Over the last couple of years WordPress has become a hugely popular open source blogging and publishing platform. The ease-of-use as well as the abundance of free themes and plugins have contributed to the attraction and popularity for using WordPress. While there are some great free themes for WordPress, traditionally most only offered basic functionality and simplistic designs.
Since the end of 2007 however an increasing number of WordPress theme developers have been offering premium WordPress themes – themes which are offered for a fixed price. These premium WordPress themes are usually sold for between $50 to $250.
Initially only a handful of talented and well-known WordPress theme designers released paid premium WordPress themes which were well designed, highly functional, top-quality themes that transformed a WordPress installation from a simple blog into a powerful content management system (e.g. magazine, news, portfolio or ‘traditional’ web site). However as the premium WordPress theme business concept spreads, more and more WordPress theme designers have hopped on the bandwagon and filled up their portfolio with premium (paid) wordpress themes, trying to cash on the new trend.
However with greater variety and numbers of paid premium WordPress themes also comes varying levels of quality. So what exactly makes a premium WordPress theme premium and worth the money you have to pay for it? Below are some features that should set a premium wordpress theme apart from a free theme:
1. Unique Design, Quality and Sophistication
Premium WordPress themes should be just that – Premium. They should look better and be of a much higher quality and unique design than compared to those available for free. “Better” is an individual interpretation, so unfortunately it has to be left up to the designer and the buyer to decide what is better for them.
2. Live Demo or Preview
There should be a live demo or preview of the theme so you can test it and check it out before buying. If there is no live preview or demo that should be a warning sign. You should ask why don’t they want you to test the theme first? All reputable premium theme sellers will have a live demo full of content for you to test. Explore the live demo thoroughly, testing all pages to see that the theme works properly and there are no errors or mistakes.
3. Full Supporting Documentation
Premium WordPress themes should come with an instruction manual or document. This should explain how to upload and install the theme and how to manage any of the options that are built into the theme.
4. Full Support
If you’re buying a premium WordPress theme it should also come with a certain degree of support from the designer. The level of support can vary however and will range from personalised individual support from the designer, to the provision of forums or blog comment sections for asking questions and obtaining support from the designer and other people who have purchased the theme.
5. Flexibility and Customization Options
People want options, so Premium WordPress themes should be customisable. Buying a premium theme will set you apart from the crowd significantly, but since other people will still be using the same theme, premium themes should be able to be easily customized further, whether it be for the layout, colours, images, or all of the above.
7. Well Coded and No Errors
There should be no coding errors, misspellings, X images, etc in a premium WordPress theme. The theme should have clean and valid code and adhere to strict XHTML and CSS standards. You should also make sure the theme has cross browser compatible and been tested to work properly on all the major browsers.
8. Free Updates
WordPress is continually being updated and improved and a premium WordPress theme developer should be offering you free updates of the theme when required.