Free WordPress themes are available and it is often tempting to use them instead of say, a premium theme. Unfortunately, a good many of free themes are bland and unappealing. There are certainly some good ones available, but also things you should consider before going with a free theme.
With nearly 3000 free WordPress themes available at WordPress.org, it can be confusing to understand which ones are good and which ones suck. Sure its easy enough to constantly download whatever theme looks pretty, but that’s time consuming and, for those who want feature rich WordPress themes, you will be at it for a while, because most free WordPress themes have very limited customization options and features.
Additionally, free usually doesn’t get you too far, from potentially malicious code (admittedly not too much of a worry today) or poorly coded themes, to very limited customization options, free WordPress themes should only be used under certain circumstances. Wondering what those circumstances are? Which, if any, free themes are decent? How do free themes compare to premium themes? If you are wondering these questions and more then keep reading.
Pros To Using A Free WordPress Theme
Free is Free
The most obvious advantage to using a free WordPress theme is, well, because they are free. These free themes are great for casual blogging or websites that you won’t be posting much to.
Free WordPress themes also do have one thing on Premium themes, you can easily replace them and you won’t lose any money. With premium themes, if you later decide you don’t like the theme and want to change it, good luck getting your money back.
Standard WordPress Community To Help You
You won’t get premium level support when you need help, but there are still a decent amount of options should you run into any problems. What are those options you ask? Well, you can submit a ticket to the page your WordPress theme was downloaded and hope for an answer from the developer, you can also get some help from the WordPress community, who are surprisingly well versed when it comes to fixing problems.
Easily Switch Themes
As I have already mentioned above, you can easily switch between themes to find out which one’s best when using free themes. With Premium themes you can not do that, though many reputable developers do offer some sort of refund policy. Still, it’s a hassle.
Cons To Using Free WordPress Themes
Bland and Unappealing
My favorite two words when describing free WordPress themes: Bland and Unappealing. For example, the theme below (“responsive“) is one of the most popular free themes downloaded on WordPress, yet it is extremely limited when it comes to customization options, and as you can see, doesn’t look too professional either.
Some of the most popular and ‘best looking’ free WordPress themes are, in addition to responsive: Mantra, customizer, vantage and minamaze.
Most free WordPress themes are extremely limited when it comes to customization and features. On the other hand, premium themes are constantly having to be bettered in order to compete with the many competitors. ThemeForest and MyThemeShop are perfect examples of the feature rich themes that you would expect from premium developers.
Low Level Support
If you are going free, you shouldn’t (and can’t) expect quick responses and fixes to any problems you have. However; with premium themes not only do you get fast support, many times you don’t have to do much. Just let the support guy access your website and they will fix your problem(s) for you.
Bad Coding = Security Vulnerabilities
Some, or rather many, free WordPress themes are hastily put together by non-professionals with poor coding, this blunder will make it more likely that you blog will have security issues (such as hacks) down the road.
Another negative to using a badly coded theme is that it is likely not nearly as SEO optimized as premium themes. Meaning your site will perform poorly in the search engines.
Have to rely on the developer
Yes I know, you have to rely on the developer for premium themes too. But with premium themes the developer has to constantly update their themes if they want to keep their customer base, good reputation and money flowing. With free themes, many themes are rarely updated, which not only can result in your theme conflicting with the latest release of WordPress, but also can open you up to security issues.
What Should I Use? A Free Or Premium WordPress Theme?
There is an easy way to figure out whether you should go free or premium, simply ask yourself this: “How far am I going to go with my website?”
I’ll help you answer this question. Are you going to want and establish a reputation, build lots of traffic and monetize (make money from) you website? If the answer to these questions is yes, then you probably want to go premium.
If you are just a casual blogger who is not going to spend a lot of time building up your blog/website, then a free WordPress theme is probably best.
I’ll sum things up:
Free WordPress themes best for:
Premium WordPress themes best for:
- Blogs you plan on monetizing
- Blogs you plan on spending a lot of time on
- Blogs you want to get a lot of traffic to
- Small Business websites
Have any other pros/cons to using free vs premium themes? Sound off in the comments below.