Free Vs Premium WordPress Theme – A Complete Analysis
There is no shortage of themes available on the WordPress platform.
Coming in both free and premium versions, these themes can make or break the WordPress experience for you.
But here’s the thing: it’s easy to get seduced by the demo versions of these themes. If you’re not careful, you could end up with a poorly designed theme with poorly written code lacking any functionality.
An essential consideration you need to take into account before selecting a theme is whether you want a free or premium WordPress theme.
We’ve written this post to steer you through the world of both these theme variants. Hopefully, after reading through this free vs premium WordPress theme analysis, you will have gained a solid foundation from which to make your decision.
The Pros of Free WordPress Themes – Free vs Premium WordPress Theme Analysis
Before we begin, we’d like to point out that when talking about free WordPress themes, we mean the themes listed on the Official WordPress Theme Store.
As a rule of thumb, you should NEVER download a free WordPress theme from a third-party distributor. More often than not, these themes are riddled with bugs and malware and can post a threat to your WordPress security.
Now, let’s look at the benefits of using a free WordPress theme.
It’s Free of Cost
An obvious benefit, these themes give you a free-of-cost solution to get started with WordPress as soon as possible.
While they do offer a lower barrier to entry, some WordPress users become skeptical of these free themes. What do the theme developers get from it?
In short, it’s all about getting recognition as a developer – a point we’ll be discussing later on. The webmaster receives a free and secure WordPress theme courtesy of the platform.
It’s Quality Assured
Before a theme gets placed on the store, developers have to test, and QA their themes according to WordPress’ strict review process.
It involves extensive code reviews, compliance with HTML/CSS best practices, compatibility with the WordPress core, and security updates.
Such a strict review process ensures that the theme you download is secure and up-to-date with the latest WordPress versions. It also ensures that even the laziest of WordPress theme developers release themes and their updates keeping in mind WordPress’ best practices.
The “Free” behind Free WordPress Themes
The open-source developer community is based on sharing.
For WordPress theme developers, having their theme on the store after a rigorous review process helps sharpen their skills, and gain recognition in the open-source community.
By hosting their projects on such a huge platform, they can get more eyes on their project. It means that they get more suggestions and better feedback. Overall, it helps developers hone their craft, build their portfolio, and get paid jobs based on these projects.
Undoubtedly, free WordPress themes offer benefits to both developers and webmasters. However, there are some disadvantages to using them.
Let’s discuss them.
The Cons of Using Free WordPress Themes – Free vs Premium WordPress Theme Analysis
The disadvantages associated with WordPress themes are very subjective. What might be a disadvantage to one user might not be a cause of concern for another.
In a nutshell, the following are some of the most common errors associated with free WordPress themes:
You’re Offered Limited Support
Since it is an open-source platform, your support options are limited to visiting forums and Q/A threads related to your problem. There isn’t a dedicated support platform or representative that can help you with your issue.
You Gain Limited Features
Another drawback of using these themes is that you can’t add extra features through the theme. For example, if you want to add shortcodes or create a landing page, you’d have to do it through a plugin.
Your Site Won’t Look Unique
Free themes are used by websites the world over. While the customizations range, their basic layout is similar. If you’re starting out, you might not notice this similarity. However, if you’re looking to create a unique website, then a free WordPress theme might not be ideal for you.
There Are No Warranties
Besides the limited support you’re getting, you’re on your own even if something goes south with a website. You’re pretty much all on your own with WordPress.
If you find a problem with the WordPress theme, instead of giving it a 1-star rating, you can ask the developer for support or offer suggestions regarding the plugin. Since you didn’t pay anything for the theme, it’s the least you can do.
The Pros of Premium WordPress Themes – Free vs Premium WordPress Theme Analysis
Now, let’s jump into the major league!
The primary difference between free and premium WordPress themes is their built-in support for a variety of different features and functionalities. The catch is simple; you have to purchase them.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of these premium WordPress themes.
More Features and Customization Options
To reiterate, these themes provide you with tons of options in terms of features and functionalities.
This benefit of premium WordPress themes makes customization a lot easier. You can create a truly unique website with powerful features.
Now you might be wondering about the pricing. Don’t worry, since due to the competition, most of them are priced a lot cheaper than you would imagine.
So, adequately priced, these themes provide you with drag and drop builders, shortcodes, multiple layouts, and a variety of other features.
Extensive Support and Updates
The best part about these themes is that they offer you a variety of support options. Since you’re paying for the product, you’re also getting support options from the theme provider.
If you ever feel stuck, you will find support in the form of either knowledge-based articles, documentation, or email support.
They Are More Unique
Since they’re not available in the public domain, premium WordPress themes are used by a lesser number of webmasters.
Because of this, and the customization features they provide, you can use a premium theme to create a unique WordPress experience.
The Cons of Premium WordPress Themes
Now that we’ve talked about the benefits of premium WordPress themes, it’s time we move on to the disadvantages of these themes.
No matter how hard you try, you can’t find the best theme on WordPress. Even with premium themes, you will see some disadvantages.
They’re Poorly Coded
Since they’re not hosted on the official theme store, premium themes do not adhere to WordPress’ extensive code review process. Bypassing such a crucial process means that the codebase can be littered with code even while looking pristine on the front end.
They Filled with Unnecessary Features
Though highly subjective, premium themes come with a variety of features that you might never need. The disadvantage is that they’re taking storage space, even though you’ve never used them. It’s kind of like the difference between purchasing an enterprise and having a custom website developed.
They Cross Over to Plugins
Many of these premium themes offer a variety of plugin-level functionality. For example, BeTheme provides a built-in Google Analytics integration. This can prove beneficial when you’re using it but will disappear once you decide to change themes.
Finding the Right Premium Theme
Similar to how most premium themes are not built the same, their providers vary in their degree of trustworthiness.
These providers are among the most trustworthy theme providers outside of the official WordPress store.
Know What You Are Buying
It’s important to note that these companies are theme providers. You can purchase a theme from them but do not expect them to set up the theme for you. You’re on your own in that matter.
Since you’re paying for support, you’re going to get that with the help of email, documentation, and knowledge-base support. These are the things that set it apart from the fray of free WordPress themes.
Questions to Ask Yourself Before Selecting a Premium Theme
Now that you’ve read up on the pros and cons of free and paid WordPress themes, you would have a better understanding of how to go about selecting a theme.
If you’re still confused, don’t worry. To give you a run-down, here’s what you should be asking yourself when selecting a theme.
- Do I need so many extra features on my theme if I’m not going to be using them?
- Would I be able to fix errors myself, or would I need extra support if they do arise?
- Am I looking to create a high-end or regular website?
These are all valid questions and, combined with what we’ve written above, will help you in developing a comprehensive framework for selecting a WordPress theme that’s right for you.
If you’re looking to get started with WordPress, then having a theme is crucial. From all what we’ve discussed in this article, it should be pretty clear that the theme selection is a process that requires significant foresight.
So, be vigilant before you go out to purchase any theme.
Want to get a professional WordPress website developed? Check out our WordPress development services.
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