WordPress originally began life as a blogging platform but has grown to be a Content Management System (CMS) and is now so popular, that it is now used by thousands of companies and corporations.
Many thousands of free themes of differing purposes and quality have been released to the public, but yet during the last few years more and more developers have popped up selling premium WordPress themes, but are they worth the money?
Personal Users vs Business Users
Whether or not premium themes are worth the money will depend largely on your usage of WordPress. If you are using it as a personal blog paying $40 for a theme may seem crazy, however if you are not a coder you may find it difficult to customize free themes.
Not all free themes come with documentation nor is there any guarantee the developer will provide technical support, but the documentation WordPress provides should be sufficient as a guideline if you are technically savvy.
If you are using WordPress as a company to develop your site, and you can afford the cost, then it may be worth investing money on a premium theme as there are some benefits over using free themes.
Below are some benefits worth noting when deciding whether to take out your wallet, or credit card in this case, or not:
Premium themes usually come with a control panel, although some free themes do as well but not always and often are not as thorough or advanced as ones provided by premium themes, which can be used to easily customize the appearance of the site. You won’t have to dig into the code to change the logo, colours, column width or other matters relating to the appearance of the website.
Documentation and Technical Support
Technical Support Agent
Premium themes and frameworks, such as Thesis, are usually designed and developed by professional designers and coders and will include documentation and professional technical support, however the support will depend on how professional the theme provider is.
Some themes, depending on the type of site the themes was built for, come preloaded with plugins and scripts, such as image carousels, shopping carts and featured posts, that add professionalism and extend functionality of your site.
Paid themes are browser-tested
Since premium themes are designed by professional designers, you should also expect the themes to look the same on all major versions of browsers. If you’re a designer or developer, you’ll appreciate the headaches this will save you.
Since premium themes are basically finished products it would not require your coder a large amount of time to customize it to suit your needs; free themes may require more work and maintenance.
Two WordPress users have given us their insight and have provided us with opposing views on premium themes.
Gerard Cunningham (@faduda), a journalist, writer and researcher, says that premium themes are not worth it and that he has yet to find a premium theme that does something he “can’t find/hack for free.”
Neil (@Nerin_), also a writer, says that he is first and foremost a writer, so premium themes “removed a lot of the hassle.” He says that some people “just want to get customisation out of the way and onto content.” He would recommend paying for premium themes, however he has had bad experiences with premium theme providers who have been unwilling to resolve issues and questions, and even deleted negative reviews and requests for help on their site and Facebook page.
Beware of Poor Customer Service
This brings us to an interesting point. As with all service providers, customer service is hugely important and good customer service may just make that $80 price tag seem more worthwhile. With all things regarding money, it’s important to research the company you’re buying the theme from in terms of technical support and complaints and/or praises the company has received. Even for free themes it is also worth checking whether the developer will provide any technical support.
Whether or not premium themes are worth the money will depend entirely on your circumstances and what you’re using WordPress for. Free themes may suffice for personal blogs and sites that reach a small audience. If you’re running a business, premium themes may be worth the money if you want to build your website quickly and professionally.
Let us know your thoughts on premium themes vs free themes? If you have used a premium theme provider, have you had bad experiences them regarding technical support?
WordPress logo image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and Creative Commons