Do You Need a Premium WordPress Theme?

Some people are under the impression that their blog is doomed to fail if they can’t afford (or just don’t want to buy) a premium (paid) WordPress theme.

That’s not true.

You only need a premium theme if you can’t find a free one you like.

Don’t just assume that premium themes are better solely because you have to pay for them.

Sure, there are a few benefits to paying for a theme:

  1. You’re financially supporting the creator, which often encourages them to continue developing the theme (updates, compatibility, etc.).
  2. Paid themes often come with better support. Some free themes don’t have support at all.
  3. Paid themes often come with instructions/documentation.

But at the end of the day, picking your theme comes down to aesthetics.

Are you happy with how the theme looks?

That’s the question you need to ask yourself.

Maybe there is a free theme out there that is perfect for you. If that’s the case, why not go for it? There’s absolutely no shame in having a free theme if you’re in love with the design.

Free themes can actually sometimes be better than paid ones.

If the free theme is in the WordPress.org repository, then there’s a chance it’s actually coded much better than premium themes.

Themes in the WordPress repository undergo a rigorous inspection. They need to pass all kinds of requirements and guidelines. Themes in the repository are practically guaranteed to be coded well and follow coding standards (which improves compatibility).

Premium themes often have no code review (unless they’re sold on a third party marketplace where code reviews are required). The coding might be a disgusting, horrible mess. The developer might have just copy and pasted a bunch of code without actually understanding what it’s doing. There’s very little accountability.

So when should you choose a premium theme?

If you can’t find a free one that you like. Period.

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I'm a 27 year old California girl living in England (I fell in love with a Brit!). I like to inject a little #girlpower into the WordPress development community by teaching women how to be coding badasses. more »

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6 comments

  1. So true! I have definitely kept to my free version, but I also haven’t taken the step to purchase my own domain, for all I know there might be more (nicer) freebies that I’ve yet to discover– but what do I know :p
    – Krys

  2. Along these same lines: A question I’ve been wondering about lately – I recently switched to self-hosted/WP.org site, but had WordPress Premium before. Do I still need that or can I cancel that subscription? I’m feeling like I can cancel it, but figured I’d ask a expert before I do something stupid (:

    1. They’re two totally different platforms, so you can cancel it now. 🙂 WordPress Premium is only for WordPress.com, so if you’re no longer on WordPress.com then you don’t need it.

  3. I think there definitely need to be more posts like this! When I first started out, I wrongly assumed my blog was “doomed to fail” (as you said) because I wasn’t investing in a premium wordpress theme. But as you pointed out there *are* benefits to using the free themes (and these benefits are often glossed over) and there actually a lot of great free themes out there! I also just wanted to tell you that I really like your blog!

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