In a previous post, we have written a comprehensive overview of WordPress Themes.
If you haven’t yet discovered themes and what makes WordPress themes unique, then make sure to check out our post here: An Introduction to WordPress Themes
In this blog post, you will learn where you can search for free and paid themes for your site. You will also learn about the different types of WP 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 poor theme coding.
As we’ve explained in another article, a theme is a special type of web design template that is used on WordPress-powered blogs and designed specifically in WordPress.
Many website designers and website design houses create themes for WordPress. Consequently, members of the WP community enjoy access to thousands of professional-quality WP themes designed to cover a wide range of website uses.
Where To Find Themes: Let’s Simplify Things!
Let’s say you were to open up Google and search for a key phrase like the following:
- best WP themes
- WordPress themes free
- best free WordPress themes for blogs (or whatever your business, search topic or blog is about)
You are probably going to get an overwhelming amount of disorganized information to sort through in your search results.
So, to help you save time and make things easier, we’ll 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 should know that WordPress offers users both a hosted and a self-hosted version. We’ll cover these differences in a later post. In this article, we’ll only be covering 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 your site’s web design.
Free vs Paid WordPress Themes
Next, it’s important to know that you will easily find many Free and Paid themes being made available. Free themes for WordPress are generally distributed as Free Software under the terms of the GNU General Public License, or they can be licensed for use as Premium (i.e. paid) themes.
WP Theme Marketplaces & Theme Design Houses
There are mostly two types of places where you can find WordPress themes. The first type of place is in WordPress theme marketplaces and theme directories. The second place are the commercial and independent theme development firms.
Theme marketplaces and WP theme directories are large aggregators of themes. WordPress 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 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 shops can design both free and premium WP themes, and can vary in size, from an individual theme designer or a small team of designer, to large web and theme design companies.
As you will see, many commercial or independent theme developers 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 great WordPress themes for your blog.
Finding A Theme For Your Website Or Blog
(WordPress.org – Themes Directory)
The official WordPress theme directory is the biggest and best place to search for WP themes for free. In fact, it’s probably the only free 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 contain malicious code and 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 WordPress site, but it also relies on a theme review team to review and ensure that each theme in the directory complies with high standards of quality and security.
To browse thousands of professionally-designed FREE WordPress themes from the official Themes Directory, go here:
Look For Free Themes Inside Your Own WP Dashboard
Useful Tip: You can easily browse through every WordPress theme in the WordPress directory and not only find a great theme for your website or blog, but also easily install and start using it directly from inside your WordPress dashboard with just a couple of clicks.
Use The WP 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 what you are looking for. For example, you could search for themes with a pink colour design, with a four-column layout and a full-width template, or themes that support custom menus, etc.
Note: in another article where we discuss the importance of using “responsive” themes, we explained how responsive themes ensure that your theme will display without problems on all devices (e.g. your visitors’ computers, tablets and smartphones) …
You should use responsive themes, and the WordPress theme filtering option lets you search across its entire database of free themes …
… and bring back only WordPress themes that are “responsive” …
Pros & Cons Of Using Free Themes
The obvious “pro” to using free themes is that it costs nothing to download and use the theme on your site. Additionally, 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 to using free WordPress 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 personal support, especially if they are not getting paid. Most free themes ask users for donations to help cover their costs of providing support and updates, bug fixes, etc..
When downloading free themes, therefore, check to see when the theme was last updated. If it’s been over 1 year since any change was made, then it’s best to think carefully about downloading it, as WordPress is frequently updated and new features can result in conflicts and errors with older code.
If you’re just getting started and your site is still relatively 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 paid themes or even on custom theme design. Who knows, the free theme you’ve downloaded may just be the thing that works for your site and your business.
Now that we’ve seen how to find free themes in the WordPress.org theme directory and ways to narrow down your search for themes that meet your specific criteria, it’s time to turn our attention to premium 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 great support, you can search through the WordPress theme galleries of the “Premium” theme design agencies listed below:
WordPress Theme Directories
ThemeForest is one of the biggest and well known WordPress theme marketplaces online.
