The success of a website largely depends on how it looks and feels to your potential web visitors. A good web design can drive more people towards your site and encourage them to find what they are looking for. No matter how many features or functions you incorporate into your site, you won’t be able to generate leads if it doesn’t appeal to your targeted web audience.
Fortunately, WordPress comes with a plethora of free and premium themes to let you create a custom website, without even writing a single piece of coding. But most of the beginners find difficulties in choosing the perfect theme for their websites. They get confused whether to pick a free theme or opting for a paid one. Both the versions are great, but they have some advantages and disadvantages that you should know before making any final decision.
Here, this blog post, we will light upon the respective merits and demerits of both the free and premium WordPress themes to let you pick the best option for your first/next web project.
Free WordPress Themes
Free WordPress themes are popular among new and non-tech savvy users who don’t want to take risk of buying a more complicated WordPress theme. But before making any decision, let’s have a glance over their strengths and weaknesses.
1. Free of cost
Free WordPress themes mean you can download, install, and activate it at a free of cost. You don’t need to pay money to enjoy its features and customization options. You can download the most suitable theme from the official WordPress theme repository.
2. Simple and easy to use
People prefer free WordPress themes because it is simple, intuitive, and easy-to-use. You don’t need to learn any coding or programming languages (HTML5, PHP, CSS3, etc) to create or customize your site -all you need to do is to download and install a theme into your WordPress site.
3. Compatible with different WordPress plugins
Compatibility with multiple WordPress plugins is the key feature of free themes that you won’t get into premium versions. They have the potential to run seamlessly with other third-party plugins (if you integrated into your site).
Usually, free WordPress themes are compatible with popular WordPress plugins such as Yoast SEO, Contact Form 7, MailChimp, etc to let you take your site’s functionality to the next level.
4. A robust review process
All the themes available in official WordPress repository endure a strict review process to meet the higher quality standards. Since these themes are tested for standard compliant code and latest technologies (such as HTML5, CSS3, etc), you will get more reliable and compatible themes for your web project.
1. They come with limited features
Most of the free WordPress themes don’t offer additional features such as using shortcodes, building landing pages, responsive buttons/icons, etc. This is one of the disadvantages for those who want to user-friendly web design features into their site.
2. Lack of customer Support
Free WordPress themes don’t come with robust customer support. The theme developers support only via WordPress forums. Apart from that, you won’t get any technical assistance. You can’t even clear your doubts, ask your queries if you are using a free theme.
3. More vulnerable to security
Security is one of the major concerns when it comes to using a free WordPress theme. Since free themes don’t get updated on a regular basis, your site may become more vulnerable to security threats and other malicious activities.
Premium WordPress Themes
If you want more professional WordPress themes, then you should buy it from a reliable WordPress theme shops and marketplace. But for that, you should know their respective benefits and limitations. Hopefully, the following points will help you know more about them:
1. Tons of exciting features and customization options
The biggest advantages of using premium WordPress themes is the unlimited number of features and customization options that you will get to customize your site, without any coding. Most of the paid themes come with tons of advanced features such as drag and drop builders, eCommerce compatibility, responsive layout, multiple layouts, headers, Google Font size, unlimited color schemes, flat-design, etc.
2. Provide robust customer support
When you buy a WordPress theme, you will get 24*7 customer support from the respective theme developers and authors. You can ask your query regarding theme installation or customization process to the developer anytime and they will try to solve your problem as soon as possible.
4. Security is on the top
The developers of paid WordPress themes are more inclined towards providing high security to their customers. Since you are paying money to avail their service, they won’t disappoint you by letting you face security issues. Plus, premium themes come with regular updates to give a more secure environment to the website site owners
1. Lack in providing strict review process
Usually, premium theme authors/shops overlook the best practices of WordPress development while in particular areas. Because of this, users face compatibility issues and other minor problems while installing a new plugin or updating an existing one.
2. Flooded with too many features
Buying a feature-rich theme is good, but having too many unnecessary features could create a chaos within your website. Most of the theme developers flood their themes with too many unwanted features that could slow down the speed of your site and also affect your SEO.
3. Poor coding
Sometimes, beginners find difficulties in buying a reliable premium theme. They just choose a theme, without even evaluating the coding standards, and end up with a badly coded theme. This could create a lot of compatibility issues within your site, and also make it easy for hackers to attack your site via your corrupted theme.
Final Verdict: Which is the best option for you?
If you are a beginner and want a simple website, then you can go for a free WordPress theme. You will get some basic customization options that will help you create a decent website with ease.
But if you are looking for a feature-rich website with tons of customization options, then paid themes will be great option for you. With the help of premium themes, you will be able to give your visitors a rich and seamless user experience, which in turn boost your conversions and increase your sales.
Whether you choose a free theme or a premium one, just make sure it is simple, intuitive, and feature-rich. It is better to choose a simple WordPress theme over multi-feature and all-in-one theme if you want to create a rich and soothing user experience on your site.
Since all-in-one themes come with multiple features, it could take a longer time to load your web page. In fact, it becomes difficult to manage the content if you integrate a multi-feature theme. On the other side, simple and user-friendly WordPress themes come with an intuitive user interface that lets you create and customize a website with ease.
You can even get started with a free theme and as your business grows, you can buy a reliable, feature-rich and beautiful paid theme for your WordPress site. Just make sure that you buy a paid WordPress theme from a reliable marketplace, such as Themeforest, MyThemesShop and last but not least: Styled Themes.
Author Bio: Lucy Barret is a talented blogger and an experienced Web Developer. She is currently working for a PSD to WordPress Company and manages a team of 10 developers. You can follow her on Twitter.