, if you are building a portfolio site then check theme’s demo for portfolio. If you will be adding testimonials, then checkout how testimonials look in the theme demo.

Make sure that there are plenty of page templates and layouts to use. Examine homepage, single pages, posts, and blog sections to make sure that they all maintain the same design consistency and appeal.

2. Features vs Presentation

Features vs presentation

The main difference between WordPress themes and plugins is that themes handle the presentation part of your website and plugins handle the functionality.

However, the premium WordPress theme market is highly competitive and sometimes theme developers cannot resist the temptation to add more plugin-like functionality into their themes.

Why is this considered bad practice?

When a WordPress theme crosses over into the plugin territory, it becomes difficult to switch themes. For example if a WordPress theme is using a custom post type, then switching to another theme would make those custom post types disappear from the admin menu.

Shortcodes defined by theme would also stop functioning which also makes switching a difficult and time consuming process.

On the other hand, there are WordPress themes which behave exactly like a plugin. Offering functionality needed to create very specific niche websites. For example real estate themes or hotel themes. Some of these themes are really useful, but if you are going to use those themes, then you need to understand that it will be difficult to switch themes later because other themes may not have the similar functionality.

3. Security and Performance

Theme performance

Many WordPress beginners don’t pay much attention to speed and good coding practices when choosing a premium theme.

In the race to win new customers, theme developers can integrate unsafe and quick solutions that can compromise your site’s security. The insane amount of features can cost you speed and performance issues.

Now the problem is that most beginner level users do not have the skills to study code. So how do you know that the code behind a premium theme is of good quality?

First, you need to buy your premium themes from trusted and well reputed WordPress theme shops. Some of the theme shops that we trust and recommend are:

Secondly, look around for reviews and customer testimonials. See who else is using themes developed by that particular theme shop or developer. Are there any big websites or blogs using their themes? Checkout the testimonials page on the theme shop or search for their reviews on Google.

4. Compatibility Check

Before you start browsing for a premium theme, take a few moments to write down all the features you are looking for. For example:

  • Do you need eCommerce support?
  • Translation readiness for non-English websites
  • BuddyPress or bbPress support
  • Any other plugins that you might be using

Many premium themes come with built-in templates and support for popular eCommerce platforms like WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads.

If a theme you are looking for is not available in your language, then ask the theme developer to see if a translation is in progress.

Some users may want to use very specific plugins to create niche websites like job boards, question answer websites, etc. Feel free to ask the theme developers if their theme would work with a specific plugin.

You need to make sure that you are investing your money in the right place.

After Selecting the Perfect Premium WordPress Theme

A good premium WordPress theme would help you easily build high quality websites. However, there are still many things you can do to improve your site.

We recommend taking a look at these 24 must have WordPress plugins for all websites.

If you want to further customize your website, then you should look at CSS Hero which makes it easy to customize websites (see our CSS Hero review).

We hope this guide helped you choose the best premium WordPress theme for your site. You may also want to see our comparison of the best WordPress contact form plugins.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

The post How to Choose The Best Premium WordPress Theme for Your Site appeared first on WPBeginner.