In an earlier post, we provide new WordPress users with a comprehensive overview of WordPress Themes.
If you would like to know more about the benefits of using themes and what makes WP themes so special, then make sure to check out the post here: About WP Themes – A Guide For Newbies
In this article, you will learn where you can browse hundreds of free and paid themes for your WP website. 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 avoid having to deal with problems like lack of product support and poorly-coded themes.
As explained in another post, a theme is a unique kind of web design template used on WordPress-driven websites and blogs and designed to work specifically with the WordPress content management system in mind.
Many talented website designers and website development firms create themes for WordPress. Consequently, members of the WordPress community have access to thousands of uniquely-designed themes covering an extensive range of uses and applications.
Where To Find Themes: Your Time-Saving Guide
Let’s say you were to open up Google and search for the following:
- best themes for WordPress
- best responsive WordPress themes
- best responsive WordPress themes for writers (or whatever your business, search topic or website is about)
Chances are that you are going to get an overwhelming amount of junk 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 WP themes simple.
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org Themes
Before we start, you need to know that WordPress offers users both a hosted and a self-hosted version. We’ll explain these differences in a separate post. For now, we’ll only cover 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 areas of your blog.
Free vs Paid Themes
Next, it’s important to know that there are thousands of Free and Paid WordPress themes made available. Free WP themes are normally distributed as Open Source Software under the terms of the GNU General Public License, or they are licensed for use as Premium (paid) themes.
Theme Directories Commercial And Independent Theme Vendors
There are mostly 2 kinds of places where you can find themes. The first place is in WP theme marketplaces and theme directories. The second type of place are the commercial and independent WP theme companies.
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 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 WordPress plugins and templates for other web applications (e.g. Joomla, Drupal, etc.)
Commercial and independent theme design companies can develop both free and commercial WP themes, and can vary in size, from an individual designer or a small team of developer, to large web and theme design companies.
As you will see, many commercial or independent 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 WP theme directories .
Let’s now show you where to search for great themes for your website.
Where To Find Responsive Themes For Your Website Or Blog
(WordPress.org – Free Theme Directory)
The official WordPress theme directory is the biggest and best place to find WP 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 many 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 WordPress site, but it also relies on a team of theme reviewers comprised of dedicated and hard working volunteers to review and ensure that each theme uploaded to the directory meets certain quality and security standards.
To browse thousands of professionally-designed FREE WordPress themes from the official WP Themes Repository, go here:
Look For Free WordPress Themes Without Leaving Your Own WP 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 start using it directly from inside your WP admin panel with only a few mouse clicks.
Use The WordPress 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 predominantly gray 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 these ensure that your theme will work 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 WordPress themes that are “responsive” …
Pros & Cons Of Using Free WP Themes
The obvious “pro” to using free themes is that there is no cost to download and use the theme on your site. An added plus, is that many free themes are professionally designed and come with a number of built-in customizable features, 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 urgent support, especially if they are not getting paid. Many freely distributed 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 change was last made, then it’s best to think carefully about using 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 or even on custom theme design. Who knows, the theme you downloaded for free 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 themes in the WordPress theme directory and ways to narrow down your search for themes that meet specific criteria, let’s turn our attention to finding 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 responsive support, then search through the WordPress theme galleries of the “Premium” theme design agencies listed below:
ThemeForest is one of the biggest and best-known theme marketplaces online.
ThemeForest lets many professional WordPress theme developers showcase their designs through their online marketplace. There are over 15,000 premium themes listed (some starting from as little as $3) …
(click on the images above to see all ThemeForest themes)
If you visit the ThemeForest theme directory, you will be able to browse for specific WP themes in a range of categories, such as:
- Blog/Magazine – themes for personal blogs and green living blogs, etc.
- Corporate – themes suitable for government sites and advertising purposes.
- Creative – themes for design, writers, etc.
- Directory Listings – themes that suit sites related to travel, buy & sell, community resources, etc.
- eCommerce – themes for online shopping, membership sites, etc.
- Education – themes that suit sites related to tutoring, etc.
- Entertainment – themes for entertainment blogs, music venues, etc.
- Mobile – e.g. retina-ready 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 shops, trades or professionals (plumbers, medical practitioners, etc.)
- Technology – themes related to technology, landing pages, 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 theme directory here:
(click on the above images to view all themes on Creative Market)
Creative Market is another leading WordPress theme marketplace 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 find WordPress themes and narrow your search using theme categories using 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 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 WordPress themes, but you can easily go through all of their WP themes and search through their theme categories by using the site’s dropdown “WordPress Themes” menu …
Visit the site to find great themes in the Mojo marketplace here:
Now that we have looked at WordPress theme aggregators, let’s look at commercial theme development firms.
Commercial Theme Stores
SoloStream provides WordPress users with a great selection of high quality premium themes and the option of accessing all themes through a WordPress theme membership.
(click on above images to browse all SoloStream themes)
Woo Themes designs great WordPress themes and offer a membership option that gives you access to their entire theme collection.
(click on the images above to see more themes from WooThemes)
StoreFront Themes specializes in creating 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 above images to browse all themes from StoreFront)
StudioPress provides 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 an auto-updating design architecture, turn-key designs with beautiful frames for the content and unprecedented control of the framework.
Many website developers like this framework not only because it’s well-coded and well-supported (the development team at StudioPress keeps this framework frequently updated to reflect best coding practices and to ensure that themes are always compatible with the latest version of WordPress, 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 “skins” that sit on top of the theme framework and gives your site its unique design.
If this 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 themes from StudioPress 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 all StudioPress themes)
Here are some useful WP theme-related tools worth keeping in mind:
What WordPress Theme Is That is a free online tool that allows you to easily detect what WordPress theme and plugins a site uses.
This is a great resource if you have 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 can’t tell if a site runs on WordPress or not, go here for a great tutorial that helps you tell whether or not a web site was built using WordPress: Is My Blog 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 if a site is powered by WordPress software, but it will also list the theme being used and list any WordPress plugins it detects.
- To use the online tool go here: What WordPress Theme Is That?
- To learn how to use this tool go here: How To Check If A Web Site Was Built With WordPress
We said this before and it’s worth repeating again: If you decide to use FREE themes for your WordPress site, we strongly recommend sticking with the themes listed in the official WordPress theme directory.
A well-known tactic used by a number of hacking groups and syndicates that engage in cyber-crime is to put up websites and directories offering “Free” WP themes all over the web and distribute themes and plugins that contain malicious code. In fact, some of these sites even come up on Google’s search results for phrases like “free WordPress themes“, “best free themes for WordPress”” etc. It’s best, therefore, to only download free WordPress themes from the official WordPress theme repository, or use established and trusted theme download sites.
If you are in doubt about whether a WordPress theme installed on your blog could be infected with malicious or unwanted code, you can use a free WordPress plugin like Theme Authenticity Checker (TAC) to scan your WP theme files. The plugin scans the source files of every them you have installed on your site for signs of suspicious code and then presents you with a report as shown in the screenshot below …
(TAC Report Page – Screenshot Source: WordPress.org Plugin Site)
I hope that you have found the information on how to find the best free and commercial responsive themes for WordPress useful.
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