In an earlier post, we have written a comprehensive overview of WordPress Themes.
If you haven’t yet discovered themes and what makes WordPress themes so special, then make sure to check out our post: A Newbies’ Guide To Understanding WP Themes
In this article, we show you where you can search for free and paid themes for your WordPress website or blog. 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 avoid dealing with problems like lack of support and poorly-coded themes.
As explained in our previously-mentioned post, a theme is a unique kind of web design template used on WordPress-powered blogs and designed specifically with WordPress in mind.
Many professional web designers and web design houses create themes for WordPress. Consequently, WordPress users have access to thousands of great WP themes designed to cover many purposes and needs.
Finding WP Themes: Your Time-Saving Guide
Let’s say you were to open up Google and type the following:
- best free themes for WordPress
- WordPress themes free
- best paid WordPress themes for artists (enter whatever your business, area of interest or blog is about)
Chances are that you are going to get an overwhelming amount of disorganized information to sort through in the search results.
So, to help you save time and make your life easier, we’ll just cut through the clutter and make the process of finding great WP themes really simple.
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org Themes
Before we start, you should know that WordPress offers both a hosted and a self-hosted version. We’ll cover these differences in a later post. For now, we’ll only cover the topic of 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 aspects of your blog.
Free vs Paid WP Themes
Next, it’s useful to know that you will find thousands of Free and Paid WP themes being made available. Free WP themes are generally distributed as Open Source Software under the terms of the GNU General Public License, or they can be listed as Premium (i.e. paid) themes.
WordPress Theme Marketplaces And Directories & Theme Design Houses
There are two types of places where themes can be found. The first is in theme marketplaces and theme directories. The second type of place are the commercial and independent WordPress theme shops.
Theme marketplaces and theme directories are large theme stores. WP theme developers (both commercial and independent) list their themes (both free and paid) in the marketplace or directory and buyers search for these just like they would if they were shopping for apps on an app store or software directory.
Some of the bigger directories 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 WordPress theme design houses can also create both free and commercial WordPress themes, and can vary in size, from an individual theme designer or a small team of theme developer, to large web and theme design and development companies.
Many commercial theme design houses sell 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 the best themes for your website or blog.
Choosing A Great WP Theme For Your Website Or Blog
(WordPress.org – WP Themes Directory)
The official WordPress.org theme directory is the largest and best place to download free WP themes. In fact, it’s probably the only free WP theme directory you should use when looking for free WordPress themes. The reason why, is because –as some free software users have learned– downloading free software, add-ons, apps, templates or themes from untrustworthy places can put your computer, digital presence … 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 relies on a team of theme reviewers to review and make sure that each theme in the directory complies with specific quality and security standards.
To browse thousands of professionally-designed FREE WordPress themes from the official Themes Repository, go here:
Find WP Themes Inside Your WordPress Dashboard
Useful Tip: You can easily browse through every theme in the WordPress directory and not only find a great theme for your website or blog, but also easily install and activate it directly from within your WordPress admin panel with only a few clicks.
Use The WordPress Theme Filtering
WordPress provides a 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 easy to find what you are looking for. For example, you could search for themes with predominantly orange colour design, with a two-column layout and a full-width template, or themes that support custom menus, etc.
Note: in an earlier post where we present an overview of WordPress themes and discuss the importance of using “responsive” WP themes, we explained how responsive themes allow your site to be viewed without problems across all devices (e.g. the computers, smartphones and tablets used by visitors to browse your website) …
You should use responsive themes, and the WordPress theme filtering function lets you do just that …
… and bring back only themes that have been built using “responsive” design standards …
Pros & Cons Of Using Free WordPress Themes
The obvious “pro” to using free WordPress themes is that it costs nothing 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 features, giving you great flexibility and choice in how you configure all of its various layout elements.
The downside 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 theme developer to provide dedicated support, especially if they are not getting paid. Most freely distributed themes ask users for donations to help cover costs of providing support.
When downloading free themes, therefore, check to see when the theme was last updated. If it’s been more than 1 year since any updates were made, then think carefully about using it, as the theme may have been abandoned by its developer.
If you’re just getting started and your site 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 money on paid themes or even on custom theme design. Who knows, the theme you downloaded for free may just be the thing that works for your site and for your business.
Now that we’ve seen how to find free themes in the WordPress theme directory and ways to filter your search for themes that meet your specific criteria, it’s time to turn our attention to finding paid themes.
Paid WP Themes
If you are looking for themes with stunning web design, or professional quality yet highly affordable WordPress web design themes with a distinctive look, unique customizable options and ongoing support, then search through the WordPress theme galleries of the “Premium” theme design agencies listed below:
WordPress Theme Marketplaces And Directories
ThemeForest is one of the largest and well known theme directories online.
