In a separate 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 revolutionary in terms of web design, then go here to read the article: A Non-Technical User’s Guide To WP Themes
In this blog post, you will learn where to browse hundreds of free and paid themes for your site. You will also learn about the different types of WordPress theme resources and get tips on how to make sure that you get the right themes for your needs and how to avoid dealing with problems like lack of customer support and poorly-coded themes.
As we’ve explained in another article, a theme is a unique type of web design template used on WordPress-powered sites and designed specifically on the WordPress CMS platform.
Many talented website designers and website design houses create themes for WordPress. Consequently, WordPress users can access thousands of uniquely-designed themes covering an extensive range of uses.
Finding WP Themes: Let’s Keep It Simple!
If you were to launch Google and search for a key phrase like this:
- best themes for WordPress
- best paid themes for WordPress
- best paid WordPress themes for artists (or whatever your business, search topic or website is about)
Chances are that you are going to get an overwhelming amount of information 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 WordPress themes really simple.
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org Themes
Before we start, you should know that WordPress offers both a hosted and a self-hosted version. We’ll explain these differences in another post. For now, let’s just be covering 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 the design aspects of your website.
Free vs Paid WP Themes
Next, it’s important to know that you will find thousands of Free and Paid WordPress themes being made available. Free WordPress themes are generally distributed as Free Software under the terms of the GNU General Public License, or they will be sold as Premium (i.e. paid) themes.
WP Theme Marketplaces Commercial And Independent Theme Shops
There are mostly 2 kinds of places where you can find themes. The first is in WP theme marketplaces and theme directories. The second place are the commercial and independent theme houses.
Theme marketplaces and 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 customers shop for these just like they would if they were shopping for apps on an app store or software directory.
Some of the larger 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 vendors can also create both free and commercial WP themes, and can vary in size, from an individual developer or a small team of developer, to large web and theme development companies.
As you will see, most commercial or independent theme stores sell 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 WordPress theme directories .
Let’s now show you where to search for great themes for your website or blog.
Finding Great Themes For Your Website Or Blog
(WordPress.org – Free WordPress Theme Directory)
The official WordPress theme directory is the biggest and best place to download WP themes for free. In fact, it’s probably the only free directory you should use when looking for free WP 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 and even your entire business at risk.
The WordPress.org directory is not only a trustworthy and reputable place to download themes for your website, but it also relies on a team of theme reviewers comprised of dedicated and code-savvy volunteers to review and ensure that each theme in the directory complies with certain standards of quality and security.
To browse thousands of great-looking FREE WordPress themes from the official WordPress Themes Directory, go here:
Find Free WP Themes Inside Your Own WP 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 start using it directly from within your WP admin panel with just a few clicks.
Use WP Theme Filtering
WordPress provides a filtering function inside the admin area that lets you narrow down your search for themes based on criteria like Colours, Layout and Features …
This makes it easy to find what you are looking for. For example, you could search for themes with a light color design, with a three-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 correctly across all devices (e.g. your visitors’ laptops, tablets and smartphones) …
It’s a good idea to use responsive themes, and the WordPress theme filtering option lets you do just that …
… and bring up only themes that are “responsive” …
Pros & Cons Of Using Free Themes
The obvious “pro” to using free themes is that it’s free to download and use the theme. 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 it’s unrealistic to expect the theme developer to provide immediate support, especially if they are not getting paid. Many free themes will ask you for a donation to help cover costs of providing support.
When downloading free themes, therefore, check to see when the theme was last updated. If it’s been over 1 year since any updates were 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 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 paid themes. Who knows, the theme you downloaded for free could be exactly what works for you and for your business.
Now that we’ve seen how to find free WP themes in the WordPress.org theme directory and how to narrow down your search for themes that meet your specific criteria, it’s time to turn our attention to finding 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 ongoing support, you can search through the WordPress theme galleries of the “Premium” theme design agencies listed below:
WP Theme Marketplaces
ThemeForest is one of the biggest and most popular WP theme directories online.
