WPMU DEV's Blog - Everything WordPressWordPress Freebies - WPMU.org http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog The WPMU DEV WordPress blog provides tutorials, tips, resources and reviews to help out any WP user Mon, 20 Oct 2014 12:00:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 5 Awesome Free WordPress Shortcode Plugins http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/5-awesome-free-wordpress-shortcode-plugins/ http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/5-awesome-free-wordpress-shortcode-plugins/#comments Sat, 26 Jul 2014 15:30:46 +0000 http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/?p=130297 Shortcodes provide an easy way to add custom content to your site. Whether you want to add tabs to a page or buttons to a post, shortcodes let you quickly insert elements you regularly use.

WordPress introduced the shortcode API with the release of WordPress 2.5 six years ago. Many themes and plugins (including many of our own) use shortcodes to allow users to customize their sites and display content where they choose.

In today’s Weekend WordPress Project we’ll look at five free options for adding shortcodes to your site.

Shortcodes Ultimate


Shortcodes Ultimate is the most popular shortcodes plugin in the WordPress Plugin Repository with more than 780,000 downloads. It promises to “supercharge your WordPress theme with a mega pack of shortcodes” and it delivers.

Easily create buttons, tabs, boxes, sliders, responsive videos and other elements.

This plugin features a shortcode generator, 50+ shortcodes, responsive design, CSS3, custom CSS editor with syntax highlighting, custom widget and rich API.

There are also premium add-ons – extra shortcodes (15+ extra shortcodes), additional skins (60+ skins) and a shortcode creator for creating custom code.

WordPress Shortcodes


WordPress Shortcodes is another popular option, with almost 150,000 downloads in the WordPress Plugin Repository.

Create SEO-ready tabs, sections/accordions, buttons, links to content, author cards, lists, layouts and other elements.

Other features include 26+ shortcodes, shortcode editor with instant previews, and customize the looks of shortcodes with custom CSS.



Shortcoder allows you to create your own custom shortcodes with HTML and JavaScript for use on posts and pages.

This easy-to-use plugin is particularly handy when adding ads to your site, or even embedding videos and other media.

Features into a shortcode editor and the ability to globally disable shortcodes.

Easy Bootstrap Shortcode


Easily add Bootstrap style to your site with Easy Bootstrap Shortcode.

This Bootstrap 3.0.3 compatible plugin features 500+ Font Awesome and Glyphicons icon fonts, the ability to add icons to the editor, custom CSS, new sidebar widget and options to give custom shortcode prefix.

Simple Shortcodes

Simple Shortcodes

If you’re after a simple shortcode plugin without the bells and whistles, then Simple Shortcode is for you.

This easy-to-use plugin plugin adds a new icon to the visual editor that lets you insert commonly used elements like notifications, columns, buttons and tabs to your posts and pages.

While Simple Shortcodes was made specifically to work with themes from simplethemes.com, it still works with any theme.

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Announcing Our Video Testimonial Winners! http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/announcing-our-video-testimonial-winners/ http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/announcing-our-video-testimonial-winners/#comments Tue, 01 Jul 2014 12:00:00 +0000 http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/?p=130262 After lots of umming and ahhing at WPMU HQ over the awesome video testimonials you guys sent in, we are pleased to announce the winners!

We were originally going to give away a Lifetime Membership, then after your videos started rolling in we revised our prize list and changed it to 1 Lifetime Membership, 3 Yearly memberships and a t-shirt for everyone.

Well, judging your videos was tough! So we revised our prize list one more time: 3 Lifetime Memberships, 5 Yearly Memberships and a t-shirt for everyone!

Thank you
We love our members and want to say “Thank You!”

We received an overwhelming number of videos from members and needed extra time to watch them all. They made us smile and even laugh (check out the video below by Central Internet Agency!).

It was awesome to see how our products and support have helped so many members create their own websites, and even start their own businesses and make a living with WordPress.

Now without further ado, the winners!

Lifetime Membership Winners

It was tough deciding winners for this category, but in the end it came down to who followed the rules (a video of you talking to the camera in 30 seconds or less).

Heather Cate

Jason Verdelli

Jay L.A. Bastien/JAYLA.CO

Yearly Membership Winners

We thought these videos were fantastic and deserved a membership, too.

Michael Kocher

Nicolas Villaume

Central Internet Agency

(Developers, developers, developers!)

Patricia Brun Torre

Wolfy Master Media

Thank You!

A huge THANK YOU to everyone who sent in video testimonials. You guys rock!

If you haven’t already received your t-shirt, it’s in the mail.

We’ll be in touch with winners shortly to organize your memberships.

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Tell Us Why You Love WPMU DEV and Win a Lifetime Membership http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/tell-us-why-you-love-wpmu-dev/ http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/tell-us-why-you-love-wpmu-dev/#comments Tue, 17 Jun 2014 12:00:00 +0000 http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/?p=130037 In case you missed it, we’re now giving away even more awesome prizes to members who share a video testimonial about why they love WPMU DEV.

We love getting feedback from our members, and we love it even more when we can share your feedback with the rest of the world.

So we’re inviting members to share a video testimonial and to say “thank you!” we’re giving away:

  • A Lifetime Membership to WPMU DEV to one lucky person
  • 3 Yearly Memberships worth $588 each to three lucky people

Plus, EVERYONE who sends in a video will receive a free WPMU DEV t-shirt!

Send in your video testimonial and win!

Just imagine how much you would save if you won a Lifetime Membership. That’s a lot of free plugins, updates and support!

Here’s what you need to do to enter:

  • Record a brief video of you talking about what you like about WPMU DEV.
  • You can film the video at your computer, in your backyard, standing on a mountain, wherever you like!
  • Please ensure the video is under 30 seconds. The shorter the better!
  • By submitting your entry, you agree that we can use the video for promotional purposes.

We’re not looking for videos that are long and wordy or even scripted – just tell us briefly what you enjoy most about WPMU DEV.

