WordPress allows for thousands of free themes. Now the question comes to many developers minds is, is it better to have a WordPress theme that is free or that which is paid for?  In this blog post we are going to try to answer this question by giving different pros and cons for free themes and paid themes.

Let’s start with free themes. The biggest pro with free themes… they are free. Most companies give away these themes as a gateway to buying more of the premium themes or extra added features that are not included in the particular theme. The fact that these themes are free means that for you, as a developer, you will not need to invest beforehand in a premium expensive theme. You can actually make a beautiful and simple website without requiring to pay for any premium theme and this is the route that many people take.

The flip side to this is that many free themes are common And not very unique. This means that you may develop a website today and tomorrow, find a similar layout on a different website. if you’re developing on behalf of a client, the client may not be very happy once they see this & this may cause you to be viewed as a less qualified developer compared to Developers who will provide a unique layout.

Challenges free themes is that they are vulnerable to attacks. This is because, with a large number of downloads and availability to the vast public, it’s possible that a hacker can take the code for this theme add malicious code to the theme.  this creates vulnerability for both your website and your hosting account. For this reason, it is most advised that if you’re going to download a free theme, that you downloaded from the WordPress interface and nowhere else.

The other challenge with free themes is, that many of these themes are not regularly updated.  This can pose security challenge to your website. Even when this does not result in a security breach, your website is going to look dated and you will not be able to update it as flexibly as you would in a paid theme.

By this point, you probably already see where I am headed. I’m a huge advocate of paid themes.  The reason I would advise every developer to start off with a paid theme is that everything is much easier when you use a paid theme.

From development to managing updates, you will have it easy when you are using a paid theme compared to a free one. The reason for this is simple. The companies that create these themes have a reputation to manage. This means that they will regularly perform security updates, and will provide new layouts that will allow your website to look premium even when you have stayed for a while since you purchased this theme.

In addition to this, paid themes come with bundled plugins that you would have to buy separately if you are using a free theme. This means that you actually get better value for your money when you buy a premium theme because of these extra plugins.  one of the themes we use for many of the websites we develop as deepAfrica is DIVI. This theme comes with several plugins that are free to use and are premium.  the only catch is you have to buy the theme for you to be able to use the plugins. Most of the other theme developers also have similar features, where they give you a premium theme at a price, then bundled together with that theme, plugins that you would use to work together with the theme.

The other great thing with premium WordPress themes is that you rely very little on extra plug-ins since functionality is greatly enhanced within the theme itself. With many free WordPress themes, most of the functionality is limited.   This means that you would need to download extra plugins to add functionality to your original website.  The challenge is using multiple plugins For your website is that plugins tend to slow down a website.  when you have a lot of traffic coming to your site, slow speeds will definitely affect the performance of your website. The other challenge with having many free templates on your WordPress site is that you will have to update your website fairly regularly. if you miss these updates your turtle be vulnerable to hacking attacks and this will be a problem for you and your website users.

With many WordPress themes starting at around $30,  my advice would be just going for a WordPress theme that is premium rather than the free ones when developing a site for yourself and your clients.