WordPress Themes: Free vs Premium. Know Which Is Right For You

WordPress themes have always been a point of discussion among website owners, and the reason for this emphasis is the features and functions that a theme offers to enable you to create an attractive and user-friendly website.

If you are thinking to start your site, you will have to go through the process of selecting a suitable theme from the hundreds of WordPress Themes available on the internet.  Many of these are free, and the rest are premium or paid ones.

WordPress Themes : Free Vs Premium

Guide to choose the right theme among free and premium themes

Initially, you may think that premium WordPress themes will be better as they will have something extra that free WordPress themes don’t offer; otherwise who will buy these paid themes?

Your thoughts are in the right direction. But, it cannot be the sole criteria to choose any theme.

If you are a beginner, you may lack the feel of a theme’s function and features. All I mean to say you may not know the effect of a theme’s functions and features unless you use them.

To help you make a right decision in choosing a theme, firstly we will discuss the various pros and cons of free and premium WordPress themes. Later, we will list the points you should consider before buying any theme.

Pros Of Free WordPress Themes

No Cost To User For Free WordPress Themes

The first apparent positive for these WordPress themes is that they are free, meaning a user doesn’t have to pay anything. If you select any theme from WordPress themes repository at https://wordpress.org/themes/, then you can use it for free for lifetime.

Moreover, you can change the theme anytime you want.

The main advantage you have with free themes is you can try as many themes as you want. There is no restriction as such. Once you are comfortable you can keep using it for the lifetime or until you change your mind.

As these themes are free and reduce the initial cost of a business to go online, a large number of people are using them during the trial period.

Additional Reading: Tips to save money on Web Hosting renewal of your website

Strict Review Process of Free WordPress Themes

When you visit the official WordPress Themes Repository to download a theme, you can be assured that the theme is properly coded and supports nearly all the plugins found in the repository. Moreover, these themes are quite lean (small in size).

Twenty Seventeen - a free WordPress theme

Twenty Seventeen – a free WordPress theme

When a theme is submitted for inclusion in the official WordPress Themes repository, it goes through a strict review process at WordPress.org. The review team has a group of volunteers who review and approve the submitted theme.

Theme reviewer uses the ‘Theme Check’ plugin to test the theme and ensures it supports all the most recent WordPress theme practices and standards.

To know more about the theme review process, you can visit the URL: https://make.wordpress.org/themes/.

Cons Of Free WordPress Themes

Limited Features And Functionality Of These WordPress Themes

The free WordPress Themes you get from the official site, have limited features which you realize only after using them for some time.

When you compare your website’s outlook with other professional websites, you realize there is much to do to make your site comparable to them.

For example, you may not be comfortable with the page template that comes with a theme by default. So, to customize, you will need to play with CSS and PHP coding part.

The other option is to install a plugin for page templates, but that will increase your website load, i.e. it will increase the load time of your website.

Similarly, you may want custom background colour feature which may not be there on the installed theme. In the same way, you may want to have the ‘search option’ in the site header area, but your theme may be offering it in the sidebar widget area.

Similarly, there are many other features you will not find in the free WordPress themes.

Free WordPress Themes Are Not So Unique

A large number of website owners use these free themes. Out of these people, most of them use the most popular themes. For example, Seventy Seventeen theme is the most popular theme at the moment.

It means a large number of people will have similar website look.

If you want your website to look unique, you have to use a unique theme and not a common one.

Business Field - a free WordPress theme

Business Field – a free WordPress theme

Limited Support For Free WordPress Themes

While using these WordPress themes, you may feel the need of technical support in many cases. Some of the scenarios are listed below:

  • When a new WordPress version is released, you would like to confirm whether your theme is compatible with it or not.
  • If you want to make some changes in the CSS or PHP files, but finding it difficult to get the desired results. You will be doing these activities for customizing your website.
  • You have uninstalled and deleted a plugin through Admin panel, but actually, it is not properly deleted and is having entries in many WordPress files.
  • When your website is malfunctioning or giving some error message, and you have exhausted the known remedial options.

Before expecting any support from the developers, you should know that the themes you download from the WordPress themes official website do not carry any warranty and the developers are not obliged to help you out.

You should join the theme support forum to expect some solution. It (solution) may come, or it may not come. Any member can offer solutions to your issues in the support forum.

Sometimes even theme developers provide support via the support forum. All I want to say is that the support is not guaranteed.

If you don’t get the required support here, you may seek such support from other forums, websites, YouTube, etc.  If all this fails, the last option left is to get the paid support from professional developers.

Note – Earlier, I was using ‘Twenty Seventeen’ WordPress Theme, and I had to seek support from official theme support forum. On some issues, I got the desired support, but many of my issues remained unresolved.

Pros Of Premium WordPress Themes

More Features And Customization Options Are Available In These WordPress Themes

As contrary to free WordPress Themes, premium or paid WordPress Themes offer rich features and customization options which also serve as unique selling points.

The features include search option in the site header area, multiple layouts and templates, unlimited color options, lazy loads, adding ‘async’ attribute to javascript, related post option at the bottom of a post, multiple widget options, inserting homepage link in the front page, h1 tag in the posts, and many more.

