The best WordPress themes to make your site look and feel professional.
If you run a WordPress website, chances are sooner or later you’re going to be looking at changing your theme to something new, more professional looking and more capable.
What is a WordPress theme?
A WordPress theme is what makes the visual layout and design of the front end of your website. It’s what determines where your menu, sidebar, and footer area will appear. It determines the color scheme, font styling, and how your posts and pages will be laid out.
Think of it as the skin of your website. Simply changing a theme will change the skin, its visual appearance quite drastically.
It’s like the clothes that you wear. When you go to work you’ll wear your work clothes, but when you go out for the evening you’ll change your jacket, hat, shoes, pants or dress and you’ll look quite different than you did earlier.
But you’ll still be the same underneath.
This is the same for your website.
Your content, menu, and category structures, and everything else will stay intact, but how they are presented will vary from theme to theme.
Themes even offer different features, such as visual drag and drop page builders, support for e-commerce, social media features, image galleries, and much more.
Free themes vs. paid themes
There are so many themes to choose from, many are free, and some are premium.
You can choose from one of the thousands of free WordPress themes that look pretty and will cover the basics. Alternatively, you can invest in a premium theme, which tends to look very professional and have many added features. But aside from the cost, there are many key differences.
Free themes will generally cover the basics of what you need. They will enable you to make the default WordPress website look a little more appealing than the basic themes that are bundled with it.
They make a great starting point when you’re getting your website up and running. As they are free, you don’t need to spend a dime on giving your website a lick of paint.
Premium themes offer you the ability to revamp your website, taking it from an average looking site to a more visually stunning site in minutes. These are paid themes that range in price from $10 to $100, although most average around $40-50.
When choosing a new theme for your website, there are some important things to consider before deciding on which type of theme to download.
You need to decide what your goals are with your website. If you just want to write the odd occasional blog post from time to time and have no real goal to sell your own products or make money from affiliate marketing, then a free theme will do just fine.
However, if you are taking your blog or website more seriously, are looking to grow your visitors and subscribers, or you want to sell or promote products and make money, then you really should invest in how your website looks.
We’ll look at the key things to consider:
Many free themes look nice, and some can look really good, however, Premium themes tend to always look great. Some really stunning premium themes can make your website look very professional.
If you use your website for business or want to make your website successful, then a premium theme can help you towards success.
The visual appeal that you get from a premium theme helps draw in and retain visitors. It shows that you take your website seriously and sets the impression that what you offer is professional.
Other than just the visual changes that themes provide, themes can offer additional features.
Free themes generally provide just basic visual enhancements and very little or no additional features. They tend to look pretty, but that’s about it. This is fine for basic blogs and people who have little technical experience and don’t want to customize their website.
Premium themes tend to offer many additional features that can enhance your website without the need for buying and installing additional plugins.
Additional features such as image galleries, easy customization options, social media enhancements, and more are what you can expect when you invest in a premium theme.
Ease of use
All WordPress themes are straightforward to install, but that is often where the similarities end for free and premium themes.
This might sound like a good thing, simply installing a theme and being done sounds easy, and that’s what you get from a free theme, but this doesn’t mean that things run smoothly from there.
Free themes tend to have limited or no customization options. So once you’ve installed your theme, you might find that you want to make some small cosmetic tweaks or changes. Well, unfortunately, that’s not likely to happen, unless you understand web development languages.
When browsing free themes, you need to make sure that you’ll be happy with your website looking very similar to their theme example screenshots. Otherwise, you’ll run into difficulty once the theme is installed as you’re unlikely to be able to do any tweaking to make it work for you.
Premium themes tend to be the opposite. Many have a lot of customization options, all broken down into easy to manage sections.
For example, if you wanted to tweak the menu color, there’s an option for that. If you want to add a logo, there’s an option for that too. These are just some of the basic options that you’ll find in a premium theme. There are many many more so you can really make the theme work perfectly for you.
Additionally, some of the best premium themes even have page builders. This can extend the visual enhancements of the theme even further, enabling you to make the content look better, all done using a simple drag and drop interface.
This might sound complicated, but it is very simple. You can create web forms such as contact form pages with ease, interactive image galleries, add ‘buy now’ buttons for selling products on your website, add call-to-action buttons and enable email signups, and much more.
With a premium theme, you can accomplish far more with your website than you could otherwise.
Since we’re talking about speed, I’ll cut straight to the point. Premium themes are vastly optimized to run as efficiently as possible. They often also include speed-enhancing features such as lazy loading so that images are only downloaded as you scroll down the page. This will vastly speed up your website loading times.
Speed is a significant factor when it comes to user satisfaction. It minimizes bounce rates and improves your ranking position on the search engines.
Says it all really.
Themes, like any part of WordPress, including plugins, are made up of multiple files of programming code. It is important to make sure you’re themes and plugins are always kept up to date. This way, any vulnerabilities are plugged should they ever occur. The code also needs to be well written.
The best premium themes tend to have rock-solid security as the developers take security seriously when developing their products.
They also regularly update the themes, so you’ll also see new theme updates available from time to time. This makes sure that their themes work with new WordPress updates, keeps their themes running as securely and efficiently as possible, while also often provide new features from time to time.
As WordPress is always improving, new features are added regularly. However, this has drawbacks in that it can often make older themes and plugins incompatible with the newer versions of WordPress.
This may pose a problem if you are running a free theme, as the theme developer may not revisit the theme to update the compatibility of the theme.
