In a separate article, we have written a comprehensive overview of WordPress Themes.
If you haven’t yet discovered themes and what makes WP themes so revolutionary in terms of web design, then make sure to check out our post: An Overview of WP Themes
In this article, you will learn where you can look for 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 experiencing problems like lack of customer support and poor coding.
As we’ve explained in another article, a WordPress theme is a unique kind of web design template used on WordPress-powered websites and blogs and designed specifically on WordPress.
Many skilled web designers and web design houses create themes for WordPress. Consequently, members of the WP community can access thousands of unique themes designed for many website uses.
Finding Themes: Your Time-Saving Guide
If you were to launch Google and search for something like this:
- best themes for WordPress
- WordPress themes free
- best responsive WordPress themes for artists (or whatever your business, area of interest or blog is about)
You are probably going to get an overwhelming amount of information to sort through in your 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 WP themes really simple.
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org Themes
Before we start, you need to know that WordPress offers both a hosted and a self-hosted version. We’ll explain these differences in another article. In this post, we’ll 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 of your blog.
Free vs Paid Themes
Next, it’s important to know that you can find thousands of Free and Paid WordPress themes being made available. Free themes are normally distributed as Open Source Software under the terms of the GNU General Public License, or they will be licensed for use as Premium (i.e. paid) themes.
WordPress Theme Directories & WP Theme Design Houses
There are 2 places where WordPress themes can be found. The first place is in theme marketplaces and theme directories. The second type of place are the commercial and independent WordPress theme developers.
WP theme marketplaces and WordPress theme directories are big aggregators of themes. WordPress theme developers (both commercial and independent) list their themes (both free and paid) in the marketplace or directory and visitors find these just like they would if they were shopping for apps on an app store or software directory.
Some of the larger 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 WP theme stores typically will develop both free and paid themes, and can vary in size, from an individual designer or a small team of developer, to large web and theme development companies.
As you will see, most commercial theme design firms 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 find great WP themes for your website.
Choosing A WordPress Theme For Your Website Or Blog
(WordPress.org – Themes Directory)
The official WordPress theme directory is the biggest and best place to download WordPress themes for free. In fact, it’s probably the only free theme directory you should use when looking for free WP 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 place 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 site, but it also relies on a team of theme reviewers comprised of dedicated and code-savvy volunteers to review and make sure that each theme uploaded to 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 Themes Without Leaving Your Own WordPress Dashboard
Useful Tip: You can easily browse through every WP theme in the WordPress theme directory and not only find a great theme for your website or blog, but also easily install and activate it directly from inside your WordPress dashboard with just a couple of mouse clicks.
Use Theme Filters
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 orange color design, with a 3-column layout and a full-width template, or themes that support custom menus, etc.
Note: in another post where we present an overview of WordPress themes and discuss the importance of using “responsive” themes, we explained how responsive themes allow your site to be viewed without problems across all devices (e.g. your PC, tablet and smartphone) …
You should use responsive themes, and the WordPress theme filter lets you search across its entire database of free themes …
… and display only WordPress themes that are “responsive” …
Pros & Cons Of Using Free Themes
The obvious “pro” to using free WordPress themes is that there is no cost to download and use the theme on your site. 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 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 theme developer to provide personal support, especially if they are not getting paid. Many freely distributed themes ask users for donations to help cover their 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 think twice about downloading it, as WordPress changes quite frequently and new features can create conflicts or errors with older code.
If you’re just getting started and your site is still relatively new, there is nothing wrong with using 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 web design. Who knows, the theme you downloaded for free could be exactly what works for your site and for your business.
Now that we’ve seen how to find free WordPress themes in the WordPress.org theme directory and how to narrow down your search for themes that meet specific requirements, it’s time to turn our attention to paid 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, then search through the WordPress theme galleries of the “Premium” theme design agencies listed below:
WP Theme Directories
ThemeForest is one of the biggest and best-known WordPress theme directories online.
