In recent years, more and more people who decide to create their first website, choose a theme on ThemeForest first.
But if you are new to WordPress, maybe you will be OK with a free template? You will become familiar with WordPress features and functions, learn the settings, write your first 10 posts…
Yes, premium themes can inspire. We look at a beautiful demo site and imagine that ours is going to look just as cool as the demo. Very often, it’s not the theme that’s bought, but the impression of the beautiful images on the demo site.
If you are creating a simple blog, you will easily find a lot of good free themes that have a clean code and are easy to set up.
At the same time, when you buy a premium multi-purpose theme, you can be flooded with numerous settings and decide that building a website is too complicated and that you just cannot manage it on your own.
Of course, both premium and free WordPress theme have their advantages and disadvantages.
You may have to buy a premium theme if you are creating a project that there are simply no free themes for. For example, if you are creating an online shop, there are not so many good templates free of charge. But there are other situations when buying a theme has more “pros” than “cons.”
Advantages of Premium WordPress Themes
The design is the main advantage of commercial themes. Premium templates are developed by professional designers, and theme moderation for design quality at ThemeForest is really very strict.
Commercial themes often have more options to customize the theme’s appearance without any expertise in HTML and CSS coding. You can change fonts and colors right from inside the options panel. Many themes let you change not only the font and its size but also fine-tune the color scheme. Some free themes offer the same features, but there are much fewer of these. After all, not every developer, when creating a free theme, can afford spending hundreds of hours on it for developing various functions a user may need.
A commercial theme’s developer aims to stand out of the crowd of competitors. Therefore, you can find premium themes designed to solve original problems that go beyond a simple blog or online magazine. For example, there are premium themes for Q&A services, classifieds, job boards, real estate listings, etc. Of course, one can say that it is not applicable to the design which is the main purpose of WordPress themes, and that it is better to implement these features using plugins. However, a regular user who has no experience in web design or programming will never get, for instance, a forum plugin to look perfect in combination with his/her WordPress theme. And here, he/she is offered a turnkey solution with an average cost of $50.
By the way, an affordable cost is also an advantage. Which is better: paying hundreds and thousands of dollars to a freelancer, and maybe not even one, and hoping that you will eventually get what you need, or buying a ready-made solution for a much lower cost?
Disadvantages of Premium WordPress Themes
When you see a few hundred of premium WordPress themes, they begin to look alike to you. What sells well gets copied, and even customers already think that a theme should necessarily come with the Visual Composer page builder. They do not consider it as a good theme if it does not have it included. In addition, a few premium slider plugins would not hurt either; it does not matter that almost no one uses them after a purchase.
Even premium themes can have errors that can be only corrected with time after they are noticed by the theme’s users. Therefore, you should not think that you are buying a “perfect” theme.
So, does it mean free themes are better?
Advantages of Free WordPress Themes
Of course, a chance to avoid spending money for your site development is tempting, especially if you are only starting out in your online business. Indeed, you can find a few decent free WordPress themes. For example, some developers offer free versions of premium themes with a limited range of options, and you have a chance to try a theme out before buying it. Some people make freebies in order to promote their name or simply because they want to create something beautiful.
Disadvantages of Free WordPress Themes
When a theme is published at the WordPress repository or at the ThemeForest website, it is thoroughly checked. However, when looking for a free template, after browsing a lot of pages online, you may come across some templates created with malicious purposes. You should only choose free templates from trusted sources, from the developers you trust. Avoid templates with encoded links and scripts. You can check a template using the free plugin Theme Check or, for even better security, some malware scanners.
Since the author of a free template does not devote enough time for its development, he/she may fail to finish the design properly. Free templates may also be created by beginners who are only learning WordPress theme development. Due to the availability of free themes, there is a chance that it will be used on satellites and sites with dubious content.
In the end, the answer to the question whether it is worth paying for a WordPress theme depends on what you are trying to achieve and whether you have enough time and skills to improve a free theme.