In a separate article, we provide a comprehensive overview of WordPress Themes.
If you haven’t yet discovered themes and what makes themes so special, then make sure to check out the post here: About WP Themes – A Practical Guide
In this blog post, we explain where to look for free and paid themes for your WP site. 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 having to deal with problems like lack of product support and poor theme coding.
As we’ve explained in our previously-mentioned post, a WordPress theme is a special kind of web template that is used on WordPress-powered sites and designed specifically for WordPress.
Many individual web designers and website design firms create themes for WordPress. Consequently, WordPress users can access thousands of quality WordPress themes designed for many purposes and needs.
- Finding WP Themes: Let’s Simplify Things!
- Choosing Responsive Themes For Your Website Or Blog
- WP Theme-Checking Tools
Finding WP Themes: Let’s Simplify Things!
Let’s say you were to fire up Google and search for key phrases like this:
- best WP themes
- best free themes for WordPress
- best free WordPress themes for writers (enter whatever your business, search topic or blog is about)
Chances are that you are going to get an overwhelming amount of disorganized information to sort through in the search listings.
So, to help you save time and make your life easier, let’s just cut through the clutter and make the process of finding great WordPress themes 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 a separate article. To keep things simple, please note that we will only cover the topic of finding 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 Themes
Next, it’s important to know that you will find thousands of Free and Paid WP themes being made available. Free themes are normally distributed as Free Software under the terms of the GNU General Public License, or they will be listed as Premium (i.e. paid) themes.
Theme Marketplaces vs Commercial WP Theme Developers
There are 2 kinds of places where themes can be found. The first type of place is in WordPress theme marketplaces and WP theme directories. The second are the commercial and independent WordPress theme houses.
Theme marketplaces and theme directories are big aggregators of themes. 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 WP plugins and templates for other web applications (e.g. Joomla, Drupal, etc.)
Commercial and independent WordPress theme development firms can also design both free and premium WordPress themes, and can vary in size, from an individual designer or a small team of theme designer, to large theme design companies.
Most commercial theme shops 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 find the best themes for your website.
Choosing Responsive Themes For Your Website Or Blog
(WordPress.org – WordPress Themes Directory)
The official WordPress theme directory is the largest and best place to find free WordPress themes. In fact, it’s probably the only free theme directory you should use when looking for free WordPress 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 place 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 website or blog, but it also relies on a review team comprised of dedicated and hard working volunteers to review and make sure that each theme uploaded to the directory complies with high 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 WordPress theme in the WordPress theme directory and not only find what you are looking for, but also easily install and activate it directly from within your WordPress admin panel with just a few mouse clicks.
Use The WP Theme Filtering
WordPress provides a 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 what you are looking for. For example, you could search for themes with a light colour design, with a 2-column layout and a full-width template, or themes that support custom menus, etc.
Note: in another article where we discuss the importance of choosing “responsive” themes, we explained how responsive themes allow your site to be viewed correctly across all devices (e.g. the laptops, smartphones and tablets used by visitors to view your website) …
You should use responsive themes, and the WordPress theme filter lets you search across its entire database of free themes …
… and bring back only themes that are “responsive” …
Pros & Cons Of Using Free WP Themes
The obvious “pro” to using free themes is that it costs nothing to download and use the theme. An added plus, is that many free themes are professionally designed and come with a number of customizable settings, giving you great flexibility and choice in how you configure all of its various layout elements.
The ”cons” 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 theme developer to provide personal support, especially if they are not getting paid. Most freely distributed themes ask for donations to help cover their costs of providing support.
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 last made, then think carefully about downloading it, as WordPress changes quite often and this 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 a premium 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.org theme directory and how to narrow down your search for themes that meet specific requirements, it’s time to turn our attention to finding paid WordPress themes.
Premium WordPress 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:
Theme Marketplaces And Directories
ThemeForest is one of the biggest and best-known WP theme directories online.
ThemeForest allows many professional WordPress theme creators to showcase their designs through their online marketplace. There are currently over 17,500 premium themes listed (some starting from as little as $3) …
(click on the above images to see more ThemeForest themes)
If you visit the ThemeForest theme directory, you will be able to browse for specific themes in a range of categories, such as:
- Blog/Magazine – themes for personal blogs and blog magazines, etc.
