In a separate article, we have written a comprehensive overview of WordPress Themes.
If you haven’t yet discovered themes and what makes themes so special, then make sure to check out this post: An Overview of WP Themes
In this blog post, we will show you where to look for free and paid themes for your WordPress 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 dealing with problems like lack of support and poorly-coded themes.
As we’ve explained in another post, a theme is a special kind of web template used on WordPress-powered websites and designed to work specifically in the WP CMS platform.
Many skilled website designers and web development firms create themes for WordPress. Consequently, members of the WordPress community can access thousands of exciting themes designed to cover many website uses.
Where To Find Great Responsive Themes For WordPress: Let’s Simplify Things!
If you were to go to Google and search for a key phrase like the following:
- best free themes for WordPress
- WordPress themes free
- best responsive WordPress themes for business (type in 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 things easier, we’ll 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 cover these differences in a separate article. In this article, we’ll 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 your site’s web design.
Free vs Paid WordPress Themes
Next, it’s useful to know that there are both Free and Paid themes made available. Free themes are normally distributed as Open Source Software under the terms of the GNU General Public License, or they will be sold as Premium (paid) themes.
Theme Marketplaces vs Theme Development Firms
There are two different types of places where you can find WP themes. The first place is in theme marketplaces and theme directories. The second are the commercial and independent WordPress theme companies.
WP theme marketplaces and WP theme directories are large theme stores. WP 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 WP plugins and templates for other web applications (e.g. Joomla, Drupal, etc.)
Commercial and independent WordPress theme agencies can create both free and premium WP themes, and can vary in size, from an individual designer or a small team of designer, to large web and theme design companies.
As you will see, many 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 directories .
Let’s now show you where to search for the best themes for your website or blog.
Where To Find The Best 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 WordPress themes for free. In fact, it’s probably the only free directory you should use when looking for free WordPress themes. The reason why, is because –as some free software users have learned– downloading free software, add-ons, apps, templates or themes from untrustworthy places can contain malicious code and put your computer, digital presence and even your entire business at risk.
The WordPress theme directory is not only a trustworthy and reputable place to download themes for your 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 certain standards of quality and security.
To browse thousands of professionally-designed FREE WordPress themes from the official 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 directory and not only find what you are looking for, but also easily install and start using it directly from inside your WordPress dashboard with only a couple of clicks.
Use Theme Filters
WordPress provides a filtering function inside the dashboard 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 a orange colour design, with a 3-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” WordPress themes, we explained how these ensure that your theme will display correctly across all devices (e.g. your visitors’ PCs, smartphones and tablets) …
It’s a good idea to use responsive themes, and the WordPress theme filter lets you search across its entire database of free themes …
… and bring back only WordPress themes that are “responsive” …
Pros & Cons Of Using Free 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 offer a number of 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 it’s unrealistic to expect the theme developer to provide urgent support, especially if they are not getting paid. Many free themes ask for donations to help cover support costs.
When downloading free themes, therefore, check to see when the theme was last updated. If it’s been over one year since any updates were made, then you should 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, 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 any money on paid themes. Who knows, the free theme you’ve downloaded may just be the thing that works for your site and your business.
Now that we’ve seen how to find free themes in the WordPress theme directory and ways to filter your search for themes that meet specific requirements, it’s time to turn our attention to finding premium WP themes.
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 ongoing support, then search through the WordPress theme galleries of the “Premium” theme design agencies listed below:
Theme Marketplaces And Directories
ThemeForest is one of the biggest and well known WP theme directories online.
ThemeForest allows many professional WordPress theme developers to showcase their designs through their online marketplace. There are currently over 17,000 premium WP themes listed (some starting from as little as $3) …
(click on the above images to view all 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 bloggers and political blogs, etc.
- Corporate – themes suitable for legal sites or advertising purposes.
- Creative – themes suitable for design, arts, etc.
- Directory Listings – themes that suit sites related to employment opportunities, buy & sell, , etc.
- eCommerce – themes for e-commerce, membership sites, etc.
- Education – themes that suit sites related to tutoring, etc.
- Entertainment – themes for photo gallery blogs, music venues, etc.
- Mobile – e.g. mobile-switching 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 beauty products, trades or professionals (electricians, legal practitioners, etc.)
- Technology – themes related to software, affiliate marketing, seo, product reviews, direct sales, etc.
- Wedding – e.g. themes for wedding sites and wedding advice 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 thousands of great premium themes in the ThemeForest marketplace here:
(click on the images above to see more themes on Creative Market)
Creative Market is another leading WordPress theme marketplace where you can search through many 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 WordPress themes in its marketplace, but you can easily find themes for WordPress and narrow your search using theme categories using their dropdown “Themes” menu …
Browse through hundreds of great WordPress themes crafted by independent WP theme developers in the Creative Market directory here:
(click on the above images to see 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 WP themes, but you can easily browse hundreds of WordPress themes and search through their theme categories (e.g. Portfolio or eCommerce themes and theme frameworks, etc.) by selecting the dropdown “WordPress Themes” menu …
Visit the site to find great themes in the Mojo themes directory here:
Now that we have looked at WP theme directories, let’s take a look at commercial theme design companies.
Commercial Theme Agencies
SoloStream provides WordPress users with a selection of high quality premium themes and the option of accessing all themes through a WordPress theme membership.
(click on above images to browse more SoloStream themes)
Woo Themes designs stunning themes for WordPress and offers a membership option that lets you access their entire theme portfolio.
(click on the above images to browse more themes from WooThemes)
StoreFront Themes 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 above images to view more themes from StoreFront)
StudioPress develops WordPress themes based on a framework (called the “Genesis” framework) that enables users 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 the content and unprecedented control of the framework.
Many website developers prefer using 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 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 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, don’t worry 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 see all themes from StudioPress)
WordPress Theme-Checking Tools
To round things up, here are a couple of useful WP theme-related tools worth knowing about:
What WordPress Theme Is That? is a free web tool that allows you to easily detect what WP theme a site is using.
This is a great resource if you ever come across a WordPress site that you like and would like to know what WP theme is being used on the site.
Tip: If you don’t know whether a site was built using WordPress or not, we have posted a a great tutorial that shows you how to tell whether or not a site is powered by WordPress: Does My Site 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 whether or not the site has been built using the WordPress CMS platform, but it will also list the WordPress theme being used and list any plugins detected.
- To use the tool go here: What WordPress Theme Is That
- To learn how to use this tool go here: Tell-Tale Signs It’s A WordPress Site And WP-Checking Tools
A word of warning: When choosing FREE themes for your WordPress site, we recommend sticking with the reviewed and approved themes listed in the official WordPress theme directory.
A tactic that is commonly used by a number of hackers and syndicates that engage in cyber-crime is to put up sites offering “Free” WP themes all over the web and then distribute modified themes with malicious code embedded in their files. In fact, some of these sites even come up on Google for key phrases like “free WordPress themes“, “best free WordPress themes”” etc. It’s safer, therefore, to stick with the official WordPress.org theme repository, or use established and trusted theme merchants.
If you are concerned about whether a WordPress theme that you have installed on your site may contain potentially malicious or unwanted code, use a free WordPress plugin like Theme Authenticity Checker (TAC) to scan your WordPress theme files. The plugin searches the source files of every them you have installed on your site for signs of injected code and then outputs a report …
(Theme Authenticity Checker Report Page – Screenshot: Plugin)
I hope that you have found this information useful.
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