WordPress is an amazing open-source content management platform that helps in creating exceptional websites, blogs, and applications. It has powerful features, beautiful designs, and gives you the freedom to host and build websites.
It was started as a blogging platform and the CMS has transformed into a website building platform with more than 43.3% of websites on the internet. WordPress has free and premium themes.
With overwhelming choices, it becomes hard to choose between the free and paid themes. However, it is vital to gain enough knowledge about the pros and cons of all the options to make informed decisions.
Both the paid and free WordPress themes have its pros and cons. Choosing a particular theme depends on the website or application needs, aesthetic preferences, and budget. Also, it is completely good to go with a basic theme and upgrade it further based on the needs and trends.
We are often asked by beginners how to choose between free vs premium WordPress themes. What are the advantages and disadvantages? If you too had those questions, then you’re in the right place. In this article, we will discuss free WordPress themes vs premium WordPress themes (pros and cons).
First, we would like to mention that when we say free themes, we mean free WordPress themes that are listed in the official WordPress.org Themes directory. We DO NOT recommend users to download and install any free themes that are distributed by other unreliable sources.The biggest benefit of a free WordPress theme is the cost, free.
It lowers the barrier of entry to starting a blog. However, hearing the word free makes many people cautious. Why would someone give you a free WordPress theme when others are selling premium themes? Often people think free themes are low quality. It’s quite the contrary.
Free WordPress themes are actually held to a higher quality standard. All themes in the official WordPress theme directory go through a strict theme review process.
There are some very talented folks in the theme review team who examine and test these themes before they are included into the directory. You can see this checklist of the theme review process. Free WordPress themes are tested for standard compliant code, support for standard WordPress features, quality HTML and CSS, security, privacy, etc.
As you can imagine, it takes talented developers to build quality WordPress themes that get approved in the official directory.
There are lots of benefits of giving and sharing. It helps theme developers sharpen their skills because during the review process, the theme review team audits their code and suggests improvements.
It also gives them a chance to make their theme available to a large user base where people can use it, give feedback, and suggest improvements.
Other advantages are building a reputation as a skilled developer, building a portfolio, getting paid jobs for customization of those free themes or even developing custom themes for clients.
So while the free themes are definitely good, there are some disadvantages.
Disadvantages of free or premium WordPress themes can be very subjective. What one person would consider a disadvantage, may not be a cause of concern for many others.
These are some common disadvantages of using a free WordPress theme
Unlike free themes, premium WordPress themes are available for purchase from numerous third-party WordPress theme shops and marketplaces. The biggest advantage of a premium theme is that you get more features and customization options.
Due to the competition in the premium theme industry, theme shops are always trying to offer more features at lower prices.
As a customer, you get themes that contain options like drag and drop builders, shortcodes, multiple layouts and templates, and unlimited color choices.Support and Updates
Premium WordPress themes come with regular updates and support.
Primarily because these theme shops are actually making money vs doing it for free.More Unique
Not all premium themes are perfect. Here are some common issues that can be a disadvantage.
1. Poor Code – Sometimes you may end up buying a premium theme that looks pretty but has poor coding standards which could make it incompatible with some plugins. Mainly because these themes don’t have to go through a strict review process.
2. Too many features – In order to sell more themes, theme developers can add too many unnecessary features into their themes. You will probably never use all those features, but they are still there making your website slow.
3. Crossing over into Plugins domain – Sometimes WordPress themes can cross over into plugins domain, offering functionality that they are not supposed to offer. For example, creating custom post types, shortcodes, and other things that would disappear as soon as you switch theme