In a previous post, we provide a comprehensive overview of WordPress Themes.
If you haven’t yet discovered WP themes and what makes themes so attractive to web site owners, then make sure to check out our post here: A Basic Guide To Understanding WP Themes
In this article, we show you where you can browse hundreds of free and paid themes for your WP website. You will also learn about the different types of WordPress theme resources and get tips on how to ensure that you get the right themes for your needs and how to avoid experiencing problems like lack of support and poor coding.
As we’ve explained in our previously-mentioned post, a theme is a special kind of web design template that is used on WordPress-powered websites and designed specifically with WordPress in mind.
Many professional web designers and website design houses create themes for WordPress. Consequently, members of the WP community have access to thousands of quality themes designed for a wide range of purposes and needs.
Where To Find WP Themes: So Many Choices … Where To Begin?
If you were to browse over to Google and search for something like the following:
- best responsive themes for WordPress
- WordPress themes free
- best responsive WordPress themes for business (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 the search results.
So, to help you save time and make your life 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 start, you should know that WordPress offers users both a hosted and a self-hosted version. We’ll cover these differences in a separate post. In this article, please note that we will only be focusing on finding themes for the self-hosted version of WordPress (WordPress.org) in this post, as these give you more freedom, more options and more control over the design areas of your blog.
Free vs Paid WordPress Themes
Next, it’s useful to know that there are thousands of Free and Paid WP themes being made available. Free themes are normally distributed as Open Source Software under the terms of the GNU General Public License, or they are listed as Premium (i.e. paid) themes.
WordPress Theme Directories & WordPress Theme Vendors
There are 2 places where WordPress themes can be found. The first is in theme marketplaces and WP theme directories. The second type of place are the commercial and independent theme stores.
Theme marketplaces and theme directories are big theme aggregators. theme developers (both commercial and independent) list their themes (both free and paid) in the marketplace or directory and customers search for these just like they would if they were shopping for apps on an app store or software directory.
Some of the bigger 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 shops can also design both free and commercial themes, and can vary in size, from an individual developer or a small team of designer, to large web and theme development companies.
As you will see, most commercial or independent 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 WP theme directories .
Let’s now show you where to search for great WP themes for your website or blog.
Choosing A Responsive Theme Themes For Your WP Website
(WordPress.org – Themes Directory)
The official WordPress.org theme directory is the largest and best place to download WordPress themes for free. In fact, it’s probably the only free theme directory you should use when looking for free WordPress themes. The reason for this, is because –as many free software users have learned– downloading free software, add-ons, apps, templates or themes from untrustworthy places can contain malicious code and put your computer, digital presence and even your entire business at risk.
The WordPress.org directory is not only a trustworthy and reputable place to download themes for your website or blog, but it also uses a theme review team comprised of dedicated and code-savvy volunteers to review and ensure that each theme listed in the directory meets certain quality and security standards.
To browse thousands of excellent FREE WordPress themes from the official Themes Directory, go here:
You Don’t Even Have To Leave Your WP Dashboard
Useful Tip: You can easily browse through every theme in the WordPress.org directory and not only find what you are looking for, but also easily install and start using it directly from within your WP dashboard with only a few clicks.
Use The WordPress Theme Filtering
WordPress has a built-in filtering function inside the admin area that lets you narrow down your search for themes based on criteria like Colours, Layout and Features …
This makes it easier to find themes with specific features. For example, you could search for themes with a dark colour design, with a three-column layout and a full-width template, or themes that support custom menus, etc.
Note: in the article where we discuss the importance of choosing “responsive” themes, we explained how responsive themes ensure that your theme will work on all devices (e.g. your laptop, smartphone and tablet) …
It’s a good idea to use responsive themes, and the WordPress theme filtering option lets you do just that …
… and display only WP themes that are “responsive” …
Pros & Cons Of Using Free WP Themes
The obvious “pro” to using free themes is that there is no cost to download and use the theme. An added plus, is that many free themes are professionally designed and come with a number of built-in customizable settings, giving you great flexibility and choice in how you configure all of its various layout elements.
The ”cons” to using free themes are that your themes may not get updated as often with new features and bug fixes, and you shouldn’t expect the developer to provide dedicated support, especially if they are not getting paid. Most freely distributed themes ask for donations to help cover their support costs.
When downloading free themes, therefore, check to see when the theme was last updated. If it’s been over one year since any updates were made, then think twice about using it, as WordPress changes quite often and this can create conflicts and errors with older code.
If you’re just getting started and your website or blog is still quite new, it’s a good idea to start with 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 could be exactly what works for your site and your business.
Now that we’ve seen how to find free themes in the WordPress theme directory and ways to narrow down your search for themes that meet your specific criteria, it’s time to turn our attention to paid WP 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 great support, then search through the WordPress theme galleries of the “Premium” theme design agencies listed below:
Theme Marketplaces And Directories
ThemeForest is one of the largest and most popular theme marketplaces online.