All these features help you customize your website as per your requirements, and you also need not be technical to do so. With all the enhanced features these themes make your website load faster.

In all, they are more SEO optimized than free WordPress themes.

Additionally, these themes are very well coded. There are two reasons behind this – a) Theme developers are duly paid. b) There is a lot of competition in the theme market which is prompting developers to make their themes better than the others.

Unique WordPress Themes

As compared to free WordPress Themes users of these themes are quite less. Here, the number of themes providers are many, and each one is offering many themes.

So if you select any premium theme for your website, then you can expect very few similar websites. It is a distinct advantage with these themes.

NewsPaper theme - a premium WordPress theme

NewsPaper theme – a premium WordPress theme

Timely Support And Updates For Premium WordPress Themes

When you buy these premium WordPress themes, they come with a warranty which means if you come across any issue you can approach the vendor for support. The support is provided via two channels: i) Support forum ii) Direct email.

The vendor has a direct interest in your issues and follows up promptly through email because he doesn’t want to lose his client.

You are the source of regular income to him because all the themes are normally sold at the first-year purchase price and annual subscription for support for subsequent years.

Moreover, these vendors provide timely updates of their themes to keep them compatible with the latest WordPress version and to plug in security issues discovered.

Additional Reading: Low web traffic? Learn to drive Facebook traffic to your website

Cons of Premium WordPress Themes

Premium WordPress Themes Come At A Price

Before a premium theme is listed for sale it goes through a lot of development and testing work. Many software developers work together to realize a beautiful professional theme.

To reward the efforts of the makers premium themes are available only at a price. I mean if you want a premium theme you have to pay for it. Charges vary from $60 to $90 with one year support.

But charges for support for the subsequent years are nearly one-third of the first year charges.

Some vendors offer premium themes on one-time payment basis also. But, such charges are normally three times the first year charges.

Dividend Theme - a premium WordPress theme

Dividend Theme – a premium WordPress theme

Too Many Features In Premium WordPress Themes

These WordPress themes have many features. Sometimes, they cross over into the plugin domain. I mean many of the functions that are normally done by plugins, are integrated into these themes.

Moreover, many of the theme functions you may never use.

Too many features make a theme sometimes inconvenient. Suppose, you want to change your current theme with the new one, the chances are that changeover will not be smooth as the new theme may not have the exact features as the earlier theme had.

How To Select From Free WordPress Themes

If you are a beginner, then use free themes for your websites. I hope you have gone through the pros and cons of such themes and ready to select a theme for your website.

  • Use free themes from the official WordPress repository as this is the place of well-coded themes.
  • Select a theme which is most active, i.e. a theme which is getting updated regularly and also have a higher number of active installs.
  • You can sort the available themes in many different ways at wordpress.org theme directory. For example, you can see a list of featured themes, popular themes and latest themes. In addition to that, you can also use feature filter to get the most suitable theme for your website.
  • Some of the best WordPress themes available in the official WordPress repository are: 1) Twenty Seventeen, 2) Business Field, 3) Twenty Fifteen, 4) Hestia and 5) Twenty Fourteen.
  • The most popular and featured theme is Twenty Seventeen. It has got over one million active installs. Moreover, it is getting regularly updated, and its support forum is not bad.
  • My recommendation for a free WordPress theme is Twenty Seventeen. I have also used it initially.

How To Select From Premium WordPress Themes

If you have somehow made up your mind to buy a premium WordPress theme, then pay attention to some important points listed below before proceeding:

  • Choose your theme from one of the trusted and popular vendors. Although there are many WordPress theme suppliers, but some of the top vendors are: 1) Elegant Themes, 2) Studio Press, 3) Templatic, 4) Theme Forest, 5) Woo Themes, 6) Template Lite, 7) My Themes Shop, 8) Press 75, 9) Solo Steam, 10) WP Now.
  • Out of these WordPress themes suppliers, My Themes Shop is rated as number one for coding.
  • I am also using a theme from My Themes Shop. My theme name is Authority.
  • Finalize the features which you want in your theme and then look for a theme from the top theme providers.
  • The other way to find a suitable premium theme is quite easy and was adopted by me. Here is how I chose my theme: Like every other blogger, I also visit different blogs to read articles I like. On one of the website, I came across a theme which I liked the most and then found out the theme name and theme supplier and bought it.
  • Premium themes prices vary a lot. Check your pocket before selecting a particular price theme.
  • Choose the right time to buy a theme. There are many occasions when WordPress themes providers offer steep discounts. I bought my theme at the Black Friday offer.

Wrapping Up The Guide On WordPress Themes

I have tried to make you familiar with the pros and cons of free WordPress themes as well as premium WordPress Themes. Moreover, I have listed some important guidelines to select a suitable theme.

If you go through these points before selecting a theme, you are most likely to finalize the most suitable theme for your website.

To add further, if you have some more points to add to this article, please mention them in the comment area. If found convincing, I will add those points to this article.

On the other hand, if you like this article and want to receive such articles uninterrupted in your email box, please subscribe to my newsletter.

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