In another article, we provide a comprehensive overview of WordPress Themes.
If you would like to learn more about WordPress themes and what makes WordPress themes so attractive to website owners, then make sure to check out our post: An Introduction to WP Themes
In this article, you will learn where you can search for free and paid themes for your WordPress 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 avoid experiencing problems like lack of product support and poorly-coded themes.
As we’ve explained in our previously-mentioned post, a WordPress theme is a unique kind of web template that is used on WordPress-driven sites and designed specifically with the WordPress content management system in mind.
Many individual web designers and web development firms create themes for WordPress. Consequently, WordPress users enjoy access to thousands of great WP themes designed to cover many website uses.
Finding WP Themes: So Many Choices … Where To Begin?
If you were to launch Google and type the following:
- best free WP themes
- best premium themes for WordPress
- best free WordPress themes for artists (or whatever your business, search topic or website is about)
Chances are that you are going to get an overwhelming amount of information to sort through in your 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 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. For now, please note that we will only be covering themes for the self-hosted version of WordPress (WordPress.org) in this article, which gives you more freedom, more options and more control over the design aspects of your website.
Free vs Paid WP Themes
Next, it’s important to know that there are thousands of Free and Paid WP themes being made available. Free themes for WordPress are generally distributed as Open Source Software under the terms of the GNU General Public License, or they are made available to users as Premium (i.e. paid) themes.
WordPress Theme Marketplaces & Theme Agencies
There are mostly two kinds of places where you can find themes. The first is in WP theme marketplaces and theme directories. The second are the commercial and independent theme development firms.
Theme marketplaces and theme directories are large aggregators of themes. WP theme developers (both commercial and independent) list their themes (both free and paid) in the marketplace or directory and buyers search for these just like they would if they were shopping for apps on an app store or software directory.
Some of the bigger marketplaces 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 WordPress theme development firms typically will develop both free and premium WP themes, and can vary in size, from an individual developer or a small team of developer, 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 find the best themes for your website or blog.
Finding Great WordPress Themes For Your Website Or Blog
(WordPress.org – Free Theme Directory)
The official WordPress theme directory is the biggest and best place to search for free WP themes. In fact, it’s probably the only free theme directory you should use when looking for free WordPress themes. The reason why, 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 theme directory is not only a trustworthy and reputable place to download themes for your WP site, but it also uses a team of theme reviewers comprised of dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers to review and make sure that each theme in the directory complies with their standards of quality and security.
To browse thousands of great-looking FREE WordPress themes from the official Themes Directory, go here:
Look For Free WordPress Themes Inside Your Own WP Dashboard
Useful Tip: You can easily browse through every WP theme in the WordPress.org directory and not only find what you are looking for, but also easily install and start using it directly from inside your WP dashboard with only a couple of mouse clicks.
Use The 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 easy to find themes with specific features. For example, you could search for themes with a dark colour design, with a 4-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” themes, we explained how these allow your site to be viewed without problems on all devices (e.g. your computer, tablet and smartphone) …
It’s a good idea to use responsive themes, and the WordPress theme filtering option lets you do just that …
… and bring back only themes that have been built using “responsive” design standards …
Pros & Cons Of Using Free WordPress Themes
The obvious “pro” to using free WP themes is that it costs you nothing to download and use the theme. Additionally, many free themes are professionally designed and provide a number of customizable features, giving you great flexibility and choice in how you configure all of its various layout elements.
The ”cons” of 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 immediate 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 change was made, then we advise you to think twice about using it, as WordPress is frequently updated and new features can create conflicts or errors with older code.
If you’re just getting started and your site 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 money on a theme. Who knows, the free theme you’ve downloaded 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.org theme directory and ways to filter your search for themes that meet specific requirements, let’s turn our attention to premium themes.
Paid 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 And Directories
ThemeForest is one of the biggest and best-known WP theme directories online.
ThemeForest lets many professional WP theme creators showcase their designs through their online marketplace. There are over 17,500 premium themes listed (some starting 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 themes in a range of categories, such as:
- Blog/Magazine – themes for bloggers and news editorials, etc.