When you’ve put together your video, upload it to YouTube or Vimeo or wherever you like, just as long as we can download it. Then send an email to Lorraine at lolb@incsub.com with the subject line “WPMU DEV Testimonial.” Be sure to include your full name, address and t-shirt size so we can mail you a WPMU DEV t-shirt.

The winners will now be announced next week on June 24.

Good luck with your videos!

Image credit: Till Krech.

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Lifetime Membership Giveaway! Share Your WPMU DEV Video Testimonial to Win! http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/lifetime-membership-giveaway-share-your-wpmu-dev-video-testimonial-to-win/ http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/lifetime-membership-giveaway-share-your-wpmu-dev-video-testimonial-to-win/#comments Fri, 13 Jun 2014 12:00:00 +0000 http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/?p=129973 On Tuesday we invited members to share a video testimonial go into the running to win a yearly WPMU DEV membership worth $588.

Well, we decided that wasn’t enough so we’re upping the ante.

We’re now we’re giving away:

  • A Lifetime Membership to one lucky person
  • Three yearly memberships (worth $588 each)
  • AND each person who sends in a video testimonial will receive a free WPMU DEV t-shirt
Thank you
We love our members and want to say “Thank You!”

Keen? A lifetime membership would be pretty handy! Imagine all the free help you’ll be able to get in the forums and all the free updates and new plugins you’ll be able to access!

Here’s what you need to do to enter:

  • Record a brief video of you talking about what you like about WPMU DEV.
  • You can film the video at your computer, in your backyard, standing on a mountain, wherever you like!
  • Please ensure the video is under 30 seconds.
  • By submitting your entry, you agree that we can use the video for promotional purposes.

When you’ve put together your video, upload it to YouTube or Vimeo or wherever you like, just as long as we can download it. Then send an email to Lorraine at lolb@incsub.com with the subject line “WPMU DEV Testimonial.” Be sure to include your full name, address and t-shirt size so we can mail you a WPMU DEV t-shirt.

If you’ve already sent in a video, please get in touch with Lorraine again with your postal address and t-shirt size.

The winners will now be announced on June 24.

Good luck with your videos!

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Share Your WPMU DEV Video Testimonial to Win an Annual Account Worth $588! http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/share-your-wpmu-dev-video-testimonial/ http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/share-your-wpmu-dev-video-testimonial/#comments Tue, 10 Jun 2014 12:00:22 +0000 http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/?p=129872 We always love to hear what our members think about WPMU DEV, and we love it even more when we can share your feedback with the rest of the world.

So, we are inviting you to share your video testimonial telling us what you like about WPMU DEV.

And to say thank you, we’re going to give a free annual membership (worth $588!) to one lucky person.

We’ll announce the winner next Tuesday.

Super 8
Submit your video testimonial to go into the running to win a free WPMU DEV membership!

Here’s what we are looking for:

  • A brief video of you talking about what you like about WPMU DEV.
  • You can film the video at your computer, walking along the beach, sledging down a mountain – your choice :)
  • Please keep the video under 30 seconds (we’ll have a lot to watch!)
  • And by submitting your entry, you agree that we can use the video for promotional purposes.

If you think all that sounds cool, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Record your video.
  2. Upload it to YouTube (or Vimeo, or wherever you like just as long as we can download it).
  3. Send an email with the link to Lorraine at lolb@incsub.com with the subject line “WPMU DEV Testimonial.”

Sound like fun? We can’t wait to hear from you!

Image credit: Lunar Logic.

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20 Best Free WordPress Themes for Blogs http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/20-best-free-wordpress-themes-for-blogs/ http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/20-best-free-wordpress-themes-for-blogs/#comments Fri, 06 Jun 2014 15:30:00 +0000 http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/?p=129554 Despite the fact there are hundreds upon thousands of themes available for WordPress, it’s still hard to find “the one.” You know, the perfect theme that will fulfil all of your hopes and dreams for your blog and put you in the mood to write.

Finding a great free theme can be difficult. Searching through the WordPress Theme Repository can be time consuming and often free themes lack beautiful design.

Below is a collection of free blogging themes that are all ideal for personal sites when you want the focus on your words.

What theme do you use on your blog? What is the ideal layout for a blog? Tell us in the comments below.



Wilson is a clean and minimalist theme designed for blogs. It features a responsive design, custom accent color, custom widgets for video, Flickr and Dribble, and page templates.

It comes retina and translation-ready, with Swedish included in the theme’s files.



Syntax has been designed with a distraction-free reading experience in mind. It features large, easy-to-read type and a fixed navigation menu.

This theme also comes with a beautiful responsive design that’s perfect for writers who wants to put the focus on their words.



Flato is a simple blogging theme without bells and whistles. It features a large fullwidth header and navigation bar and a two-colomn layout.

This theme comes with a responsive design.



Opus offers a clean, flat design ideal for blogs. It features a large, fullwidth header images and navigation at the top of the page is the form of a hamburger button. When pressed, it displays a fullscreen menu.

This is a great simple theme for a basic blog as it doesn’t come with sidebars or other features.



typefocus is a beautiful minimalist theme with a fixed sidebar and a focus on typography.

This is a great blogging theme, especially if you’re starting out and don’t require greater functionality.



Stanley is a cute, colorful and responsive bootstrap theme perfect for bloggers and anyone wanting to showcase their portfolio of work.

It comes with some great features – a theme options panel, drag and drop homepage builder, portfolio post types, three page templates, and Font Awesome.



Bushwick is Medium-esque (the old Medium design) and features a fixed vertical header.

This is a lovely theme for blogging, with a focus on your writing and beautiful imagery.



Kirumo is a simple and responsive blogging theme. It support custom background colors and images, as well as a custom accent color.

It comes with a fullwidth page templates with a horizontal row of three widgets underneath.



Blogly is a minimalist and responsive blogging theme with a striking design.

