To buy a WordPress template or not to buy? Not a question at all

To buy a WordPress template or not to buy? Not a question at all
Nastya Kuznetsova
Content manager

Let’s find out why paid templates are so good. Where to buy them and why you shouldn’t download the cracked ones. But first, we’ll cover the terminology.

What is a WordPress template or theme?

Templates or themes are website layouts, they determine their design and functionality. If you create a website from a template, you’ll have one ready page. Then you can add blocks, buttons, forms, more pages, change colors and fonts. You don’t have to write any code, there’s a set of elements in WordPress.

Actually, a template is not a theme

And vice versa. They are often used as synonyms referring to those layouts. But in WordPress terminology, a theme is a layout and a template is a part of this layout.

A theme includes all files that determine the website’s appearance and functionality.


A template includes several files that determine the appearance and functionality of a separate block or a page. For instance, footer.php or sidebar.php is a cellar and the website side panel.

There is this separation in the WordPress interface that theme ≠ template.
You won’t usually find it in texts on WordPress, though. Our article is not an exclusion.

6 reasons to buy a WordPress template

There are 4000 free themes in the WordPress catalog. Some are good, some are mediocre, but there are no bad ones. In order to put your theme inside the catalog, you will have to pass a thorough examination: they will check code quality, standard features, the safety of use and a lot more. Developers create free themes for the WordPress catalog to earn a reputation and test their skills. Free themes from other websites are not tested that well, they may be teeming with viruses, ads, and hidden links.

There are many paid themes on the Internet. They can be different: better or worse than the free ones — not every resource checks as thoroughly as the WordPress catalog. But if you choose a paid theme correctly, it will have a few advantages. Let’s find out how important they are to you.

1. There is support

A free theme user will go to a forum in order to solve his problems. The WordPress community is rather huge but hardly all developers answer users’ questions honestly. Most themes have detailed documentation.

A paid theme user can go with his problems directly to a developer. Almost all the paid themes have support: by email, on a forum or through profile messages. It is always faster than waiting for answers on free themes forums, and more reliable than trusting random people on the Internet. Detailed documentation is also more common.

How important it is to you. Themes can conflict with plugins and the WP version. At first, they can be ok but after the update of WordPress, plugins or the theme itself, errors may occur. If you are not a developer, you’ll be better off buying a theme with support. Or you might want to find a free one with paid support, such cases also exist.

2. More possibilities

A free theme is a set of standard features: you can change a logo, a name, styles of websites or separate elements. Sometimes, a set of features may be slightly different if a theme is designed with particular goals in mind. For example, a portfolio template will almost certainly include slideshows and galleries and a real estate website can’t exist without an object-based search.

Paid themes are 2-3 times more functional than the free ones. They can work with social media, they have ad units, reviews with ratings and custom widgets. Sometimes, there can even be too many functions, developers add them to make their template more expensive. Users will hardly ever need even half of those functions and they also slow the website down.

How important it is to you. To begin with, you should decide what functions you require. And look through free themes in the WP catalog, do they suit your needs? If not, you can always use plugins to fill the holes but developing skills may be essential to do this. If you don’t have any, check some paid themes out.

How to find out which functions are important to you, we told in this article Free WordPress themes. Where to find and how to choose

3. Regular updates

If you install a theme from the WordPress catalog, you will receive notifications as soon as this theme gets updated. Click OK and WP will automatically install the update, that’s convenient. But the thing is, updates for free themes aren’t released regularly and they are available while developers support their themes, authors give no guarantees. If they abandon a theme, it becomes outdated, starts conflicting with plugins and new WP versions and won’t be safe to use anymore.

Paid theme updated are regular, every theme has an update log, you can monitor how often updates are released. Paid updates aren’t always automatic, sometimes you need to use plugins for that. Update accessibility depends on purchase terms: some themes require payment for support specifically, once you stop doing it, you’ll stop getting updates. Other themes are paid for only once, all updates are yours as long as the developer supports the theme.

How important it is to you. If you are a superprogrammer and ready to update a theme by yourself, you’ll make do with a free one. If you don’t have the skills or time for that, choose a paid theme.

4. Unique design

Although there are many free themes — more than 4000 in the WordPress catalog — the best ones are used actively. That’s why you risk creating the same website as your competitors and countless other people on the Internet.

Paid themes are used less often for that very reason — they are paid. They also provide more possibilities to tailor the template for yourself using plugins without any programming skills. That’s why a paid template grants you almost a unique design. Not that they will develop a theme especially for you but still.

How important it is to you. Think about it. In any case, it’s much cheaper to buy a WordPress template than to order a custom design and web page making for WP: 50–100 $ vs 150–200 $. But be careful choosing a template, — even a paid one can turn out to be static, hard to edit. You’d be better off choosing a template with a built-in page editor, like Visual Composer.

