20+ Free High Quality WordPress Themes Worth Checking Out in 2017

When I first started working with WordPress many years ago, themes in the WordPress Theme Directory were “okay.” That is to say, they weren’t great but they did the job well until it was time to get serious and buy a premium theme. But times, they are a-changin’.

Theme shops have changed the game, lifting the standard of themes you’ll find in the free repository with free versions of their products. And these free versions come complete with features you would have previously only found in premium themes like WooCommerce support and responsive design.

Gone are the days when downloading a free theme meant settling for a subpar theme. Now you can – and should – expect a well-coded theme that’s completely customizable using the Theme Customizer.

Here’s our list of the some of the best free WordPress themes you’ll find in the WordPress Theme Directory that have been developed by premium theme shops, plus a few released by independent theme developers.

  • Flash

    Flash is a good-looking multipurpose theme with a minimalist aesthetic – ideal for business and corporate sites. It features multiple pre-built demos, which you can import in seconds using the ThemeGrill Demo Importer plugin. The theme also integrates with the Flash Toolkit plugin (available to download for free from the WordPress Plugin Directory) and SiteOrigin’s Page Builder plugin (which you can also download and use for free), making this theme user-friendly to set up and use.

    Other features of this theme include a responsive design, multiple blog layouts, Woocommerce support, multiple header styles, multiple color options, boxed and wide layout, 6+ widget areas and 11+ custom widgets, product filters, plus it’s optimized for speed and SEO. And if you want even more features, there’s a pro version of this theme available for $69.

  • Shapely

    If looks are deceiving, as the saying goes, then Shapely is a perfect example. On the surface, this free WordPress theme appears simplistic and, I hate to say it, doesn’t seem to have much going on in terms of features. But when you look beneath the surface, this versatile one page WordPress theme comes with a bunch of customization options, not to mention multiple homepage widgets that can be used to add portfolio, testimonials, parallax sections, product and service information, call to action button and much more.

    Shapely also supports most free and premium WordPress plugins, including like WooCommerce, Jetpack, Gravity Forms and Contact Form 7 – reassuring when you’re setting up a site that relies on some of these popular plugins. It’s obviously a multipurpose theme and with the right content and images is ideal for business, magazines, blogs and personal sites.

    Other features worth noting include that fact it’s responsive and SEO optimized, and mobile-friendly.

  • Sydney

    Sydney is a slick business theme with a gorgeous fullscreen sliding (or static) header and nice touches like subtle animated text slide-ins and hover animations. This theme is a great option for businesses and offers plenty of customization options, including Google Fonts, unlimited color combinations, and sticky navigation. It’s super easy to set everything up using the WordPress Theme Customizer.

    The homepage uses “blocks,” which you can drag and drop and rearrange how you want it to look. You can also set parallax background images for any row of blocks, which is pretty cool. Like other contemporary themes, it’s responsive and translation-ready.

  • Zerif Lite

    With more than 100,000 active installs, Zerif Lite is one of the most popular free themes available for WordPress. And it’s easy to see why. Thanks to its minimalist design, versatile layout and plethora of customizations, this theme is easy to mould into whatever site you want.

    Built on BootStrap, it features a fullscreen header and support parallax backgrounds. It’s also compatible with WooCommerce, WPML for translation support, RTL (right to left). It also comes with the standard “must-haves” you would expect from any contemporary theme: it’s SEO-friendly, retina-ready and responsive.

  • Kale

    Whether you like this theme’s hipster namesake or not, there’s no denying this theme’s charm. Aesthetically, it’s gorgeous. The homepage features plenty of space to display posts but isn’t at all cluttered, making it perfect for bloggers, and in particular food bloggers (in case the demo images didn’t give it away!).

    Want to set up an online shop? Kale is a great choice. It supports WooCommerce, a super popular eCommerce plugin for WordPress, making it easy to sell your product (maybe a collection of recipes?) in no time. It’s responsive, of course, and when you look under the hood, it supports other important stuff, like SEO and RTL.

    Other cool features: built-in menus for displaying your social presence, multiple blog feed layouts, text and image logo options, sidebar size options (compact and default), banner/slider color overlay options, and more.

