In an earlier post, we provide a comprehensive overview of WordPress Themes.
If you would like to know more about the benefits of using themes and what makes themes so attractive to website owners, then go here to read the post: An Introduction to WP Themes
In this article we will show you where to browse hundrerds of 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 ensure that you get the right themes for your needs and how to avoid experiencing problems like lack of product support and poorly-coded themes.
As we’ve explained in another article, a WordPress theme is a special type of web template that is used on WordPress-driven sites and designed specifically with the WP platform in mind.
Many website designers and website development houses create themes for WordPress. Consequently, members of the WordPress community have access to thousands of high quality WP themes covering a wide-range of uses.
Finding Great Themes: Let’s Simplify Things!
If you were to open up Google and type a key phrase like the following:
- best themes for WordPress
- WordPress themes free
- best responsive WordPress themes for artists (or whatever your business, area of interest or blog is about)
Chances are that you are going to get an overwhelming amount of junk to sort through in the search results.
So, to help you save time and make your life 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 another post. To keep things simple, let’s just be covering themes for the self-hosted version of WordPress (WordPress.org) in this post, which gives you more freedom, more options and more control over your site’s web design.
Free vs Paid WP Themes
Next, it’s useful to know that there are both Free and Paid themes made available. Free themes are generally distributed as Open Source Software under the terms of the GNU General Public License, or they are made available to users as Premium (i.e. paid) themes.
WP Theme Directories & Theme Shops
There are mostly 2 places where themes can be found. The first type of place is in theme marketplaces and theme directories. The second are the commercial and independent WordPress theme shops.
WordPress theme marketplaces and WordPress theme directories are big aggregators of themes. theme developers (both commercial and independent) list their themes (both free and paid) in the marketplace or directory and visitors shop for these just like they would if they were shopping for apps on an app store or software directory.
Some of the larger 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 WP theme development firms can design both free and paid themes, and can vary in size, from an individual designer or a small team of designer, to large web and theme design and development companies.
As you will see, most commercial or independent theme developers 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 find great themes for your blog.
Where To Find Great Themes For Your Website Or Blog
(WordPress.org – Free Theme Directory)
The official WordPress.org theme directory is the largest and best place to download WordPress themes for free. In fact, it’s probably the only free directory you should use when looking for free WordPress 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 place your computer, digital presence … even your entire business at risk.
The WP theme directory is not only a trustworthy and reputable place to download themes for your website, but it also relies on a review team comprised of dedicated and hard working volunteers to review and ensure that each theme listed in the directory complies with their standards of quality and security.
To browse thousands of excellent FREE WordPress themes from the official WordPress Themes Directory, go here:
Find Free Themes Inside Your Own WP Dashboard
Useful Tip: You can easily browse through every WP theme in the WordPress.org theme directory and not only find what you are looking for, but also easily install and activate it directly from within your WP admin panel with just a few mouse clicks.
Use WordPress Theme Filtering
WordPress has a built-in 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 easier to find what you are looking for. For example, you could search for themes with a orange colour design, with a three-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” WP themes, we explained how these ensure that your theme will display correctly across all devices (e.g. your visitors’ laptops, tablets and smartphones) …
You should use responsive themes, and the WordPress theme filter lets you search across its entire database of free themes …
… and display only WP themes that use “responsive” design standards …
Pros & Cons Of Using Free WP Themes
The obvious “pro” to using free themes is that it costs nothing to download and use the theme. 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 WordPress themes are that your themes may not get updated as often with new features and bug fixes, and you shouldn’t expect the developer to provide personal support, especially if they are not getting paid. Many free themes will ask you for a donation to help cover their support costs.
When downloading free themes, therefore, check to see when the theme was last updated. If it’s been well over 1 year since any changes were last made, then we advise you to think twice about downloading it, as the WordPress software is frequently updated and this can result in conflicts and errors with older code.
If you’re just getting started and your website is still quite new, it’s a good idea to start with 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 premium themes. Who knows, the free theme you’ve downloaded could be exactly what works for your site and for converting your site visitors into customers.
Now that we’ve seen how to find free themes in the WordPress theme directory and how to filter your search for themes that meet your specific requirements, it’s time to turn our attention to finding paid themes.
Premium WordPress 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 responsive support, you can search through the WordPress theme galleries of the “Premium” theme design agencies listed below:
ThemeForest is one of the largest and well known theme directories online.
ThemeForest allows many professional WordPress theme creators to showcase their designs through their online marketplace. There are well over 17,000 premium WP themes listed (you can find great themes from as little as $3) …
(click on the above images to view all themes on ThemeForest)
If you visit the ThemeForest theme directory, you will be able to browse for specific WordPress themes in various categories, such as:
- Blog/Magazine – themes for general blogs and political blogs, etc.