It is very important that you update WordPress regularly. However, if your theme lacks compatibility with newer versions of WordPress, then this can break your website. This can result in things looking out of place or maybe not even working at all.
Premium WordPress themes don’t typically suffer from this problem as the theme developers continuously develop the themes, including adding compatibility for newer versions of WordPress as they arrive.
More and more people are using mobile phones and tablets to browse the web. These days it can be just as much if not more than desktop computers that are used to visit your website.
Most themes are developed primarily with the desktop in mind. However, more recent themes are now including compatibility for mobile browsing.
These themes are known as responsive themes, which means that they will adapt depending on the screen size used to browse the site.
Premium themes always tend to have this feature. We only recommend themes that are responsive so that your site works with all visitors on all device types.
When you download a free theme, you’ll essentially be getting what you paid for, which means that should you develop any problems or need any support, then you’re going to find yourself stuck.
However, premium themes typically come with support, at least for a predetermined length of time, such as six months or one year after purchase.
This way, you can be sure that should you develop any problems or have any queries regarding your theme, you’ll have someone to contact to help you. If you’re a nontechnical user, then support can be very beneficial and a good piece of mind.
Ultimately, you are making your site look and function as professionally as possible for your end-user, your website visitor.
If your website doesn’t look good, function well, or runs slowly, then your visitors will abandon your website and not return. Making sure your site provides user satisfaction should be the key factor when deciding upon any theme.
As you can see, by choosing a free theme, you won’t have to spend a dime on a pretty website. But this can lead to unforeseen problems over time.
This is why it is recommended that you invest in a premium theme so that you can have a beautiful professional looking website and have peace of mind that everything we’ve outlined above is taken care of.
Installing and Changing your theme
When you’ve found the perfect theme, installing it is very straightforward. This can be done within the Appearances > themes section of your WordPress dashboard.
When you’ve installed your theme, it’s just a case of activating it, and your new theme is live on your website.
For a more in-depth guide on changing your theme, see our guide that covers some great tips on making the process very smooth.
The best themes for WordPress
Over 10,000 WordPress themes available, it can be hard to choose, especially for beginners.
That’s why we’ve looked at a large number of popular WordPress themes and narrowed down the very best based on what they offer, from:
- The included features
- The professionalism of the design
- The efficiency of the code
- After-sales support
- How easy they are to customize and work with.
We’ve narrowed down the very best WordPress themes to a select few.
Having the right theme can make all of the difference, so let’s take a look at the very best WordPress themes!
Divi is one of the best themes in the world and not just because it is a great theme but because of it’s included page builder! Divi is known for its flexibility and ease of use. You can create stunning websites without having to touch any code. It really is a fan favorite and we love it.
Ultra by Themify is a very user-friendly and flexible theme. Along with being easy to build with, it also offers a ton of pre-designed demo sites meaning you don’t have to design a thing, you can just click and go.
Beaver Builder is a powerful builder that uses a drag and drop feature and a ton of great themes. One of the cool things about Beaver Builder is the front end editing, meaning you can see what you’re designing as you go which makes it a whole lot easier.
Astra offers a cool collection of pre-built sites so you don’t have to worry about designing your site straight off the bat. Astra also prides itself on being ‘the most lightweight theme available in the market’ and when it comes to speed, it is unmatched.
OceanWP is a professional theme perfect for developers and hobbyists. Not only does it offer great themes but it works with some really notable page builders. OceanWP themes are also equipped with SEO best practices and are fully responsive meaning it will look great on the computer, laptop, tablet and, mobile.
StudioPress is a great place for professional and elegant themes and they really are a crowd favorite. The great thing about StudioPress is if you can’t decide on a favorite theme then you can actually get access to them all along with the popular Genesis framework when you sign up for a WP Engine Plan! That’s a value of $2,000!
Avada is a popular theme builder amongst professionals and it’s easy to see why. Avada offers tons of great features such as custom 404 pages, great pre-built sites, and seamless WooCommerce integration. You also get access to several premium plugins bundled in!
Hestia is a userfriendly, professional, stylish and has some incredible features. With Hestia, you won’t be restricted to having an English written site as Hestia beautifully translates everything you need into the language you need. Hestia also has a live editor, meaning you can see your customizations in real-time minimizing any guesswork.
Sydney is a great theme for businesses and offers plenty of customizable options. The theme is easy to work with, but if you do need help then the support is always available. This is what many people love about Sydney. Sydney is also super responsive, so you don’t have to worry about any errors when viewing on another device.
X Theme is a modern and powerful theme that offers a bunch of incredible designs from four different categories. You can try out each design with just the click of a button – it is so quick and simple. X Theme wants to make it as easy as possible so they’ve included custom templates for the popular pages your site may have such as About, Contact and Pricing.
Storefront is a really flexible and responsive theme that uses a grid system for designing a precise layout. Storefront also guarantees a flawless WooCommerce integration so you don’t need to worry about any errors. If you need something extra that you can’t find in the theme, you can take a look at the Storefront extensions for additional features.
Foodica is a simple but delicious theme perfect for food blogs and sites. It is fully responsive across all devices, offers different color schemes and also a live customizer. You can also use recipe makers and cards that can be found on the theme. It really is a great theme for foodies.
We hope that you’ve learned more about what WordPress themes are and the important differences between free themes and paid themes.
There is a lot to consider when selecting the next theme for your website. Making sure you choose a theme that ticks the right boxes for your needs while providing speed, security, and professionalism is important.
But with our list of the very best WordPress themes, we hope that you’ve managed to find the right one for you.