In a previous post, we provide new WordPress users with a comprehensive overview of WordPress Themes.
If you would like to learn more about WP themes and what makes WP themes so special, then make sure to check out the article here: An Overview of WordPress Themes
In this blog post, you will learn where to search for 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 avoid having to deal with problems like lack of product support and poorly-coded themes.
As we’ve explained in our previous post, a WordPress theme is a unique kind of web design template used on WordPress-powered websites and blogs and designed specifically with the WordPress content management system in mind.
Many web designers and web development agencies create themes for WordPress. Consequently, WordPress users have access to thousands of high quality themes designed for a wide range of purposes and needs.
- Finding Great Themes: Let’s Keep Things Simple!
- Finding Responsive Themes For Your Website Or Blog
- Paid WordPress Themes
- Commercial And Independent Theme Shops
- WP Theme-Checking Tools
Finding Great Themes: Let’s Keep Things Simple!
Let’s say you were to fire up Google and search for the following:
- best themes for WordPress
- best free 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 junk to sort through in your search listings.
So, to help you save time and make things 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 should know that WordPress offers both a hosted and a self-hosted version. We’ll explain these differences in a later article. For now, let’s just be focusing on finding 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 web design.
Free vs Paid Themes
Next, it’s useful to know that there are both Free and Paid WordPress themes made available. Free themes are generally distributed as Open Source Software under the terms of the GNU General Public License, or they can be sold as Premium (paid) themes.
Theme Directories vs WordPress Theme Vendors
There are mostly two kinds of places where you can find WP themes. The first is in WP theme marketplaces and theme directories. The second place are the commercial and independent WordPress theme houses.
WordPress 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 shop for these just like they would if they were shopping for apps on an app store or software directory.
Some of the bigger theme stores 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 houses typically create both free and paid themes, and can vary in size, from an individual theme developer or a small team of theme developer, to large theme design companies.
As you will see, most commercial or independent 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 directories .
Let’s now show you where to search for the best themes for your blog.
Finding Responsive Themes For Your Website Or Blog
(WordPress.org – Themes Directory)
The official WordPress.org theme directory is the biggest and best place to search for WP themes for free. In fact, it’s probably the only free 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 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 listed in the directory meets specific 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 WordPress dashboard with just a few clicks.
Use Theme Feature Filters
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 themes with specific features. For example, you could search for themes with predominantly blue colour design, with a 3-column layout and a full-width template, or themes that support custom menus, etc.
Note: in the post where we discuss the importance of using “responsive” WP themes, we explained how responsive themes ensure that your theme will display without problems across all devices (e.g. PCs, tablets and smartphones) …
You should use responsive themes, and the WordPress theme filtering function lets you do just that …
… and display only WP themes that use “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 on your site. An added plus, is that many free themes are professionally designed and provide a number of built-in customizable options, 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 developer to provide urgent support, especially if they are not getting paid. Most 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 well over a year since any updates were made, then we advise you to think carefully about downloading it, as the theme may have been abandoned by its developer.
If you’re just getting started and your website 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 a theme. Who knows, the free theme you’ve downloaded may just be the thing that works for you and for your business.
Now that we’ve seen how to find free WP themes in the WordPress theme directory and how to narrow down your search for themes that meet your specific criteria, it’s time to turn our attention to premium themes.
Paid WordPress 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 ongoing support, you can search through the WordPress theme galleries of the “Premium” theme design agencies listed below:
WP Theme Marketplaces And Directories
ThemeForest is one of the biggest and most popular WordPress theme marketplaces online.
ThemeForest allows many professional WordPress theme designers to showcase their designs through their online marketplace. There are currently over 15,000 premium themes to choose from (some starting from as little as $3) …
(click on the images above to see 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 general blogs and environmental blogs, etc.
- Corporate – themes suitable for business sites or advertising purposes.
- Creative – themes suitable for portfolios, writing professionals, etc.
- Directory Listings – themes suitable for sites related to travel, buy & sell, business directories, etc.
- eCommerce – themes for online shopping, membership sites, etc.
- Education – themes that suit sites related to training, etc.
- Entertainment – themes for celebrity blogs, nightlife, etc.
- Mobile – e.g. responsive 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 retail stores, trades or professionals (plumbers, chiropractors, etc.)
- Technology – themes related to hosting, affiliate marketing, seo, product reviews, direct sales, etc.
- Wedding – e.g. themes for wedding sites and dating advice blogs
- Miscellaneous – themes suitable for writing or discussing environmental issues, 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)
Go here to browse many great premium themes in the ThemeForest theme site:
(click on the images above to browse all Creative Market themes)
Creative Market is another leading WordPress 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 WP themes in its marketplace, but you can easily go through all of their themes for WordPress and search through their theme categories (e.g. Minimal or Wedding themes, etc.) using the site’s dropdown “Themes” menu …
Browse through hundreds of great WP themes crafted by independent WordPress theme designers in the Creative Market themes marketplace here:
(click on the images above to see all Mojo themes)
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 browse hundreds of themes for WordPress and narrow your search with theme categories (e.g. BuddyPress or eCommerce themes and theme frameworks, etc.) from the site’s dropdown “WordPress Themes” menu …
Visit the site to find quality premium WP themes in the Mojo themes marketplace here:
Now that we have looked at WP theme directories, let’s take a look at commercial WP theme design houses.
Commercial And Independent Theme Shops
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 browse more SoloStream themes)
Woo Themes designs functional premium themes for WordPress and offers a membership option that allows you to access all themes in their theme portfolio.
(click on the images above to see more themes from WooThemes)
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 more StoreFront themes)
StudioPress designs WordPress themes based on a framework (called the “Genesis” framework) that allows users to quickly and easily build a professional and search optimized WordPress site, 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 this framework consistently up-to-date to reflect best practices for coding and to make sure that it always remains 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 themes built with the Genesis framework use something called “child themes,” which are like a paint job that sits on top of the theme framework and gives your site its unique design.
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 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)
WP Theme-Checking Tools
To round things up, here are some useful WordPress theme-related tools worth knowing about:
What WordPress Theme Is That.com is a free web tool that lets you easily detect what WP theme a website uses.
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 website uses.
Tip: If you can’t tell whether a site runs on WordPress or not, go here for a great tutorial that shows you how to tell if a web site was built using WordPress: Tell-Tale Signs It’s A WordPress Blog And WP-Checking Tools
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 is powered by WordPress, but it will also list the theme being used and list any WP plugins detected.
- To use the tool visit the website here: What WordPress Theme Is That
- To learn more about this tool go here: Does My Website Run On WordPress?
A word of warning: When choosing FREE themes for your WordPress site, we highly recommend sticking with the themes listed in the official WordPress theme repository.
A method that is commonly used by many hackers and networks that engage in cyber-crime is to put up sites offering “Free” themes for WordPress all over the web and distribute themes with malicious code embedded in their files. In fact, some of these sites even display on search engine results for phrases like “free WordPress themes“, “best free WordPress themes”” etc. It’s safer, therefore, to only download free themes from the official WordPress.org directory, or use well-known and trusted theme download sites.
If you have any concerns about whether a WordPress theme that you have installed on your blog may contain malware 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 them you have installed on your site for signs of malicious code and outputs a report with the results …
(Theme Authenticity Checker Report Page – Source: WordPress.org Plugin)
I hope that you have found the information on how to find great free and commercial themes for WordPress useful.
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