In another post, we provide a comprehensive overview of WordPress Themes.
If you haven’t yet discovered themes and what makes WP themes unique, then go here to read our article: An Overview of WordPress Themes
In this blog post, we will show you where to browse hundreds of free and paid themes for your WP website. 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 how to avoid dealing with problems like lack of support and poor coding.
As we’ve explained in another post, a WordPress theme is a special kind of web design template that is used on WordPress-driven websites and designed to work specifically on WordPress.
Many skilled website designers and website design firms create themes for WordPress. Consequently, WordPress users have access to thousands of great themes covering a wide-range of uses.
Where To Find Themes: So Many Choices … Where To Begin?
If you were to launch Google and type key phrases like this:
- best WordPress themes
- best paid themes for WordPress
- best paid WordPress themes for authors (type in whatever your business, search topic or blog is about)
You are probably going to get an overwhelming amount of 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 WordPress themes simple.
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org Themes
Before we start, you need to know that WordPress offers both a hosted and a self-hosted version. We’ll explain these differences in a later article. To keep things simple, we’ll only cover the topic of finding 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 WP Themes
Next, it’s important to know that you will find thousands of Free and Paid WP themes made available. Free themes for WordPress are generally distributed as Open Source Software under the terms of the GNU General Public License, or they can be licensed for use as Premium (i.e. paid) themes.
Theme Marketplaces And Directories & WP Theme Shops
There are mostly 2 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 theme stores.
Theme marketplaces and WP theme directories are big aggregators of themes. WP theme developers (both commercial and independent) list their themes (both free and paid) in the marketplace or directory and visitors find these just like they would if they were shopping for apps on an app store or software marketplace.
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 theme shops typically create both free and commercial themes, and can vary in size, from an individual theme designer or a small team of theme designer, to large web and theme development companies.
Most commercial or independent theme developers 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 WordPress theme directories .
Let’s now show you where to search for great WP themes for your blog.
Where To Find A Great WP Theme For Your Website Or Blog
(WordPress.org – Themes Directory)
The official WordPress.org theme directory is the biggest and best place to download free WordPress themes. In fact, it’s probably the only free WordPress 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 … even your entire business at risk.
The WP directory is not only a trustworthy and reputable place to download themes for your site, but it also relies on a theme review team comprised of dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers to review and make sure that each theme listed in the directory meets high quality and security standards.
To browse thousands of professionally-designed FREE WordPress themes from the official WordPress Themes Repository, go here:
Find WordPress Themes Inside Your WordPress Dashboard
Useful Tip: You can easily browse through every theme in the WordPress.org theme directory and not only find what you are looking for, but also easily install and start using it directly from inside your WP admin panel with a few mouse clicks.
Use WP Theme Feature Filters
WordPress has a built-in filtering function inside the dashboard area that lets you narrow down your search for themes based on criteria like Colors, 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 four-column layout and a full-width template, or themes that support custom menus, etc.
Note: in the post mentioned earlier where we present an overview of WordPress themes and discuss the importance of using “responsive” themes, we explained how responsive themes ensure that your theme will display correctly on all devices (e.g. your PC, tablet and smartphone) …
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 find only WordPress themes that are “responsive” …
Pros & Cons Of Using Free Themes
The obvious “pro” to using free WP themes is that it costs nothing to download and use the theme. An added plus, is that many free themes are professionally designed and provide a number of customizable settings, giving you great flexibility and choice in how you configure all of its various layout elements.
The ”cons” to using free WP themes are that your themes may not get updated as often with new features and bug fixes, and it’s unrealistic to expect the theme developer to provide personal support, especially if they are not getting paid. Most freely distributed themes ask users 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 1 year since any updates were last made, then we advise you to think twice about using it, as the theme may have been abandoned by its developer.
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 paid theme. Who knows, the theme you downloaded for free may just be the thing that works for your site and helps to convert your site visitors into customers.
Now that we’ve seen how to find free WordPress 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 premium themes.
Premium 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, you can search through the WordPress theme galleries of the “Premium” theme design agencies listed below:
WP Theme Marketplaces
ThemeForest is one of the largest and best-known WordPress theme directories online.
