WordPress is basically the Greg Jennings of free CMSs in that it puts the team on its back — although in this case, “team” = the internet. (According to one estimate, WordPress currently powers about 33% of all websites.) This popularity can be credited to a number of different factors, a main one being its boatload of opportunities for customization in the form of WordPress themes.
WordPress themes are collections of files that serve as templates for your site’s content, allowing you to control and tweak the design of your WordPress site — primarily from a layout standpoint — to tailor its style and functionality. In layman’s terms, a theme gives you the power to make your site look and work a certain way. (Just don’t go developing a god complex, now.)
As far as choosing themes goes, you’ve got two options: Installing free WordPress themes from the platform’s Theme Directory, or installing premium WordPress themes made by outside developers.
The former is, well, free, which is a major perk if you’re, say, a blogger who’s designing a site on a budget. Free WordPress themes tend to be on the minimalist side and won’t make your site all that distinct — anyone can download them, after all — but they’re generally simple to install and come with a decent amount of options as far as customization goes. (Most free WordPress themes include options to arrange text in different columns, choose different colors and typefaces, and pick out locations for various widgets.)
Premium WordPress themes, meanwhile, cost around $30 to $100 on average, and way more if you want to get real ~fancy~ with companion plugins and whatnot. This price tag gets you a dedicated support team, more freedom to add custom features, regular updates, better security, and more specific functionality. Plus, many premium WordPress themes give you the option of flexing your coding skills to further modify your site. WordPress themes for business usually fall into this category, as premium themes tend to be more unique than their free counterparts and support a wider range of operations (online stores, for example).
Whether you go the free route or fork over some dough for a snazzier look, you should consider a few things when it comes to selecting a WordPress theme: the features you want, responsiveness, ease of use, loading speeds, and overall user experience. Since that’s quite a lot to juggle, and since there are thousands — literally *thousands* — of WordPress themes out there right now, finding the specific one that’s best for your site and its purpose can prove a wee bit challenging.
You’re more than welcome to dedicate a few hours of your life to scouring the vast frontier of the World Wide Web™️ for the ultimate themes, if that’s your prerogative, although it seems mighty pointless considering we’ve already done the work for you. (Before you ask: Yes, we’ve got a lot of time on our hands.)
Here are our picks for the 9 best WordPress themes out there right now based on customer reviews and expert recommendations.
OK, so you’re a rocket scientist. Or maybe you’re Brad Pitt or Elvis or something. No matter who you are or what you plan on doing with your site, the multipurpose Hestia theme will make your content look amazing at zero cost to you.
Hestia comes packed with all sorts of goodies, such as a widgetized footer, a page for blogs and/or news, parallax scrolling, and even built-in live WordPress customizer, an ingenious tool that lets you see changes to your site in real time. It also includes a few extras that are normally reserved for premium WordPress themes, among them WooCommerce compatibility, one-click updates, video tutorials, and responsive customer support.
On top of all that, Hestia boasts a fresh, modern design courtesy of Material Kit, a free Bootstrap 4 UI kit inspired by Google’s design language, which is known for its vibrant, clean design and lifelike visual cues. Whether you’re building an ecommerce site or a digital portfolio for your creative side hustle, Hestia is a solid choice as far as free WordPress themes go. WordPress forum user zkarj writes:
Imma let you finish, but Avada is the best-selling WordPress theme of all time. No, really — it is, and for good reason: With thousands of customization options and a support team wielding a five-star customer satisfaction rating, few premium WordPress themes can compare.
An Avada license opens a universe of possibilities for your site’s design, none of which require advanced programming knowledge to implement. It includes more than 275 pre-made web design pages, ultra-high resolution graphics, access to demo installers for easy set-up, and six premium plugins worth more than $200. WooCommerce integration, a shortcode generator, automatic theme updates, bbPress compatibility, an intuitive Fusion page builder, and unlimited selection of colors and skins are also made available to users upon purchasing a license.
All of these incredible features are matched by an equally incredible customer support system, which regularly releases feature updates based on user requests, provides multiple HD video tutorials, and enjoys a growing technical support community of more than 330,000 customers. ThemeForest user sillycar writes:
Designed for entrepreneurs “who want to show people how it’s done,” the elegant Spencer theme comes with all of the practical essentials you want in a WordPress theme for business, like a responsive, readable layout, and a specially stylized newsletter signup form that’s easily embedded on your site. In addition, hero areas and widgets are placed above the fold for improved user retention and minimal bounce rates.
Pages on Spencer are designed using Elementor, a drag-and-drop page-builder plugin that helps you create compelling layouts in real time. It’s accompanied by dozens of color settings, a sticky menu for easy navigation, detailed documentation, and various templates for blogs. Plus, each Spencer theme comes with SEO readiness, automatic updates that install with a single click, and premium support that’ll get back to you within 24 hours of opening a query.
