WordPress is the backbone for a ridiculous number of websites, both small and large. In fact, WordPress is so beloved that it powers more than 40 percent of all websites, ranging from personal blogs to corporate websites. When you decide to go the WordPress route, whether you’re using a traditional installation or managed WordPress web hosting, you need to consider two factors: the website’s appearance and its functionality. After all, who doesn’t want an attractive, easy-to-navigate online presence? But you also want a site that adheres to current web standards and is optimized for search engine discovery. Fortunately, you can achieve those goals with the right WordPress theme.
A WordPress theme is a set of files that create a graphical user interface (GUI) for WordPress-powered websites. The GUI doesn’t alter the underlying software, so you can swap themes with relative ease, should you wish to give your site a visual refresh or add new functionality. WordPress.org hosts many free themes that were inspected for quality.
Yes, free themes. WordPress themes come in no-cost and premium varieties, with each type possessing pros and cons. Free WordPress themes are, well, free, but they typically come with sponsored links, limited customer service support (or none at all!), and few security updates.
Premium WordPress themes, on the other hand, require a monetary exchange, but you’ll typically receive a link-free installation, strong customer support, and frequent security updates. You should also expect updates to keep the theme current with the latest modifications to the WordPress software itself (which happens often). You’ll pay a one-time fee of approximately $40 for a high-quality, single-use professional theme. For an extended license that grants you, or a client, a theme that you can sell to others, you’ll pay more than $1,000. If you’re serious about building a WordPress-powered website, a premium theme is an essential part of the process. And to find a premium WordPress theme, you must visit an online store. More on that in a bit.
A worthwhile WordPress theme should include several important elements: A responsive design that’s mobile and cross-browser compatible, a build that’s compliant with search engine optimization (SEO) standards, and a company that offers good technical and update support.
A WordPress theme with responsive design eliminates the need for a mobile version of your site, as it alters its form to fit screens of differing sizes. Do your due diligence by checking a theme’s description to see if it boasts a responsive design. Additionally, the WordPress theme should match basic SEO standards.
Check that the theme you’re interested in purchasing is compatible with all major web browsers, including Chrome, Edge, and Firefox. Fortunately, you can check a theme’s browser compatibility by firing up its demo in your browser. Any WordPress theme store worth its salt will let you try before you buy.
Your potential purchase should also offer technical support from the theme shop or theme developers, so that you can contact someone for assistance should you encounter any issues. Never underestimate the value of having someone walk you through the troubleshooting process. It helps a lot.
Before you buy a WordPress theme, you must first find one that best suits your needs. Many of our recommended marketplaces features dozens upon dozens of themes, but you don’t have to slog through them all. You should look for a WordPress theme that boasts a high user rating, a large number of reviews, and significant sales, so that you get an accurate view. Set your sights on themes with a 4.5 or higher review rating, and at least 3,000 sales. It’s your money, so don’t settle for anything but the best!
Thankfully, many of our recommended theme shops let you apply filters, so that you can perform a fast search to meet those criteria. There are lots of themes designed for personal and business needs that fall within that range, and a surprising number of deep cuts that are laser-focused on a particular market. For example, WordPress themes that are designed with online stores in mind feature integrate online shopping carts. But without further delay, here are five WordPress theme marketplaces to visit, as well as recommended themes.
ThemeForest is a robust theme marketplace that’s packed with thousands of themes to peruse. ThemeForest’s extensive search and category system makes finding your ideal theme a cinch, but we’ve selected four themes as examples to guide your hunt. These meet the aforementioned criteria: They’re highly rated, responsive, SEO-friendly, and have been purchased thousands of times.
BeTheme and Enfold ($59 each), are ideal for designers and business-centric users. BeTheme in particular comes bundled with some of the highest selling WordPress plug-ins in the ThemeForest marketplace. Kalium and Redwood ($59 and $39, respectively) are popular non-business themes that are great for photography, typography, blogging, or personal promotion.
StudioPress offers an excellent selection of WordPress themes, as well as the popular Genesis Framework, an advanced frame and theme-building kit. Genesis gives you a fantastic set of tools to craft the WordPress site of your dreams, but if you’re not the creative type, you can also simply buy themes from first- or third-party developers.
You can purchase individual themes, such as the food-focused Foodie Pro ($75), or subscribe to Genesis Pro ($360 per year). A Genesis Pro subscription lets you use all StudioPress-made themes, plus explore the Genesis Framework.
Elegant Themes has many quality themes, including the Divi page builder. This popular theme/framework gives you the tools to create beautiful sites without needing to fiddle with code or configure plug-ins.
Elegant has two simple payment options for its themes. A subscription costs $89 per year, and it gives you full access to its theme library. You can also purchase a lifetime subscription for a one-time, $249 fee. Themes cannot be purchased individually; instead, you gain access to Elegant’s full theme suite.
Themeisle offers several WordPress themes to suit your needs, including the clean-looking Neve to the business-oriented Hestia Pro. Neve is ideal for businesses, designers, developers, and photographers. Hestia is the more option-heavy choice, giving you additional tools to customize pages as you see fit. Themeisle has multiple price tiers for each theme. For example, the Neve Personal plan, Business plan, and Agency plan cost $69 per year, $149 per year, and $259 per year, respectively. Hestia Pro also features three, annual subscription tiers: the $69 Personal, $99 Business, and $299 Agency. You cannot buy individual themes.
Astra is a highly popular and flexible theme that has many customization options. Astra’s a freemium service, meaning it’s free to download, but has excellent perks if you subscribe to its $49-per-year plan that includes advanced layouts and builders, WooCommerce features, and expansive layouts. The Essential bundle ($169 per year) includes Astra Pro, as well as the WP Portfolio plugin, Starter Templates, and a few page-builder add-ons. The Growth plan ($249 per year) offers readymade websites, as well as plug-ins for those sites. It also includes SkillJet Academy courses, which feature extensive web entrepreneur and business classes.
For more on web hosting, check out our stories on how to create a website and how to register a domain name for your website, as well as our roundup of the best WordPress web hosting services.
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