In a separate post, we provide a comprehensive overview of WordPress Themes.
If you haven’t yet discovered themes and what makes themes so attractive to web site owners, then make sure to check out the article here: A Basic Guide To WP Themes
In this blog post, you will learn where to look for free and paid themes for your website or blog. You will also learn about the different types of WP 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 support and poor theme coding.
As explained in another article, a theme is a special kind of web design template used on WordPress-powered blogs and designed specifically in the WP content management system.
Many website designers and web design companies create themes for WordPress. Consequently, WordPress users have access to thousands of exciting themes covering a wide-range of uses and applications.
Where To Find Responsive Themes: How To Avoid Getting Overwhelmed
Let’s say you were to go to Google and type the following:
- best premium themes for WordPress
- best responsive themes for WordPress
- best paid WordPress themes for writers (type in whatever your business, area of interest or website is about)
You are probably going to get an overwhelming amount of information to sort through in your search listings.
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 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 explain these differences in a separate article. For now, let’s just be covering themes for the self-hosted version of WordPress (WordPress.org) in this post, which gives you more freedom, more options and more control over the design of your site.
Free vs Paid Themes
Next, it’s important to know that you can find thousands of Free and Paid themes being made available. Free WordPress themes are generally distributed as Free Software under the terms of the GNU General Public License, or they are made available to users as Premium (i.e. paid) themes.
WP Theme Marketplaces & WordPress Theme Development Firms
There are two places where you can find themes. The first is in theme marketplaces and theme directories. The second type of place are the commercial and independent WP theme developers.
Theme marketplaces and WP theme directories are large theme stores. theme developers (both commercial and independent) list their themes (both free and paid) in the marketplace or directory and visitors 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 WP plugins and templates for other web applications (e.g. Joomla, Drupal, etc.)
Commercial and independent WordPress theme developers can create both free and premium WordPress themes, and can vary in size, from an individual theme designer or a small team of theme designer, to large theme design companies.
Many commercial theme design houses 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 WP themes for your blog.
Finding Responsive Themes For Your WP Website
(WordPress.org – Themes Directory)
The official WordPress theme directory is the biggest and best place to find free WP 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 discovered– downloading free software, add-ons, apps, templates or themes from untrustworthy places can contain malicious code and put 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 site, but it also relies on a team of theme reviewers to review and ensure that each theme listed in the directory meets certain standards of quality and security.
To browse thousands of great-looking FREE WordPress themes from the official Themes Repository, go here:
Look For Free Themes Without Leaving Your Own WordPress Dashboard
Useful Tip: You can easily browse through every WP theme in the WordPress directory and not only find what you are looking for, but also easily install and activate it directly from inside your WordPress dashboard with only a few mouse clicks.
Use The WordPress Theme Feature Filters
WordPress has a built-in 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 easier to find themes with specific features. For example, you could search for themes with a blue color design, with a 2-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 using “responsive” WordPress themes, we explained how these ensure that your theme will work on all devices (e.g. the computers, smartphones and tablets used by visitors to view your information) …
You should use responsive themes, and the WordPress theme filter lets you do just that …
… and display only themes that have been built using “responsive” design standards …
Pros & Cons Of Using Free WP Themes
The obvious “pro” to using free themes is that it’s free to download and use the theme. Additionally, many free themes are professionally designed and provide a number of built-in customizable settings, giving you great flexibility and choice in how you configure all of its various layout elements.
The ”cons” 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 theme 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.
When downloading free themes, therefore, check to see when the theme was last updated. If it’s been over one year since any updates were 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 website or blog 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 paid theme. Who knows, the free theme you’ve downloaded may just be the thing that works for you and your business.
Now that we’ve seen how to find free themes in the WordPress.org theme directory and ways to filter your search for themes that meet your specific requirements, it’s time to 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, then search through the WordPress theme galleries of the “Premium” theme design agencies listed below:
WordPress Theme Marketplaces And Directories
ThemeForest is one of the biggest and well known WordPress theme directories online.
ThemeForest lets many professional WP theme designers showcase their designs through their online marketplace. There are over 17,000 premium themes listed (some starting from as little as $3) …
(click on the above images to view more ThemeForest themes)
If you visit the ThemeForest theme marketplace, you will be able to browse for specific WP themes in various categories, such as:
- Blog/Magazine – themes for personal blogs and environmental blogs, etc.
