Free vs Premium WordPress Themes

Are you debating free vs premium WordPress themes for your new website design or as you plan an upgrade?


WordPress - Open Source CMS and Website Builder


If you are a hobby blogger or new / small business owner, then one of the free themes, such as the default Twenty Seventeen theme, can help you get up and running with something fairly nice at zero cost.

You may notice that there is a wide array of choices available to download from and many of their demo sites look great, so why choose a premium theme from the likes of ThemeForest? What are the benefits?

There is always a reason for themes being free and unless it’s one of those provided each year by the Automattic (WordPress HQ), then it is usually one or more of the following:

  • You only get a teaser feature set, and you’re required to upgrade to a premium version to get more features.
  • The theme has certain locked areas – often including the footer – that promotes the theme’s author on every page of your site, so that they get publicity for their company and paid-for products / services.
  • Certain elements that are not made to be easy to use, but encourage you to pay for the support of their developers.

On top of these common reasons, there is no real come back if you encounter issues – the author does not need to help you.

With a premium theme from somewhere like Themeforest, the fee (and $40 to $70 is nothing if you’re going to benefit from your site for years) includes 6 or 12 months support, so it is in the author’s interests to make everything easy to use and fully functional.

If you go with a free theme, you are more likely going to need to do some coding to get to a result that you’re happy with for a business website and that is future-proof. If you are going to do some coding, then you may as well work from a simple – even free – theme as a base.

If you go with a premium theme, there is more likely a combination of options closer to your needs / vision, plus the trust that comes with being highly rated by people who have paid for it.

There is a big difference between people who are happy with something they needed to pay for and something that was free!

The overall gist is, yes, you can get a theme that is free, but it comes with multiple ‘buts’ and the biggest of those buts could be many hours of your time trying to get it to a level you are happy with for a business website with a professional look and feel, and with lots of useful features from the off.

I’d strongly recommend you get the list of needs and wants together in order of priority, as well as examples of websites you like the look and functionality of (including reasons why you like them).

It will then be much easier to shortlist a few themes that tick most or all of the boxes and we can choose one that should work well for you and be easy to manage.

Do note – more features and functions do add a degree of bloat to the code of your website, so if you don’t need or want anything beyond basic blog functions, then you might find a simple, free theme gives you all you need and lets your site run quickly and smoothly.