The WordPress Theme Dilemma: Free Themes vs. Premium Themes

Selecting a WordPress theme can be a tricky business. There is an abundance of themes available to choose from. In this blog we address the dilemma of choosing a free theme or a premium theme.

Free WordPress Themes

Advantages

Stating the obvious here, the greatest advantage of having free WordPress themes is that….well, they are FREE!

Another plus point of using these free themes is that the whole exercise of selecting the theme integrates easily with the main WordPress software.

Quite alike plugins, the free themes are distributed by WordPress. Thus, one can search; test; and install the free themes as needed.

Disadvantages

There are many reasons why people might not prefer Free WordPress themes. Some of them are highlighted below:

  • Light Features: This can be a good thing or a bad thing as per ones requirements. Most of the free WordPress themes have a dearth of advantageous features and functions as compared to those provided by the Premium themes. One can always go through the features list to know what features a theme will provide you.

Therefore, one must have a clear idea of what features the free WordPress theme possesses and which it lacks and also of what one needs from their Free theme.

  • Lack of Updates: In WordPress, updates help in enhancing the security, clearing up bugs etc. On WordPress everything needs updating, the themes, the plugins, the core updates etc.

A regularly updates WordPress theme will help you in keeping up with the other updates that come along, such as the core updates or the plugins.

Since the themes are free, authors often tend to lag in prompt updating of the themes. If a free theme has been abandoned by the author and is not being updated regularly, it is going to cause an issue for you in due time. Make sure to check the date of the last update of a theme, which can be found in the theme page in the WordPress directory.

Support Issues: We can all agree that no WordPress theme is bug free. Users of the theme are going to have queries and problems that need to be addressed. Even though the motive behind setting up free WordPress themes is to provide quality themes, still many of the authors find it unjust to provide support for a theme that basically does not make them any money. The concerns of the authors are understandable, but this leads to disappointment and aggravation on part of the theme users when much needed support is not provided.

While selecting a theme, one needs to be careful in picking out the themes whose authors provide ready support. The themes with a lack of support can be distinguished by going through the support questions on the themes support page.

  • Aren’t Market Oriented: Premium Themes are market oriented products meant to generate returns for the developer; whereas, Free Themes are usually the labour of love of a theme developer. This means, once the Free Theme developer runs out of resources or is out of spare time, the progress of the free theme halts right there. A lot also depends on the theme developers personal skills. They may be excellent at one thing, say coding, but may not have enough finances to hire a graphic designer.

Premium themes have their own drawbacks, but the Premium theme developers can be counted upon to go all out for their themes, from the User Interface to the Design, the security to the working. This is because they expect financial returns from their themes.

To sum It Up

Unfortunately, there is more bad than good to Free WordPress themes. Therefore, the free themes have gained a pretty bad image in front of the users.

However, free themes aren’t exactly a complete no-no. There are a few WordPress themes that are regularly updated, they also posses decent features and have good support.

If one is just a regular blogger, or is on a limited budget that has to be used wisely, free themes can be a good option. As they pick the theme, one needs to know of their own requirements from the theme, and what the theme has to offer.

Based on ones needs and requirements, Free Themes can turn out to be a very good option.

Premium WordPress Themes

If a theme is premium, it does not make it certain that it is better than Free WordPress themes. Premium themes too have their own advantages and disadvantages. One should not just settle in on the first theme that seems to appeal to them.

Advantages

  • Recurring Updates and Great Support: Premium themes have an edge over free themes when it comes to customer support. Moreover, since the authors are being paid, they have ample of funds and resources to pursue updating the theme and providing their customers the assistance that they want.
  • Additional Features and Designing Options There is a never ending list of features that Premium themes have to offer.

Premium themes have a tendency to posses more features as compared to Free themes. For example some features help in supporting particular plug-ins.

When it comes to Design, Premium themes usually provide multiple layouts, custom post types, and multiple color schemes that allow users to make changes quickly and easily.

Disadvantages

  • WordPress Themes can be similar and Monotonous: Premium WordPress themes tend to start looking similar after a while, they start lacking the variety. The layout and design of themes can begin to look same for all those themes after a point of time. The user functions may be different with different themes but after a while the visual start looking identical.
  • Quality is not guaranteed No matter how much money you pay for a theme, it can’t be assured that the theme will be of top most quality. This is because there is no set standard for the themes provided on WordPress. The quality of the theme you’ll receive still hangs by the flip of a coin.
  • Costly: Premium WordPress themes can be costly. Even though the price of premium themes starts at around $50; they can vary all the way from $100 to $700. This poses as an advantage to those who can afford it, but if you’re on a tight budget or just a regular everyday blogger, it can be pretty heavy on your purse.
  • What sells isn’t always what’s right: Premium theme developers may make outright promises that they may never be able to fulfil. Web developers may boast in front of the users that theme will do everything and hence, the users will end up buying it.

Unfortunately such promises form a problem for the web developers who have to make sure that the theme works accordingly. Say, the drag and drop feature is a massive selling point for most buyers. What often goes unnoticed is that drag and drop feature themes require much more complex coding. This makes it a lot more difficult for the developer to work with the theme. Eventually, it may also lead to slower loading speed of pages. Slow speed may lead to ‘theme creep’, which makes it almost impossible for you to switch off your theme without losing all the data.

Hence, the themes may be filled with all sorts of features possible, but this leads to themes becoming slow and bulky and complications for the theme developer.

Picking the Perfect Theme

As said earlier, selecting the perfect theme can be a tricky business. The only way that you can assure yourself that you’re selecting the correct theme is by research.

You need to be clear in your head about the requirements and the usage of the theme. Choose the theme based on your needs. The needs may vary, whether you wish to use it as a personal blog, or for a business; whether you need editing options or not; if you will have to build an online store, etc.

There is no one size fits all perfect themes that everyone can go for. Instead of just going by the visual appeal, you will have to put in the efforts to research and to make a list of what features you want from the theme. If you’re too confused, then you may also hire a WordPress Developer to help you through.

But remember to always think of all the things that you require from the theme and then make the decision.