ThemeForest allows many professional WP theme designers to showcase their designs through their online marketplace. There are well over 17,500 premium WordPress themes to choose from (some starting from as little as $3) …
(click on the images above to browse 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 general blogs and activism blogs, etc.
- Corporate – themes suitable for business sites or marketing purposes.
- Creative – themes for visual galleries, arts, etc.
- Directory Listings – themes that suit sites about directory listings, buy & sell, , etc.
- eCommerce – themes for ecommerce, membership sites, etc.
- Education – themes that suit sites related to training, etc.
- Entertainment – themes for photo gallery blogs, nightlife, 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. home sales, etc.)
- Retail – themes for stores, trades or professionals (repairers, dental practitioners, etc.)
- Technology – themes related to apps, affiliate marketing, seo, product reviews, direct sales, etc.
- Wedding – e.g. themes for wedding sites and marriage consellor 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 emails you theme update notifications)
Go here to discover great premium WP themes in the ThemeForest marketplace:
(click on the images above to browse all Creative Market themes)
Creative Market is another leading WordPress theme directory where you can browse thousands of 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 WP themes and narrow your search using theme categories from their dropdown “Themes” menu …
Browse through hundreds of great themes crafted by independent WordPress theme developers in the Creative Market directory here:
(click on the images above to view more themes at Mojo.com)
Mojo is a directory for premium-quality WP 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 narrow your search with theme categories using the site’s dropdown “WordPress Themes” menu …
Visit the site to find quality premium themes in the Mojo theme marketplace here:
Now that we have looked at WordPress theme marketplaces, let’s take a look at commercial WP theme developers.
Commercial WordPress Theme Design Companies
SoloStream provides WordPress users with a selection of high quality premium WP themes and the option of accessing all themes through a WordPress theme membership.
(click on above images to see more themes from SoloStream)
Woo Themes creates eye-catching WP themes that are very popular and highly sought after by website users and also offer a membership option that allows you to access all themes in their growing WP theme portfolio.
(click on the images above to view more WooThemes themes)
StoreFront 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 images above to view all StoreFront themes)
StudioPress develops WordPress themes based on a framework that lets you quickly and easily build a professional and search optimized WordPress website, and provides an auto-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 regularly updated to reflect best coding practices and to ensure that it is always compatible with the latest version of WordPress, but because you can update your themes without losing any customizations you 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 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 browse more themes from StudioPress)
WP Theme-Checking Tools
Let’s finish this article with a few more useful WP theme-related tools worth knowing about:
What WordPress Theme Is That.com is a free online tool that lets you easily detect what WordPress theme 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 WordPress theme is being used on the site.
Tip: If you can’t tell if a site runs on WordPress or not, we have posted a a great tutorial that helps you tell if a website uses WordPress: The Easy Way To Tell If Your Blog Was Built Using WP Software
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 is powered by WordPress software, but it will also list the WP theme being used by the site and list any WP plugins it detects.
- To use the tool visit the website here: What WordPress Theme Is That
- To learn how to use this tool go here: Is Your Web Site Built With WordPress?
A word of warning: If you decide to use FREE themes for your WordPress site, we strongly recommend sticking with the reviewed and approved WP themes listed in the official WordPress theme directory.
A well-known strategy used by many hackers and networks that engage in cyber-crime is to put up websites and directories offering “Free” themes for WordPress all over the web and then distribute modified themes and plugins that contain malicious code. In fact, some of these sites even display on search engine results for key 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 doubts about whether a WordPress theme that you have installed on your blog could contain potentially malicious or unwanted code, use a free WordPress plugin like Theme Authenticity Checker (TAC) to run a scan of your theme files. The plugin scans the source files of every installed theme on your site for signs of malicious code and outputs a report as shown in the screenshot below …
(TAC Report Page – Screenshot: WordPress.org Plugin Site)
I hope that you have found the information on how to find great free and commercial responsive themes for WordPress useful.
"Wow! I never knew there's so much to learn about WordPress! I bought one of the WordPress for Dummies three years ago, such authors need to be on this course!" - Rich Law, Create A Blog Now