In an earlier article, we provide new WordPress users with a comprehensive overview of WordPress Themes.
If you haven’t yet discovered themes and what makes WordPress themes unique, then go here to read the post: A Practical Guide To WordPress Themes
In this article, we show you where you can look for free and paid themes for your WP 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 avoid experiencing problems like lack of product support and poorly-coded themes.
As explained in another post, a theme is a special kind of web template that is used on WordPress-driven blogs and designed to work specifically with WordPress in mind.
Many web designers and web development firms create themes for WordPress. Consequently, WordPress users have access to thousands of professional-quality themes covering a wide-range of applications.
Finding Great Responsive Themes For WordPress: How To Avoid Information Overload
Let’s say you were to fire up Google and type the following:
- best paid WP themes
- best paid themes for WordPress
- best paid WordPress themes for musicians (enter whatever your business, area of interest or blog is about)
Chances are that you are going to get an overwhelming amount of junk to sort through in your search listings.
So, to help you save time and make things easier, let’s just cut through the clutter and make the process of finding great WP themes really simple.
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org Themes
Before we get started, you need to know that WordPress offers both a hosted and a self-hosted version. We’ll explain these differences in a separate article. For now, let’s just cover the topic of finding themes for the self-hosted version of WordPress (WordPress.org) in this article, which gives you more freedom, more options and more control over your site’s web design.
Free vs Paid WP Themes
Next, it’s important to know that there are both Free and Paid WordPress 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.
WP Theme Marketplaces & WP Theme Vendors
There are mostly two kinds of places where WP themes can be found. The first is in theme marketplaces and WordPress theme directories. The second are the commercial and independent WordPress theme vendors.
WordPress theme marketplaces and 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 larger theme stores don’t just sell WordPress themes. They can also sell WordPress plugins and templates for other web applications (e.g. Joomla, Drupal, etc.)
Commercial and independent theme vendors typically will design both free and paid WP themes, and can vary in size, from an individual theme designer or a small team of theme designer, to large web and theme design and development companies.
Many commercial 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 WP theme directories .
Let’s now show you where to search for the best themes for your blog.
Choosing A Responsive Theme For Your Website Or Blog
(WordPress.org – Themes Directory)
The official WordPress theme directory is the biggest and best place to find WordPress themes for free. In fact, it’s probably the only free theme directory you should use when looking for free WP 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 WP directory is not only a trustworthy and reputable place to download themes for your site, but it also relies on a review team comprised of dedicated and code-savvy volunteers to review and make sure that each theme listed in the directory meets specific standards of quality and security.
To browse thousands of professionally-designed FREE WordPress themes from the official WP Themes Directory, go here:
Find Themes Inside Your Dashboard
Useful Tip: You can easily browse through every WP 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 WordPress admin panel with a few mouse clicks.
Use The Theme Feature Filter
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 easy to find themes with specific features. For example, you could search for themes with a pink colour design, with a 3-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 choosing “responsive” WordPress themes, we explained how these allow your site to be viewed without problems on all devices (e.g. the PCs, tablets and smartphones used by visitors to browse your information) …
You should use responsive themes, and the WordPress theme filter lets you search across its entire database of free themes …
… 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’s free to download and use the theme. An added plus, is that many free themes are professionally designed and provide 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 of 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 personal support, especially if they are not getting paid. Most free themes will ask you for a donation 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 more than a year since any change was last made, then you should think twice 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 premium themes. Who knows, the free theme you’ve downloaded 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.org theme directory and ways to filter your search for themes that meet specific criteria, let’s turn our attention to finding premium 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 great support, you can search through the WordPress theme galleries of the “Premium” theme design agencies listed below:
WordPress Theme Marketplaces
ThemeForest is one of the biggest and most popular WP theme marketplaces online.
ThemeForest allows many professional WordPress theme designers to showcase their designs through their online marketplace. There are currently over 17,500 premium themes to choose from (you can find great themes from as little as $3) …
(click on the images above to view all ThemeForest themes)
If you visit the ThemeForest theme directory, you will be able to browse for specific WP themes in various categories, such as:
- Blog/Magazine – themes for general blogs and activism blogs, etc.