ThemeForest allows many professional WP theme designers to showcase their designs through their online marketplace. There are well over 15,000 premium WP themes to choose from (some starting from as little as $3) …
(click on the images above to see all ThemeForest themes)
If you visit the ThemeForest theme marketplace, you will be able to browse for specific WP themes in a range of categories, such as:
- Blog/Magazine – themes for general blogs and administration sites, etc.
- Corporate – themes suitable for corporate sites and marketing purposes.
- Creative – themes suitable for creative work, writers, etc.
- Directory Listings – themes ideal for sites about employment opportunities, holiday rentals, community resources, etc.
- eCommerce – themes for selling products online, membership sites, etc.
- Education – themes that suit sites related to training, etc.
- Entertainment – themes for fashion blogs, cafes, etc.
- Mobile – e.g. retina-ready 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 retail stores, trades or professionals (electricians, legal practitioners, etc.)
- Technology – themes related to technology, landing pages, etc.
- Wedding – e.g. themes for wedding sites and dating 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 premium themes in the ThemeForest theme site:
(click on the images above to see all themes on Creative Market)
Creative Market is another leading WordPress theme marketplace where you can browse many 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 WordPress themes in its marketplace, but you can easily find WP themes and narrow your search using theme categories using their dropdown “Themes” menu …
Browse through hundreds of great premium WordPress themes crafted by independent WordPress theme developers in the Creative Market directory here:
(click on the above images to view more themes at Mojo.com)
Mojo is a marketplace for premium 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 find themes for WordPress and narrow your search with theme categories (e.g. BuddyPress or Photography themes and theme frameworks, etc.) by choosing the dropdown “WordPress Themes” menu …
Visit the site to find quality premium themes in the Mojo marketplace here:
Now that we have looked at WordPress theme directories, let’s take a look at commercial and independent theme development firms.
Commercial And Independent WP Theme Vendors
SoloStream provides WordPress users with a great selection of high quality premium themes and the option of accessing all themes through a WordPress theme membership.
(click on above images to browse all SoloStream themes)
Woo Themes creates stunning 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 above images to see all 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 images above to view more StoreFront themes)
StudioPress builds WordPress themes based on a framework that lets you quickly and easily build a professional and search optimized WordPress website, and provides an auto-updating design architecture, turn-key site designs with beautiful frames for the 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 the framework regularly updated to reflect best coding practices and to make sure that themes remain 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 sounds too technical, there’s no need to feel concerned about it. StudioPress themes are easy to work with, just like all other WordPress themes. The great thing about choosing StudioPress themes 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 above images to browse more StudioPress themes)
WordPress Theme-Checking Tools
Here are a couple of useful WordPress theme-related tools worth keeping in mind:
What WordPress Theme Is That is a free web tool that allows you to easily detect what WordPress theme a website or blog uses.
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 uses.
Tip: If you can’t tell whether a site was built using WordPress or not, we have published a a great tutorial that shows you how to tell whether or not a website was built using WordPress: The Easy Way To Tell If Your Website Was Built Using The WordPress CMS Platform
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 if the site is built using WordPress software, but it will also list the theme being used on the site and list any WordPress plugins it detects.
- To use this online tool go here: What WordPress Theme Is That
- To learn how to use this tool go here: The Easy Way To Tell If Your Blog Runs On WordPress
A word of warning: When choosing FREE themes for your WordPress site, we recommend sticking with the reviewed and approved themes listed in the official WordPress theme repository.
A well-known tactic used by a number of hackers and networks that engage in cyber criminal activities is to put up websites offering “Free” themes for WordPress all over the web and then distribute modified themes and plugins containing malicious code. In fact, some of these sites even come up on Google’s search results for search phrases like “free WordPress themes“, “best free themes for WordPress”” etc. It’s safer, therefore, to stick with the official WordPress repository, or use well-known and reputable theme vendors.
If you have any concerns 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 scan your WP theme files. The TAC plugin scans the source files of every installed theme on your site for signs of injected code and then presents you with a report as shown in the screenshot below …
(TAC Report Page – Source: Plugin Site, WordPress.org)
I hope that you have found this information useful.
"I have used the tutorials to teach all of my clients and it has probably never been so easy for everyone to learn WordPress ... Now I don't need to buy all these very expensive video courses that often don't deliver what they promise." - Stefan Wendt, Internet Marketing Success Group