- Corporate – themes suitable for medical sites or advertising purposes.
- Creative – themes for photography, cv and resume writing, etc.
- Directory Listings – themes that suit sites related to travel, dining out & restaurants, social directories, etc.
- eCommerce – themes for ecommerce, membership sites, etc.
- Education – themes that suit sites related to training, etc.
- Entertainment – themes for fashion blogs, dining out, etc.
- Mobile – e.g. retina-ready 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 boutiques, trades or professionals (electricians, medical practitioners, etc.)
- Technology – themes related to software, newsletters, etc.
- Wedding – e.g. themes for wedding sites and wedding advice blogs
- Miscellaneous – themes suitable for topics related to activism, parenting sites or blogs … even themes you can use if your site is still under-construction!
Browse thousands of great premium themes in the ThemeForest themes directory here: ThemeForest
(click on the images above to see all Creative Market themes)
Creative Market is another leading WordPress theme marketplace where you can browse thousands of quality premium 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 browse hundreds of WordPress themes and search through their theme categories (e.g. Minimal or Commerce themes, etc.) using their dropdown “Themes” menu …
Browse through hundreds of great premium WP themes crafted by independent WP theme developers in the Creative Market directory here: Creative Market
(click on the above images to see all Mojo themes)
Mojo is a marketplace 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 themes for WordPress and narrow your search with theme categories (e.g. BuddyPress or eCommerce themes and theme frameworks, etc.) by using the dropdown “WordPress Themes” menu …
Visit the site to find quality premium WP themes in the Mojo themes marketplace here: Mojo
Now that we have looked at WP theme marketplaces, let’s take a look at commercial WordPress theme stores.
Commercial WP Theme Design Companies
SoloStream provides WordPress users with a great selection of high quality premium WordPress themes and the option of accessing all themes through a WordPress theme membership.
(click on images above to browse all SoloStream themes)
Woo Themes creates stunning themes for WordPress and offer a membership option that gives you access to all themes in their growing WordPress theme collection.
StoreFront Themes creates beautiful 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 images above to view all StoreFront themes)
StudioPress develops WordPress themes based on a framework (called the “Genesis” framework) that lets you quickly and easily build a professional and search optimized WordPress site, and provides a self-updating design architecture, turn-key site designs with beautiful frames for the content and unprecedented control of the framework.
Many web developers like the Genesis framework not only because it ‘s well-coded and well-supported (the development team at StudioPress keeps this framework consistently up-to-date to reflect best practices for coding and to make sure that themes remain always compatible with the latest WordPress version, but because you can update themes built using the Genesis framework without losing any customizations you have made to your theme.
This is because themes built with the Genesis framework use something called “child themes,” which are like a paint job that sits on top of the framework and gives your site its unique design.
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 allows 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 above images to browse all StudioPress themes)
Here are a few more useful WP theme-related tools worth knowing about:
What WordPress Theme Is That is a free online tool that allows you to easily detect what WP theme and plugins a website or blog is using (including parent and child themes).
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 don’t know whether a site uses WordPress or not, we have published a a great tutorial that shows you how to tell if a website uses WordPress: Is My Website Built With WordPress? Tell-Tale Signs & WordPress-Checking Tools
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 not only confirm if the site is powered by the WordPress CMS platform, but it will also list the theme being used and list any plugins detected.
- To use this online tool go here: What WordPress Theme Is That
- To learn how to use this tool go here: Does My Blog Run On WordPress?
We said this earlier and it’s worth repeating again: When choosing FREE themes for your WordPress site, we strongly recommend sticking with the approved themes listed in the official WordPress theme repository.
A commonly-used method employed by a number of hackers and cyber criminals is to put up websites and directories offering “Free” WordPress themes all over the web and distribute modified themes and plugins with malicious code embedded in their files. In fact, some of these sites even come up on search engine results for key phrases like “free WordPress themes“, “best free themes for WordPress”” etc. It’s safer, therefore, to stick with the official WordPress.org repository, or use established and trusted theme download sites.
If you are in doubt about whether a WordPress theme that you have installed on your site may be infected with potentially malicious or unwanted code, you can use a free WordPress plugin like Theme Authenticity Checker (TAC) to run a scan of your theme files. The TAC plugin searches the source files of every installed theme on your site for signs of injected code and then presents you with a report …
(Theme Authenticity Checker Report Page – Screenshot Source: WordPress.org Plugin)
We hope that you have found the information on how to find great WordPress responsive themes useful.
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