In a previous article, we provide a comprehensive overview of WordPress Themes.
If you haven’t yet discovered themes and what makes WP themes so revolutionary in terms of web design, then go here to read the article: Understanding WordPress Themes – A Guide For New WordPress Users
In this article, we will show you where you can search for free and paid themes for your WordPress site. You will also learn about the different types of WP theme resources and get tips on how to make sure that you get the right themes for your needs and avoid dealing with problems like lack of support and poor theme coding.
As explained in another article, a theme is a special type of web design template that is used on WordPress-powered blogs and designed specifically with the WP platform in mind.
Many talented web designers and web design companies create themes for WordPress. Consequently, WordPress users can access thousands of unique themes covering a wide-range of applications.
Finding Themes: Too Much Information … Where To Begin?
Let’s say you were to open up Google and search for key phrases like this:
- best free themes for WordPress
- WordPress themes free
- best free WordPress themes for writers (or whatever your business, area of interest or blog is about)
You are probably going to get an overwhelming amount of junk to sort through in your search results.
So, to help you save time and make things easier, let’s just cut through the clutter and make the process of finding great WordPress themes really simple.
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org Themes
Before we get started, you need to know that WordPress offers users both a hosted and a self-hosted version. We’ll explain these differences in a different post. For now, please note that we will only cover themes for the self-hosted version of WordPress (WordPress.org) in this post, which gives you more freedom, more options and more control over the design areas of your website.
Free vs Paid WordPress Themes
Next, it’s useful to know that typically, you’ll find both Free and Paid WordPress themes being made available. Free WP themes are generally distributed as Free Software under the terms of the GNU General Public License, or they will be sold as Premium (i.e. paid) themes.
Theme Marketplaces And Directories & WordPress Theme Design Companies
There are two kinds of places where you can find themes. The first place is in WP theme marketplaces and WP theme directories. The second type of place are the commercial and independent WordPress theme houses.
WP theme marketplaces and WP theme directories are big theme stores. theme developers (both commercial and independent) list their themes (both free and paid) in the marketplace or directory and customers find these just like they would if they were shopping for apps on an app store or software marketplace.
Some of the larger marketplaces don’t just sell WordPress themes. They can also sell WP plugins and templates for other web applications (e.g. Joomla, Drupal, etc.)
Commercial and independent theme stores typically develop both free and paid WordPress themes, and can vary in size, from an individual theme developer or a small team of theme developer, to large web and theme design and development companies.
Many commercial theme design houses sell their themes exclusively on their own web sites, but some will also list their themes in marketplaces and directories, or even create a free or “lite” version of their themes for free directories .
Let’s now show you where to find great themes for your website.
Where To Find The Best WordPress Themes For Your Website Or Blog
(WordPress.org – Free Theme Directory)
The official WordPress theme directory is the largest and best place to find WP themes for free. In fact, it’s probably the only free directory you should use when looking for free WordPress themes. The reason for this, is because –as many free software users have discovered– downloading free software, add-ons, apps, templates or themes from untrustworthy places can place your computer, digital presence and even your entire business at risk.
The WordPress directory is not only a trustworthy and reputable place to download themes for your website, but it also relies on a review team comprised of dedicated and hard working volunteers to review and ensure that each theme listed in the directory complies with high quality and security standards.
To browse thousands of excellent FREE WordPress themes from the official WordPress Themes Repository, go here:
Search For Free WP Themes Without Leaving Your Own WordPress Dashboard
Useful Tip: You can easily browse through every WP theme in the WordPress theme directory and not only find what you are looking for, but also easily install and start using it directly from within your WP admin panel with just a few mouse clicks.
Use Theme Filtering
WordPress provides a filtering function inside the admin area that lets you narrow down your search for themes based on criteria like Colors, Layout and Features …
This makes it easy to find themes with specific features. For example, you could search for themes with predominantly gray colour design, with a four-column layout and a full-width template, or themes that support custom menus, etc.
