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Free vs. Premium WordPress Themes

What are the Differences and What Should you choose?

WordPress is one of the most popular platforms for blogging. It comes with a number of themes that you can use to build your site. You can use free or premium WordPress themes, depending on your needs.

Free WordPress themes are available in abundance on the internet, but they are often outdated, not responsive and not customizable enough. Premium WordPress themes have updates at regular intervals and offer more features than free ones, but these high-end products typically come at a cost.

Here are some points to consider before deciding between free or premium WordPress themes:

  • Think about what you need from your site - if it is clarity, visuals, content creation tools, etc
  • Also think about how much time you want to spend on working with your theme
  • Consider which features would be useful for your blog

Are WordPress themes free?

You might wonder if WordPress themes are completely free or where the differences are between free and premium themes.

Many themes for WordPress are free. However, they are not all free. You will have to pay for premium WordPress themes that come with far more advanced features like better customization options, more integrations with popular plugins or extended support and regular updates by the theme developers.

Differences between free and premium WordPress themes

Free WordPress themes are often limited in functionality compared to premium themes as they dont come with that many options to individualize and customize the theme.

Speed and performance differences?

“But free themes are fasters than premium themes because they are more lightweight, right?”

No, this is not correct. People often think that free themes are much faster and performant than premium themes as they are more clean and lightweight and dont come with so many features. But this really depends on the theme.

Of course this might be true in some cases, but there are also free themes with not many features, but bloated, heavy and slow because of bad optimization and large asset files such as CSS and Javascript files.

On the other hand premium themes can show both faces, too. Many popular premium themes are highly optimized and extremely fast and lightweight. But there are of course also some bad ones which are slow and not that performant.

Every theme can be different and that is why it is important to look into it before coming to a purchase decision for a premium theme.

Premium themes come with more features, layouts and templates

Another important thing is the number of page layouts you can choose from. Usually a good premium theme has many layouts or templates included which allow you to quickly create different types of pages like landing pages, product pages, blog posts, directories, etc.

A free wordpress theme often does not include that many templates or page layouts.

How much to pay for a WordPress theme

Looking at the costs for a premium wordpress theme this is almost ridiculous. You get a standard license for really good wordpress themes for around 30 to 90 dollars (this is a one time purchase).

Depending on where you buy a theme, the license details might differ - so always take a look on the license before buying a theme.

And also depending on what kind of website project you are building you might have to choose another license which is often multiple times higher priced than the standard license (e.g. the difference on ThemeForest between their regulare and extended license is the fact if you are using the theme in a product where the end users are charged for).

But for most web project the standard license is the correct one to purchase.


When starting a serious website project with Wordpress it is recommended to purchase a premium theme as the differences between free and premium themes are really big when it comes to Wordpress.

With a premium theme you will often get some useful plugins like a page builder included and in general there will be much more options to customize available than in a free theme you will certainly need these options.

Of course it is also possible to start with a free theme and see how far it goes. Maybe the few options a free theme includes are sufficient in some simpler web development projects. But often people are reaching the limits of using free themes pretty fast which then leads to buying a premium theme.


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