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WordPress Themes; Free vs. Paid?

Free vs Paid WordPress Themes

WordPress is popular for different reasons; for some, it’s the flexibility it provides. For some, it offers the opportunity to pick out of a vast amount of preset themes, while to some, it’s simply a way to avoid the expense of paying a web designer. Either way, there’s something in it for everyone. One of the most exciting things about WordPress is its offer of themes that beautify and enhance functionality on websites. WordPress has an almost overwhelming amount of these themes. From rich and sleek looking premium themes to the ever tempting free solutions, there’s just so much to choose from. Perhaps, this is why the age-long question is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore, particularly among beginners. What is the difference between free and paid WordPress themes?

To avoid confusion, it’s immensely beneficial to have a solid knowledge of the pros and cons of each, when they are suitable and how best to use them. If you’re looking for answers to these questions, you have come to the right place. The next few paragraphs will highlight key differences between free and premium WordPress themes to enable users and potential users better insight into how to make better decisions in selecting the perfect theme choice. 

Free WordPress Themes

Free themes, by definition, are usually created by independent developers, often with limited support. Although high-end vendors sometimes release free themes to pull people towards their paid batch. However, due to their zero cost, the quality and customization options can vary greatly, and they rarely compare to the awesome nature of premium themes.


The first and most relevant advantage of free WordPress themes is that they are- well, free. They do a lot in reducing the cost for a lot of newbies seeking a career in blogging or a designer looking to set up a portfolio. Instead of going through complicated processes of setting up websites and getting it to run, you can just install one of such free themes, and you’re good to go. Another benefit is the high quality and standard. Granted, whenever we hear the word free, it’s almost as if we instinctively believe that it has to be of sub-standard quality, which is contrary in this case. Most free themes on WordPress are subjected to stringent review standards that allow only the best to make it. But wait, if there are that good.  Why are they giving it out for free? Free themes aren’t only beneficial to the users; they also help developers hone their skills, get feedback from users, and build a  reputation that may help them get paid gigs. Everybody wins. 


Free themes are definitely amazing, but just like every other thing, they have their disadvantages. First, of which is the fact that there are limited support options. Themes also have limited features and functionality as developers are not obligated to offer any warranties if things go wrong. Finally, there are limited options when it comes to customization, and uniqueness can be an issue because a lot of websites and blogs use them.

Premium WordPress Themes

Unlike free themes, you can purchase premium themes from lots of third party theme marketplace and shops. Due to competition, premium themes are offered with extra features like multiple templates and layouts, lots of color choices, and more.  


Premium themes come with support and regular updates, and because of the cost attached, they are unique and less frequently used. You get more features and customization options that make your website stand out. 


Premium themes are not all perfect; they can suffer from poor coding, whereby there are instances where a theme looks sleek but suffers functionally mainly because they don’t go through a strict review process. 

Too many features – In a bid to sell, developers can go overboard with adding too many features, some unnecessary to their themes. They do nothing but make your website slow.

Finally, premium themes can sometimes cross over and offer functions that are not within the realms of their domain. An example is a theme doing what a plugin should do normally. Functions like creating post types, which then disappear whenever you change the theme.

How do you choose?

When you decide to use WordPress theme on your website, free or paid, you need to answer these questions. 

  • Do you require lots of features, sliders, admin options, etc. for your website?
  • Do you want something that is not very common, or you are okay with a basic layout?
  • Can you find your way around WordPress issues, or you need help with them?

If all you need is a simple family website or a personal blog, then you are okay with a free WordPress theme.

However, if you need a website for your business, or you need more control through extra customization options, then go for a paid theme. 


At the end of the day, when it comes to deciding between free or premium WordPress themes, it totally depends on you – there is no right or wrong answer, whatever works for you is what you should go with.