There are a ton of free WordPress themes available, ranging from very basic to more advanced layouts and designs. With all these free options out there, many people wonder why they would spend money on a so-called “premium” theme. Let’s look at several of the advantages you get with these themes.
The first advantage is the look and feel of your website. Yes, there are some free themes that can do a pretty good job but in most cases they need you to tweak them or possibly even do some more serious coding to get them working the way you want. Premium themes tend to be a lot more polished, with some even letting you modify your layout by simply dragging and dropping different components, much like you would in web design software like Dreamweaver.
Many premium themes also integrate certain functionality that you might need other plugins for with the free themes. A good example of this is the All-In-One SEO plugin. It improves the SEO for your page titles, description META tag and so on. Many premium themes, such as Thesis for example, have these features built right in.
This means that you don’t have to have as many plugins running, which will help you site’s performance. Every plugin adds some overhead to WordPress, which can slow your site down. If you can replace those plugins with functionality in your theme, it’s a good thing.
You can often find premium themes that target a specific style of site, such as OptimizePress which is designed for sales sites (sales pages, launch videos, squeeze pages, etc.) or WP Sales Engine which is mainly designed to create long-form sales pages. There aren’t many free themes that can duplicate these functions (if any) so to make them do what you need it often takes some coding and a fair bit of work.
The final reason you might want to consider a premium theme is a big one – customer support. When you download and install a free theme, you’re on your own if you have any problems. There might be other people who have used it and can help you find the answer, but this usually requires you to resort to forums and/or searching Google for answers.
When you pay for a premium theme, part of what you’re paying for is the support behind it. If you run into any compatibility issues, or want to learn how to modify something, you can contact customer support for help.
Free themes can do the job in a lot of cases, but don’t be penny wise and pound foolish. Saving a few bucks by using a free theme can cost you far more in the time it takes to figure out how to make it do what you want.