When it comes to choosing a theme for your WordPress website or blog, things can get quite baffling. It always turns out to be a long-drawn-out task for me, and the more themes I view the harder the choice gets.
There are thousands of WordPress themes out there, both free and paid, and the first thing you have to decide on is whether you want to go with a free theme or you are willing to pay for a premium theme. You will still have a myriad of choices for both free and paid themes, but it will help narrow down your search and know in which direction to start digging.
Are paid WordPress themes better than free ones? What effect can the theme have on your website? The following points discuss the main pros and cons of free versus paid WordPress themes. And below that you will also find my recommendations of some of the best free and paid themes that you may want to check out.
Free Themes Are Easy to Ditch & Switch
Obviously, the best thing about free themes is that they are 100% FREE! You can download and install as many of them as you’d like. And if you don’t like the way it looks on your website, then switching to another free theme won’t be a big deal.
But with paid themes, you don’t get to try it on your website before you buy it. Sure, you can view a live demo of the theme, but you will only be able to install and view it on your own website after you’ve paid for it.
Paid Themes Have More Features
Most free themes are pretty plain and basic, but they can be good enough for a simple blog. Paid themes, on the other hand, often come with lots of optional features to enhance the look or functionality of the website.
For example, if you are looking to add an image gallery, image/post slider, star ratings, product review system, forum, custom user profiles, etc. then you will have to find a paid theme that supports those features since most free themes will not have such options.
Paid Themes Are More Customizable
Free themes usually come with pre-made design and have very limited, if any, options to customize the layout and the different parts of the website.
But with most premium themes, you will have different back-end tools to help you modify and customize the design of your website to your liking. This includes customizing the header, sidebars, footer, menus, social sharing gadgets, fonts, colors, custom widgets, etc.
On the down side, this may make it impossible to switch to a different theme without losing some of the customized parts and features that are specific to the theme you are working with. So choose your theme wisely as you may be stuck with it for a long time.
Paid Themes Look More Professional
Paid themes are generally well-made and look quite professional. And because you can dramatically modify and customize the design you can easily create a unique looking website or blog.
Now there are also many free themes that look decent, but most of them look dull and cheaply made. And because of limited customization capability, your website will look very similar to hundreds or thousands of other websites out there.
Paid Themes Come With e-Commerce Integration
If you are planning on adding a web shop or selling anything through your website then you’d better go with an e-commerce ready theme.
Many paid themes come with e-commerce support, but there are almost no free themes that support e-commerce out of the box.
Paid Themes Provide Technical Support
When you buy a premium WordPress theme, you will usually also get technical support for it from the developer or seller. So in case something goes wrong during installation or later down the road, you will have someone with the required knowledge and experience to answer your questions and provide solutions.
Free themes do not come with official support, but you may still get free help from the developer. In most cases, when working with free themes you will have to work out technical problems on your own.
Paid Themes Get More Updates
Premium theme developers have a strong motive to keep updating and improving their product, and that’s what they usually do.
Each time WordPress releases a new version, paid theme developers make sure their theme continues to work fine with the latest version of WordPress. You can also expect new features and improvements to the existing features with every update.
The same motivation does not exist for free theme developers. Although many free themes are frequently updated, there are also many that have not been updated for years and are full of bugs, security issues, and may not even work with newer versions of WordPress.
When buying a premium theme, you can be more assured that the developer will continue to update it for several years to come. With free themes, you never know when the developer will lose interest and stop updating it.
Conclusion, Should I Pay for a Theme?
So as you can see, paid themes have several advantages over free ones, and that’s why many people choose to pay for a premium theme even though there are thousands of free themes they could use instead.
At the end of the day, you know better of your requirements and budget. If you are considering a casual website or blog that you are not sure about maintaining for a long time, then you would probably want to go with a free theme.
Alternatively, if you are starting a serious website that you expect to maintain for many years to come and probably earn some income from it, then a paid theme would offer a more professional look and long-term support.
Recommended Free & Paid Themes
The following are some of the best free WordPress themes worth considering:
And the following are a selection of the best, multipurpose and feature-rich paid themes for WordPress:
- MH Magazine (Blogs, News, etc.)
- Monstroid 2 (Multipurpose)
- Newspaper (News, Blogging, Reviews, etc.)
- Weekly News (Blogging, News, Reviews, etc.)
- Neptune (Food/Recipes)
- Emmet (Business/E-commerce)