In another post, we have written a comprehensive overview of WordPress Themes.
If you would like to learn more about the benefits of using themes and what makes WordPress themes so attractive to website owners, then make sure to check out our article: An Introduction to WP Themes
In this article, you will learn where to search for free and paid themes for your website or blog. You will also learn about the different types of WordPress theme resources and get tips on how to make sure that you get the right themes for your needs and how to avoid dealing with problems like lack of support and poor coding.
As explained in another post, a theme is a special kind of web design template that is used on WordPress-driven sites and designed specifically with the WP platform in mind.
Many individual website designers and website development houses create themes for WordPress. Consequently, WordPress users enjoy access to thousands of exciting themes covering an extensive range of uses.
Finding Great Responsive Themes For WordPress: So Many Choices … Where To Begin?
If you were to go to Google and type the following:
- best free themes for WordPress
- best free themes for WordPress
- best responsive WordPress themes for artists (type in whatever your business, search topic or website 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 things 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 users both a hosted and a self-hosted version. We’ll cover these differences in a different post. In this post, please note that we will only be focusing on finding themes for the self-hosted version of WordPress (WordPress.org) in this article, as these give you more freedom, more options and more control over the design areas of your site.
Free vs Paid WP Themes
Next, it’s important to know that there are both 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 can be listed as Premium (i.e. paid) themes.
Theme Directories & WP Theme Developers
There are mostly two kinds of places where WordPress themes can be found. The first place is in theme marketplaces and WordPress theme directories. The second are the commercial and independent WordPress theme companies.
WordPress theme marketplaces and theme directories are big theme aggregators. WordPress theme developers (both commercial and independent) list their themes (both free and paid) in the marketplace or directory and buyers find these just like they would if they were shopping for apps on an app store or software marketplace.
Some of the larger theme stores 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 WP theme vendors typically will create both free and premium WP themes, and can vary in size, from an individual designer or a small team of theme designer, to large theme development companies.
Many commercial or independent theme shops 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 search for great WordPress themes for your website or blog.
Choosing A Responsive Theme For Your Website Or Blog
(WordPress.org – Free Theme Directory)
The official WordPress.org theme directory is the biggest and best place to search for WP themes for free. In fact, it’s probably the only free WordPress theme directory you should use when looking for free WP themes. The reason for this, 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 WP theme directory is not only a trustworthy and reputable place to download themes for your WordPress site, but it also uses a review team comprised of dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers to review and ensure that each theme uploaded to the directory complies with their quality and security standards.
To browse thousands of professionally-designed FREE WordPress themes from the official WP Themes Directory, go here:
You Don’t Even Have To Leave Your WordPress Dashboard
Useful Tip: You can easily browse through every theme in the WordPress.org 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 WP admin panel with a couple of mouse clicks.
Use The 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 Colors, Layout and Features …
This makes it easier to find themes with specific features. For example, you could search for themes with a orange colour design, with a 2-column layout and a full-width template, or themes that support custom menus, etc.
Note: in another post where we discuss the importance of using “responsive” WP themes, we explained how responsive themes allow your site to be viewed without problems on all devices (e.g. the computers, tablets and smartphones used by visitors to browse your information) …
You should use responsive themes, and the WordPress theme filter lets you do just that …
… and find only WordPress themes that have been built using “responsive” design standards …
Pros & Cons Of Using Free Themes
The obvious “pro” to using free WordPress themes is that it costs you nothing to download and use the theme on your site. An added plus, is that many free themes are professionally designed and provide a number of 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 urgent support, especially if they are not getting paid. Most free themes will ask you for a donation to help cover support costs.
When downloading free themes, therefore, check to see when the theme was last updated. If it’s been well over 1 year since any changes were made, then it’s best to think carefully 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 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 ways to filter your search for themes that meet specific requirements, let’s turn our attention to 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:
WordPress Theme Directories
ThemeForest is one of the largest and well known theme marketplaces online.