You can use the WordPress theme customizer to change the colors, and upload a logo and background image.



Writr is a minimalist tumblog theme ideal for blogging. It features a striking left sidebar and crisp typography.

It comes with six different color schemes: turquoise (default), blue, green, grey, purple, and red.



Ignite is an elegant blogging theme with a responsive design. You can easily customize it using a built-in social media icons and a logo uploader.



tdPersona features a clean and responsive design offering a distraction-free reading experience for your readers.

This theme is pretty basic, so look elsewhere if you’re seeking greater functionality.



Drop is a bold and responsive blogging theme with a minimalist design and a focus on your posts.

This is a pretty simple theme with few features. The sidebar offers a clear place for navigation and other information, like social media.



Graphy is a blogging theme that focuses on beautiful typography (if you didn’t already figure out from the feature image!).

It features a responsive design so your words look great on difference devices. It comes with five widgetized areas, including a sidebar and four footers. The sidebar allows you to create a two-column design.



Fastr is a simple and minimalist single-column theme ideal for blogging.

This theme uses absolutely no Javascript and has very minimal CSS for its layout and responsiveness, making it extremely fast and lightweight.



This simple and clean theme has been designed with writers in mind. Thoughts doesn’t have any widgetized areas (no sidebar or footer), but it does support various post formats. It’s also responsive and looks great on any device.



Balloons is a cute and whimsical responsive theme with a parallax design. This theme is perfect for bloggers and offers a fun reading experience.



Glider is a bare bones text-focused theme ideal for occasional bloggers. All posts are listed in the archive section and it’s easy to add a category restriction to the archive query.



BonPress features various post formats (including audio and video), making it ideal for bloggers. This theme also features custom widgets for social media.

This premium theme also comes with WPZOOM’s options panel, and options for a custom menu.



Hexa is a colorful blogging theme that support post formats. This theme offers a clean, minimalist and responsive design, but comes with few features.

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10 Best Image Optimization Plugins to Speed Up Your WordPress Site http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/10-best-image-optimization-plugins-to-speed-up-your-wordpress-site/ http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/10-best-image-optimization-plugins-to-speed-up-your-wordpress-site/#comments Wed, 28 May 2014 15:30:00 +0000 http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/?p=129364 Optimizing your images not only helps your WordPress site load faster, but can also boost your SEO.

In Why Trying to Get 95+ on Google PageSpeed Insights for Your WordPress Site Will Drive You Mad! earlier this month, I looked at measures for improving page speed. One of these measures was the importance of optimizing images.

High resolution images that are unnecessarily large in file size can drastically slow down page speed. Why waste resources and time when it’s possible to reduce image size without losing it’s quality.

This round-up of plugins includes tools for compression and SEO. I’ve also thrown in a couple of lazy load plugins for good measure.

Do you optimize your images? What are you top optimization plugins? Tell us in the comments below.

WP Smush.it


Let’s kick off this list with WP Smush.it, a plugin managed and maintained by WPMU DEV.

WP Smush.it lets your compress images individually through the WordPress media manager or in bulk via a sub-menu items under “Media.”

This plugin works by stripping meta data from JPEG files, optimizing JPEG compression, converting certain GIFs to indexed PNGs and stripping the un-used colours from indexed images.

Site performance tool GTmetrix.com also recommends WP Smush.it as one of their optimization tips for WordPress sites.

EWWW Image Optimizer


EWWW Image Optimizer automatically and losslessly optimizes your images as you upload them to your site. It can also optimize images that you have previously uploaded.

Another nice feature of this plugin is the ability to convert your images to the file format that produces the smallest image size. It can also optionally apply lossy reductions for PNG images.

CW Image Optimizer


CW Image Optimizer is another plugin that automatically and losslessly optimizes your images as you upload them to your site, and can optimize images previously uploaded.

This plugin is based on WP Smush.it, though unlike the WPMU DEV plugin which uses the Yahoo! Inc. Smush.it service, CW Image Optimizer uses the Linux littleutils image optimization tools. This means your images never leave your server.

Installing littleutils can be fiddly so this plugin it’s for noobs – it’s easier to install any of the other standalone plugins in this list.



Don’t be scared off by Imsanity’s freaky feature image in the WordPress Plugin Repository. This free plugin automatically resizes images to a more “sane” size.

A nice feature of Imsanity is the ability to set a maximum width, height and quality. You can also convert BMP files to JPG so images can be scaled.



If you take adaptive design seriously, you might want to consider using Hammy. This plugin takes your images and regenerates a number of smaller sized images. So when a visitors arrives on yours site, they see the most appropriate sized image (or the smallest one possible). This makes for a better and faster experience, especially for mobile users.

Hammy only works for images within posts and pages, not custom post types.

PB Responsive Images


PB Responsive Images automatically reformats all your images into a format similar to the picture tag proposed by the Responsive Images Community Group on w3.org.

Each image is reformatted based on standard CSS media queries and SLIR query pairs, giving more flexibility in the variety of query combinations. Also, the plugin provides shortcodes so you can customize the queries used per image, and helper functions that can be used to customize the queries used per post or per layout.

SEO Friendly Images


SEO Friendly Images edits all your images with proper ALT and TITLE attributes to help boost your SEO. If your images don’t have ALT and TITLE already set, this plugins adds them in according to the options you set.

Is it worth using ALT and TITLE attributes? Well, yes. The ALT attribute describes your images to search engines, while TITLE automatically appears in the tooltip when a user hovers over an image.

Media File Renamer


Media File Renamer allows you to rename your media files by updating their titles. It also automatically updates their links in posts.

Search engines like Google give a lot of importance to file names so it’s important to be descriptive and use appropriate keywords to improve the SEO of your images.

Lazy Load


Let’s not leave lazy load plugins off this list. Lazy load doesn’t need configuring because it works out-of-the-box.