Note: in another post where we discuss the importance of choosing “responsive” themes, we explained how these allow your site to be viewed without problems across all devices (e.g. the PCs, smartphones and tablets used by visitors to view your site information) …
It’s a good idea to use responsive themes, and the WordPress theme filtering function lets you search across its entire database of free themes …
… and bring back only WP themes that are “responsive” …
Pros & Cons Of Using Free Themes
The obvious “pro” to using free WordPress themes is that it’s free to download and use the theme on your site. An added plus, is that many free themes are professionally designed and come with a number of built-in customizable options, giving you great flexibility and choice in how you configure all of its various layout elements.
The downside of using free WordPress themes are that your themes may not get updated as often with new features and bug fixes, and it’s unrealistic to expect the developer to provide personal support, especially if they are not getting paid. Many free themes ask for donations to help cover support costs.
When downloading free themes, therefore, check to see when the theme was last updated. If it’s been more than a year since any change was last made, then think twice about downloading it, as the theme may have been abandoned by its developer.
If you’re just getting started and your site is still quite new, there is nothing wrong with using a free theme until you have a better idea of the kind of site design that would work best for your site before spending any money on a theme. Who knows, the theme you downloaded for free may just be the thing that works for you and your business.
Now that we’ve seen how to find free themes in the WordPress theme directory and how to narrow down your search for themes that meet your specific requirements, it’s time to turn our attention to finding premium themes.
If you are looking for themes with stunning design, or professional quality yet highly affordable WordPress web design themes with a distinctive look, unique customizable options and responsive support, you can search through the WordPress theme galleries of the “Premium” theme design agencies listed below:
ThemeForest is one of the biggest and best-known WordPress theme directories online.
ThemeForest lets many professional WP theme creators showcase their designs through their online marketplace. There are well over 15,000 premium themes to choose from (you can find great themes from as little as $3) …
(click on the above images to view all themes on ThemeForest)
If you visit the ThemeForest theme directory, you will be able to browse for specific themes in various categories, such as:
- Blog/Magazine – themes for general blogs and green living blogs, etc.
- Corporate – themes suitable for legal sites and advertising purposes.
- Creative – themes for creative work, kindle book authors, etc.
- Directory Listings – themes ideal for sites about directory listings, holiday rentals, , etc.
- eCommerce – themes for ecommerce, event bookings and registrations, etc.
- Education – themes that suit sites related to tutoring, etc.
- Entertainment – themes for gossip blogs, cafes, etc.
- Mobile – e.g. responsive themes.
- NonProfit – themes for nonprofit organizations, churches, etc.
- Real Estate – themes for real estate and real estate listings (e.g. home sales, etc.)
- Retail – themes for catalogs, trades or professionals (electricians, chiropractors, etc.)
- Technology – themes related to hosting, newsletters, etc.
- Wedding – e.g. themes for wedding sites and marriage consellor blogs
- Miscellaneous – themes suitable for writing or discussing environmental issues, green living sites or blogs … even themes you can use if your site is still under-construction!
When you purchase WordPress themes from ThemeForest, you will receive email notifications when a new update is available for your theme …
(ThemeForest emails you theme update notifications)
Go here to browse many great themes in the ThemeForest themes website:
(click on the above images to see more themes on Creative Market)
Creative Market is another leading WP theme marketplace where you can search through thousands of quality premium WP themes from independent theme creators.
As stated on their website …
“Creative Market is a platform for handcrafted, mousemade design content from independent creatives around the world.”
Creative Market doesn’t just sell WordPress themes in its marketplace, but you can easily go through all of their themes for WordPress and narrow your search using theme categories using their dropdown “Themes” menu …
Browse through hundreds of great premium WP themes crafted by independent WP theme developers in the Creative Market themes marketplace here:
(click on the above images to browse all WP themes at Mojo.com)
Mojo is a directory for premium-quality WordPress themes where theme vendors are strongly encouraged to provide customers with lifetime support and upgrades.