ThemeForest lets many professional WP theme designers showcase their designs through their online marketplace. There are well over 17,000 premium WordPress themes to choose from (you can find great themes from as little as $3) …
(click on the images above to view more themes on ThemeForest)
If you visit the ThemeForest theme marketplace, you will be able to browse for specific themes in a range of categories, such as:
- Blog/Magazine – themes for personal blogs and blog magazines, etc.
- Corporate – themes suitable for corporate sites and advertising purposes.
- Creative – themes suitable for creative work, writers, etc.
- Directory Listings – themes suitable for sites about travel, buy & sell, tourism directories, etc.
- eCommerce – themes for ecommerce, membership sites, etc.
- Education – themes that suit sites related to training, etc.
- Entertainment – themes for gossip blogs, music venues, 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. commercial property, etc.)
- Retail – themes for retail stores, trades or professionals (plumbers, medical centers, etc.)
- Technology – themes related to technology, newsletters, etc.
- Wedding – e.g. themes for wedding sites and romance tips and advice blogs
- Miscellaneous – themes suitable for topics related to activism, 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 WordPress themes in the ThemeForest theme marketplace:
(click on the images above to browse more Creative Market themes)
Creative Market is another leading WordPress theme directory where you can browse thousands of quality premium 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 marketplace, but you can easily browse hundreds of themes for WordPress and search through their theme categories using their dropdown “Themes” menu …
Browse through hundreds of great premium WordPress themes crafted by independent WordPress theme designers in the Creative Market directory here:
(click on the images above to view more WP themes at Mojo.com)
Mojo is a marketplace 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 browse hundreds of themes for WordPress and search through their theme categories (e.g. Responsive or Business themes and theme frameworks, etc.) from the site’s dropdown “WordPress Themes” menu …
Visit the site to find great WordPress themes in the Mojo themes marketplace here:
Now that we have looked at WordPress theme marketplaces, let’s take a look at commercial and independent theme design companies.
Commercial WP Theme Shops
SoloStream provides WordPress users with a great selection of professional quality premium WP themes and the option of accessing all themes through a WordPress theme membership.
(click on above images to browse more SoloStream themes)
Woo Themes creates great premium themes that are very popular and highly sought after by website users and also offers a membership option that gives you access to their entire theme portfolio.
(click on the images above to browse more themes from WooThemes)
StoreFront creates beautiful 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 above images to view more themes from StoreFront)
StudioPress provides WordPress themes based on a framework that allows users to quickly and easily build a professional and search optimized WordPress site, and provides an auto-updating design architecture, turn-key designs with beautiful frames for your content and unprecedented control of the framework.
Many website developers like the Genesis framework not only because it’s well-coded and well-supported (the development team at StudioPress keeps this framework frequently up-to-date to reflect best practices for coding and to make sure that themes remain always compatible with the latest version of WordPress, but because you can update your themes without losing any customizations you have made to your theme.
This is because StudioPress themes use something called “child themes,” which are like a paint job that sits on top of the theme framework and gives your site its unique look and feel.
If this 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 one low price allows 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 view all StudioPress themes)
Let’s finish this post with a couple of useful WordPress theme-related tools worth keeping in mind:
What WordPress Theme Is That is a free WP theme and plugin-checking tool that lets you easily detect what WP theme a site is using.
This is a great resource if you have come across a WordPress site that you like and would like to know what WP theme is being used on the site.
Tip: If you don’t know whether a site uses WordPress or not, we have posted a a great tutorial that helps you tell if a site was built using WordPress: The Easy Way To Tell If Your Blog Runs On WordPress Software
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 a site has been built using the WP CMS platform, but it will also list the WordPress theme being used by the site and list any WordPress 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: Tell-Tale Signs It’s A WordPress Site And WordPress-Checking Tools
A word of warning: If you decide to use FREE themes for your WordPress site, we strongly recommend sticking with the approved WP themes listed in the official WordPress theme repository.
A commonly-used strategy employed by a number of hackers and syndicates that engage in cyber criminal activities is to put up websites offering “Free” WP themes all over the web and distribute modified themes with malicious code embedded in their files. In fact, some of these sites even display on Google’s search results for search phrases like “free WordPress themes“, “best free WordPress themes”” etc. It’s safer, therefore, to stick with the official WordPress directory, or use established and trusted theme merchants.
If you are concerned about whether a WordPress theme installed on your blog may contain malware or unwanted code, use a free WordPress plugin like Theme Authenticity Checker (TAC) to perform a scan of your theme files. This plugin scans the source files of every installed theme on your site for signs of injected code and then outputs a report as shown in the screenshot below …
(Theme Authenticity Checker Report Page – Source: WordPress.org Plugin Site)
I hope that you have found this information useful.
"This is an awesome training series. I have a pretty good understanding of WordPress already, but this is helping me to move somewhere from intermediate to advanced user!" - Kim Lednum