ThemeForest lets many professional WordPress theme designers showcase their designs through their online marketplace. There are currently over 15,000 premium WordPress 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 marketplace, you will be able to browse for specific themes in various categories, such as:
- Blog/Magazine – themes for general blogs and green living blogs, etc.
- Corporate – themes suitable for business sites and advertising purposes.
- Creative – themes for video galleries, arts, etc.
- Directory Listings – themes that suit sites related to employment opportunities, holiday rentals, community resources, etc.
- eCommerce – themes for e-commerce, event bookings and registrations, etc.
- Education – themes that suit sites related to training, etc.
- Entertainment – themes for gossip blogs, music venues, 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. rentals, etc.)
- Retail – themes for catalogs, trades or professionals (electricians, legal practitioners, etc.)
- Technology – themes related to apps, newsletters, etc.
- Wedding – e.g. themes for wedding sites and marriage counselling 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)
Go here to browse many quality premium WP themes in the ThemeForest themes site:
(click on the above images to browse more Creative Market themes)
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 marketplace, but you can easily browse hundreds of themes for WordPress and narrow your search using theme categories (e.g. Blog or Photography themes, etc.) using the site’s dropdown “Themes” menu …
Browse through hundreds of great WordPress themes crafted by independent WP theme designers in the Creative Market theme marketplace here:
(click on the above images to view 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 find themes for WordPress and narrow your search with theme categories by choosing the dropdown “WordPress Themes” menu …
Visit the site to find quality premium WP themes in the Mojo theme marketplace here:
Now that we have looked at WordPress theme marketplaces, let’s take a look at commercial WordPress theme developers.
Commercial And Independent Theme Design Companies
SoloStream provides WordPress users with a great selection of high quality themes and the option of accessing all themes through a WordPress theme membership.
(click on images above to see more SoloStream themes)
Woo Themes creates eye-catching WordPress themes that are very popular and highly sought after by website users and also offers a membership option that gives you access to all themes in their theme portfolio.
(click on the above images to view all themes from WooThemes)
StoreFront creates stunning e-commerce themes for WordPress. 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 designs WordPress themes based on a framework that allows you 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 your 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 consistently up-to-date to reflect best practices for coding and to make sure that themes remain always 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 “skins” that sit on top of the theme framework and gives your site its unique look and feel.
If this sounds way too technical, there’s no need to feel concerned 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 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 view all StudioPress themes)
Here are a couple of useful WordPress theme-related tools worth keeping in mind:
What WordPress Theme Is That.com is a free WordPress theme and plugin-checking tool that lets you easily detect what WP theme and plugins a site is using (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 is being used on the website.
Tip: If you don’t know if a site uses WordPress or not, go here for a great tutorial that shows you how to tell whether or not a site is WordPress-driven: Is Your Web Site Built With 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 whether or not the site was built using the WP CMS platform, but it will also list the theme being used by the site and list any WordPress plugins it detects.
- To use this online tool visit the website here: What WordPress Theme Is That
- To learn how to use this tool go here: How To Check If Your Web Site Was Built With WordPress
A word of warning: When choosing FREE themes for your WordPress site, we highly recommend sticking with the approved themes listed in the official WordPress theme directory.
A commonly-used method employed by many hackers and syndicates that engage in cyber-crime is to put up websites 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 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 trusted theme download sites.
If you are concerned about whether a WordPress theme installed on your site could be infected with malicious or unwanted code, you can use a free WordPress plugin like Theme Authenticity Checker (TAC) to run a scan of your WordPress theme files. The plugin scans the source files of every installed theme on your site for signs of malicious code and then outputs a report …
(Theme Authenticity Checker Report Page – Source: WordPress.org Plugin Site)
We hope that you have found the information on how to find great WordPress useful.
"These tutorials have so much information and are easy to understand. If you use WordPress or plan to in the future these will help you with everything you need to know." - Valisa (Mesa, Arizona)