  • Spacious

    Minimalist multipurpose themes are a dime a dozen these days, but what I like about Spacious is that it sticks to the basics: it’s responsive, supports eCommerce (WooCommerce in particular), it’s translation-ready, and has a lovely sliding header. Spacious comes with a heap of customizations you can play around with, including four page layouts, two page templates, four blog display types, 13 widget areas, five custom widgets tailored for business websites, color options to match your branding, boxed and wide layouts, and light and dark skins.

    With the right images and content, this theme would be a great option for any business website.

  • Writee

    Writee is a blogging theme, yes, but it makes its own rules. Borrowing from multipurpose themes, it features a large hero (slider, if you want) header, but also allows for a sidebar, which you don’t see all that often in themes these days. It comes with a heap of options for rich customizations, like a fullwidth or boxed header. It’s also translation-ready, which is super handy when most WordPress users speak English as a second language. There are also nice touches like custom widgets and, of course, you can use the Theme Customizer in the backend of WordPress to further customize the look and feel of your site.

    Other features: responsive and mobile-friendly. Oh, and check out the typography – it really helps make this theme stand out.

  • Illdy

    What I love about this BootStrap theme is the use of color. There isn’t a lot of color – a splash of yellow here, some purple there – but it’s used effectively to give this minimalist (there’s that word again!) theme some personality.

    Thanks to the Theme Customizer in WordPress, it’s super easy to customize this theme however you like – colors, hero images, tweaking sections, you name it. And also thanks to its one page layouts, it’s perfect for businesses, agencies and even personal websites.

    Like a lot of the free WordPress themes in this list, Illdy is compatible with WooCommerce and Font Awesome, and also supports popular plugins including Contact Form 7, Jetpack, and W3 Total Cache.

  • Fluida

    Fluida is a modern and grid-based WordPress theme that is pretty darn nice! It’s a HTML5/CSS theme, it’s responsive and, thanks to its framework, comes with more than 100 Theme Customizer settings. Yep, that’s a lot of settings!

    The theme’s images have all been created using HTML5, CSS3 and icon fonts so it’s extremely fast to load. It’s also SEO, RTL and translation-ready, using microformats and Google readable Schema.org microdata. There are also 100+ social icons, three menus, six widget areas, eight page templates, and all post formats.

    For developers who want to further customize Fluida using a child theme, there’s clean code, either hookable or pluggable functions with clear descriptions and more than 25 action hooks.

  • Edge

    Smart typography choices can really make a theme, and Edge is no exception. This gorgeous theme makes the most of free Google Fonts, in particular Lato and Playfair Display, a great sans serif/serif combination.

    Edge is easily customizable from the aptly named Theme Customizer in WordPress and is ideal for bloggers (with the sidebar) and businesses (without the sidebar and some homepage tweaking).

    It’s also responsive, mobile-friendly, and optimized for speed.

  • Anissa

    Another gorgeous WordPress theme that’s completely free. Seriously, the standard of themes in the WordPress.org repository has really lifted over the past couple of years!

    Anissa is a theme for bloggers, and particularly female bloggers with its (cliche, I hate to say it!) feminine styling and elegant typography. It features a customer image header with text and you can upload your own logo to match. This theme also has a featured post carousel, which allows you to choose the category you want to use and the number of posts to display. Other nice touches include an “About Me” widget that allows you to add a photo and social media link, and you can add social links to the header.

    Other important features worth noting: responsive design, mobile-friendly, WooCommerce compatible

  • Brilliant

    This beautiful magazine and blogging theme for WordPress sure has style. Brilliant features a fixed width homepage where you can feature your latest blog posts. There’s also a customizable sidebar for displaying comments, categories, and recent posts. In fact, everything is customizable in this theme (as it should be!) thanks to the Theme Customizer in the WordPress admin, so you can change colors, the header, widgets in the footer and more to suit your branding and style.

    Yes, it’s a pretty simple theme, but if you’re looking for a no-nonsense theme to show off your words, and you’re not planning on opening an online store, then you can’t go wrong with this theme.

