WordPress is a free system. However, many people are willing to pay for themes. Whether you choose a free or premium one, it will be one of the most important decisions for your website. In this post, we look at all aspects that will help you decide which theme you will need.

Since WordPress was originally a simple blog engine, the themes were responsible only for the looks. If you wanted something else, you had to replace your entire theme.

FreePremium
PriceFree~$60-200 / year or lifetime
Designsimple but it’s hard to changemodern, clean, customizable
Developmentrarelycontinuously
FunctionsLimitedA lot
SupportNo, maybe forumsProfessional
Use-casesPersonal blogs, developersAlmost everyone

You can still see this in the free themes, but the professional premium ones will give you much more.

Your theme is basically responsible for 2 things:

  1. First, what your global settings will be. (For example, menus, logos, appearance, sidebars, integrations, etc.)
  2. The other is how you put together your unique pages. The site builder is usually provided by your theme. You will be able to choose the layout, sections and custom settings for your subpages with their help.

With this article, I will help you on whether you should invest money in getting a paid theme or whether you should choose a free one.

Let’s see what aspects help you decide!

Pricing

WordPress themes are divided into two large groups. There are free and paid (premium) ones.

You can get free at the WordPress.org theme Collection. Here you can look at them and look for them.

The greatest advantage of these is their free-of-charge. And this is about the end of the list.

It is always tempting to choose something free but there must be a reason why millions of people pay for a theme. I’m going to answer but let’s talk about the prices first.

The price of paid WordPress themes ranges from $60- $200. This may be a one-time payment or a one-year subscription, depending on the pricing of the theme.

They provide so many benefits that you will find them underpriced. Once you get into there use, you will have the feeling that you have almost stolen it.

Think about it…

How many traditional businesses start with $145 of investment? Here you can find how much is it cost exactly to start a website.

Starting a business online is super cheap compared to an offline business, but there are a few tools you have to pay for.

Let’s look at other differences between the free vs paid plugins.

Design

The design has a great advantage in premium themes.

Aesthetic, easy-to-use, simple, well-built websites are needed today, and this is well known to premium theme developers.

Multiple demos and layouts are prepared for you in your premium theme, and you can easily modify them on your own website with just a few clicks. You can focus on your content. You need to write copy, change the colours and upload your images to have a unique look.

Except for your content, a premium WordPress theme will give you an almost complete website. Whatever you will find out in the future, you can do it yourself without calling a developer.

You can start your projects quickly, and your pages will have a modern, clean look right away.

You can easily modify these layouts.

A free theme can also look nice. The problem is with flexibility. It’s difficult to change the design of how you want.

Development

As you were willing to pay for a (great) premium theme, you will always receive the best quality service. Therefore, the teams behind these are development responsible.

Not only do you get security, technical improvements, but they add new, extra features from time to time.

These can be design, security updates, but also extra marketing tools.

Usually, there is no business interest behind the free themes so they won’t make it better. Typically, they are very rarely updated. If a new version of WordPress comes out, you may have to wait several weeks to update your theme.

Before you install a free theme, check carefully who made it, how often it updates, if the developer responds to questions, who recommended it, etc.

It is also common for development themes to make a freemium theme. If you like the free base but you need more features, you have to upgrade to a paid version.

Functions

With a free theme, you get limited features.

The “knowledge” of such themes for a basic blog will may be enough though.

However, with premium themes, you can access many features.

Their system usually adapts to different user levels.

For a beginner, the basic functions will be enough, but if get to an advanced level you can use more features.

It’s counter-intuitive but usually, if you want to change something on a free theme you have to know at least basic coding and programming skills.

It is tricky because when you first choose a theme, you have no idea what a really good theme need to do.

As you learn more and more things, your needs will grow as well. However, your free theme will not be a partner in this.

With premium themes, you’ll get a page builder. If you choose a great builder, everything can be solved with a simple “drag and drop” method.

Customer Service

First and foremost: Don’t underestimate the importance of it.

If something doesn’t go the way you want it, you will definitely need help to move on. You can read the documentation for your theme, watch tutorial videos, or even ask for specific human help.

You can get the best help from the support team of your theme developers, as they know their product best. I can hardly state how important it is that they are there, available and waiting for your questions.

There is simply no such help with free themes.

In the case of a premium one, the customer service is either included in the fee of the theme or has to be paid for separately.

I still have questions for the support sometimes and they help a lot.

When should you use it?

I usually recommend a paid theme for almost everyone, but there are possibilities when the free one is the good choice.

The disadvantage of a premium theme can be too many features because they try to simplify everything so that you don’t have to use coding. This will make the code a little more complicated than a simpler theme. However, these are 95% negligible differences.

Nevertheless, programmers like to use free, simple themes, because they can code their own designs.

Another possibility is when you shouldn’t spend money if you start a simple personal blog. If you do not have any pages, you will not take advantage of the page builder, you will only write posts. If you don’t want a lot of visitors, you don’t need anything extra, then a free theme can be a good choice.

In all other cases, approx. in 93% of the time, a good paid theme is the best solution.

Summary

Let’s go through some aspects again!

I definitely recommend premium themes to you.

As a beginner, if you don’t want to spend money on this, it can be a good idea to start with a free theme to experience the WordPress interface and its main features. When I was a beginner I did the same.

But if I could restart, I would immediately buy a very good premium theme because I already know that the possibilities in it.

If you need a recommendation for a free and premium theme. For a free one, I would use Astra and for a paid one I would use Divi every time. You can check our review of Divi here.

I hope I helped you to choose the theme for your needs. Ask a question if you need more insight.