ThemeForest lets many professional WP theme creators showcase their designs through their online marketplace. There are currently over 17,500 premium WordPress themes to choose from (some starting from as little as $3) …
(click on the above images to see 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 e-magazines, etc.
- Corporate – themes suitable for government sites and marketing purposes.
- Creative – themes suitable for photography, kindle book authors, etc.
- Directory Listings – themes that suit sites about employment opportunities, dining out & restaurants, , etc.
- eCommerce – themes for online shopping, event bookings and registrations, etc.
- Education – themes that suit sites related to tutoring, etc.
- Entertainment – themes for fashion blogs, cafes, etc.
- Mobile – e.g. responsive 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 shops, trades or professionals (electricians, medical centers, etc.)
- Technology – themes related to software, landing pages, etc.
- Wedding – e.g. themes for wedding sites and marriage consellor blogs
- Miscellaneous – themes suitable for topics related to activism, 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 sends you theme update notifications)
Browse thousands of quality premium themes in the ThemeForest theme marketplace here:
(click on the images above to view more themes on Creative Market)
Creative Market is another leading WordPress theme marketplace where you can search through 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 WordPress themes in its directory, but you can easily go through all of their WordPress themes and narrow your search using theme categories using their dropdown “Themes” menu …
Browse through hundreds of quality premium WordPress themes crafted by independent WordPress theme designers in the Creative Market marketplace here:
(click on the images above to browse more Mojo themes)
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 WordPress themes and search through their theme categories from the site’s dropdown “WordPress Themes” menu …
Visit the site to find quality premium themes in the Mojo themes marketplace here:
Now that we have looked at WP theme aggregators, let’s turn our attention to commercial and independent WordPress theme developers.
Commercial And Independent WordPress Theme Stores
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 images above to view more SoloStream themes)
Woo Themes designs eye-catching themes for WordPress and offers a membership option that gives you access to their entire WordPress theme collection.
(click on the images above to view more themes from WooThemes)
StoreFront Themes creates beautiful WordPress themes for e-commerce. Their themes also integrate well with some of the most powerful e-commerce platforms and plugins available.
(click on the above images to view all themes from StoreFront)
StudioPress designs WordPress themes based on a framework that lets you quickly and easily build a professional and search optimized WordPress site, and provides a self-updating design architecture, turn-key site 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 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 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 design.
If this all sounds too technical, don’t worry 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 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 above images to browse all StudioPress themes)
WP Theme-Checking Tools
To round things up, here are a couple of useful WP theme-related tools worth keeping in mind:
What WordPress Theme Is That.com is a free WP theme and plugin-checking tool that allows you to easily detect what WP theme and plugins a website uses.
This is a great resource if you have come across a WordPress site that you like and would like to know what WP theme the website or blog is using.
Tip: If you can’t tell whether a site runs on WordPress or not, we have posted a a great tutorial that helps you tell whether or not a web site is powered by WordPress: How To Tell If Your Web Site Was Built Using 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 if the site has been built using the WP CMS platform, but it will also list the theme being used on the site and list any WP plugins it detects.
- To use the tool visit the website here: What WordPress Theme Is That.com
- To learn how to use this tool go here: Is Your Site Powered By WordPress?
A word of warning: When choosing FREE themes for your WordPress site, we recommend sticking with the approved WordPress themes listed in the official WordPress theme repository.
A commonly-used tactic employed by many hacking groups and cyber criminals is to put up sites offering “Free” WordPress themes all over the web and then distribute themes that contain malicious code. In fact, some of these sites even come up on search engine results for phrases like “free WordPress themes“, “best free themes for WordPress”” etc. It’s safer, therefore, to only download free themes from the official WordPress directory, or use well-known and trusted theme download sites.
If you have any doubts about whether a WordPress theme that you have installed on your blog may contain potentially malicious or unwanted code, use a free WordPress plugin like Theme Authenticity Checker (TAC) to scan your theme files. This plugin scans the source files of every them you have installed on your site for signs of injected code and presents you with 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 WordPress 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