8 Essential Steps To Differentiate Free And Premium WordPress Themes

December 6th, 2008 by under Blog, Tips

There are plenty of awesome wordpress themes available for download. Either free or premium (paid). But to choose the one suit you the most is hard. I think it is because there is too many good options, hard to decide. Agree?

Well, I will try to guide you in order to choose the best theme for your site/blog.


There is a reason why this option comes first. It is because aesthetic is something very subjective. If you can’t accept the theme from your the sight then you won’t get it no matter how good is it. Agree?

Take a look at the themes below. Before I tell you what functions it provides or how good it is. From the design, you already “want” to get it. At least, you might think of give it a try.



wordpress fun


Support and Documentation

There are several premium themes are providing support via forum. Which means it is actually supported by the community as well. This will indirectly reduce the workloads of the theme developers. For example WooThemes. I never purchase their memberships so, I not dare to comment on their quality of supports.

Some free theme developers themes will provide support, but generally you’ll be forced to search for your own solutions through Google searches and forums. You may get some help from the developer, but that can hardly be expected with a free theme.

With most premium themes you’ll get slightly better support. You still are likely to have a forum to visit for fixes, but the theme developers themselves are usually able and willing to help out through the forums.

Advanced Features

A premium theme should be offer some additional features. So on top of getting a better-looking design, the purchaser may also get improved functionality. The features available will vary from theme to theme. Free themes rarely have any kind of advanced features, except my crybook did provide this.

below are some screenshot for the custom theme settings.

our community



After it had passed your first test, and then you have to examine the theme functions. You have to be clear on what kind of site/blog you want to run. Not every advance theme is good for you. So, pick the one can meet your requirements will be enough.

For example, if you looking for a simple personal blog. You not really need something advance such as able to turn the theme into magazine style layout, drop down menu, custom admin menu etc. take a look at my free theme, crybook. Personally, I like it very much. It is simple, easy to use and have all the functions I need for a personal blog.


If you are going to build a site that can support multiple authors, to build a community. Then you will need something advance. For example, custom admin menu to set up the theme, different author page, a good comment system. The most important is a theme with clean code and layout. It is because a site like this normally is very informative, full with text and images. Then, you can look for something like below.

our community

Cross Browsers, Comment Codes, SEO Friendly

This is something more technical but needed to take into consideration when picking a theme for your blog/site. I think most of the premium theme did this ( not all ). However, I also see some free themes did provide this.

Cross Browsers, which means the theme can be displayed 95% the same in all browsers including IE6. I know many developers hate IE6, me too! However, I always try to make sure my theme is cross browsers and also css/xhtml validated. This is my minimum requirement.

Comment Codes, which means there are instruction within the codes by the author. That will help the users to modify the themes. I call this as documentation. But you may notice that my theme doesn’t provide this feature. Yeah, I’m kind of lazy to write that. I prefer to include all in a help file.

SEO friendly, well, I not dare to talk like an SEO expert here. I don’t know much about it. But I do know some basic rules of it when developing a SEO friendly theme.

If the theme has passed these criteria, then you getting closer to make the decision. Next, you will need to decide to pay for it? or get it for free!

Premium Theme. Worth it?

Nowadays, premium themes are getting better and better. It become very competitive. I would say, a theme can only considered as a premium theme when it fulfill the four elements above.

Personally, I think a premium theme shouldn’t be priced more than US $ 49. However, how about those who are selling membership? Well, it’s depend on you. Will you use all the themes they provide? Are you really need that much of theme? it is a single user license which means you only can used it once. I leave this to you.


From here, I found that ThemeForest is offering something reasonable. With only US $30 to get a very high quality premium theme, with good documentation and support. I am the reviewer for the wordpress theme there, so, I am the one who are controlling the quality as well.


I recommend you to note down the functions you need then only search for the right theme for you. Because I’ve seen many so called premium themes out there is not up to the standard. Even worst than a free theme. I don’t think I can provide any example here, sorry. Please be understanding.

Resources for Premium themes

I never tried any of their products, so, I recommend you to contact them for further information. try with your own risk.

If you are going to do a serious blogging. Then you need a very functional theme to do the job. Some tips for you, readability define everything! Always go for simple and clean theme then I am sure it worth your money.

Free Theme. Free means no quality?

if you are a wordpress users then you must tried a free theme before. The default theme is already a free theme! I will share my opinion on using free themes. I found that the free theme is always incomplete. I still can’t find the answer why? Every theme I download, there must be something that I don’t like. Technical wise, the codes aren’t clean and structured enough.

Since it is free, so we can’t expect any better support from the author too. So, when you want to have a personal blog which will not generate any incomes then I recommend you go for free themes. There is also some high quality free themes out there. still, I never try it, so I can’t comment on their support as well.

Resources for Free themes

Need more? Google it!

Some Findings about Premium Themes and free Themes

Read more from the expert, see what the said about premium themes and free themes. What is the advantages and disadvantages.


I hope this article and give you a basic picture of the different between premium theme and free theme. And you also be able to choose the best theme for your blog/site.

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  1. Gofree December 9th, 2008
  2. محمد المتولي November 25th, 2009
  3. kekeke August 20th, 2011