In a separate post, we have written a comprehensive overview of WordPress Themes.
If you haven’t yet discovered WordPress themes and what makes themes unique, then make sure to check out the 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 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 how to avoid experiencing problems like lack of customer support and poorly-coded themes.
As we’ve explained in our previously-mentioned article, a theme is a unique type of web design template used on WordPress-powered blogs and designed specifically with WordPress in mind.
Many talented web designers and web development agencies create themes for WordPress. Consequently, members of the WP community have access to thousands of uniquely-designed WordPress themes designed for many website uses.
Where To Find Themes: Let’s Keep It Simple!
Let’s say you were to open up Google and type the following:
- best free WordPress themes
- WordPress themes free
- best free WordPress themes for blogs (or whatever your business, area of interest or blog is about)
You are probably going to get an overwhelming amount of information to sort through in your 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 really simple.
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org Themes
Before we get started, you should know that WordPress offers both a hosted and a self-hosted version. We’ll explain these differences in another article. To keep things simple, let’s just cover 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 WP Themes
Next, it’s important to know that you can find thousands of Free and Paid WordPress themes made available. Free themes for WordPress are generally distributed as Free Software under the terms of the GNU General Public License, or they are made available to users as Premium (paid) themes.
Theme Marketplaces And Directories & WP Theme Design Companies
There are two places where themes can be found. The first is in theme marketplaces and WP theme directories. The second are the commercial and independent WP theme stores.
Theme marketplaces and WordPress theme directories are large theme aggregators. theme developers (both commercial and independent) list their themes (both free and paid) in the marketplace or directory and customers shop for 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 WordPress plugins and templates for other web applications (e.g. Joomla, Drupal, etc.)
Commercial and independent theme design houses can also design both free and premium themes, and can vary in size, from an individual theme developer or a small team of theme developer, to large theme design and development companies.
Most commercial theme companies 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 WP theme directories .
Let’s now show you where to search for great WP themes for your website or blog.
Where To Find A Responsive Theme Themes For Your WP Website
(WordPress.org – Free Theme Directory)
The official WordPress theme directory is the largest 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 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 website, but it also relies on a review team comprised of dedicated and hard working volunteers to review and ensure that each theme uploaded to the directory meets their standards of quality and security.
To browse thousands of excellent FREE WordPress themes from the official WordPress Themes Repository, go here:
You Don’t Even Have To Leave Your WP Dashboard
Useful Tip: You can easily browse through every theme in the WordPress theme directory and not only find what you are looking for, but also easily install and start using it directly from within your WP dashboard with a couple of mouse clicks.
Use Theme Filters
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 pink color design, with a three-column layout and a full-width template, or themes that support custom menus, etc.
Note: in another post where we discuss the importance of choosing “responsive” themes, we explained how responsive themes allow your site to be viewed correctly on all devices (e.g. PCs, tablets and smartphones) …
It’s a good idea to use responsive themes, and the WordPress theme filtering function lets you do just that …
… and display only themes that are “responsive” …
Pros & Cons Of Using Free WordPress Themes
The obvious “pro” to using free themes is that it’s free to download and use the theme. An added plus, is that many free themes are professionally designed and offer a number of built-in customizable settings, 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 it’s unrealistic to expect the developer to provide dedicated support, especially if they are not getting paid. Many 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 over 1 year since any updates were made, then it’s best to 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 relatively 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 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 how to narrow down your search for themes that meet your specific criteria, let’s turn our attention to finding 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, then search through the WordPress theme galleries of the “Premium” theme design agencies listed below:
ThemeForest is one of the largest and well known theme marketplaces online.
ThemeForest allows many professional WordPress theme developers to showcase their designs through their online marketplace. There are well over 17,500 premium themes listed (you can find great themes from as little as $3) …
(click on the above images to browse all ThemeForest themes)
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 political blogs, etc.
- Corporate – themes suitable for business sites or marketing purposes.
- Creative – themes for visual galleries, galleries, etc.
- Directory Listings – themes ideal for sites about directory listings, buy & sell, tourism directories, etc.
- eCommerce – themes for ecommerce, event bookings and registrations, etc.
- Education – themes that suit sites related to tutoring, etc.
- Entertainment – themes for film & tv blogs, music venues, etc.
- Mobile – e.g. retina-ready 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 catalogs, trades or professionals (electricians, legal practitioners, etc.)
- Technology – themes related to hosting, newsletters, etc.
- Wedding – e.g. themes for wedding sites and romance tips and advice blogs
- Miscellaneous – themes suitable for writing or discussing environmental issues, 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)
Go here to find great WP themes in the ThemeForest directory:
(click on the images above to view more themes on Creative Market)
Creative Market is another leading WP theme directory 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 directory, but you can easily find themes for WordPress and narrow your search using theme categories from their dropdown “Themes” menu …
Browse through hundreds of great WordPress themes crafted by independent WordPress theme designers in the Creative Market theme directory here:
(click on the images above to view all themes at Mojo.com)
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 browse hundreds of themes for WordPress and narrow your search with theme categories from the site’s dropdown “WordPress Themes” menu …
Visit the site to find great premium WordPress themes in the Mojo theme marketplace here:
Now that we have looked at WordPress theme marketplaces, let’s take a look at commercial theme design houses.
Commercial And Independent Theme Developers
SoloStream provides WordPress users with a great selection of high quality WP themes and the option of accessing all themes through a WordPress theme membership.
(click on above images to see all themes from SoloStream)
Woo Themes designs functional themes and offers a membership option that lets you access their entire WordPress theme portfolio.
(click on the images above to see all themes from WooThemes)
StoreFront Themes specializes in creating 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 images above to view more StoreFront themes)
StudioPress develops WordPress themes based on a framework (called the “Genesis” framework) that lets you quickly and easily build a professional and search optimized WordPress website, and provides an auto-updating design architecture, turn-key designs with beautiful frames for the 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 this framework frequently up-to-date to reflect best coding practices and to make sure 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 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 all sounds too technical, don’t worry about it. StudioPress themes are easy to work with, just like all other WordPress themes. The great thing about choosing StudioPress themes is that you pay just 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 images above to view more themes from StudioPress)
To round things up, here are a couple of useful WordPress theme-related tools worth knowing about:
What WordPress Theme Is That.com is a free online tool that lets you 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 WordPress theme the website or blog uses.
Tip: If you don’t know if a site runs on WordPress or not, we have published a a great tutorial that helps you tell if a website uses WordPress: Is It A WP Blog?
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 whether or not the site is built using WordPress software, but it will also list the theme being used and list any WordPress plugins detected.
- To use this online tool go here: What WordPress Theme Is That
- To learn more about using this tool go here: How Can I Check If A Website Was Built With WordPress?
A word of warning: If you decide to use FREE themes for your WordPress site, we highly recommend sticking with the WP themes listed in the official WordPress theme repository.
A commonly-used method employed by a number of hackers and syndicates that engage in cyber-crime is to put up sites offering “Free” WP themes all over the web and distribute themes that contain malicious code. In fact, some of these sites even come up on Google for key phrases like “free WordPress themes“, “best free themes for WordPress”” etc. It’s best, therefore, to only download free WP themes from the official WordPress directory, or use established and reputable sites.
If you have any concerns 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 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 outputs a report as shown in the screenshot below …
(TAC Report Page – Screenshot Source: WordPress.org Plugin Page)
I hope that you have found this information useful.
"This is AMAZING! I had learnt about how to use WordPress previously, but this covers absolutely everything and more!! Incredible value! Thank you!" - Monique, Warrior Forum