When you first start out building websites, the theme you choose will be the backbone of your site. So in this article, I’m going to outline the good and bad between premium vs. free WordPress themes. Chances are you want to get started as quickly as possible for the least cost possible. WordPress is the easiest way to create a website. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of free themes to choose from. And with this in mind, most people starting out choose a free theme. And that’s not a bad thing. You just need to know what you are getting into when you choose a free theme or a paid theme. And that’s not the only thing you’ll need to choose. You’ll also have to choose a domain name and hosting.
Free themes can be a problem for you in the long run. The developers of these free themes can sometimes provide spotty support and some provide no support at all. And if the theme isn’t kept up to date with the latest security fixes, you could end up with a hacked site. Not to mention that developers move on and may abandon support for the theme altogether.
Pros and Cons of a Free WordPress Theme
The good news about any WordPress theme, paid or free, is that if the developers want their themes to be included in the WordPress repository of themes, WordPress have strict guidelines and criteria that themes must meet first. This helps to weed out themes that may have programming holes in them and this is a very good thing. If you want to read more about the criteria WordPress uses, you can find more information here.
- The themes are free
- Plenty of free themes to choose from
- Usually simpler so easier to learn
- Lack of timely updates to the theme
- Developers may abandon the theme over time which will result in no additional updates for your theme
- May have difficulty getting support from the developers
- Free themes tend to be pretty standard and look a lot like other free themes
- Limited functionality
- If the theme is not kept up to date, problems with plugin compatibility could arise
- You can’t remove the WordPress reference in the footer unless you know how to code
Pros and Cons of a Paid WordPress Theme
One of the biggest problems I have found with paid themes is that you may end up paying for a theme that you think has everything you need only to find out that it doesn’t–much like using a free theme. But in this case, you are out of pocket and you are left dealing with a theme that doesn’t have the functionality you want. You may be lucky and get your money back depending on the theme you purchase. This is why researching your theme is important.
- Developers keep the themes up to date
- Good support from paid sites
- Having a paid theme increases the resale value of your site
- Extra features and functionality
- Can remove the WordPress theme reference in the footer
- Can be costly
- Too many choices can be confusing
- Additional features and functionality may mean more to learn
What is The Best Solution?
While both free and paid themes have their good points and bad points, I opted for a paid theme a few years ago. Why? I was basically sick and tired of trying to customize a free theme to look the way I envisioned. I wanted something that was easy enough to use but allowed me to change the look easily. I’ve been using the Divi theme from Elegant Themes.
There are a number of sites where you can purchase a theme that is part of a library of themes. This gives you plenty of choice and plenty of support no matter what theme you choose. Some other sites I’ve heard good things about are Themeforest and Yoothemes. You can click the images below to get to those sites.
Considerations When Choosing Premium vs. Free WordPress Themes
- Whether you choose a free theme or purchase a theme, be sure to read as much as you can about the theme you are choosing.
- It may be helpful for you to list the features your site needs.
- If you plan to have more than one site, you want to make sure that the theme you buy can be used for more than one site. You need a theme that allows for multiple sites or at least as many as you plan to create.
- Make sure you know ahead of time if you are paying monthly or yearly. Know the difference in prices between the two. You could save a significant amount of money from buying a yearly subscription. Yearly usually works out cheaper.
- Also, look for reviews online for the theme you are considering. This will give you inside information on how well support handle issues with their theme.
- Ask other people you know what theme they are using and if they are happy/unhappy with their choice.
The Divi Theme that I’m using from Elegant Themes costs me $109.47 per year. That’s only $9.12 a month! Definitely worth it to me! And I’ve had great response from their Support staff whenever I’ve had a problem. Now that I’m used to using this theme, I’m quite happy with it.
In the End
In the end, it will be up to you to figure out what will work best for you. What I’ve tried to do here is to give you as much information as I can when considering premium vs. free WordPress themes. Creating a website should be fun and the learning curve should be as small and short as possible. Buying a theme gives you plenty of support in case you run into any trouble and if I had to make a choice between the two, I’d choose a paid theme. You can learn everything you need to know about building a website here.
What theme are you using? What do you like about it? What do you think could be improved in your theme? I hope this information has been helpful to you. If you’ve had to make this decision before, I’d love to hear your thoughts so leave a comment below.