In a previous article, we provide new WordPress users with a comprehensive overview of WordPress Themes.
If you would like to learn more about the benefits of using WordPress themes and what makes themes unique, then make sure to check out our article: An Overview of WP Themes
In this article, we explain where to search 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 make sure that you get the right themes for your needs and avoid dealing with problems like lack of support and poor coding.
As we’ve explained in another post, a WordPress theme is a unique kind of web design template that is used on WordPress-driven blogs and designed to work specifically with the WordPress content management system in mind.
Many skilled web designers and web design houses create themes for WordPress. Consequently, WordPress users can access thousands of high quality themes designed to cover many purposes.
- 1 Where To Find WP Themes: So Many Choices … Where To Begin?
- 2 Choosing Themes For Your Website Or Blog
- 2.1 Paid Themes
- 2.2 Commercial And Independent WP Theme Developers
- 3 Theme-Checking Tools
Where To Find WP Themes: So Many Choices … Where To Begin?
Let’s say you were to go to Google and type key phrases like this:
- best responsive WordPress themes
- best responsive WordPress themes
- best free WordPress themes for churches (or whatever your business, area of interest or blog is about)
Chances are that you are going to get an overwhelming amount of disorganized information to sort through in the 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 need to 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 be covering 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 the design aspects of your site.
Free vs Paid WordPress Themes
Next, it’s useful to know that you can find thousands of Free and Paid WP themes made available. Free WP themes are generally distributed as Free Software under the terms of the GNU General Public License, or they can be listed as Premium (i.e. paid) themes.
WP Theme Marketplaces Commercial And Independent WP Theme Shops
There are two places where WP themes can be found. The first place is in theme marketplaces and theme directories. The second place are the commercial and independent theme vendors.
WP theme marketplaces and WP theme directories are large aggregators of themes. 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 shops typically will create both free and paid WordPress themes, and can vary in size, from an individual theme designer or a small team of theme designer, to large web and theme development companies.
Most commercial theme companies 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 WordPress themes for your website or blog.
Choosing Themes For Your Website Or Blog
(WordPress.org – Free WP Theme Directory)
The official WordPress.org theme directory is the biggest and best place to search for 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 for this, is because –as some free software users have discovered– downloading free software, add-ons, apps, templates or themes from untrustworthy places can put your computer, digital presence and 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 team of theme reviewers comprised of dedicated and hard working volunteers to review and make sure that each theme in the directory meets certain 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 WordPress Dashboard
Useful Tip: You can easily browse through every theme in the WordPress.org directory and not only find a great theme for your website or blog, but also easily install and activate it directly from inside your WP admin panel with only a few clicks.
Use Theme Feature Filter
WordPress has a built-in 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 what you are looking for. For example, you could search for themes with predominantly light color design, with a 4-column layout and a full-width template, or themes that support custom menus, etc.
Note: in another article where we discuss the importance of using “responsive” themes, we explained how responsive themes ensure that your theme will work on all devices (e.g. your computer, smartphone and tablet) …
It’s a good idea to use responsive themes, and the WordPress theme filtering function lets you do just that …
… and bring up only WordPress themes that are “responsive” …
Pros & Cons Of Using Free Themes
The obvious “pro” to using free WP themes is that it costs you nothing to download and use the theme on your site. Additionally, many free themes are professionally designed and provide a number of customizable options, giving you great flexibility and choice in how you configure all of its various layout elements.
The downside 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 developer to provide dedicated support, especially if they are not getting paid. Most freely distributed themes ask users 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 more than 1 year since any updates were last made, then we advise you to 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 money on premium themes. Who knows, the free theme you’ve downloaded may just be the thing that works for your site and for your business.
Now that we’ve seen how to find free WP themes in the WordPress theme directory and ways to narrow down your search for themes that meet your specific criteria, it’s time to turn our attention to premium WP 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 WP theme marketplaces online.