  • Optimizer

    I must admit, I got distracted looking at the preset templates for this theme. Dang, they’re gorgeous! But I digress… Optimizer is a fantastic multipurpose theme that comes with a whole lotta powerful features, including the ability to create a full blown site with drag and drop widgets, enabling you to add any type of content anywhere on your site without touching code.

    Customizations include: fullwidth and boxed layout options, image slider, easy logo upload, 600+ fonts, the ability to add custom CSS, and unlimited color options. It’s responsive, SEO-friendly, optimized for mobile, retina and translation-ready. This theme also supports WooCommerce, bbPress, MailChimp, and Contact Form 7.

  • Shop Isle

    With its stunning fullscreen header, Shop Isle is a bold eCommerce/BootStrap theme designed for WooCommerce stores. It’s pretty flexible, too – you can use it as a one page business site, and make customizations to take advantage of features like parallax. This theme also provides support for WPML for language translation, Photo Gallery grid, Contact Form 7, Meta Slider, SiteOrigin Page Builder and Jetpack. It’s also SEO friendly and responsive.

    Shop Isle is also easy to tweak using the Theme Customizer in WordPress, so you can update fonts, colors, logos, social links and the theme layout.

  • Olsen Light

    Olsen is a straight up blogging theme for WordPress and features a traditional blog posts on the left and sidebar on the right design.

    It features all the usual trimmings you’ll find in contemporary themes: custom widgets, social networking icons, and translation support and SEO support. It’s also completely customizable from the Theme Customizer in WordPress, so you can update the header, menus, layout, footer, and colors.

  • Teletype

    Teletype is a minimalist blogging theme built on BootStrap. It comes with a lovely masonry post layout and you can drag and drop to re-order sections on the homepage, which is pretty cool.

    Features includes the ability to completely customize the homepage, including fonts (Google Fonts), colors, the header image, background colors, logo, social media icons and more. You can also turn the sidebar on and off, depending on your design preference. This theme is also translation ready.

  • Sensible WP

    Sensible WP is yet another responsive multipurpose theme. It’s pretty basic as far as multipurpose themes go and doesn’t offer WooCommerce support, so this theme is better suited to agencies and small businesses that don’t have plans to sell online.

    As far as customizations go, you can control all the usual tweaks in the Theme Customizer, including colors, fonts, logo, and more. This theme also comes with XML demo content, which is handy for those who don’t like setting up a skeleton website. It’s also SEO and translation-friendly.

  • Eleganto

    Despite its name, Eleganto is neither graceful or stylish, but it does have a slick design suited for businesses. The homepage is easily customizable and features cool animations and a assymetrical parallax effects, which you don’t see very often.

    This theme is built on BootStrap and is responsive, SEO-friendly and translation-ready. Customizations include: unlimited color options, social links, parallax background effects, five portfolio animations, more than 100 theme options, custom background, sticky menu, left or/and right sidebars with five size options, slider, section carousel, testimonials carousel, blog section, and contact section with Contact Form 7 support. Eleganto is also WooCommerce compatible.

  • Astrid

    This elegant WordPress theme is a delight to use thanks to its easy customization on the backend and stylish design on the front-end. Astrid features all the standard trimmings you would expect from any theme: customizable header, theme options via the Theme Customizer, and support for translations. The theme is also responsive, which is fairly standards for all new themes these days.

    Astrid features a lovely hard header and clear CTA on the homepage, which is ideal for business websites. It’s also WooCommerce compatible if you’re looking for a simple, minimalist store theme.

    Other nice touches: smooth scrolling and subtle animations.

  • Hemingway

    I’m a big fan of Anders Norén’s themes minimalist WordPress themes and Hemingway is no exception. This simple theme is perfect for bloggers with its fullwidth header and standard blog posts on the left and sidebar on the right design. What I like about this theme is that, like Ernest Hemingway it’s namesake, it’s not trying to be flashy or over the top – the design shines through its economical design.

    Features include: responsive design, parallax scrolling, custom accent colors, custom logo, and widgets for Video, Flickr and Dribbble. there are also some nice page templates, and the code is translation-ready.

