Finding the right WordPress theme for you typically starts with a seemingly simple choice: do you go for free or premium WordPress themes?
As many of you know, though, that choice is anything but simple. Choosing the right theme is hard enough, but the decision to spend money on one can be particularly daunting. Is it worth investing in premium WordPress themes when there are so many great free options out there?
While we feel the answer to that question is usually “yes,” we’re going to dive deeper into that topic today. After all, your ability to answer that question we posed above really comes down to better understanding what separates free and premium themes. Once you’ve done that, you may be surprised by how much easier it is to know when you’ve found the one that is perfect for you.
It’s never easy to commit to a theme, but here are some of the ways we recommend choosing between free and premium WordPress themes.
Consider Your Budget
There is no getting around the biggest difference between premium and free themes: the price.
The fact of the matter is that if you don’t have the money to purchase a premium theme, then you don’t have the money to purchase premium WordPress themes. It’s really as simple as that. However, you need to be honest about what your budget really is. For the right theme, making a small upfront payment is not actually that big of an ask. You’ll see it pay off in the near future.
How do you know whether premium WordPress themes are the right ones for you? That’s what we’ll look at from here on out.
Look At The Features
More often than not, premium WordPress themes are separated by their features. It’s really the same as any other product.
More often than not, it’s worth your time and money to pay for the right premium WordPress features. Features like drag-and-drop builders can help you build a much better site and save you tons of time. If a premium WordPress theme offers the features you’re looking for, then you should immediately consider it.
Look For Free “Alternatives” to Premium Themes
Did you find a premium theme that you really like but don’t think you can afford it? Well, you might be able to find a free alternative.
More often than not, there are free themes designed to essentially serve as replacements to some of the better premium WordPress themes out there. They don’t always have as many features, but it’s entirely possible to find a free WordPress theme that has most of what you’re looking for.
Utilize Free Trials
There are many, many premium WordPress themes out there that allow you to try them for a trial period. There are few reasons not to take advantage of that offer.
A free trial allows you to really see whether you truly like working with a theme. You don’t have to build your full site using the trial, but the right trial is a great window into whether or not a premium theme offers what you’re truly looking for.
Think About Growth
It’s perfectly fine if you want a small website. If that’s what you’re really looking for, then a free theme may just offer everything that you need.
However, premium WordPress themes are usually designed for growth. They scale with your most ambitious plans. If you have ambitious plans (especially for an eCommerce site), then going with a premium theme may be your only real option.
Don’t Overlook Security
The security of a WordPress theme is not one of those things you always think about. After all, how vulnerable can a WordPress theme really be?
As it turns out, they can be incredibly vulnerable. That’s especially true of free WordPress themes which typically don’t enjoy the same financial support of premium products. More often than not, premium WordPress themes use your money to offer basic things like better security.
Plugins and Add-Ons May Matter Most
Obviously, there are certain things a theme offers out of the gate that you just can’t replace. As we just noted, the security of a theme is absolutely one of those qualities.
However, you should know that there is a wide world of add-ons and plugins out there that are designed to expand the functionality of any theme. While they can help free themes grow, the truth is that many free themes don’t fully support them. Premium WordPress themes that do fully support plugins are often an appealing alternative to free themes that don’t quite offer that support.
Learn to Value “Specific” Premium Themes
Do you want to start an online magazine or online store? Are you interested in creating the perfect online portfolio? Well, you might want to start looking at premium WordPress themes designed to offer those things.
There are a ton of great premium WordPress themes out there that are built to accomplish specific tasks. While the same is true of free themes, more free themes are designed to appeal to general purposes. Besides some of them suffer from the problem we’re about to point out.
For a better look at what we’re talking about, here are some specific Premium WordPress themes that are some of the best in their categories:
Business Theme – DinePress
Magazine Theme – PublishNow
Video Theme – VideoCloud
Make Sure You Stand Out
You can’t deny that there are plenty of free themes out there that offer everything you’d ever need. You often don’t have to settle for less in many of the ways that matter.
However, many free themes suffer from the problem of “sameness.” By that, we mean that so many websites use these themes that you run the risk of starting a site that looks just like your competition’s. The same can happen with premium themes, but they tend to allow you to insert more of your personality into their design.
Be Certain That Your Theme is Properly Supported
Whether you’re looking for free WordPress themes or premium WordPress themes, one thing remains the same. You need to make sure that your preferred theme is properly supported.
By that, we mean you need to make sure you can talk to somebody that is going to help answer any questions you have about your theme. While you can certainly find that level of support in some free themes, this is another one of those features that are typically reserved for premium WordPress themes.
The Value is in the Code
What are you paying for when you pay for premium WordPress themes? As we’ve previously said, your paying for security, looks, support, and features. However, you’re really paying for the code.
There is no hiding bad code. If a premium or free theme is built on bad code, it will run slow and be difficult to build on. If you can’t find a free theme you like that benefits from great code, then you might want to start looking at premium WordPress themes.
Look at the Updates
If you can find a free WordPress theme that checks all of your boxes, then you might be tempted to download it right away. Before you do, though, you need to look at the updates.
If the theme you’re looking at (whether it’s premium or free) isn’t regularly updated, then it’s not for you. Many of the best themes are typically updated fairly regularly, but as you can imagine, premium WordPress themes tend to enjoy the most developer and community support.