Free WordPress Theme Or Premium WordPress Theme? (PART I)

ATTENTION: If you ever thought about looking for free WordPress themes or premium themes, and you can’t choose between them, then this article is for you.

Free themes vs. Premium themes this is an old but still relevant discussion for WordPress developers and designers. Why? Look around you or ask a friend, and you’ll find that you’ve joined a very interesting and controversial talk.

The same happens if you search on Google, or go for a walk around LinkedIn Groups, Quora or any other social group. However, in this article, I’m not going to make a debate about this topic. Rather than that, I’d like to help you guys with a guide to choosing the WordPress theme that is the best for you and your project.

Here is what we’ll talk about:

PART I: Free vs. Premium themes: what advanced WordPress users think about them; the upsides and the downsides.


  • Tips for choosing a good, safe and right-for-your-needs free/premium theme.
  • Recommendations on choosing free and premium themes.
  • Your own opinions and experiences regarding this topic.

Now, let’s jump in the first part!

Free WordPress Themes vs. Premium WordPress Themes

Free Themes

WordPress is an Open Source project which is available to the community for free. Moved with this same spirit, there are thousands of WordPress themes and plugins that have been released for free. Don’t we love that?

First, let’s see what free WordPress templates are in the eye of WordPress pros now.

The Good

You don’t have to spend a single penny on free themes your money is still safe and sound in your pocket. There is no price tag on free themes. And if you don’t like the theme, you can just switch to another free one at any time without regret.

With free themes, you can enjoy free and unlimited experimentation from theme to theme until you find the right theme that satisfies your needs and tastes. Plus, if you need support while playing with a free theme, you can always look for support from a WordPress Forum or WordPress Groups on social media networks (LinkedIn has many active, big and supportive groups for advanced WordPress users like WordPress Experts, WordPress Developers, WordPress Web Designers).

Additionally, highly skillful WordPress developers and designers usually find free themes easy and basic enough for them to customize or add more bells and whistles to make a good website.

The Bad

There may be no price to obtain a free template, but to use a free template, there is still a price to pay. You never know how many ugly things there might be beneath what looks like a good-and-nothing-to-lose free theme.

High risk of vulnerable security. Many people download and use free themes but don’t know what advertising links and other bad juju will show up on their website.

I admit that there are many kind developers who contribute great free themes for the community. But, although there are many good gurus, there are many who aren’t kind. They offer free themes as a way to gain something else, like advertising their links or hacking someone’s website.

Malicious code and spammy, phishing links not only put your site at great risk but might also get your site penalized by Google’s Search Engine algorithm. Plus, many free themes are poorly coded by amateurs which might leave you in a crazy rage when optimizing your site because free themes are more likely to have compatibility issues with plugins than premium ones.

Too simple, no stand-out features. Well, you can’t expect more from a free template. It’s free and you’re using it other people also are using it, thousands of them! Especially the best free WordPress themes, which have been downloaded an unbelievable number of times.

Also notice that free themes provide you with very basic features and functionality. If you want to have a multi-functional website with a rocking appearance design it by yourself, or go buy a premium one.

No top-notch support. No regular updates promised. Although you can get advice and support from the WordPress Community, there is a high possibility that you will be on your own to solve any problems.

The next thing is that free themes don’t come with regular updates. Using a free theme means that you may have to use an outdated theme while WordPress itself is constantly being updated. Isn’t it scary that someday you’ll be all alone on an abandoned island with an old theme having compatibility issues and screaming in vain?

Premium Themes

WordPress premium themes are here to stay. Why so? You rarely find a free professional theme to employ for a large project, for example, a corporate website.

The Good

By purchasing WordPress premium themes from reputable theme providers, you are guaranteed to have a stand-out-from-the-crowd theme with advanced features and functionality, such as sliders, styling options, custom widgets, etc.

Well-designed and coded by professionals, premium themes are fast loading, high quality and easy to control. Added to that is a personalized support service. Got an issue with your premium theme? Report the issue, then someone else will do the slog work of patching the problem for you.

Unlike free themes, premium themes have more regular updates announced on a fixed schedule for its users to download. Being in a long-term business, premium theme providers know how to take into account the feedback from their customers and continuously improve their themes. Therefore, premium themes always get better and better for the sake of users and to compete with other theme providers.

The Bad

Honestly, with so many good points, there are really fewer bad points to talk about in a professional theme.

However, this doesn’t mean that all WordPress premium themes are perfect.

First of all, premium themes cost. Go to ThemeForest and take a look at the popular WordPress themes, and you’ll see that a premium theme generally costs from $40 to $60. You’ll have to spend money to get the theme; therefore, you’ll have to do a careful calculation so you won’t overspend your project’s budget.

Next, you won’t have the chance to switch easily from one template to another like you can with free templates to choose a satisfactory one. This will require you to take a thorough look at the theme’s demo, description and other preview sources before purchasing.

Lastly, for savvy WordPress freelancers, sometimes a premium theme is just too much for them. Premium themes usually support a larger framework and offer multiple backend options that free themes don’t. But do you always need these when you have the ability to do something the same and in a simple way?

Okay, let’s stop here for the first part

We’ve gone through the bright side and the dark side of both free and premium themes. Let’s see what we can do to choose the best template for development and find out what the answer for Free Theme vs. Premium Theme is in PART II.

Don’t forget to add your comment! What else of free and premium themes that you think I forgot to mention here? Feel free to help me with your comments below.

by Vivian Vu

I'm a proud minion in the WooRockets Team. Enjoy life, music, writing blogs and LOVE to read comments for my blogs - So feel free to connect with me by leaving a comment right below or tweet me @vivianjedi

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