  • Hoffman

    Another Anders Norén design, Hoffman is a beautifully minimal one page WordPress theme for bloggers. It has a thoughtful responsive design and the use of icon fonts makes sure that Hoffman looks great on devices of all sizes – big and small. This theme supports the gallery, quote and video post formats, all presented in unique and impactful ways. Standard run-of-the-mill posts look great as well. It comes with built-in support for the Jetpack plugin’s infinite scroll function and tiled gallery.

    Hoffman includes five custom widgets for recent posts with thumbnails, recent comments with avatars, Flickr, Dribbble and video. You can also customize it further by changing the accent color, switching the background color or adding a background image. It also includes two page templates, support for post editor styles and support for theme translation. Included translations: Swedish/svenska.

  • Lovecraft

    And another Anders Norén-designed WordPress theme! Lovecraft is a beautiful two-column WordPress theme for bloggers. It features a two-column design with considered typography choices – it really is a joy to read. The big header image makes a striking first impression and is replaced with the post thumbnail on single posts and pages.

    Lovecraft has built-in support for Jetpacks Infinite Scroll function, which means that new posts will be loaded as soon as you reach the bottom of the page. You can also use the Jetpack Tiled Galleries function to display posts in a beautiful masonry grid. This theme is built to scale gracefully to any and all screen sizes – from a 27″ desktop display to a 3.5″ smartphone. The navigation and search form is hidden behind easy-to-access toggles on mobile. It also features editor styles, a full-width page template, three custom widgets and translation-ready code.

  • Fukasawa

    Okay, one last Anders Norén-designed WordPress theme. Fukasawa is a minimal masonry blog theme for photographers and collectors.

    Fukasawa features a beautifully minimal layout that displays your posts, images and videos in a Pinterest-style grid. It’s perfect for sharing your content and, in particular, your images. There’s support for the image, video and gallery formats, and presents your galleries in a beautiful slideshow above your posts. Regular old posts look great as well.

    Like other Anders Norén themes, Fukasawa enables you to load new posts without reloading the page using Jetpack’s Infinite Scroll feature, and display your images in a beautiful grid with Jetpack Tiles Galleries.

    You can also change the accent color, upload your own logo and use the sidebar widget area (including five custom widgets) to give Fukasawa a personal touch.

  • Make

    Make is a free open source builder theme that – according to its developers – has been refined over 5,198 times. Okay, that’s a lot of development time, but what makes it special? Its biggest feature is its intuitive Make Layout Engine, which is basically a page builder for WordPress. It’s designed to work like a native component of the WordPress page editor, so if you feel comfortable writing a post, it won’t be much of a learning curve getting used to building pages.

    You can take care of all customizations using the Theme Customizer in WordPress. Every detail, big or small, is yours to customize, including fonts, line height, spacing, even word spacing.

    Make is WooCommerce compatible, so if your plan is to build an online shop you won’t have any trouble selling physical products. If you want to sell digital goods, Make is compatible with Easy Digital Downloads. And if you want to add forms to your site, simply drop in Gravity Forms.

    This theme is also responsive, SEO-friendly and retina-ready.

Raelene Morey
Seriously, when did the standard of free themes in the WordPress Theme Directory suddenly get so good? This list is a collection of our favorites. If you have a favorite that we missed, share the link below in the comments!

18 Responses

  • Mr. LetsFixTheWorld

    I’ve recently had to look through themes for three completely different types of businesses. One site is for a café, another for custom jewelry, another for software. There are themes slightly targeted to these “vertical” applications. (Note the awesome evolution of WP here where blogging is now just a feature, not the primary application.) The more time I spend looking at themes the more I’m able to differentiate them based on immediate suitability for the application, ease of use, customizability without getting into code, and basic functionality. Some free themes are really just a tease for an up-sell. Others are so good that I feel like paying the developer, even for their free theme, just so they don’t lose interest in their work. My approach is to install a theme, spend about 30 minutes in the Customizer, and see what it takes to modify the home page, a single post page, and the various widgets and menus. If it’s not feeling good in 30 minutes then it gets uninstalled.