In short, Spencer contains all the features you want and none that you don’t need. As a result, it’s super fast on all devices and won’t slow you (or your customers) down. WPExplorer writes:
Felt utilizes a columnar format with various grid sizes that’s clean, modern, and highly scrollable. While more simplistic than other premium WordPress themes design-wise, Felt is great in that it lets your work speak for itself without bogging it down with complex layouts and motifs.
Felt highlights your ideas using a few unique content features, the first being a modular layout option that gives each featured post an equal time in the spotlight. Also included is a dedicated widget for plug-and-play ads, drag-and-drop sections for custom layouts, as well as a Style Manager that lets you customize your site with your brand’s fonts and colors. Furthermore, each Felt site comes SEO- and mobile-ready, and optimized for fast use.
Click here to buy a yearly license for $75 annually, or here to sign up for a lifetime license for a one-time payment of $112.
The lengths to which Kreativa’s developers tailored it to professional photographers’ needs are honestly kind of incredible. For starters, you’ve got multiple styles of portfolios and galleries to choose from, as a gorgeous slideshow tool and toggle-enabled menus for different display options. On top of all that, Kreativa provides you with tools to upload images in bulk, set up client galleries for proofing, create events, view imagery on a fully responsive lightbox. Plus, Kreativa comes equipped with AJAX so you can track your work’s popularity among site visitors. Basically, it’s like having a digital personal assistant at your fingertips. ThemeForest user tensor writes:
Overall, the Kreativa WordPress theme has a 4.88 out of 5 star rating. Click here to sign up for a regular license or an extended license for $59 or $2,200, respectively. (The latter is more expensive because it allows you to use Kreativa on sites for which end users can pay. Regular licenses are meant for sites that are free for end users to use.)
Geared toward creatives of all sorts, Hellomouse grabs potential employers’ attention right away with a great first impression in the form of minimalist homepage that showcases your latest work; it’s a refreshingly clean layout, but not disarmingly so.
Hellmouse’s highlights include a built-in portfolio post type — no need to buy extra plugins! — which you can tweak using custom widgets and a 60-item-plus customizer. Each license includes speed optimization, SEO readiness, automatic updates, one-click demo import, and access to its support team.
Some users might be off-put by Hellomouse’s virtual lack of fancy-schmancy decorative elements compared to other premium WordPress themes, but its developers would argue those are just distractions from the real star of the show: your work.
Buy a personal and commercial license for the Hellomouse WordPress theme for $49 here.
Shopping around for a shoppable theme? Look no further than Flatsome, the best-selling WooCommerce theme.
Geared toward agencies and freelancers alike, Flatsome emphasizes an intuitive user experience across all aspects of its design, a philosophy that revolves around its unparalleled UX Builder tool. It comes with a huge library of elements that allow you to build almost anything, as well as optimized code for fast loading speeds, a Live Page Builder, and a Live Theme Option panel for endless customization. The best part? All of these features can be used to their fullest extent without any coding whatsoever. We’d call that a win. ThemeForest user samswenson writes:
Most WordPress themes are optimized for mobile, but the retina-ready, lightning-fast, and lightweight theme Uncode is in a league of its own.
Built with both CSS3 and HTML5, Uncode includes a version of the Visual Composer drag-and-drop page builder and a tool called Adaptive Images, which detects the screen size of your visitor’s device and automatically resizes your site for optimal viewing. It includes a variety of responsive menu layouts, and many of its elements can be formatted as swipeable and scrollable. What’s more, it comes equipped with modern fonts from sources like Google Fonts and TypeKit for a cohesive user experience across devices.
It’s worth noting that some Uncode users have reported a tougher-than-average learning curve with this theme compared to other premium WordPress themes. Still, mastering Uncode’s quirks seems pretty worth it. ThemeForest user jordandclark writes:
Podcasts pose a unique challenge to website developers, as most WordPress themes treat audio like an afterthought rather than the big cheese. That’s not the case with Castillo, a premium theme that’s specifically tailored for podcasts and designed for you to act like the host and publisher of a show.
Castillo puts your audio front and center with a media-rich header and and HTML5 audio player. It includes a tool that provides daily, weekly, and monthly statistics about your downloaders, listeners, and their listening sources, and lets you submit to iTunes, Google Play Music, or any other RSS-based directory. (You can also extract episodes from any external RSS feed to easily import audio.) And when you’re ready to start selling branded merch inspired by your podcast, Castillo can help you do so, as it’s fully compatible with WooCommerce. Watch out, Serial — there’s a new sheriff in town. ThemeForest user slivera writes: