31 March 2013
Comments: 5

Why you should not use Free WordPress Themes

When you are starting a new WordPress blog, one of the first choices you have to make is which theme to use. This is something you should do before you set up your blog. If you simply keep the default theme and change it later, it may affect the way the whole blog looks.

There are many free WordPress themes that you can find if you search – either within your WordPress Dashboard itself or on Google or any search engine. It’s certainly tempting to use a free theme. Many people are drawn to WordPress in the first place because it’s free. The idea of paying for a theme then seems like an unnecessary annoyance when there are thousands of free themes floating around.

Free WordPress themes for website

However, there are several reasons why you should not use a free theme.

  1. Free Themes May Not Keep Up With WordPress Updates

    Every theme that is listed on WordPress.org must follow certain guidelines and be compatible with WordPress. This, however, only assures you that the theme worked with the version of WordPress that was current when the theme was released.

    WordPress has frequent upgrades, and this can cause problems with themes that don’t upgrade as well. The creators of free themes are seldom motivated to upgrade their themes. When you buy premium themes, however, it’s a different situation. In that case, you will usually get free upgrades.

    Sellers of premium themes are much more conscientious about keeping their themes current. This may not be the case with every premium theme, so you have to check out the reputation of the person or company you’re dealing with. In general, though, you are much safer with WordPress themes that you pay for.

  2. Free Themes Can Be Incompatible With Plugins

    One of the advantages of using WordPress is that you have the ability to install plugins of every kind. There are plugins for almost every task, from SEO to making your site run faster, to starting a membership site. Not all plugins, however, are compatible with all themes.

    Free WordPress themes are much more likely to have coding issues that cause plugins to malfunction. This may just mean that the plugin doesn’t work properly. In some cases, though, it can cause worse problems. Compatibility issues can corrupt your entire WordPress site, which can be a disaster if you have lots of posts.

    A premium theme is much more likely to work with the plugins you install. Of course, you also have to make sure that the plugins themselves come from a trustworthy source!

  3. You Don’t Get Quality Support With Free Themes

    When you download a theme for free, you can seldom count on support if you have any problems or questions. While some developers of free themes do the best they can with support, it’s not even reasonable to expect them to be motivated to provide top quality support for a free product.

    It’s much safer to buy a theme that guarantees you support. This, combined with regular updates, helps you prevent or quickly resolve any problems that might occur on your WordPress site.

    A good place where you can get good WordPress themes and which I always recommend to my readers and clients is Elegant Themes. You can check out a few of my previous writings about them – here and here.
  4. Free WordPress Themes Can be Dangerous

    Not only can free WordPress themes be unoriginal and outdated, they can be outright malicious as well. For the most part, themes you download from WordPress.org itself are safe. As we’ve seen, however, they may not be up to date, and they are used by many different people.

    When you start searching the internet for free themes, however, you run into another danger. You never know what you are getting. Some of the themes that you can download for free contain malware or viruses that can ruin your whole site.

    Even when you buy themes, you should research the reputation of the site. It’s much more difficult to find out anything about sites offering free themes, as they are constantly popping up and disappearing. It’s not worth the risk just to save a few dollars!

  5. You Want an Original, Professional Looking Website

    Another reason why you should think carefully before using a free WordPress theme is that this will make your site similar to many others. The very worst thing to do in this regard is to use the default WordPress theme.

    There are a few different options for the header, but any experienced blogger (or even web surfer) will immediately recognize this as a generic theme. If you don’t bother to change the default theme, this will brand you as an amateur.

    Changing the theme to another free one, however, is only a little better. While it may seem like there is a large selection of free themes, you have to remember just how popular WordPress is.

    As of now, the number of downloads is approaching 20 million! It’s reasonable to assume that the majority of people who set up blogs use free themes. This means that no matter which free theme you use, you will almost certainly be using the same one as dozens, if not hundreds of other sites. If you want to give your site a unique and professional look, you are better off investing in a more original theme.

Free WordPress Themes Are Not Worth the Risks

There are many good reasons to avoid free WordPress themes. If you want your site to be unique, secure and running properly you should not rely on free themes.

The majority of free themes are safe and functional – at least when you first downloaded them. However, there’s always the risk that they contain something malicious or that they will become outdated. Even if none of this happens, you will at best have a theme that lots of bloggers are also using.

Fortunately, themes that you purchase are not usually very expensive. For around $20 or less you can get an attractive, reliable and secure theme. This is definitely not much to spend to give you both an appealing theme and peace of mind for your website.

A good theme designer which I always recommend is Elegant Themes. For as little as $69, you will have complete access to their 87 professionally designed themes that they currently have in their collection!

5 responses on “Why you should not use Free WordPress Themes

  1. metalpig says:

    I’m using free WordPress theme on some of my not-so-serious sites and premium themes on serious ones. :)
    Btw, thanks for the heads-up! =)

    • Alicia says:

      That’s a good idea. If you do not want to spend too much on premium themes, you can use free themes on less important sites of yours.

      Another option is to sign up with Elegant Themes and get access to all their themes (there are 81 as of now) at a really cheap price of $39 only!

    • Very good points.

      I have wondered about free themes quite a bit and whether I should purchase a premium theme as well.

      The bits about free theme developers not updating their themes and the themes possibly being incompatible with plugins also caught my eye.

      Yep, if you develop themes for free and share them, you are lacking one major motivator – money.

      It is clear that the the developers behind premium themes are better motivated by financial gain + they are also obligated to keep their themes in good health.

      Again – quite a thought-provoking article you have here; it got me rambling on. :)

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