    And for me that’s really at the heart of all of this. I no longer look for great themes. I look for themes that serve the immediate purpose adequately. Theme developers get bored. They move on to the next fun project. They don’t want to look back and maintain what they’ve already created. WP changes frequently and developers are looking to create new themes, not to retrofit existing ones. So, as much fun as it is to look for great themes, the reality is that “good enough” is acceptable. We shouldn’t spend too much time looking for “great”, because we’re going to have to do this at least once per year if we’re going to keep a site fresh and functional. There is a never-ending stream of “high quality themes for 2014/15/16/17/+..”.

    It does help to look for consistent developers who produce a new good theme with each new WP update. In business terms, getting a completely new theme from a new developer is going to cost time=money. Developers come and go so (unfortunately) if you’re doing this for a living it probably makes good sense to align yourself with a single theme publisher where there is more than one developer. This helps to get the consistency of the vendor, not the individual.

    I’m really sorry WPMU DEV, but I recently spent a lot of time with Upfront/Parrot and was not impressed. This is at least the third time that I’ve given this parent theme an opportunity for a new site. It failed in many ways when editing individual pages, and was frustrating and inadequate to create a common multi-page site. I absolutely will not install Upfront or related child themes for at least another year. Perhaps by then you’ll have worked out the multitude of usability issues and overall inadequacies. Please don’t ask what the problems were. I started to document the issues in my 30 minute re-review but after spending 2+ hours with more note taking about problems than progress on a web page I decided my time needed to be redirected to current efforts rather than doing QA for someone else’s theme.

    And that’s precisely my point about theme selection and these frequent reviews of current themes. If you spend too much time fighting with a theme, chuck it and go for something else. Our task is to create websites, not to debug other people’s software. There are plenty of themes to choose from. Don’t waste time=money on themes that might look great and have a lot of nice features, but they’re a pain to use. Add that to your criteria for choosing a theme for your next project.

  • Lots of valid points there. You’re absolutely right that a lot of developers want something that’s “good enough” that can be quickly customized. I actually do this myself. And I do the same as you with the Customizer – if a theme takes too long to tweak, I move on to another theme because they’re a dime a dozen. Like everyone else, I don’t have time to spend researching how to use a theme, I just want it to work!

    It’s a shame you haven’t had a great experience with Upfront, though. Improving its usability it something we’re constantly working on. I’ve run into problems using it too, but I have to say, when I’ve tried other page builders, or just generally other themes, I always go back to using Upfront because I haven’t found another tool that lets me build websites exactly the way I want. I have a few sites running on Upfront now, though I’ve had a lot of experience using it! If you still have your notes, please pass them on to our support team as we appreciate any feedback on how we can improve our products.

  • Recruit

    Agree with Tony – I follow pretty much the same process now – 30 minutes or out! Got caught so many times when I was starting out – fell for the “hype” of some so called “best-seller” top themes in Themeforest and other places – only to be totally frustrated with the lack of flexibility – after purchase, of course.

    Now I pretty much have my stable of “good enough” themes that I know I don’t have to jump through hoops to make the standard type of adjustments and settings. So far have had very good “luck” with my choices and “end of life” period for the theme is about 3-4 years, not annual makeovers.

    Unfortunately, also agree with the lack of real-world business site flexibility for most of the Upfront themes. My clients are business companies – and are not interested in the “arty farty” pretty layouts. They are serious about conversion tactics, traffic, etc. and they need ROI from their websites. However, will keep an eye open for future developments.

  • New Recruit

    I’ve found a lot of beautiful themes here! Thanks! I started working as a web designer not long ago, so I don’t have much expereince. But I know that many people prefer using paid themes because of their quality. Recently I’ve tried 20 Mind-Blowing WooCommerce Portfolio Themes For Your eStore in 2016 from and I really liked them. But I understand that free themes give a possibility to save money, especially for such a beginner like me.

  • New Recruit

    Most of the people used free theme WordPress Themes for their website and put great effort for creating an awesome website but at the end all efforts vain because free themes have limited features and functionality which cannot help to create an awesome theme. So, i recommend you to buy premium themes for your websites. For blog and magazine web site i suggest MagUp – Modern Styled Magazine WordPress Theme with Paid / Free Guest Blogging System. It looks clean, attractive and flexible.

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