All we agree that WordPress is a great and simple to use CMS. In my opinion, the greatest feature is that you’re free to use any theme and customize it as you like. The key to an astonishing website is to choose that perfect theme you need. And here comes the hard part: how to be sure you’re making the right decision when choosing between Free or Premium WordPress Themes? Let’s find out.

This article is related to self-hosted WordPress websites because on WordPress.COM you’re limited to use Free Themes from WordPress repository and the Commercial themes that are only approved by Automattic team. If you’re not familiar with WordPress CMS, please check the difference between WordPress.ORG and WordPress.COM.

Pros and cons of Free WordPress Themes

The primary benefit of Free WordPress Themes is that you don’t have to pay for them. You can choose from 5000+ free themes which are available in WordPress theme repository. Also, you can simply install them with one click from your website admin dashboard. Offcourse there are many websites where you can download free themes, but we recommend you to use only official WordPress repository. The main reason is that all themes available there are approved by a review team. This guarantee that theme doesn’t have security vulnerabilities, code is well written and follows the WP coding standards, which guarantee the fast loading time.

Usually, the Free WordPress themes are cleaner and simpler. Some developers(or agencies) that are selling Premium WordPress Themes have also the LITE version of the themes which are distributed for free. The LITE version is having the same design as PRO version but has limited functionality. For example, the PRO can have the option to choose between 10 page templates, when the LITE has only 2.

The disadvantage here is that free themes don’t have support included and also don’t have too many updates. Theme creators tend just to create the theme and that’s it. As WordPress Core is updated frequently, the main issue can be the compatibility. When choosing a free theme for your website, an important thing is to take a look when the theme was last time updated. 

Free WordPress Themes vs Premium WordPress Themes

Take a look on the “Last updated” date when choosing the Free WordPress Theme


If you’re starting a blog, a small community forum or you want to experiment with WordPress, then you definitely should choose a Free WordPress Theme. Also, if you’re using the LITE version and want to get PRO, then in most cases you’ll not have to go through the setup process and do the customization again.

Pros and Cons of Premium WordPress Themes

Right off the bat, the primary benefit is Premium Support. Almost all Premium WordPress Themes on the market comes with included support. This means you’ll get the theme documentation, FAQ, step by step “How To Guide” and human support where you can report bugs, issues and ask for help 24/24. This means that whenever you encounter a problem, you will have someone to help you on the spot. The process is better, faster and certainly a lot more convenient.

Another benefit is SEO support. Most of the WordPress themes are created with SEO in mind, so you get to rank high in search engine results. Then you have a much better quality, both coding, and visual-wise. You will also get to have advanced functions, and the design as a whole is very good, well improved when compared to free themes.

And then you have security. The paid WordPress themes are known for including much better security, and they do have new updates coming all the time. Security is a crucial aspect for theme creators, and that does tend to come in handy.

The downside is rather easy to understand. The price can be a bit too high at times, and many premium themes don’t have an official review process. 

Which is the best option?

If you just want an online presence, free WordPress themes are more than ok. But if you want to create a brand around your business and you want your site visitors to get a really good set of results, then Premium WordPress Themes can be a very good investment. Granted, they can cost quite a bit, but the results are a lot better this way. At the end, it all comes down to you and your budget. But yes, the Premium WordPress themes are a lot better most of the time!

Ion Vrinceanu Developer with 6+ years experience. Lead developer & Co-Founder @ Pixolette.

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