- Corporate – themes suitable for government sites and advertising purposes.
- Creative – themes suitable for photography, freelancers, etc.
- Directory Listings – themes that suit sites related to employment opportunities, classifieds, tourism directories, etc.
- eCommerce – themes for online shopping, 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, charities, etc.
- Real Estate – themes for real estate and real estate listings (e.g. rentals, etc.)
- Retail – themes for retail stores, trades or professionals (plumbers, dental practitioners, etc.)
- Technology – themes related to apps, affiliate marketing, seo, product reviews, direct sales, etc.
- Wedding – e.g. themes for wedding sites and romance tips and advice 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 lots of quality premium WP themes in the ThemeForest marketplace here:
(click on the above images to see more themes on Creative Market)
Creative Market is another leading WP theme directory where you can search through many 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 WordPress themes in its marketplace, but you can easily find themes for WordPress and narrow your search using theme categories (e.g. Blog or Popular themes, etc.) from the site’s dropdown “Themes” menu …
Browse through hundreds of great themes crafted by independent WordPress theme developers in the Creative Market marketplace here:
(click on the images above to see all themes at Mojo)
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 go through all of their themes for WordPress and narrow your search with theme categories (e.g. Magazine or Business themes and theme frameworks, etc.) using the dropdown “WordPress Themes” menu …
Visit the site to find quality premium themes in the Mojo marketplace here:
Now that we have looked at WP theme aggregators, let’s look at commercial WP theme agencies.
Commercial And Independent WordPress Theme Design Companies
SoloStream provides WordPress users with a selection of professional quality premium themes and the option of accessing all themes through a WordPress theme membership.
(click on images above to browse more SoloStream themes)
Woo Themes designs functional premium themes for WordPress that are very popular and highly sought after by web users and also offers a membership option that gives you access to all themes in their growing WP theme portfolio.
(click on the above images to see more themes from WooThemes)
StoreFront creates amazing WP themes for e-commerce. 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 provides WordPress themes based on a framework (called the “Genesis” framework) that allows users to 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 website developers prefer using this framework not only because it’s well-coded and well-supported (the development team at StudioPress keeps this framework regularly up-to-date to reflect best practices for coding and to ensure that it always remains compatible with the latest WordPress version, but because you can update your themes without losing any customizations you may have made to your theme.
This is because StudioPress themes 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, 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 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 see all themes from StudioPress)
WP Theme-Checking Tools
Let’s finish this post with a couple of useful WP theme-related tools worth knowing about:
What WordPress Theme Is That? is a free WordPress theme search tool that allows you to easily detect what WordPress 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 website.
Tip: If you can’t tell whether a site uses WordPress or not, we have posted a a great tutorial that helps you tell if a site uses WordPress: Is Your Site Powered By 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 a site has been built using WordPress software, but it will also list the WP theme being used by the site and list any plugins it detects.
- To use the tool visit the website here: What WordPress Theme Is That
- To learn how to use this tool go here: Is Your Website Built With WordPress?
A word of warning: If you decide to use FREE themes for your WordPress site, we strongly recommend sticking with the reviewed and approved themes listed in the official WordPress theme repository.
A commonly-used tactic employed by many hackers and cyber criminals is to put up websites and directories offering “Free” WP themes all over the web and then distribute themes containing malicious code. In fact, some of these sites even come up on search engine results for key phrases like “free WordPress themes“, “best free themes for WordPress”” etc. It’s best, therefore, to only download free themes from the official WordPress directory, or use established and trusted sites.
If you are concerned about whether a WordPress theme that you have installed on your site may be infected with potentially malicious or unwanted code, use a free WordPress plugin like Theme Authenticity Checker (TAC) to perform a scan of your WordPress theme files. The TAC plugin scans the source files of every installed theme on your site for signs of suspicious code and presents you with a report …
(TAC Report Page – Screenshot: Plugin, WordPress.org)
I hope that you have found the information on how to find great WordPress useful.
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