We all want things for free, and why wouldn’t we? There are a ton of great resources out there for free, WordPress itself being one of them. I’ve tried both free and premium WordPress templates and sometimes you do get what you pay for…but not always.
There are a large number of sites out there where you can get both free and premium WordPress themes, and believe me when I say that all themes are not created equally. I’ve used free themes that are very good, but you’re limited in the looks that you can get from these quality offerings. On the other hand, if you’re willing to pay for a premium theme, typically more work has gone into the admin interface to allow you to quickly modify theme options without having to get your hands dirty in the PHP code. I’m a web programmer by profession, and while it’s well within the realm of my skill-set to go in and modify the code behind the theme, I find this is not the best use of my time. The purpose of this site is to help myself and others start earning a passive income and when I am spending valuable time trying to figure out all the intricacies of how the theme developer laid out their code, what they’ve hard-coded, what’s actually done properly, etc., you find yourself not creating content, but rather spending hours just trying to make a menu show up correctly.
If you’re just starting out and on a tight budget, I highly recommend going with a free theme to start out with. I’ve done a ton of research on various options out there and my two favorite places to go are Site5.com and WooThemes.com.
Free, High Quality WordPress Themes
WooThemes (Affiliate Link)
WooThemes is probably one of the better known WordPress theme creation sites out there, and for good reason. WooThemes not only makes some nice looking (free and premium) themes, but they make themes that have an admin interface that handles 95% of what you’d ever need to do. If you go with the free themes, they have some very nice ones and they’re not hampered by many of the downfalls that other free themes are – these are fully baked themes with the full admin interface that you’ll come to love. I can’t recommend these free themes enough, especially if you’re on a tight budget and you don’t mind sticking with the looks that they have available.
In my opinion, the themes that Site5 offers for free are some of the best looking ones out there. I absolutely love these themes and if I remember correctly, they were actually coded pretty well so you didn’t have to dig through too much HTML/PHP code just to get your site up and running. There is one downside I’ve found to a few of their themes – they’re not all coded to be cross-browser compatible. It really is unfortunate because that simple fact kept me from using their free themes for a few of my sites. Now, to be fair, I didn’t test all the themes out. Some may be compatible with all the major browsers, but I haven’t thoroughly tested them all. That does bring up a good point though – make sure if you choose a theme, that you do test it out with as many browsers as you possibly can, such as: Internet Explorer versions 6-9, Mozilla FireFox version 3.0 and up, Google Chrome, Apple Safari, iPhone Safari, Android, etc. The more browsers you can test your site in the better. Last note on this – I highly recommend that you make sure your site works well in the mobile browsers for the major smartphones. Web browsing on phones is increasing at a crazy rate, and the last thing you want to do is drive traffic away from your site when someone hits it on their mobile device (iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Windows Mobile).
Premium, High Quality WordPress Themes
Elegant Themes (Affiliate Link)
Elegant Themes is by far one of the best bargains out there for premium WordPress themes. They have a huge variety of themes to choose from and I would be surprised if you couldn’t find something to suit your needs in their collection. Honestly, for a paid theme, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better value than you will here. One of the things I absolutely love about Elegant Themes is the admin interface they provide for tweaking just about everything you would possibly need to change for your website – all without having to touch any PHP/HTML code. I find the quick and easy to use interface worth the yearly price alone – it’s saved more time than I can possibly describe. Throw in the fact that they have a diverse and large collection of beautiful themes and you’ve got the recipe for a winner. I personally prefer Elegant Themes because they have a large set of beautiful layouts, but also because the yearly price to access all their themes is cheaper than ONE theme from just about anywhere else (including WooThemes below).
WooThemes (Affiliate Link)
WooThemes makes the premium list as well. What can I say other than the fact that these guys really know what they’re doing? Just as with Elegant Themes, with WooThemes you get a top-notch admin interface as well. Also, with WooThemes you have a large variety of themes to choose from and you’re just about guaranteed to find one to suit your tastes. If you choose to go with WooThemes, you will have great designed themes that are both beautiful and functional, and you’ll have an admin interface that will allow you to spend time on what’s important rather than digging through code to do something that is typically missing from most free themes. If you read my blurb above on Elegant Themes, don’t let that chase you away from looking into WooThemes – they are an outstanding company with an impeccable reputation for quality and service.
At the time of this writing, WooThemes cheapest package costs nearly double what Elegant Themes yearly membership is, and the WooThemes price only includes 3 themes. The Elegant Themes price is just over half the price of WooThemes cheapest package and you have access to EVERY theme they’ve ever created! If I sound excited about this, it’s because I truly am. I love finding a great deal on a great product or service.
For those of you looking to get started and you’re short on cash, grab a free theme and get the ball rolling. With WordPress, a free them from one of the sites mentioned above, and a free photo editing piece of software (mentioned in my resources page), you can have a fully functional, beautiful and easy to manage site up and running in no time.
Best of luck to you all, and as always, please leave your comments for me below.