ThemeForest lets many professional WordPress theme creators showcase their designs through their online marketplace. There are currently over 17,000 premium WordPress 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 personal blogs and activism blogs, etc.
- Corporate – themes suitable for business sites and advertising purposes.
- Creative – themes for video galleries, crafts, etc.
- Directory Listings – themes that suit sites about travel, holiday rentals, business directories, etc.
- eCommerce – themes for e-commerce, event bookings and registrations, etc.
- Education – themes that suit sites related to tutoring, etc.
- Entertainment – themes for music and bands blogs, dining out, 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. commercial property, etc.)
- Retail – themes for boutiques, trades or professionals (plumbers, dental practitioners, etc.)
- Technology – themes related to hosting, affiliate marketing, seo, product reviews, direct sales, etc.
- Wedding – e.g. themes for wedding sites and dating 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)
Browse thousands of great premium themes in the ThemeForest themes marketplace here:
(click on the images above to view more Creative Market themes)
Creative Market is another leading WP theme marketplace 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 WordPress themes and search through their theme categories (e.g. Magazine or Business themes, etc.) from the site’s dropdown “Themes” menu …
Browse through hundreds of great WP themes crafted by independent WordPress theme developers in the Creative Market marketplace here:
(click on the above images to see more Mojo themes)
Mojo is a directory for premium 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 WP themes and narrow your search with theme categories (e.g. Responsive or eCommerce themes and theme frameworks, etc.) by selecting the dropdown “WordPress Themes” menu …
Visit the site to find great premium WP themes in the Mojo theme directory here:
Now that we have looked at WP theme directories, let’s turn our attention to commercial WP theme design houses.
Commercial WP Theme Agencies
SoloStream provides WordPress users with a great selection of high quality WordPress themes and the option of accessing all themes through a WordPress theme membership.
(click on images above to view all SoloStream themes)
Woo Themes designs eye-catching premium themes for WordPress that are very popular and highly sought after by web users and offer a membership option that allows members access to all themes in their growing WordPress theme collection.
(click on the above images to view all themes from WooThemes)
StoreFront Themes creates beautiful WP themes for e-commerce. StoreFront themes also integrate well with some of the most powerful e-commerce platforms and plugins available.
(click on the above images to view all StoreFront themes)
StudioPress designs WordPress themes based on a framework (called the “Genesis” 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 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 frequently up-to-date to reflect best coding practices and to make sure that themes remain always compatible with the latest WordPress version, but because you can update your themes 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 a paint job that sits 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 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 more themes from StudioPress)
To round things up, here are a couple of useful WP theme-related tools worth keeping in mind:
What WP Theme Is That? – WordPress Theme Search Tool
What WordPress Theme Is That? is a free online tool that lets you easily detect what WordPress theme and plugins a site is using (including parent and child themes).
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 uses.
Tip: If you can’t tell whether a site was built using WordPress or not, we have posted a a great tutorial that shows you how to tell if a website is WP-driven: Is My Site 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 then not only confirm whether or not the site was built on the WordPress CMS platform, but it will also list the theme being used and list any WP plugins detected.
- To use this online tool visit the website here: What WordPress Theme Is That
- To learn how to use this tool go here: Is My Website Built Using WordPress? How To Tell
Theme Authenticity Checker - Plugin
A word of warning: When choosing FREE themes for your WordPress site, we strongly recommend sticking with the approved themes listed in the official WordPress theme repository.
A commonly-used tactic employed by a number of hackers and networks that engage in cyber criminal activities is to put up sites and directories offering “Free” themes for WordPress all over the web and distribute themes 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 best, therefore, to only download free themes from the official WordPress theme directory, or use well-known and trusted theme download sites.
If you are concerned about whether a WordPress theme installed on your site may be infected with malicious or unwanted code, use a free WordPress plugin like Theme Authenticity Checker (TAC) to scan your WP theme files. This plugin scans the source files of every them you have installed on your site for signs of suspicious code and outputs a report as shown in the screenshot below …
(Theme Authenticity Checker Report Page – Source: Plugin)
We hope that you have found the information on how to find the best free and commercial themes for WordPress useful.
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