WordPress, like any other blogging platform, has a vast array of free themes to choose from. These themes give you the option to customise the layout of your site and to highlight whatever features you prefer, whether that’s your images or your content.
But these free themes can only give you a limited amount of customisation options – and that’s why there are also paid-for themes available for WordPress too. You only have to Google ‘WordPress Themes’ to notice there’s an even larger amount of paid-for themes available – so what are the differences between the free and paid offerings and is it worth paying out for a theme or using a free one?
Support and quality
Support is an area that is affected by the option you select. All themes offered from within the search facility of your WordPress site are covered by WordPress support. Premium (or paid-for) themes are supported by their individual developers and/or the company that are providing them.
This also means WordPress-backed themes have to undergo a strict review process, ensuring they are up to the same high standard as other WordPress themes. Premium commercial themes however, can vary greatly in their quality. This doesn’t mean they’re automatically a lower standard though – it just means you need to do your homework around them, BEFORE handing over your money!
As mentioned above, customisation can vary throughout the different free themes. Often you will only have a very limited selection of customisable fields – such as overall layout options, sidebars and header images – although some will also offer layout colour and widget area layout customisation too.
Premium themes will often offer more customisable options and/or the option to pay for extra customisation plugins or customised developer work – although this can work out VERY expensive if you’re not careful.
Custom built theme options
There is another option for those who are more adventurous or computer savvy – using a ‘custom build-your-own’ theme. Rather than paying a developer to build your WordPress site for you, you use a theme that allows you to build your site from ground up.
These themes often use drag and drop elements to allow you a seriously high level of customisation. If this is your ideal choice, check out the likes of ‘Headway Themes’ (an annual renewable subscription-based theme, starting at $59 a year) or Genesis Framework from Studio Press – priced at a one-off fee of $59.95.
Another option is ‘Thrive Editor’. It doesn’t allow you to customise sidebars, headers and widget areas, BUT it does allow you to create landing pages that override your theme – so you could create great looking sales pages and blog pages – and this may be just enough customisation for you, especially if you’re into marketing and/or sales orientated businesses. Thrive Editor is a one-off payment, priced at $59.
Whatever theme you opt for, it pays to do your homework and test if it’s compatible with your existing plugins etc. If you’re feeling unsure of what to do or feel it’s better to hand your website design over to a professional, why not check out our WordPress website design packages, starting from £595? You can find the details here.
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