It uses jQuery.sonar to only load an image when it’s visible above fold. This plugin is an amalgamation of code written by the WordPress.com VIP team at Automattic, the TechCrunch 2011 Redesign team, and Jake Goldman from WordPress consultancy 10up.

BJ Lazy Load


BJ Lazy Load allows you to lazy load selected images, including post images and thumbnails, Gravatar images and iFrames, and replace content with a placeholder.

Unlike Lazy Load, there are some simple settings that allow you to customize how the plugin works, such as choosing a placeholder and skipping images with classes.

This plugin caters to size optimized images, automatically serves scaled down images in responsive designs, and automatically serving hiDPI images for hiDPI screens (like Apple’s retina display).

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Download WPMU DEV’s FREE Appointments Plugin for WordPress http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/download-wpmu-devs-free-appointments-plugin-for-wordpress/ http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/download-wpmu-devs-free-appointments-plugin-for-wordpress/#comments Tue, 27 May 2014 12:00:00 +0000 http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/?p=129171 A free version of our popular Appointments + plugin is now available in the WordPress Plugin Repository.

Appointments is a powerful, flexible and feature-rich plugin that includes all the best bits of our premium offering, Appointments +.

Appointments lets you to accept, set and manage bookings on your WordPress site. Control your appointments all from the one place without forgetting or losing valuable bookings when switching between different calendar systems. Flexible and easy to set up, Appointments does it all.

Feature-Rich and FREE

Appointments is the most comprehensive bookings plugin available for free for WordPress.

Customers can make their own appointments on your site, and you too can schedule appointments manually with clients.

Easily manage customer contact information and send confirmation and reminder emails to encourage and increase attendance.

Staff profiles
Add staff profiles for each of your stuff.

It’s perfect for businesses that schedule time with clients, such as:

  • Doctors
  • Tutors
  • Personal trainers
  • Spas and salons
  • Photographers
  • Hairdressers
  • Consultants and life coaches
  • Web design agencies
  • Tradespeople, such as plumbers and electricians
  • Reservations for sports fields and tennis courts

Do you manage your time with Google Calendar? Easily integrate Appointments with your Google account so you can schedule all your time in one place .

Book an Appointment in Just Three Clicks

Use PayPal to collect payments and deposits when customers book an appointment.

You can even integrate Appointments with MarketPress to support more payment gateways, such as Authorize.net AIM, Google checkout, 2checkout, Moneybookers, eWay, Stripe and more).

Or integrate Appointments with Membership to provide special offers to your customers, like coupons and sales codes.

Customize Your Site’s Calendar

Create a personalised calendar for each of your staff members and your site will automatically display their available time slots to customers.

Appointments calendar
Display a calendar of available appointments on your site and let your customers make online bookings.

You can even style your calendar with CSS to match your branding to provide a consistent look and feel across your site.

Dozens of Custom Features

Appointments comes with more than 30 extra features, including:

  • The ability to block out dates and times when you’re not available
  • Edit schedules from the backend of WordPress
  • Multisite and BuddyPress compatible
  • Shortcodes for inserting posts and pages
  • Display weekly or monthly schedules
  • Form autofill for repeat clients
  • More than 130 custom filter and action hooks
  • Support for multiple break times

Upgrade For Advanced Features and Functionality

Looking for even more functionality? Download Appointments + and turn your site into a complete, fully-featured appointments and bookings system.

With Appointments + you can create unlimited services and staff profiles. If you send confirmation and reminder emails to customers, the premium version allows you to send HTML rather than plain text emails.

It’s also packed with more than 30 custom appointment features that rival even the most sophisticated booking platforms:

  • Allows customers the option to book their own appointments online
  • Schedule appointments with clients
  • Enjoy a built-in CRM for managing customer contact information
  • Collect payments or deposits using PayPal
  • Manage your entire team, create unlimited service providers and unlimited services
  • Send confirmation and reminder emails to increase customer attendance rates
  • Allows you and your clients to book appointments up to one year in advance
  • Manage all appointments right from Google calendar
  • Compatible with BuddyPress
  • Short codes for inserting into posts/pages
  • Display weekly, or monthly schedules
  • Integrates with WPMU DEV Membership and Marketpress plugins
  • Enter phone appointments manually

Thinking about trying out Appointments + but not quite sure? Try out Appointments for free – and upgrade to the premium version for greater features and functionality. Download Appointments and discover how easy it is to create your own appointments site.

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30+ Top Quality Free, Minimalist and Stunning WordPress Themes http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/30-top-quality-free-minimalist-and-stunning-wordpress-themes/ http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/30-top-quality-free-minimalist-and-stunning-wordpress-themes/#comments Mon, 07 Apr 2014 12:00:00 +0000 http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/?p=127980 Complexity in design isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Sliders, banners and other web elements can be distracting when all you want is for your readers to focus on your words.

Clean, minimalist themes allow your content to shine without unnecessary clutter or bloat.

The collection of themes below includes mostly themes put out for free by generous developers on their blogs, as well as free premium themes by larger agencies.

Don’t forget to give kudos to the developers/designers if you do decide download and use any of these themes!

What’s your favorite minimalist theme? Tell us in the comments below.



Casper is a simple, minimalist theme inspired by the Ghost blogging platform.

It features a large fullscreen header and takes advantage of features exclusive to Ghost, such as markdown and the ability to quickly paste links to display images.



Tonal offers a greyscale design that changes based on your background color.

This theme features large images, full-width videos and makes the most of post formats.



Dazzling is a colorful, flat and responsive theme ideal for businesses.

It is highly customizable for a free theme, with unlimited color variations, several widget areas, and a flexible featured slider.



Untitled has been designed by the theme team at Automattic.

It comes with full-bleed featured posts, featured images, a fixed header and subtle CSS3 transitions. This theme also supports a right sidebar.



Papaver is a stripped back, minimalist theme that puts the focus on your words.

This theme offers one, two or three column variations.



