When it comes to finding the right WordPress theme, you’ll often see pros and cons about free WordPress themes and paid (or premium) WordPress themes. Premium themes often have a lot of extra features and benefits for WordPress website owners — but are they really worth the investment? We decided to take a closer look.
Separating the Free from the Premium
What exactly makes a premium theme, well, premium? There are plenty of free themes on the market that are arguably just as good as their premium counterparts, and many free themes for WordPress have premium versions that come with more features.
Every theme that goes into the WordPress repository is carefully checked by WordPress’ own theme review team for security and adherence to WordPress’ own rules and requirements. If it doesn’t pass their own rigorous checks, they provide suggestions to the original programmer in terms of more secure, stable coding advice.
With that being said, many free themes are now available as “freemium”, meaning that the base theme is free, but advanced functionality or specific features that a user might want, like integrations with third party tools or additional support, are available for a fee. The fee varies from developer to developer and isn’t based on any one characteristic or feature.
Why Choose a Premium WordPress Theme?
Generally speaking, premium WordPress themes have a fee attached to them. It can be a one-time fee or a yearly fee. Oftentimes, themes that include a yearly fee will include updates to the theme, such as major security or privacy updates, and therefore, it’s a good idea to consider a premium theme if you’re worried about your site’s security.
This isn’t to say that free WordPress themes are unsafe, since those found in the free WordPress repository must go through the theme reviewers’ strict requirements and review. But if you’re considering a premium theme, it’s a good idea to read reviews from other customers to see what they have to say about the theme.
Keep in mind that because it is a paid theme, there is more pressure on the developer to keep it updated regularly. In short, they’re getting paid to develop and enhance this theme, so if they want to continue making money, they’ll continue to develop it accordingly.
Greater Customization Options
Premium themes also generally offer greater customization options. Common features include a drag and drop page builder, where you can click and drag the different elements you want to make your page, and simply drop them in the order and preference that you want them.
Beyond that, you will likely have more customizability, so you can personalize your theme to fit your specific needs and style. This also means there’s less of a chance that your site will look like many of the other ones out there that are using free WordPress themes as their design of choice.
Premium WordPress themes also remove any of the advertising that their free versions include. Since themes are available for free, many developers will include a link back to their website or otherwise advertise their service on the free theme. It helps them build up exposure to their products for other WordPress blog users and helps create a reputation of quality products, in exchange for giving you a free theme to use.
Although not every free theme does this, don’t be surprised if every now and then you see an ad encouraging you to upgrade to a premium theme for greater flexibility, more integrations with third party services (like mailing lists, social media and so on), and much more.
I’m Just Starting My WordPress Site, Would a Premium Theme Work for Me?
If you’re just starting out in the world of WordPress, it can seem overwhelming to try to decide whether you want to choose a free theme or a premium one. The best way to know whether or not a theme will work for you is to try the free version first. It may have limited functionality, but it will give you a starting point to build from – and that’s what’s important.
Once you use the free theme for awhile, consider upgrading to the premium version if you’re attracted to the additional features, or you need some additional support (or both!) Upgrading to the paid version of a theme will likely give you a lot more creativity in terms of how to work with your theme, so don’t be surprised if you suddenly discover a lot more options than what you had before!
No matter what you choose, however, it’s a good idea to read reviews from other users before you decide to invest in a paid theme. Many theme authors have complete communities surrounding their themes (like Divi, Elementor and Beaver Builder, to name a few), so you can join these forums for free and ask any pre-sales questions you may have before you jump right in. The important thing is that you take your time and build up to it rather than buying a theme that ultimately doesn’t do what you want or need and is a poor fit for your business image.
Need Help with Your Premium Theme?
Although many premium themes come with support and updates, you may find that, if the developer has a lot of requests for his or her time, that they are rather booked when it comes to providing help. The good news is that with WPDandy, you can have your own personal developer on-call whenever you need one — so you don’t have to wait for the theme author to get to your submission in the queue.
Using our innovative administrative dashboard, you can submit requests to our development team and get prompt, efficient communication right away. Contact us today to learn more about our expert WordPress management and maintenance services today and let us take care of updating and making edits to your premium or free theme for you, so you can focus on growing your business!