According to their website …
“Mojo is a marketplace where anyone can find, rate and buy quality themes & templates in one trusted place.”
Like Envato and Creative Market, Mojo doesn’t focus exclusively on WordPress themes, but you can easily go through all of their themes for WordPress and search through their theme categories using the dropdown “WordPress Themes” menu …
Visit the site to find great premium themes in the Mojo marketplace here:
Now that we have looked at WP theme marketplaces, let’s turn our attention to commercial WordPress theme developers.
Commercial Theme Shops
SoloStream provides WordPress users with a great selection of professional quality themes and the option of accessing all themes through a WordPress theme membership.
(click on above images to view all SoloStream themes)
Woo Themes designs eye-catching premium themes that are very popular and highly sought after by web users and offer a membership option that allows members to access all themes in their theme collection.
(click on the above images to browse more themes from WooThemes)
StoreFront Themes specializes in e-commerce themes for WordPress. Their themes also integrate well with some of the most powerful e-commerce platforms and plugins available.
(click on the above images to browse more themes from StoreFront)
StudioPress designs WordPress themes based on a framework that enables users to quickly and easily build a professional and search optimized WordPress site, and provides an auto-updating design architecture, turn-key site designs with beautiful frames for your content and unprecedented control of the framework.
Many web developers like the Genesis framework not only because it’s well-coded and well-supported (the development team at StudioPress keeps the framework consistently updated to reflect best coding practices and to make sure that it is always compatible with the latest version of WordPress, but because you can update themes built using the Genesis framework without losing any customizations you have made to your theme.
This is because themes built with the Genesis framework use something called “child themes,” which are like “skins” that sit on top of the framework and gives your site its unique look and feel.
If this all sounds way too technical, there’s no need to feel concerned about it. StudioPress themes are very easy to work with, just like all other WordPress themes. The great thing about choosing StudioPress themes is that you pay one low price to receive unlimited support and updates, and you can install your themes on unlimited domains.
For more details, click here: StudioPress.
(click on the images above to see more StudioPress themes)
Let’s finish this post with a few more useful WP theme-related tools worth keeping in mind:
What WordPress Theme Is That.com is a free WordPress theme and plugin search tool that lets you easily detect what WP theme a website is using.
This is a great resource if you ever come across a WordPress site that you like and would like to know what theme the website or blog is using.
Tip: If you don’t know whether a site runs on WordPress or not, go here for a great tutorial that helps you tell if a site is WordPress-driven: How To Tell If A Website Was Built With WordPress
Using this tool is very simple. Just enter the site’s domain name into the field and click the search icon or hit “Enter.” The tool will not only confirm if the site is built using WordPress software, but it will also list the WordPress theme being used on the site and list any WP plugins it detects.
- To use this online tool visit the website here: What WordPress Theme Is That.com
- To learn how to use this tool go here: How Can I Check If My Website Was Built Using WordPress?
A word of warning: If you decide to use FREE themes for your WordPress site, we strongly recommend sticking with the WP themes listed in the official WordPress theme directory.
A tactic that is commonly used by many hacking groups and networks that engage in cyber-crime is to put up sites offering “Free” themes for WordPress all over the web and then distribute themes and plugins with malicious code embedded in their files. In fact, some of these sites even display on Google for search phrases like “free WordPress themes“, “best free WordPress themes”” etc. It’s best, therefore, to only download free WP themes from the official WordPress.org repository, or use established and trusted sites.
If you are in doubt about whether a WordPress theme that you have installed on your blog could be infected with malicious or unwanted code, you can use a free WordPress plugin like Theme Authenticity Checker (TAC) to perform a scan of your theme files. The plugin scans the source files of every them you have installed on your site for signs of suspicious code and presents you with a report with the results …
(TAC Report Page – Screenshot Source: Plugin)
I hope that you have found this information useful.
"This is AMAZING! I had learnt about how to use WordPress previously, but this covers absolutely everything and more!! Incredible value! Thank you!" - Monique, Warrior Forum