The great thing about WordPress – and there are a lot of them – is the ease of customizing your site’s appearance.
You can directly download from thousands of themes straight from your dashboard and activate it to apply its look and feel on your site. You can tweak its appearance by changing the logo, background color, and the layout with just a few clicks of a button.
There’s also the option for you to add widgets on the sidebar to make the site design your own. Add banners, sign-up form to your mailing list, and a list of your most popular content to increase engagement with your audience.
Most importantly, you can do all these things for free.
As the saying goes, all good things in the world are free. And customizing your WordPress theme is definitely proof of that.
At the same, Murphy’s Law dictates that if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
While they are benefits to using free WordPress themes like the ones found in Colorlib, there’s also good cause for you to pursue premium and paid themes from sites like ThemeForest and others.
In this post, we will discuss why you should decide now on whether or not you should pay for a WordPress theme.
Everything you need to know about free WordPress themes
Initially, you will probably launch your site using a free WordPress theme, especially if you are a newbie blogger or site owner.
Upon installing WordPress, there are pre-installed themes that you can choose from, the latest of which is the WordPress Twenty Seventeen theme.
If you’re not happy with the features offered by the existing themes to choose from, you can easily search from the Themes page of your dashboard to find available free themes for download.
As mentioned, some of these WordPress themes are free and of no cost to you. The likeliest of reasons is for developers to put their skills to good use. By making their submitted themes searchable on its directory, there’s a chance that people will download and use it. This is a great feather in the cap of every aspiring developer that they can include in their portfolio.
From the perspective of the users such as yourself, the themes provide an immersive experience on how you can build and customize a site from the ground up.
The themes are generally safe to download and use out of the box because WordPress implements a strict review process for all submitted themes. It maintains a standard compliant code that all developers must observe and follow in their themes.
The downsides of using free WordPress themes
Once you download the theme, you are pretty much on your own. You’ll have to find your away around customizing the theme to match the appearance in your mind. Most of the themes come with documentation so help aid you in using the theme.
However, if a feature you’re looking for is not available, then you will have to code the changes by editing certain files within the theme. If you have no experience with editing CSS and the functions.php of your theme, then there’s a chance that you will mess up the site.
And once you’ve screwed up, you will have to contact the developer to help you solve the issue. Since this is a free theme, there’s no sense of urgency for the developer to find the solution for you.
Also, you risk your site from looking like everyone else. Assuming that the free theme you downloaded is popular, then your site will look like the thousands of sites that downloaded and are using the theme. As a result, it robs your site from looking unique and premium for your audience.
Why premium WordPress themes are for you
The concerns addressed above about free WordPress themes will be answered once you purchase a premium WordPress theme.
One of the bigger reasons why you should purchase a theme is the ease of using them. While tweaking free themes are relatively manageable, they cannot compare to the breeze of taking your premium theme for a test drive. Most of them offer shortcodes, drag and drop builders, and other features that free themes can only hope to have.
Also, because there is a barrier to entry in using paid WordPress themes, there’s a higher chance for your site to stand out from the pack. Aside from the chosen few using the premium theme, it’s wealth of customization options will help you achieve the look you want for your site design.
Also, premium themes have better customer support. If you find yourself stuck with a feature from the theme or encounter problems with it, you can reach out to the developer from the site where you purchased the theme and s/he will reply to you within minutes. The luxury of having someone to assist you when customizing your theme is a godsend, especially for design-challenged site owners.
The downsides of using premium themes for WordPress
Despite the positives of using premium WordPress themes, there are some hurdles that you will have to jump through when using it.
For starters, some premium themes have terrible coding because they do not go through the strict review process at WordPress. While the theme may look stunning, it doesn’t mean that it won’t load slow or bog down your site speed. Since you will have bought the theme from a third-party site, then you can’t be too sure if the coding is up to stuff until you’ve tried it out.
Therefore, to avoid buyer’s regret or having to go through a refund, you need to check the reviews of the theme first and finding out as much information as you can before making a decision.
Also, not all paid themes are not compatible with the plugins you are using at the moment. If you’re a newbie and want to build a site by primarily using a theme, then this shouldn’t be a problem. However, if you rely on lots of plugins to power your site, then you need to need to choose the right theme that works in harmony with your chosen plugins.
WordPress themes are strange animals. You’d assume that buying a premium theme for your site is the best solution, but it’s not always the case. Just like free themes, paid WordPress themes have their risks and rewards. In general, the positives of using a paid WordPress theme outweigh the negative, assuming that you’ve done your research before making your purchase.
At the same time, using a free WordPress theme is not the precise formula to your site’s success, either. You need to work your way around the theme’s code if you truly want to customize your site and make an impact with your audience. This can only work if you have tons of experience with coding and CSS, as well as building sites using WordPress.
TLDR; If you are new to WordPress and want to build your site in the most convenient way possible, then you should buy yourself a premium theme. If you are good at editing your theme’s design and code or have time to learn both, then you settle with the free themes found in your WordPress dashboard.