Yes there are loads of free themes out there, and many of them are really great. But free themes do have their limitations, which is where premium WordPress themes come in. And then the natural next question: are premium WordPress themes really worth it?
It’s okay to wonder. No-one wants to spend money they don’t have to. Especially if you are just starting out with your site, or bootstrapping your growth, or you don’t know that much about WordPress yet and don’t want to get into something you don’t fully understand.
So are premium WordPress themes worth it?
Spoiler: we think so, yes. Of course, Epic Themes makes premium WordPress themes so that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
More specifically, it depends on what you want to do with your website and how serious you want to take it all. You might not even appreciate the full power of what a great premium theme can do for you.
Here’s what you get with premium WordPress themes.
Features and complexity on premium WordPress themes
The features you get with your premium WordPress theme can make or break what your website can offer your audience. Just need a simple blog? That’s fine and you can probably happily use a free theme. Want anything more than that and you are getting into the realm of premium themes.
And these days you probably do need more. A portfolio, integrated gallery, case studies, client profiles, sales pages, landing pages, an online store… with all those extra features and complexity comes greater time, effort and costs for the theme developer.
Many premium themes use extra tools that are also paid-for purchases. Drag and drop page editors, visual composers, libraries, icon sets, security features and so on all cost the developer for a licence. But bundled in a premium theme they can be great value for you and come at a big discount.
Did you know you can make a site like Reddit with WordPress, using a premium theme? More on that theme later!
It just goes to show how powerful themes with the right features can be.
Are premium WordPress themes worth it? Customisation and options
Premium themes often come with hundreds of options for you to customise. All of those options and every single iteration is coded and tested to make sure your site works perfectly. These tweaks help you make a site that fits your needs perfectly – and your customers’ needs.
All that coding and testing? That takes time. Free themes don’t offer all those great options, which is why they can end up looking a bit “samey”. They can’t offer them – the effort to reward ratio is impossible if the theme is free. Free themes will have a set number of customisations you can make and they will be done well, but they will be limited.
This is where an increasing number of themes implement a freemium model. There will be a free version available with limited features and options but if you want to unlock complete customisation you can upgrade to a premium or Pro version.
Some premium themes are so powerful and offer such a high level of customisation that they are really frameworks that you can build your own theme in, rather than themes themselves. If that level of ultimate power is something you like the sound of, we have an article all about 10 of the most customisable WordPress themes ever.
Many of those themes come with pre-built sites, templates and full demos for specific industries – potentially hundreds. So you can pick a ready-made site setup and save yourself all that time customising and tweaking all the different options.
A premium for updates, maintenance and support
Premium WordPress themes also offer regular updates, run maintenance on their themes and have a support system. Some free themes might, especially from bigger vendors or if upgrades are available – because the revenues from their premium themes allow it.
An update to WordPress can render your free theme incompatible. Maybe there’s a plugin you rely on and that gets an update – it can break your theme too and mean you have to stop using that essential feature.
WordPress is constantly being updated and keeping up with those changes stops your site from breaking. There’s a big overhaul of the WordPress text editor coming up – and theme developers will be preparing for that.
Premium themes are also being worked on constantly and kept up to date. This requires a big investment of time and if a WordPress theme developer can charge for their themes they can devote more time to them. It’s why a lot of developers are moving to a subscription option too – so they can provide the best service with updates and support.
And what about support? If you have a problem with your free theme you might just be on your own. Left to your own devices to figure it out. Maybe there’s a forum you can post on and wait for an enthusiastic user to give you some tips. Or you go Googling away to waste time on inaccurate, outdated results.
Sometimes themes can be hard to get your head round. Where is a certain option on the control panel? Did I just break the sidebar? The reason we use pre-made themes and aren’t hand-coding our own is because we don’t have the time or skills to be worrying about this stuff.
Premium themes give you a support system to get a hotline to the developer’s staff – sometimes even the developer themselves! You can email or raise a ticket and get a personal response. Someone with a bit of time to spend taking a look at your problem and giving specific suggestions, providing a fix, or making the changes themselves.
The importance of design and originality in WordPress themes
You want your website to stand out, not blend in. Free themes, especially some of the most popular ones or WordPress’s own versions, can be seen all over the place. There are over 75 million WordPress websites on the internet. Don’t use the same theme as all of them!
Premium themes are less common because less people are willing to make the leap. Plus, with their greater customisation, even two sites using the same premium theme could look completely different from each other.
There are some fantastically designed free WordPress themes. There might be badly designed premium themes. But “you get what you pay for” is a common maxim for a reason. Professionals need to get paid, so will be attracted to working on premium themes.
Premium WordPress themes versus a bespoke completely custom theme
What about hiring a web designer to design a completely custom site? That’s a great option but someone who isn’t sure whether premium WordPress themes are worth it is unlikely to be thinking about spending even more time and money on getting a bespoke design.
To give you a taste of how premium WordPress themes are worth it, check out these powerful WordPress themes that completely restructure your site and give you amazing features.
Based on the super-popular Product Hunt website, the Plugin Hunt theme has all the features you need to build your own Product Hunt. Users can submit their finds, discuss and vote on them. Trending finds rise up to the front page and you can build collections and pick favourites.
The real Product Hunt site needs coders and developers to maintain, but you can build your own with the Plugin Hunt premium WordPress theme.
Want to make a site like Reddit, but on WordPress? WPeddit is the theme you need. Get user submissions, user accounts, user generated content, upvoting, downvoting, ranks and trending content. Be the next Reddit or HackerNews using this premium WordPress theme.
WPeddit is so easy to setup and use. It works great straight out the box or you can make your own customisation with a full range of options to choose from.
Using a similar content curation model to Product Hunt and Reddit, Growth Hackers has a busy community with discussions, Q&As, videos and Ask Me Anything sessions – and you can too. The on-trend look and UI of the Epic Hackers theme also has a powerful set of features.
Your visitors would never guess your site runs on WordPress. But you get to use a simple content management system with a premium WordPress theme.
These themes look nothing like blogs that you will see on WordPress installations all over the web – and act nothing like them either. Combining the flexibility of WordPress with the power of a premium theme gives you an unbelievable result.
Have you outgrown your current free theme? Find yourself wishing you had more features and more options? Then it’s time to think about a premium WordPress theme. It can move your website to a whole new level and give you features you never thought were possible without hiring a developer or web designer.
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