Touchfolio is a responsive, sparse design featuring large images.

It has a skinning system based on LESS CSS (similar to variables in Twitter Bootstrap) and controls Photoshop file included.

It also comes with two types of portfolio – a gallery with list in menu and masonry gallery.



Wootique is a free WooThemes design that makes full use of all WooCommerce features. Every WooCommerce widget has been styled to match the design of this theme.

It also comes with a featured slider, custom header and widgets and is highly customizable in the backend.



Frank provides a light, responsive and unobtrusive reading experience.

This theme’s main focus is speed. The parent theme’s default home page makes just nine database queries and consists of two requests. This theme has no Javascript frameworks and no unnecessary images, just a simple no-frills fast blog.

It is built on HTML5 and CSS3 and features several different homepage layouts.



Focused is a responsive, clean theme designed for personal blogs.

It features a left sidebar and takes advantage of post formats.

White Paper


White Paper features a light, easy-to-use and laconic design that is ideal for personal blogging.

This theme publishes images large, really large.



Spacious is a multi-purpose responsive theme perfect for business.

It comes with a slider four layouts, six templates, five custom widgets, 13 widget areas, boxed and wide layout, and light and dark skins.

Best of all, it features free support – something rare for free themes.



Pitch is a non-nonsense business theme that does the basics well. It’s easy to add content with built-in custom post types so you can add slides, clients, projects and features.

This theme also comes with a minimal options panel.



Expositio is a responsive portfolio theme designed with a big, clean layout for photographers and designers.

It features horizontal scrolling and is super easy-to-use.



Mystile is a lightweight and responsive WooCommerce theme designed as a canvas you can use as is or as a basis for your own design to match your products.

This theme comes with a bevy of options and alternate color schemes. It also features a custom homepage and custom shortcode.

The Night Watch


The Night Watch is a simple, elegant and responsive theme ideal for personal blogs.

It features a large head image and a single column design.



mnmlist is about as minimalistic as you’re going to get. This theme has been stripped bare to the absolute basics and is free from any distractions from the content.

It features a clean, uncluttered design with a minimalist footer and nothing else – no header, sidebar or comments.



Less is a fast, minimalist single column design with large text and full-width images. It pulls in the site’s admin Gravatar picture in the header.

It doesn’t come with widgets, though it is responsive and has one custom menu in the header.

According to the developer, this theme is “great for LoLcats.”

DW Minion


This simple and clean theme is ideal for blogging. It features a responsive design and has been optimized for social sharing.

DW Minion supports post formats.



Socute is the free version of a premium eCommerce theme designed by YITHEMES.

It is highly customizable and features a responsive design and various layout options.



Best is a functional, simple theme with a responsive design, page templates and multiple menus.

This theme’s built-in layout options allow you to build a simple blog or a fully-fledged business site. It also comes with theming options and shortcode.



Sinapp is an ideal theme for promoting a mobile app.

It features white-labeled theme administration, a shortcode generator, color skins, MailChimp integration and even free support.



Fruitful is a clean theme, featuring both responsive and fixed layouts.

It comes with a custom options panel, and key features include dummy content, easy social media sharing, custom heading, menu styling, and a JQuery slider.



Moni is a clean, elegant theme that perfect for a range of different sites.

This theme uses custom post types and has various widget areas. In the backend there are drag and drop menus for easy setup and maximum flexibility.



Fejoia is an ultra minimalist theme with a two-tone design.

This theme is ideal for bloggers with its focus on words rather than images.

Hellish Simplicity


Hellish Simplicity is a simple, clean, and responsive design.

Developer Ryan Hellyer originally developed this theme for his blog, but has made it available as a free download since 2008. It has undergone many iterations since then, but has mostly stayed true to its original design.



Padhang is a Medium-esque minimalist theme focusing on content.

This theme features a responsive layout and two widget areas in the footer. It’s easily customizable using the theme customizer that comes with WordPress.

Padhang means “bright” in Javanesse.



Tiny is another ultra minimalistic theme that puts the focus on clean typography.

It is fast, SEO-friendly and features 11 different styles ideal for bloggers.



Clean and retro, Madison has been designed for personal portfolios.

Some of this theme’s features include a responsive design, a Nivo slider on the homepage, a work page with detailed information, Superfish dropdown menu, social links with icons and LESS files included.

Doke Doke


Doke Doke is a cute and clean parallax theme ideal for creative agencies and freelancers.

It features a filterable portfolio.



Min is a super minimalist and responsive theme with no bells and whistles. It has two widgetized footer areas to handle navigation or anything else you want to put there.



Landscape is a clean, minimalist responsive theme ideal for photographers and bloggers.

The focus is squarely on words with this theme, though it’s easy to change that focus with some beautiful images.



Lexiity is a responsive under construction/coming soon/landing template featuring a count down timer.

This theme’s features include white labelled theme administration, shortcode generator, color skins, MailChimp integration. It also comes with support.



Balloons is a responsive parallax theme with a whimsical design. The colors are customizable and this theme integrates well with the WP-Pagenavi plugin.

The front-end language can be easily switched between English and German.



Pinzolo is a beautiful, clean theme with customization options in the WordPress theme customizer.

This theme features a custom header image and featured image header on posts and pages, custom background and color, fixed menu, Ajax loading for blog posts.

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Free WordPress Themes: The Ultimate Guide http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/free-wordpress-themes-ultimate-guide/ http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/free-wordpress-themes-ultimate-guide/#comments Thu, 16 Jan 2014 13:00:00 +0000 http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/?p=124630 There are so many free WordPress themes out there it can put your head in a tail spin. So in an effort to help you sift through the good and the – let’s face it – crap, we’ve put together this ultimate guide to free WordPress themes.

This post is your one-stop, all-you-can-eat resource for information about free WordPress Themes.

There’s an overwhelming number of free themes available – just search Google. It’s easy enough to just download the first free theme that catches your eye. And why wouldn’t you? They’re free!