ThemeForest allows many professional WordPress theme designers to showcase their designs through their online marketplace. There are over 15,000 premium themes to choose from (you can find great themes from as little as $3) …
(click on the images above to browse more themes on ThemeForest)
If you visit the ThemeForest theme marketplace, you will be able to browse for specific WordPress themes in various categories, such as:
- Blog/Magazine – themes for personal blogs and e-magazines, etc.
- Corporate – themes suitable for business sites and advertising purposes.
- Creative – themes suitable for design, arts, etc.
- Directory Listings – themes suitable for sites about employment opportunities, holiday rentals, business directories, etc.
- eCommerce – themes for online shopping, 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. retina-ready themes.
- NonProfit – themes for nonprofit organizations, churches, etc.
- Real Estate – themes for real estate and real estate listings (e.g. commercial property, etc.)
- Retail – themes for travel, trades or professionals (repairers, chiropractors, etc.)
- Technology – themes related to technology, 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 emails you theme update notifications)
Go here to discover great premium themes in the ThemeForest directory: ThemeForest
(click on the above images to browse all themes on Creative Market)
Creative Market is another leading WP theme directory where you can search through 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 WP themes in its directory, but you can easily go through all of their WordPress themes and narrow your search using theme categories from their dropdown “Themes” menu …
Browse through hundreds of quality premium WP themes crafted by independent WP theme developers in the Creative Market marketplace here: Creative Market
(click on the images above to view more WP themes at Mojo)
Mojo is a directory 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 find themes for WordPress and search through their theme categories (e.g. Portfolio or eCommerce themes and theme frameworks, etc.) using the site’s dropdown “WordPress Themes” menu …
Visit the site to find quality premium themes in the Mojo marketplace here: Mojo Themes
Now that we have looked at WP theme marketplaces, let’s take a look at commercial and independent WP theme design companies.
Commercial And Independent WP Theme Developers
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 above images to view more SoloStream themes)
Woo Themes designs great premium themes and offer a membership option that allows you to access all themes in their theme portfolio.
(click on the above images to view all themes from WooThemes)
StoreFront creates beautiful WP 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 StoreFront themes)
StudioPress develops WordPress themes based on a framework that enables users to 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 consistently 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 themes built using the Genesis framework 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 a paint job that sits on top of the framework and gives your site its unique design.
If this all sounds 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 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 images above to browse more StudioPress themes)
Here are a few more useful WordPress theme-related tools worth keeping in mind:
What WordPress Theme Is That.com is a free web tool that lets you easily detect what WordPress theme a site uses (including parent and child WP themes).
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 uses.
Tip: If you can’t tell if a site was built using WordPress or not, we have published a a great tutorial that shows you how to tell whether or not a website uses WordPress: Does My Blog Run On 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 then not only confirm if the site is built on the WordPress CMS platform, but it will also list the WordPress theme being used on the site and list any plugins it detects.
- To use the tool visit the website here: What WordPress Theme Is That.com
- To learn how to use this tool go here: Is My Website Built With WordPress? How To Tell
We suggested this before and it’s worth repeating again: If you decide to use FREE themes for your WordPress site, we highly recommend sticking with the themes listed in the official WordPress theme repository.
A well-known tactic used by a number of hacking groups and networks that engage in cyber criminal activities is to put up sites and directories offering “Free” themes for WordPress all over the web and then distribute themes and plugins with malicious code embedded in their files. In fact, some of these sites even display on Google’s search results for search phrases like “free WordPress themes“, “best free themes for WordPress”” etc. It’s best, therefore, to stick with the official WordPress.org directory, or use established and reputable sites.
If you are concerned about whether a WordPress theme installed on your site could be infected with malware or unwanted code, you can use a free WordPress plugin like Theme Authenticity Checker (TAC) to scan your theme files. This plugin searches the source files of every them you have installed on your site for signs of malicious code and then presents you with a report with the results …
(Theme Authenticity Checker Report Page – Source: Plugin)
We hope that you have found the information on how to find the best WP free and commercial responsive themes useful.
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