Free, Premium, or Custom: What Type of Theme is Right For You?

When it comes to choosing a theme for your WordPress website, your most basic decision that needs to made is whether you want to pay for it or not. There are several schools of thought surrounding this issue. At one extreme there are people who won’t ever use a free theme and the other end is the exact opposite. So which one is right for you? Here is a quick look at the pros and cons of all three options.

Using a Free WordPress Theme

There are several benefits to using a free WordPress theme, most notably it’s free. Plus, there are literally thousands of different free themes to choose from. This is especially true if you have a working knowledge of PHP, HTML, and CSS because you can download free themes and use them a basic framework for your theme. In most cases, free themes are designed to be easily altered.

Free WordPress themes have a couple of potential drawbacks to consider as well. The first is that there will not likely be any support for the theme, which can become a problem when certain plugins aren’t compatible. Another drawback is that you will often have to keep a footer link to the designers website. One of the biggest potential concerns is that some themes are designed by less than honest people who insert malicious coding that will give them access to your site, although the TAC plugin will normally help you identify potential problems.

Using a Premium WordPress Theme

The largest benefit of using premium themes is that they tend to look much more professional. Plus, they will normally be fully supported, so if you ever have any issues, they will help you work through them. Premium themes will also be updated whenever there is a change to the WordPress core that “breaks” it. Finally, premium themes tend to offer many more configuration options to make your theme completely unique

The primary drawback is cost alone and depending on theme, it may take a little extra time to configure it during the initial installation.

Using a Custom Theme

Custom WordPress themes offer two primary benefits. The first is that your website will be completely unique and will look like whatever you want. Second, the developer will often install and configure the theme for you.

Like premium themes, the biggest drawback is cost. However, it is also worth considering that many developers won’t update your theme unless you pay either an ongoing maintenance fee or one-time fee. Another potential drawback is that you will need to spend a lot of time interviewing potential candidates, plus wait as long as it takes for them to finish it.

In general, there is no “best” solution in terms of whether you pay for a theme or not. Regardless of which option you choose, it is always helpful for you to grasp at least a minimal amount of PHP, CSS, and HTML so that you can make any minor changes yourself.

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