Why should you fork out your hard-earned cash for a premium themes when there are thousands, if not tens of thousands, available for free?

And you’re right. Why should you pay for something you can get for nothing? Downloading a free theme instead of a premium theme seems like the obvious choice.

But like most things that are too good to be true, free themes come with a catch. You risk downloading malicious code, struggling to customize a poorly written theme or finding out the hard was that you’re all alone with no support when something goes wrong. What might be free now, you’ll pay for later in frustration, time and money.

Stick around, but in this very comprehensive look at free themes, I’ll let you in on everything you need to know about free themes and where you can find safe and reliable options.

Work desk

In this post we’ll cover:

  • What is a Free WordPress Theme?
  • Advantages of Free WordPress Themes
  • Disadvantages of Free WordPress Themes
  • Free WordPress Themes Versus Premium WordPress Themes
  • Should I Use a Free Theme or a Premium Theme
  • Where You Can Find Reliable and Free WordPress Themes
  • Searching for Free WordPress Themes on Google
  • How to Check Your WordPress Themes for Potentially Malicious Code
  • Tips for Choosing Your Ideal Free WordPress Theme

What is a Free WordPress Theme?

A free theme is, well, free.

Some developers create free themes to build their portfolio or just for fun. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of themes shops out there and some, like WooThemes and Graph Paper Press, also create free themes, often to attract users to their site in the hope they’ll empty their wallets for premium content.

If you’ve searched Google for free themes, you’ve no doubt stumbled across WordPress.org and its Theme Repository, the largest collection of free WordPress themes available online.

WordPress software is licensed under the GPL and all themes uploaded to the Repository are also required to be 100 per cent GPL-licensed, or use a GPL-compatible license. This includes all PHP, HTML, CSS, images, fonts, icons and everything else.

What’s the GPL?

The GNU General Public License is a free, copyleft license for software and other kinds of works.

The GNU General Public License, according to its preamble, is “intended to guarantee your freedom to share and change free software – to make sure the software is free for all its users.”

When referring to free software, the GPL means freedom, not price. The GPL is designed to ensure you have the freedom to distribute copies of free software (and charge for this service, if you wish), and that you can change the software or use pieces of it in new, free programs.

The GPL was the first copyleft license made available for general use.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons licenses are another type of public license, which is free of charge to the public. These licenses allow creators to communicate which rights they reserve and which rights they waive for the benefit of recipients or other creators.
Some WordPress themes, which are not part of the Theme Repository, are licensed under Creative Commons rather than the GPL.

Free Themes Are Not All Created Equal

Back in 2009, WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg sought to clarify licensing for free themes. The US-based Software Freedom Law Center gave the legal opinion that PHP in themes must be GPL, while artwork and CSS may be licensed under GPL, but it’s not required.

When downloading any theme it’s important to understand how it is licensed and what you’re legally allowed to do with it.

Advantages of Free WordPress Themes

What’s not to like about something that’s absolutely free? There are many advantages to using a free theme:

Free Themes Are Free!

The awesome thing about free WordPress themes is that they’re FREE!

Free themes aren’t going to burn a hole in your pocket. You can simply download the theme you want and starting using it.

Premium themes can be expensive and if you buy a theme and later decide you don’t want it, or discover that it doesn’t work well with plugins you really need, it can be difficult to get your money back.

Also, why hire a designer and developer to create a site for you when you can simply download one for free?

Community Support

While free themes often come without support, there are plenty of resources out there to help you get started with a free theme you’ve just downloaded or with any advanced customizations you may want to make. The WordPress Support Forums are the first port of call. We’ve also got a rocking support team at WPMU DEV.


If you’re like me, you quickly spot a theme you like, download and activate it and then decide it’s totally wrong for you site. Rinse and repeat.

This can get pretty expensive if you’re buying premium themes at $45 a pop. With free themes, since you don’t have to pay for them you can download as many as you like without compromising your budget. You can experiment with as many themes as you like until you find the right one that suits your needs.

Disadvantages of Free WordPress

While there are many good reasons to download free themes, they do have their limitations and disadvantages.

Not Unique

There are a plethora of blogs out there (including ours) that regularly publish lists of the best free themes, so the best ones are quickly picked up and promoted.

The best free themes can be download hundreds, if not thousands, of times, ensuring your site is about as unique as a banana.

Twenty Thirteen
The Twenty Thirteen default WordPress theme has been download 288,929 times. That’s a heluva lot of sites using the same theme.

Poorly Coded

Many free themes are put together by amateurs who have poor coding skills, leaving your site open to security vulnerabilities if you decide to use the theme.

Poorly coded free themes are also less likely to be localization-ready if you want to translate your site into another language, or SEO-optimized to help your site load faster and perform well in search rankings.

Lack of Features

Free themes usually offer very basic features. The premium theme market is an incredibly competitive place – just look at Theme Forest. Themes need to offer responsive design and dozens of customizations to get ahead of competitors. Free themes more than not have a very limited number of features.

Lack of Support

Free themes often don’t come with customer support, so if you run into a problem you’re on your own.

Rarely Updated

Malicious code
Free themes are notorius for containing nasty code and other bugs.

WordPress is constantly being updated. In fact, the latest version of WordPress, 3.8, was released just two months after WordPress 3.7. It’s important your themes are compatible with the latest version of WordPress. When you use a premium theme, the onus is on the developer to release timely updates. But when you’re using a free theme, you could wait months for an upgrade or not even see one at all.

There are themes in the WordPress Theme Repository that haven’t been updated in more than two years.

Malicious Code and Encrypted Footer Links

Free themes are notorious for being a conduit for malicious code, encrypted spammy links and link injections for malware or whatever else.

Since the Google Penguin update, Google has cracked down on sites that have spammy and encrypted links. Hell, we were even unfairly penalised for it.