ThemeForest lets many professional WP theme designers showcase their designs through their online marketplace. There are over 17,000 premium WP 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 bloggers and environmental blogs, etc.
- Corporate – themes suitable for medical sites or marketing purposes.
- Creative – themes for portfolios, freelancers, etc.
- Directory Listings – themes that suit sites about travel, classifieds, business directories, etc.
- eCommerce – themes for online shopping, membership sites, etc.
- Education – themes that suit sites related to training, etc.
- Entertainment – themes for entertainment blogs, dining out, etc.
- Mobile – e.g. retina-ready themes.
- NonProfit – themes for nonprofit organizations, charities, etc.
- Real Estate – themes for real estate and real estate listings (e.g. home sales, etc.)
- Retail – themes for specialty stores, trades or professionals (electricians, dentists, etc.)
- Technology – themes related to hosting, newsletters, etc.
- Wedding – e.g. themes for wedding sites and romance tips and advice blogs
- Miscellaneous – themes suitable for writing or discussing political issues, parenting 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 find great themes in the ThemeForest theme site:
(click on the above images to browse all Creative Market themes)
Creative Market is another leading WP theme directory 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 WP themes in its directory, but you can easily go through all of their themes for WordPress and narrow your search using theme categories (e.g. Blog or Popular themes, etc.) from their dropdown “Themes” menu …
Browse through hundreds of great WordPress themes crafted by independent WordPress theme designers in the Creative Market marketplace here:
(click on the images above to view all Mojo themes)
Mojo is a marketplace for premium-quality WP 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 WP themes, but you can easily go through all of their themes for WordPress and search through their theme categories by choosing the dropdown “WordPress Themes” menu …
Visit the site to find great WordPress themes in the Mojo directory here:
Now that we have looked at WordPress theme marketplaces, let’s turn our attention to commercial theme vendors.
Commercial And Independent WordPress Theme Agencies
SoloStream provides WordPress users with a 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 website users and also offers a membership option that allows you to access their entire WordPress theme collection.
(click on the images above to view more themes from WooThemes)
StoreFront Themes creates amazing e-commerce themes for WordPress. StoreFront themes also integrate well with some of the most powerful e-commerce platforms and plugins available.
(click on the images above to see all themes from StoreFront)
StudioPress provides WordPress themes based on a framework (called the “Genesis” framework) that lets users quickly and easily build a professional and search optimized WordPress website, and provides an auto-updating design architecture, turn-key designs with beautiful frames for your content and unprecedented control of the framework.
Many web developers prefer using this framework not only because it’s well-coded and well-supported (the development team at StudioPress keeps the framework regularly updated to reflect best coding practices and to ensure that themes remain always compatible with the latest WordPress version, but because you can update themes built using the Genesis framework without losing any customizations you may have made to your theme.
This is because themes built using 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 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 themes from StudioPress is that one low price entitles you 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 all themes from StudioPress)
WordPress Theme-Checking Tools
Let’s finish this article with a couple of useful WP theme-related tools worth knowing about:
What WordPress Theme Is That is a free WP theme search tool that allows you to easily detect what WordPress theme and plugins a site 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 site is using.
Tip: If you can’t tell if a site uses WordPress or not, go here for a great tutorial that shows you how to tell whether or not a web site is WP-driven: Tell-Tale Signs It’s A WordPress Site And WP-Checking Tools
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 then not only confirm whether or not a site has been built using WordPress, but it will also list the theme being used and list any plugins it detects.
- To use the online tool visit the website here: What WordPress Theme Is That
- To learn how to use this tool go here: Is Your Site Powered By WordPress?
We suggested this earlier and it’s worth repeating again: When choosing FREE themes for your WordPress site, we recommend sticking with the WP themes listed in the official WordPress theme directory.
A method that is commonly used by many hackers and cyber criminals is to put up websites and directories offering “Free” themes for WordPress all over the web and distribute modified themes and plugins with malicious code embedded in their files. In fact, some of these sites even display on Google for phrases like “free WordPress themes“, “best free WordPress themes”” etc. It’s safer, therefore, to only download free WordPress themes from the official WordPress theme repository, or use well-known and trusted sites.
If you have any concerns about whether a WordPress theme that you have installed on your blog could contain malware or unwanted code, use a free WordPress plugin like Theme Authenticity Checker (TAC) to run a scan of your WordPress theme files. The TAC plugin searches the source files of every installed theme on your site for signs of suspicious code and presents you with a report as shown in the screenshot below …
(Theme Authenticity Checker Report Page – Screenshot Source: Plugin)
We hope that you have found the information on how to find great WP useful.
"If you're new to WordPress, this can stand on its own as a training course and will stay with you as you progress from beginner to advanced and even guru status." - Bruce (Columbus, Ohio)