In a previous article, we have written a comprehensive overview of WordPress Themes.
If you would like to know more about themes and what makes themes so special, then go here to read the article: A Practical Guide To Understanding WP Themes
In this article, we show you where you can look for free and paid themes for your website. 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 product support and poorly-coded themes.
As we’ve explained in our previously-mentioned post, a WordPress theme is a unique kind of web design template that is used on WordPress-powered blogs and designed to work specifically with the WP content management system in mind.
Many skilled website designers and website development firms create themes for WordPress. Consequently, WordPress users can access thousands of professional-quality WordPress themes designed for many purposes and needs.
Where To Find Themes: So Many Choices … Where To Begin?
If you were to launch Google and type the following:
- best free WP themes
- WordPress themes free
- best paid WordPress themes for musicians (enter whatever your business, area of interest or website is about)
Chances are that you are going to get an overwhelming amount of junk to sort through in the search results.
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 start, you should know that WordPress offers both a hosted and a self-hosted version. We’ll cover these differences in another post. To keep things simple, we’ll only be covering 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 the design of your site.
Free vs Paid Themes
Next, it’s important to know that you will find thousands of Free and Paid WordPress themes being made available. Free themes are generally distributed as Open Source Software under the terms of the GNU General Public License, or they are sold as Premium (i.e. paid) themes.
Theme Directories Commercial And Independent WP Theme Developers
There are 2 kinds of places where you can find WordPress themes. The first type of place is in theme marketplaces and theme directories. The second place are the commercial and independent WordPress theme shops.
Theme marketplaces and WP theme directories are big theme stores. theme developers (both commercial and independent) list their themes (both free and paid) in the marketplace or directory and buyers find 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 theme development firms can also create both free and premium themes, and can vary in size, from an individual developer or a small team of theme developer, to large theme development companies.
As you will see, most 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 blog.
Choosing The Best Responsive Themes For Your WordPress Website Or Blog
(WordPress.org – Free Theme Directory)
The official WordPress.org theme directory is the largest 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 WordPress themes. The reason why, is because –as many free software users have discovered– downloading free software, add-ons, apps, templates or themes from untrustworthy places can contain malicious code and 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 WordPress site, but it also relies on a theme review team comprised of dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers to review and make sure that each theme in the directory meets certain quality and security standards.
To browse thousands of excellent FREE WordPress themes from the official Themes Directory, go here:
Find Free WP Themes Without Leaving Your Own WP Dashboard
Useful Tip: You can easily browse through every 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 WordPress dashboard with just a few mouse clicks.
Use The Theme Filtering
WordPress provides a filtering function inside the dashboard 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 3-column layout and a full-width template, or themes that support custom menus, etc.
Note: in the post mentioned earlier 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 display without problems on all devices (e.g. computers, tablets and smartphones) …
You should use responsive themes, and the WordPress theme filter lets you do just that …
… and bring up only WP themes that have been built using “responsive” design standards …
Pros & Cons Of Using Free Themes
The obvious “pro” to using free WP 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 options, giving you great flexibility and choice in how you configure all of its various layout elements.
The downside of using free WordPress 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. Many freely distributed themes will ask you for a donation 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 changes 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 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 any money on premium themes. Who knows, the free theme you’ve downloaded could be exactly what works for you and for 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 criteria, it’s time to turn our attention to finding paid WordPress 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 responsive support, then search through the WordPress theme galleries of the “Premium” theme design agencies listed below:
ThemeForest is one of the largest and best-known 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 (you can find great themes from as little as $3) …
(click on the above images to see more themes on ThemeForest)
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 environmental blogs, etc.
- Corporate – themes suitable for business sites or marketing purposes.
- Creative – themes suitable for portfolios, cv and resume writing, etc.
- Directory Listings – themes suitable for sites about employment opportunities, buy & sell, , etc.
- eCommerce – themes for ecommerce, membership sites, etc.
- Education – themes that suit sites related to teaching, etc.
- Entertainment – themes for entertainment blogs, cafes, 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. commercial property, etc.)
- Retail – themes for stores, trades or professionals (repairers, medical centers, etc.)
- Technology – themes related to hosting, landing pages, etc.
- Wedding – e.g. themes for wedding sites and marriage consellor blogs
- Miscellaneous – themes suitable for writing or discussing environmental issues, 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 emails you theme update notifications)
Browse lots of quality premium themes in the ThemeForest themes marketplace here:
(click on the images above to browse all Creative Market themes)
Creative Market is another leading WP theme marketplace 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 find WordPress themes and narrow your search using theme categories from their dropdown “Themes” menu …
Browse through hundreds of great themes crafted by independent WP theme developers in the Creative Market marketplace here:
(click on the above images to see all 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 narrow your search with theme categories by using the site’s dropdown “WordPress Themes” menu …
Visit the site to find quality premium themes in the Mojo themes directory here:
Now that we have looked at WP theme directories, let’s look at commercial theme design companies.
Commercial And Independent WP Theme Shops
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 browse more SoloStream themes)
Woo Themes designs functional themes for WordPress and offers a membership option that lets you access their entire theme collection.
(click on the above images to see more themes from WooThemes)
StoreFront creates beautiful WordPress themes for e-commerce. StoreFront themes also integrate well with some of the most powerful e-commerce platforms and plugins available.
(click on the images above to see more themes from StoreFront)
StudioPress develops WordPress themes based on a framework (called the “Genesis” framework) that enables users to 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 like this framework not only because it’s well-coded and well-supported (the development team at StudioPress keeps the framework frequently up-to-date to reflect best coding practices and to ensure that it is 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 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 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 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 browse all themes from StudioPress)
WP Theme-Checking Tools
Let’s finish this post with a couple of useful WordPress theme-related tools worth keeping in mind:
What WP Theme Is That? WP Theme Checker
What WordPress Theme Is That.com is a free WP theme-checking tool that lets you 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 is being used on the site.
Tip: If you don’t know whether a site runs on WordPress or not, we have published a a great tutorial that shows you how to tell whether or not a site uses the WordPress CMS platform: How Can I Tell If A Web Site Was Built Using 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 has been built on the WP CMS platform, but it will also list the WordPress theme being used and list any WP plugins it detects.
- To use the online tool visit the website here: What WordPress Theme Is That.com
- To learn how to use this tool go here: Tell-Tale Signs It’s A WordPress Web Site And WordPress-Checking Tools
Theme Authenticity Checker (TAC)
We suggested this earlier and it’s worth repeating again: When choosing FREE themes for your WordPress site, we highly recommend sticking with the reviewed and approved themes listed in the official WordPress theme directory.
A method that is commonly used by a number of hackers and syndicates that engage in cyber-crime is to put up sites and directories offering “Free” WordPress themes all over the web and then distribute themes with malicious code embedded in their files. 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 only download free themes from the official WordPress repository, or use established and trusted theme download 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, you can use a free WordPress plugin like Theme Authenticity Checker (TAC) to run a scan of your theme files. The TAC plugin searches the source files of every them you have installed on your site for signs of suspicious code and presents you with a report as shown in the screenshot below …
(Theme Authenticity Checker Report Page – Screenshot Source: Plugin)
We hope that you have found the information on how to find great WP useful.
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