Well, if you are wondering which theme is better, a premium or a free one, then most probably your project is in its initiation phase. If installing plugins and rewriting the theme scripts don’t sound to you, as easy as ABS, then reading this may come in handy.
Free WordPress themes can provide excellence in terms of quality not less than any other premium customizable product. The pitfall comprises the following potential drawbacks:
- A theme can be released in free access for many reasons, among which: the designer is gaining reputation and building the future customer database. Those sites’ owners who used the free themes may get in touch with their developer for more, this time, paid services. This is the perfect case scenario. Next, the free theme provider can do it out of fun or just to exercise which is not that undesirable as the main issue that may occur.
- A free theme script may contain maliciously infiltrated codes that will constantly display external unauthorized links to unrelated to your business websites. Obviously, those rogue code sequences will be very well concealed, so that even the specially created utilities won’t detect them in their full glory. Consequently, some difficulties will come up, and again, if the user of the free contaminated theme is a beginner that aims at cutting corners, then dealing with the intentionally defective theme may turn is an unjustified headache.
Thus, it might seem that free WordPress themes should be avoided at any cost. Not true. Statistics shows that thousands of free WordPress themes are used quite successfully and nothing from above prevents the happy bloggers and other users from managing their content. At this point, let’s admit it, a free theme is great once its beneficiary holds enough knowledge to choose it wisely and rework it when the proper time comes.
In the end, it’s all about functionality. Since premium themes are paid, its vendors have no choice than to supply it with an easy to navigate layout, since customer satisfaction is crucial. So, this sort of themes is user-friendly and comes with a bonus: customer support. Meanwhile, the free versions are conceived mainly for independent users who can go on their own: troubleshooting will connect the free theme user with lots of other users on forums (such as WordPress Codex) and other communities, where people share similar experiences and ways of working them out. After all, you won’t be alone, but all the technical part will be your responsibility, while your friends in misfortune may only suggest and intuitively guide you.
Another situation when a free WordPress theme is to be chosen over a paid “ready-to-use” is that one in which the tendency to experiment is both required and welcomed. Otherwise said, if you didn’t decide what WordPress template will best serve your needs and purposes, why not testing a dozen?
Next, depending on the free themes licenses, you may partially or almost entirely modify the selected theme to the point when it won’t be recognized. It’s an asset of paramount importance, considering the urgency for uniqueness in the modern copy-pasted digital era. The site visitors that will comprise the traffic of your site are starving for original and high-quality content, so if you make them happy, Google and other search engine giants will rank your page among the first page top positions, while the online visibility will only increase. Hence, it’s not an aesthetic issue only, developing an obsession for standing out of the crowd may decide your site’s fate in a legion of looking-alike web resources.
Furthermore, the range of cases when free themes are given priority isn’t limited to the above-mentioned ones. Let’s admit that a site launch is a matter life or death. In order to meet the upcoming deadline, a speedy solution pops up: download a free theme, install it, activate it. All in all, with the coffee break included, it will take up to 5-7 minutes. Concurrently, the paid themes may be somehow more time-consuming, and not only because you’ll spend extra time considering if the theme is worth the investment or not; or what unexpected problems will happen when the implementation process will get started.
The idea is that by purchasing a premium theme, the user buys, in most cases, some support too, nevertheless, the transaction will be problematic to cancel if you decide that this particular theme isn’t suitable for what you’ve got on your mind (since each theme may be the picture-perfect format for one type of site and just like putting a saddle on a cow for another). This is why, if the project is going to require some “try-it-out” efforts, a good idea seems to stay on the safe side with free WordPress themes that definitely won’t burn a whole in your pocket contrary to the funded alternatives.
The last but not the least, apart from the freedom to test and change your mind every now and then, many free themes, thanks to the thorough multi-step verification process (it applies to those themes that are listed on the official WordPress directory), are provided with the so-called backwards compatibility. In sum, it means that the latest version of features is employed, so your free theme will stay compatible with the WordPress core the next few, or few more, releases. For the same reason, there is a higher chance for plug-ins congruity. In addition, if a theme failed to come along with a plug-in you need, try to report it on a specialized forum and get it fixed for free. Finally, the so much feared updating procedure is kept simple: one notification – one click, the actualization is done!
To summarize, a free theme may suit you well if you are ready to invest in it: no money though. You will feed and babysit it with your time and motivation, while adjusting the theme components and updating it; while researching on the Internet “how to” tutorials.