Free Themes Versus Premium Themes

It’s important to weigh up what you want to actually achieve with your site. Small personal blogs or portfolio sites may benefit from a free theme because it’s a quick and inexpensive way to get a site up and running. Small businesses that require e-commerce, agencies and large companies would do better with a premium theme. Don’t even think about using a free theme for a complex corporate site.

Premium themes offer many features that are worth paying for and free themes simply can’t compete. If you do decide to use a free theme, it’s important to acknowledge its limitations and accept them.

What is a premium theme?

Theme Forest
Theme Forest is the largest online market place for premium WordPress themes.

Premium themes are themes which have been professionally designed and developed and include advanced features and functionality, such as sliders, e-commerce, styling options, and custom widgets, among other things.

Premium themes are usually sold at a fixed cost or as part of a membership. You’re look at around $45 for a theme at Theme Forest or $99 for a standalone theme at WooThemes. When you buy a theme, it usually comes with support and regular updates for a fixed period of time.

When you hand over money for a premium theme, you can expect a higher standard and quality compared to free themes, as well as a greater selection of theme designs and functionality.

Unfortunately, there are nasty people out there who manipulate and distribute free WordPress themes containing dodgy links and malicious code. Unless you know what to look for in a theme’s files, using these free themes can negatively affect your site’s efficiency and search engine trust and rankings.

Premium themes can give you the peace of mind that a theme is clean and optimized to make your site perform at its best.

Should I Use a Free Theme or a Premium Theme?

When you’re just starting out, it makes sense to download and experiment with free themes so you can get a sense of how WordPress works and how to makes customizations.

If you’re a blogger, a free theme is ideal. Not only is it low cost, but it is unlikely you will need advanced features that comes with premium themes.

If you want to set up a site for your hipster photography, why not download a free WordPress theme?

When your site starts to get more popular, it’s probably time to start thinking about buying a premium theme

Free themes are best for:

  • Bloggers

Premium themes offer features more suited to

  • Popular blogs
  • Small businesses
  • Corporate sites

When making a decision about what kind of theme to use, it’s also worth considering what kind of look and feel you want to project to your visitors. If you use a free theme with a footer link displaying the name of the site where you downloaded it from, it tells people you don’t put much effort into your site.

Where You Can Find Reliable Free Themes

It’s important to remember that malicious code isn’t the defining characteristic of free themes. In fact, there are many quality free themes out there.

Rather, malicious code is a problem of unsafe sites offering those themes. This is why it’s important to download free themes from reliable sources like the ones mentioned below.

WordPress Theme Repository

WordPress Theme Repository

The Theme Repository really is the largest collection of free themes available online (where else would you find it? :)

At last count there were 2216 themes in the repository, which have been download 89,271,832 times. (Remember what I said about the uniqueness of free themes…?)

The Repository has a fantastic feature finder, while allows you to search for themes based on their tags. So if you’re looking for a pink theme with a right sidebar, a fixed layout and a feature header for the holidays, you can search for and find just that.

As I mentioned above, all themes uploaded to the Repository are 100 per cent GPL and are throughly tested by the Theme Review Team, so themes should be free of malicious code.

120 Free WordPress Themes from Premium Theme Developers

Free Premium WordPress themes

Our very own Joe Foley put together this amazing list of premium themes that are also 100 per cent free.

Not only are these themes free, but you can trust that they have been created and released with clean code. Many theme shops don’t provide support for free themes, so it’s a good idea to check this out if you do decide to download a free premium theme.

Free Premium Themes

While theme shops really just want you to buy and download their premium themes, many also release free themes to entice new customers.

Here are just a few:

Themes Kingdom

Themes Kingdom

Themes Kingdom offers six free themes, including a charity theme. The themes features clean designs that come with support.



WooThemes offers a collection of 16 free themes, including e-commerce, blogging and business designs.

Graph Paper Press

Graph Paper Press

Thirteen free themes are available at Graph Paper Press, a theme shop aimed at photographers, artists and small businesses.



Wpshower offers seven free themes that come with features such as custom widgets and a jQuery-powered featured post carousel. The theme shop’s site includes a forum where users can ask questions about free themes.



Themify offers three free themes, which come with features such as responsive layouts, sliders and child theme support.

Searching for Free WordPress Themes on Google

A few years ago, a simple Google search for “free wordpress themes” was very different to what it is today. Back in 2011, a search turned up a gaggle of dodgy, theme websites littered with themes containing malicious code and hidden, spammy links:

Google 2011
A Google search for “free wordpress themes” circa 2011.

Times have certainly changed since then! Since Google’s Penguin update, the search engine has cracked down on spammy links and link schemes. In 2014, a search for “free wordpress themes” brings up a very different set of search results:

Google 2014
A Google search for “free wordpress themes” this year.

I should also add that the top 10 results change daily, albeit slightly.

So what are all these sites? Let’s go through each one and check their credibility.

WordPress Theme Repository

It makes sense the WordPress Theme Repository, the largest collection of free WordPress themes available, ranks highly. In fact, both first and second.

The repository is one of the safest places to find and download free themes. A volunteer Theme Review Team reviews and approves themes submitted for inclusion in the repository. Theme reviews are a way to control the quality of themes that are available in the repository. The team doesn’t review designs, but it does look at the quality of code, ensures themes meet a strict set of guidelines and can handle test data.


WPExplorer offers a collection of free and commercial WordPress themes and plugins sourced from third-party sites, such as Theme Forest. The sites makes money from affiliate links.

According to the site’s terms and conditions, many of the themes available for download on the site are not hosted on the WPExplorer domain, and those that are hosted on the same domain may include a footer link back to WPExplorer.

Importantly, the terms and conditions also specify “any free theme downloaded from WPExplorer.com is done at your own risk and the owner of WPExplorer.com will not be liable for any problems caused from such activity.”


Our blog is an awesome source of WordPress information.

