In an earlier article, we provide new WordPress users with a comprehensive overview of WordPress Themes.
If you haven’t yet discovered themes and what makes WP themes so attractive to website owners, then make sure to check out this article: A Newbies’ Guide To WordPress Themes
In this blog post, you will learn where you can browse hundreds of free and paid themes for your WP site. 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 experiencing problems like lack of customer support and poor theme coding.
As explained in another article, a WordPress theme is a unique kind of web template that is used on WordPress-powered websites and designed specifically with the WP platform in mind.
Many individual web designers and website design firms create themes for WordPress. Consequently, members of the WordPress community have access to thousands of great WordPress themes covering an extensive range of uses and applications.
Finding Themes: How To Avoid Information Overload
If you were to fire up Google and type something like the following:
- best paid themes for WordPress
- WordPress themes free
- best free WordPress themes for blogs (type in whatever your business, search topic or website is about)
Chances are that you are going to get an overwhelming amount of disorganized information to sort through in your search results.
So, to help you save time and make things 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 cover these differences in a different post. To keep things simple, let’s just 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 your site’s web design.
Free vs Paid Themes
Next, it’s important to know that typically, you’ll find both Free and Paid themes made available. Free themes for WordPress are generally distributed as Open Source Software under the terms of the GNU General Public License, or they will be licensed for use as Premium (paid) themes.
WordPress Theme Marketplaces & Theme Design Companies
There are two kinds of places where you can find themes. The first place is in WordPress theme marketplaces and theme directories. The second place are the commercial and independent theme stores.
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 buyers 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 theme design houses typically will develop both free and paid WordPress themes, and can vary in size, from an individual theme designer or a small team of developer, to large theme design companies.
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 WP theme directories .
Let’s now show you where to find great WordPress themes for your blog.
Finding Responsive Themes For Your Website Or Blog
(WordPress.org – WordPress Theme Directory)
The official WordPress.org theme directory is the largest and best place to search for free WP themes. In fact, it’s probably the only free theme directory you should use when looking for free WP themes. The reason for this, is because –as many free software users have learned– downloading free software, add-ons, apps, templates or themes from untrustworthy places can contain malicious code and place your computer, digital presence and even your entire business at risk.
The WordPress directory is not only a trustworthy and reputable place to download themes for your site, but it also relies on a theme review team to review and make sure that each theme 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:
Find WordPress Themes Inside Your WP Dashboard
Useful Tip: You can easily browse through every 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 dashboard with a few mouse clicks.
Use WP Theme Filtering
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 easier to find what you are looking for. For example, you could search for themes with a orange color design, with a 4-column layout and a full-width template, or themes that support custom menus, etc.
Note: in another post where we discuss the importance of choosing “responsive” WP themes, we explained how these allow your site to be viewed without problems across all devices (e.g. PCs, tablets and smartphones) …
It’s a good idea to use responsive themes, and the WordPress theme filtering function lets you search across its entire database of free themes …
… and display only WP themes that have been built using “responsive” design standards …
Pros & Cons Of Using Free WP Themes
The obvious “pro” to using free WP themes is that it costs nothing to download and use the theme. Additionally, many free themes are professionally designed and offer 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 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 immediate support, especially if they are not getting paid. Most free themes ask 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 updates were made, then think twice about downloading it, as the theme may have been abandoned by its developer.
If you’re just getting started and your website is still quite 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. 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 how to filter your search for themes that meet your specific requirements, it’s time to turn our attention to finding 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:
WP Theme Marketplaces And Directories
ThemeForest is one of the largest and well known WP theme marketplaces online.
ThemeForest lets many professional WP theme creators showcase their designs through their online marketplace. There are well over 17,000 premium WordPress themes to choose from (some starting from as little as $3) …
(click on the images above to see all themes on ThemeForest)
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 political blogs, etc.
- Corporate – themes suitable for government sites and advertising purposes.
- Creative – themes suitable for photography, cv and resume writing, etc.
- Directory Listings – themes that suit sites related to directory listings, buy & sell, tourism directories, etc.
- eCommerce – themes for ecommerce, membership sites, etc.
- Education – themes that suit sites related to teaching, etc.
- Entertainment – themes for entertainment blogs, dining out, 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 catalogs, trades or professionals (plumbers, dentists, etc.)
- Technology – themes related to technology, affiliate marketing, seo, product reviews, direct sales, etc.
- Wedding – e.g. themes for wedding sites and romance tips and advice 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 premium WordPress themes in the ThemeForest directory here:
(click on the images above to browse more themes on Creative Market)
Creative Market is another leading WP theme directory where you can search through many quality premium WordPress 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 browse hundreds of WordPress themes and search through their theme categories (e.g. Blog or Popular themes, etc.) from their dropdown “Themes” menu …
Browse through hundreds of great WP themes crafted by independent WP theme designers in the Creative Market themes marketplace here:
(click on the above images to view more WordPress themes at Mojo.com)
Mojo is a directory for premium-quality 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 WP themes and search through their theme categories by selecting the site’s dropdown “WordPress Themes” menu …
Visit the site to find quality premium WP themes in the Mojo directory here:
Now that we have looked at WordPress theme aggregators, let’s take a look at commercial and independent WP theme design houses.
Commercial WordPress Theme Agencies
SoloStream provides WordPress users with a selection of professional quality premium themes and the option of accessing all themes through a WordPress theme membership.
(click on above images to see all SoloStream themes)
Woo Themes designs stunning premium themes for WordPress that are very popular and highly sought after by website users and offer a membership option that allows you to access all themes in their growing theme portfolio.
(click on the above images to view all WooThemes themes)
StoreFront specializes in 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 all themes from StoreFront)
StudioPress provides WordPress themes based on a framework (called the “Genesis” framework) that allows users to quickly and easily build a professional and search optimized WordPress website, and provides a self-updating design architecture, turn-key site 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 frequently updated to reflect best coding practices and to ensure 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 StudioPress themes 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, there’s no need to feel concerned 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 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 images above to view more StudioPress themes)
Here are a couple of useful WP theme-related tools worth knowing about:
What WordPress Theme Is That is a free WordPress theme and plugin-checking tool that lets you easily detect what WordPress theme and plugins a website or blog is using.
This is a great resource if you have come across a WordPress site that you like and would like to know what WP theme the site is using.
Tip: If you can’t tell if a site runs on WordPress or not, we have published a a great tutorial that helps you tell if a website is powered by WordPress: Is My Web Site 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 the site is powered by the WP CMS platform, but it will also list the WordPress theme being used by the site and list any WordPress plugins detected.
- To use the tool go here: What WordPress Theme Is That
- To learn how to use this tool go here: Is My Blog WordPress?
We suggested this earlier and it’s worth repeating it again: When choosing FREE themes for your WordPress site, we recommend sticking with the themes listed in the official WordPress theme directory.
A well-known tactic used by a number of hackers and syndicates that engage in cyber-crime is to put up sites and directories offering “Free” themes for WordPress all over the web and distribute themes and plugins with malicious code embedded in their files. In fact, some of these sites even come up on search engine results for search phrases like “free WordPress themes“, “best free WordPress themes”” etc. It’s best, therefore, to only download free themes from the official WordPress repository, or use well-known and trusted theme merchants.
If you have any concerns about whether a WordPress theme installed on your site may be infected with malicious or unwanted code, 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 suspicious code and then outputs a report …
(Theme Authenticity Checker Report Page – Screenshot Source: Plugin)
I hope that you have found the information on how to find the best WordPress 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)