- Corporate – themes suitable for legal sites and advertising purposes.
- Creative – themes for design, arts, etc.
- Directory Listings – themes that suit sites related to directory listings, classifieds, tourism directories, etc.
- eCommerce – themes for e-commerce, event bookings and registrations, etc.
- Education – themes that suit sites related to tutoring, etc.
- Entertainment – themes for film & tv blogs, cafes, etc.
- Mobile – e.g. mobile-switching 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 travel, trades or professionals (plumbers, legal firms, etc.)
- Technology – themes related to hosting, landing pages, etc.
- Wedding – e.g. themes for wedding sites and marriage celebrant blogs
- Miscellaneous – themes suitable for topics related to activism, parenting 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 great WordPress themes in the ThemeForest theme marketplace here:
(click on the images above to see more themes on Creative Market)
Creative Market is another leading WP theme marketplace where you can browse 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 search through their theme categories (e.g. Blog or Wedding themes, etc.) using the site’s dropdown “Themes” menu …
Browse through hundreds of great themes crafted by independent WordPress theme designers in the Creative Market directory here:
(click on the above images to browse more Mojo themes)
Mojo is a marketplace 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 WP themes, but you can easily find WordPress themes and search through their theme categories (e.g. Responsive or eCommerce themes and theme frameworks, etc.) from the site’s dropdown “WordPress Themes” menu …
Visit the site to find great premium WP themes in the Mojo themes directory here:
Now that we have looked at WP theme aggregators, let’s turn our attention to commercial and independent WP theme stores.
Commercial And Independent WordPress Theme Development Firms
SoloStream provides WordPress users with a selection of high quality premium 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 designs stunning themes that are very popular and highly sought after by website users and offers a membership option that gives you access to all themes in their WP theme collection.
(click on the above images to see all themes from WooThemes)
StoreFront specializes in creating e-commerce themes for WordPress. Their themes also integrate well with some of the most powerful e-commerce platforms and plugins available.
(click on the above images to view more themes from StoreFront)
StudioPress builds WordPress themes based on a framework (called the “Genesis” framework) that lets you 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 like the Genesis framework not only because it’s well-coded and well-supported (the development team at StudioPress keeps the framework regularly updated to reflect best coding practices and to ensure that themes remain always 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 using 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 way 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 one low price entitles 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 see all StudioPress themes)
To round things up, here are a few more useful WP theme-related tools worth keeping in mind:
What WordPress Theme Is That? is a free WP theme and plugin-checking tool that allows you to easily detect what WP theme a site 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 is using.
Tip: If you don’t know if a site uses WordPress or not, go here for a great tutorial that helps you tell if a web site uses the WP CMS platform: Is Your Website 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 not only confirm whether or not a site is built using the WordPress CMS platform, but it will also list the theme being used and list any plugins it detects.
- To use the tool go here: What WordPress Theme Is That
- To learn how to use this tool go here: How To Tell If A Web Site Was Built With WordPress
We suggested this earlier and it’s worth repeating again: When choosing FREE themes for your WordPress site, we strongly recommend sticking with the themes listed in the official WordPress theme directory.
A commonly-used tactic employed by many hacking groups and networks that engage in cyber-crime is to put up sites and directories offering “Free” WP themes all over the web and then distribute themes that contain malicious code. In fact, some of these sites even display on Google’s search results for key phrases like “free WordPress themes“, “best free WordPress themes”” etc. It’s safer, therefore, to stick with the official WordPress.org directory, or use established and trusted theme download sites.
If you are in doubt about whether a WordPress theme that you have installed on your blog could be infected with potentially malicious or unwanted code, use a free WordPress plugin like Theme Authenticity Checker (TAC) to scan your WP theme files. The plugin searches the source files of every installed theme on your site for signs of malicious code and outputs a report …
(Theme Authenticity Checker Report Page – Screenshot Source: WordPress.org Plugin Page)
I hope that you have found this information useful.
"If you're new to WordPress, this can stand on its own as a training course and will stay with you as you progress from beginner to advanced and even guru status." - Bruce (Columbus, Ohio)