- Corporate – themes suitable for medical sites and advertising purposes.
- Creative – themes for design, cv and resume writing, etc.
- Directory Listings – themes suitable for sites about travel, buy & sell, tourism directories, etc.
- eCommerce – themes for selling products online, event bookings and registrations, etc.
- Education – themes that suit sites related to training, etc.
- Entertainment – themes for fashion blogs, dining out, etc.
- Mobile – e.g. mobile-switching 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 boutiques, trades or professionals (electricians, medical practitioners, etc.)
- Technology – themes related to software, 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, 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 discover quality premium WordPress themes in the ThemeForest theme marketplace:
(click on the above images to view more themes on Creative Market)
Creative Market is another leading WP theme directory 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 WP themes in its marketplace, but you can easily browse hundreds of WP themes and search through their theme categories from their dropdown “Themes” menu …
Browse through hundreds of great premium WordPress themes crafted by independent WordPress theme designers in the Creative Market marketplace here:
(click on the above images to view all 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 find WordPress themes and narrow your search with theme categories (e.g. Portfolio or Photography themes and theme frameworks, etc.) by using the dropdown “WordPress Themes” menu …
Visit the site to find quality premium themes in the Mojo directory here:
Now that we have looked at WP theme directories, let’s take a look at commercial and independent WordPress theme developers.
Commercial And Independent Theme Agencies
SoloStream provides WordPress users with a great selection of professional quality WP themes and the option of accessing all themes through a WordPress theme membership.
(click on images above to view all themes from SoloStream)
Woo Themes creates stunning premium themes and offer a membership option that gives you access to all themes in their growing WordPress theme collection.
(click on the images above to browse more themes from WooThemes)
StoreFront specializes in 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 images above to browse all themes from StoreFront)
StudioPress develops WordPress themes based on a framework (called the “Genesis” framework) that lets users quickly and easily build a professional and search optimized WordPress site, and provides a self-updating design architecture, turn-key designs with beautiful frames for the 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 frequently updated 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 StudioPress themes use something called “child themes,” which are like a paint job that sits on top of the theme framework and gives your site its unique look and feel.
If this all sounds way 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 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 above images to browse more themes from StudioPress)
WP Theme-Checking Tools
Let’s finish this post with some useful WordPress theme-related tools worth knowing about:
What WordPress Theme Is That? is a free WordPress theme and plugin search tool that lets you easily detect what WordPress theme a website uses.
This is a great resource if you ever come across a WordPress site that you like and would like to know what theme the site uses.
Tip: If you can’t tell whether a site was built using WordPress or not, we have published a a great tutorial that helps you tell whether or not a site uses WordPress: Was My Website Built With 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 not only confirm if the site was built on WordPress, but it will also list the WordPress theme being used by the site and list any plugins it detects.
- To use the tool go here: What WordPress Theme Is That
- To learn more about this tool go here: How To Tell If Your Website Was Built With WordPress
We suggested this before and it’s worth repeating it again: When choosing FREE themes for your WordPress site, we recommend sticking with the approved themes listed in the official WordPress theme directory.
A commonly-used strategy employed by many hacking groups and syndicates that engage in cyber-crime is to put up websites offering “Free” WP themes all over the web and then distribute modified themes that contain malicious code. In fact, some of these sites even come up on Google’s search results for key phrases like “free WordPress themes“, “best free WordPress themes”” etc. It’s best, therefore, to stick with the official WordPress directory, or use established and reputable sites.
If you are in doubt about whether a WordPress theme installed on your site could contain malware or unwanted code, use a free WordPress plugin like Theme Authenticity Checker (TAC) to scan your WordPress theme files. The TAC plugin searches the source files of every them you have installed on your site for signs of malicious code and presents you with a report …
(Theme Authenticity Checker Report Page – Source: WordPress.org Plugin)
I hope that you have found this information useful.
"This is an awesome training series. I have a pretty good understanding of WordPress already, but this is helping me to move somewhere from intermediate to advanced user!" - Kim Lednum