- Corporate – themes suitable for corporate sites or marketing purposes.
- Creative – themes suitable for visual galleries, arts, etc.
- Directory Listings – themes that suit sites related to employment opportunities, holiday rentals, , etc.
- eCommerce – themes for selling products online, membership sites, etc.
- Education – themes that suit sites related to teaching, etc.
- Entertainment – themes for entertainment 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. rentals, etc.)
- Retail – themes for shops, trades or professionals (plumbers, dentists, etc.)
- Technology – themes related to hosting, newsletters, etc.
- Wedding – e.g. themes for wedding sites and marriage celebrant 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 images above to see more Creative Market themes)
Creative Market is another leading WordPress theme directory where you can browse thousands of 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 browse hundreds of WP themes and narrow your search using theme categories using their dropdown “Themes” menu …
Browse through hundreds of quality premium WP themes crafted by independent WordPress theme designers in the Creative Market themes marketplace here:
(click on the above images to see all Mojo themes)
Mojo is a marketplace for premium-quality 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 go through all of their themes for WordPress and search through their theme categories using the site’s dropdown “WordPress Themes” menu …
Visit the site to find great WordPress themes in the Mojo theme marketplace here:
Now that we have looked at WP theme directories, let’s turn our attention to commercial and independent theme shops.
Commercial Theme Development Firms
SoloStream provides WordPress users with a selection of professional quality WordPress themes and the option of accessing all themes through a WordPress theme membership.
(click on images above to see all themes from SoloStream)
Woo Themes designs eye-catching WordPress themes and offer a membership option that lets you access all themes in their theme collection.
(click on the images above to browse more WooThemes themes)
StoreFront creates amazing 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 themes from StoreFront)
StudioPress develops WordPress themes based on a framework that enables users to quickly and easily build a professional and search optimized WordPress website, 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 the framework consistently updated to reflect best coding practices and to make sure that themes are 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 a paint job that sits on top of the framework and gives your site its unique design.
If this sounds too technical, there’s no need to feel concerned about it. StudioPress themes are very 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 above images to see more 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 WP theme and plugin-checking 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 theme the website uses.
Tip: If you don’t know if a site was built using WordPress or not, we have posted a a great tutorial that helps you tell if a site uses WordPress: Was My Website Built Using WordPress? How To Tell
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 is powered by WordPress, but it will also list the WordPress theme being used by the site and list any WP plugins detected.
- To use this tool visit the website here: What WordPress Theme Is That.com
- To learn more about using this tool go here: How To Check If Your Site Was 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 directory.
A well-known tactic used by many hackers and networks that engage in cyber-crime is to put up websites offering “Free” WordPress themes all over the web and then distribute modified themes containing malicious code. In fact, some of these sites even come up on Google for phrases like “free WordPress themes“, “best free themes for WordPress”” etc. It’s safer, therefore, to only download free WordPress themes from the official WordPress.org directory, or use well-known and trusted theme merchants.
If you have any concerns about whether a WordPress theme installed on your blog could contain malicious or unwanted code, use a free WordPress plugin like Theme Authenticity Checker (TAC) to run a scan of your WordPress theme files. The plugin searches the source files of every them you have installed on your site for signs of injected code and then outputs a report as shown in the screenshot below …
(Theme Authenticity Checker Report Page – Screenshot: WordPress.org Plugin)
We hope that you have found this information useful.
"Wow! I never knew there's so much to learn about WordPress! I bought one of the WordPress for Dummies three years ago, such authors need to be on this course!" - Rich Law, Create A Blog Now
Disclaimer: WordPress and its related trademarks are registered trademarks of Automattic, Inc. This site is not affiliated with nor sponsored by Automattic, Inc. or the WordPress Open Source project. This site and the services and products offered on this site are not associated, affiliated, endorsed, or sponsored by WordPress, nor have they been certified, tested, or reviewed by WordPress. The owner, contributors and/or advertisers may derive financial benefit from sales of items reviewed, linked to, or advertised on this site.
Did you enjoy this tutorial? Please use the links below and share this tutorial with anyone thinking of starting a business online.