If you are here looking for advice on whether to use a free theme, or to pay for a premium one, then I strongly recommend that you use the free wordpress.org themes.
Having said that, here are some other general points about your choice, and this post:
- From now on, when I write ‘theme’, then I also mean ‘plugin’.
- Never get your free themes from anywhere but http://wordpress.org/themes
- Never pay for a premium theme without a recommendation from someone you know personally or professionally.
- Always use a test installation of WordPress to trial run your theme
The best things about free themes
- They adhere to a strict coding style and set of requirements – they must pass the Theme Review team.
- Support is free in the support forums
- You are free to share and change the theme as much as you like
The worst thing about paid themes
- They don’t have to stand up to any coding standards.
- You are not guaranteed any support, let alone any more than you get in the wordpress.org forums
- They prey on your lack of WordPress knowledge, making you think you’re getting something better. Because you haven’t picked a free theme!
So, now that I’ve hopefully frightened you a little bit away from premium themes, I’m going to immediately back-track a little. There are premium themes that are worth paying for. However, if you are here, trying to work out which ones they are, then you don’t have the experience to judge this for yourself. Your path will be one of pot luck.
When should you buy a premium theme?
Some of these points will overlap, but I’m including them all to try to help you get an idea of what to look for when you’re really adamant that a pre-built premium theme is your only solution.
- When someone you know and trust recommends it.
- When someone you have an established business relationship with recommends it
- When a WordPress professional recommends it
- When you have money to burn and aren’t particularly worried about whether your site actually works or is secure
The most common scenario is you’ve decided that your business is worth investing your hard-earned money in, you’ve realised that $25 is not going to get some magical theme that will propel your site into the FTSE500, and you want someone professional applying their skills. And so you hire a freelancer, and they recommend purchasing a framework, or parent theme.
The Framework Theme and The Freelancer
Freelancers commonly have a framework theme that they are intimately familiar with. It is a premium theme packed fill of functionality and options. They then take your vision and make a child theme, building your desired design whilst harnessing all the functionality.