When starting out with WordPress, a question you’ll almost immediately need to ask yourself is “What WordPress theme should I choose for my site?” — following which, if you haven’t already, you soon realize some WordPress themes are free, and some aren’t. Some themes are ‘paid’ or ‘premium’ themes — requiring you to shell out anything between about $35 to $150. So which should you choose? Is a premium WordPress theme better than a free WordPress theme? What do you get for your money? What exactly are you paying for?
Let’s take a look…
Hi! This is Topher with WinningWP. In this video, we’re going to take a look at “Free versus Premium WordPress Themes. Which to Choose, and Why?” First, let’s start with some definitions. Free themes, obviously, don’t cost money, and they’re often shareable. So a friend says to you, “Hey, I really like that theme you’re using, “Could I have it?” You’re welcome to give it to them. Premium themes cost money, but they often come with many extras. They come with support, and often they come with licenses for things like font libraries. So let’s look at some pros and cons here. A big pro for free themes is that they are indeed free. You could try it and if you don’t like it throw it away. If you have a whole bunch of free ones, you can try them all. Free themes often come with good community support. We’re here at wordpress.org and if we go to themes, and click on this BlueGray theme, right here’s a button that says, “view support forum.” And we can learn several things from this support forum. There are some items here that are pinned and they’re kind of old, but there’s still valid information in there. But where we get to the modern stuff, you’ll note that, A, a problem posted onlyhours ago has an answer, and B, there’s quite a bit of time between questions, which often means that the theme is built well enough that there aren’t a lot of questions to be had. So it looks like questions are answered quickly and they’re all answered. That’s a great plus for community support. We also have potentially great communication with the author. If we go back to this page, and go back to the theme page, you can see that there’s a link here to theme homepage, and we can see it was built by Guido van der Leest. And here on his website you can communicate with him. Now he may or may not wish to communicate back, but you know who he is. He’s just a guy who built a theme. There’s also usually very good code quality when listed on the official wordpress.org repository. Each theme on that wordpress.org repository is code-reviewed by people who know what they’re doing. They’re filtering out malware, they’re filtering out spam, they’re filtering out security flaws. All of those things get filtered out before the theme can appear on wordpress.org. But now let’s look at some of the cons. There’s no promised support. The support forum I showed you is voluntary. The theme creator doesn’t have to post in there, nor does anyone else. The code is published as-is. So if you get an author who’s great at communication, wonderful, but don’t expect it. There’s also potentially terrible communication with the author. If the author just wanted to build a theme and then never have to deal with anyone again, that’s their right. There’s also potentially terrible code. Now I mention the code on wordpress.org is good, but there are lots of other places to get free themes, and not all of them are as reputable as wordpress.org. The same holds true for the malware risk. If you simply Google free wordpress themes, you’ll find thousands and thousands of sites, and some of them are deliberately hiding malware inside those themes. Lastly, there’s the high risk that the theme will just be abandoned with no future updates. If the author decides that they’re done with the theme and they don’t want to work with it any more, that’s their right, they don’t have to at all. Now let’s look at some of the pros for premium themes. The first is promised support. This is the website for The Theme Foundry, and if we go to pricing you’ll see that it “includes all current and future publisher themes “for use on sites you own and run, “commercial quality Adobe Typekit fonts “and friendly email support.” And if we go down to the bottom, there’s a spot that says, “I have a question, where can I get help?” You simply email them and they will help you because you paid for it. That’s one of the advantages of a premium theme. There’s also typically continuous development. If a premium theme shop wants to continue selling their themes, they need to continue making them better and better. So you’ll often see regular releases. They’re also typically compatible with popular plugins. With a free theme, they may not worry about that as much because they simply don’t care. But if somebody wants you to pay money for a theme, they need to make it work with popular plugins. Now let’s look at the cons. One, obviously, is that they’re not free. If you don’t want to spend money, then premium themes are not for you. There’s also possibly dodgy sellers. I haven’t seen this very much, but I know that they exist. There are people who take themes, modify them just a little bit, and resell them as their own, and then leave without any support. As long as you stick with well-known and reputable premium theme shops, this should not be a problem. So, to sum up, if you like the idea of free themes where you can try as many as you like, and while community support would be great, it’s not necessary, then free themes are probably for you. On the other hand, if support is important to you, and you can afford the fee, then premium themes are probably the way you want to go. If you’d like to learn more about WordPress, check out WinningWP.com.
Anything to add?