The fourth search listing is the very blog you are reading right now! Back in 2011, we reviewed the top 10 search listings for “free wordpress themes” and found the majority offered themes containing malicious code. The subsequent post, Why You Should Never Search For Free WordPress Themes, was a huge eye opener for WordPress users who had never bothered to look into the code of the free themes they were downloading.

But 2011 was a lifetime ago in the online world so we’re bringing things up-to-date in this post.

Design Razzi

Design Razzi calls itself a design magazine, but it’s really just a collection of lists, i.e. 125+ Free Responsive WordPress Themes 2014, 150+ Best Free Photoshop Text Effects Tutorials, 5+ Best Responsive WordPress Video Themes. The site is crammed with ads.

The WordPress themes section offers lists of themes hosted off-site, such as 125+ Best WordPress Photography Themes and 75+ Best Personal Blogging WordPress Themes. There’s no terms and conditions section. When you click on a theme you are taken to a third-party site where you can download or demo a theme.

My recommendation: download themes from Design Razzi at your own risk.

Smart Magazine WordPress Themes

Smart Magazine Themes offers a huge collection of free and premium themes. The site’s themes are available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license – another type of license, similar to the GPL in its aims – which means anyone who downloads a theme can share it or adapt it, but they must give attribution to the theme’s creator. This means that every theme must display a link in the footer to the Smart Magazine WordPress Themes site.

While all of the themes are free, you need to cough up some cash if you want to get rid of footer links or use any themes for client sites.

Web Designer Depot

WebdesignerDepot.com is a popular online magazine about tips and techniques for web designers and developers.

The seventh entry is Web Designer Depot, a blog about web design and development. The link displayed in Google search is a round-up of themes, The Best Free WordPress Themes, December 2013. The themes listed are all hosted off-site. Many are available on the WordPress Theme Repository, while others are hosted on sites belonging to a theme’s developer.

While the site has terms and conditions, there is nothing related to the free themes promoted on the site. Themes that are available on the repository are generally safe, but you may want to check the files of any free themes you download from other sites. I’ll go into how to check free themes for malicious code later in this post.

Towfiq I.

Towfiq I. is a theme shop run by Bangladeshi developer Towfiq, offering free and premium themes. Obviously, Towfiq has been working hard on his SEO!

I downloaded a bunch of free themes from the site and scanned them for potentially malicious or unwanted code using the Theme Authenticity Checker plugin (I’ll go into more detail about this plugin later in this post). I didn’t find anything out of the ordinary, only links back to the Towfiq site. The fact this site ranks on the first page for this search term makes me wonder how he boosts his SEO?


Hongkiat is a popular design and blogging site that features articles and tutorials on Photoshop, HTML/CSS, WordPress, photography and design. The site’s WordPress section features tips and tricks, much like the WPMU DEV Blog.

The link that appears in Google search is for a list post, 40+ Free Responsive WordPress Themes. A lot of sites, such as our blog, publishes these list posts, which are designed to spark inspiration and provide a handy look at what’s out there.

The posts in this list are all hosted off-site on theme developer sites, so download at your own risk.

Torque Mag

Last but not least, Torque Mag comes in 10th in our Google search. Torque is a WordPress news site run by managed WordPress host WP Engine.

The link, Best Free WordPress Themes from 2013, offers a list of 25 free themes released during 2013. Like other list posts, the themes are all hosted off-site, so download at your own risk.

How to Check Your Theme for Potentially Malicious Code

It’s a good idea to scan new themes of malicious code if you’re not 100 per cent satisfied that the code is clean.

Luckily, there was a few great programs to help you out – and they’re all free, no less.

Theme Authenticity Checker (TAC)

Theme Activity Checker
The Theme Authenticity Checker plugin let’s you quickly check your themes for malicious code.

TAC searches the sources files of every installed theme in your WordPress install for signs of malicious code.

It’s simple to use – just install and activate the plugin. A new menu item will appear in your admin area – Appearance > TAC. If bad code is found, TAC will display the path to the theme file, the line number and a small snippet of the suspicious code.

Exploit Scanner

Exploit Scanner
Search your site for suspicious files and code with Exploit Scanner.

Exploit Scanner searches the files on your site, as well as the posts and comments tables of your database, for anything suspicious. It also examines your list of active plugins for unusual filenames.

This plugin is also easy to use – just install and activate it and go to Tools > Exploit Scanner to run a scan.

Sucuri Security – SiteCheck Malware Scanner

Sucuri provides a basic plugin that allows you to quickly scan your site for malware and blacklisting.

Sucuri scans your site for malware, spam, blacklisting and other security issues like. htaccess redirects and hidden eval code.

Like the plugins mentioned above, just install and activate the plugin. Sucuri Free will appear in the admin sidebar with various options for checking your site’s security.

The plugin available in the WordPress Plugin Repository is free, though Securi also offers premium plans.

Tips for Choosing Your Ideal Free Theme

When choosing a free theme, only you know what your needs are so it helps to write them down keep them in mind when searching for a theme.

  • What features do you need? Do you need a slider? A portfolio? A great free theme should meet your present and future needs.
  • Is the theme easy to customize? Whether you’re a coding king or a WordPress newb, it’s important to keep in mind what customizations you may need to make to your site if the original design doesn’t meet all your needs.
  • Does your site fit a particular genre? If you are putting together a site for a specific purpose, such as a portfolio, photography or restaurant site, searching for themes available for your genre may help you save time.
  • Is there support available for the theme? Free themes often come without support, though some theme developers are happy to help. It’s a good idea to check on this before you download a theme.
  • Is the theme regularly updated? As I mentioned above, there are themes in the WordPress Theme Repository that haven’t been updated in more than two years.
  • How old is the themes? Following on from my last point, check how old a theme is before you download it because it may not be compatible with the latest version of WordPress.

Where do you go for free and reliable WordPress Themes? Tell us in the comments below.

Image credits: WikiMedia CommonsAlan O’Rourkejurvetson, Unsplash.

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