5. More categories

It is easier to find a template tailored to your subject on a paid theme website. There are such sections as weddings, sports, games. In the free WordPress catalog, you will find such templates in one separate section — entertainment.

How important it is to you. If you are looking for a template for a website focused on a rare subject, this can be useful. But that’s about it.

6. Demo data

Developers fill demo themes with texts and images, tune the settings so that it looked like an actual website. Once you download this theme, that’s all gone, it doesn’t look cool. It’s not inherently bad because you are still going to need your own content and settings. But sometimes illustrations in the demo are so neat that you want to use them. The only thing you can do with free themes is just stare in awe but the paid ones allow you to download demo data, up to a hundred different variants to fill your website.

How important it is to you. And again: a paid theme would be more convenient for newbies, a free one — for advanced users. Just bear in mind that many demo data variants include lots of notes, pages, and other unused elements. Choose one option and delete the others.

Good paid themes provide guarantees, have support, originality, and additional functionality for relatively little money. Provided they are good themes. Let’s find out how to choose them — the main thing to know is where to download them.

Where to download a paid WordPress template

We wouldn’t advise random websites. It’s unreasonable to trust an unknown developer. You may pay 50–100 $ for bad code, a couple of viruses, some ads and hidden links.

We especially wouldn’t advise torrents. If you want to use cunning remember that there are always people more cunning than you. And don’t forget a hackneyed expression about a mousetrap and cheese. A paid theme for free means that you risk catching viruses, hidden links, and general discontentment with functionality and code.

We’d absolutely say yes to verified websites. There are recommended WordPress theme vendors and marketplaces, you can buy from them without hesitation.

Verified WordPress theme templates

ThemeForest: impenetrable yet cool

ThemeForest is a marketplace of a big project named Envato. There are 46000 themes from different authors. You can sort them by best sells and look at the developer status. There’s a column on the right side where you can find a link to the developer’s portfolio and a block with achievements (like Power Elite Author — earned more than a million dollars on the market — a demanded guy, his themes are probably alright).

No need to worry about the quality, ThemeForest has strict moderation. They check every template’s code and documentation. They also check whether there are any design problems: including typography and indentation; how decent the design is, whether there are licenses for all photos, fonts, and icons. Developers often complain that it’s too hard to get into the marketplace for a newbie.

Prices vary — around 30-60$ on the average, even for bestsellers. 6 months of support are included plus the updates as long as the developer supports their theme.

Every theme has its own license — some developers are not greedy, they allow to use their themes infinite amount of times, others are, they limit the use by the number of domains. A fairly common case is a single site license: one template can be used on one domain only.

ThemeForestThis is ThemeForest, the page of a theme that costs $10 mln. In the bottom-right corner, it is stated that this theme was sold 8 times. But above it, we can see the author’s achievements, one of them says he earned only $10000. Hmm... Maybe, the case is in his another achievement — Helpful Hacker

6-month support is included in every theme’s cost: they fix bugs, reply to technical questions about the theme, plugins, and extensions, coming with it. There’s email support on the developer’s forum or through their ticket-system. You can find out what kind of support a theme has in the Support tab. Once you buy a theme, you’ll be suggested to pay for the additional 6 months of support, don’t hesitate to refuse — the first half a year should be enough to figure out how to work with the theme. If it’s not, you can always prolong your support on the theme page but itis going to be twice as expansive, around $40.

Every theme has detailed documentation. It is one of the required conditions to get into the market. Some themes also have free lessons on installation and customization — look for it in the main tab Item Details or in the documentation. You can also pay for installation separately for $50.

Updates are regular even for those whose support package expired. The last update’s date is to the right. Sometimes, updates are automatic but usually, you need special plugins for this.

To buy a WordPress template at ThemeForest, you need to register — a standard procedure. You can pay with a card, by PayPal, Skrill, or through your ThemeForest-account. If you want to pay by PayPal, choose currency exchange at your bank’s rate, PayPal has an unprofitable rate. You should connect your card because the service will charge you a test dollar and won’t return it to your PayPal virtual card. To issue a refund, you can even select an option «Ordered by mistake». The money will be returned to your account, you won’t be able to withdraw it, you’ll need to spend it in a limited time period, 12 months, for example.

To ThemeForest website

Elegant Themes: one theme for a million websites, unique websites

Elegant Themes company has been working for more than 11 years, it is known as the creator of Divi, the most popular WordPress theme (according to statistics — this service can identify what technologies and tools were used to create a website).

Divi is a universal WordPress theme, you can create anything from a blog to an online store. It is very flexible and has a powerful page builder. Newbies like how easy it is to customize a theme and professionals tend to appreciate possibilities for such changes. Apart from Divi, Elegant Themes have 3 WordPress plugins and a theme called Extra — a flexible one as well but tailored to creating blogs. There are also 85 old themes but Elegant Themes don’t advise buying them — they are going to be removed and their support will stop in the future.

The price is fixed: you can get access to all the company’s products and 100+ demo data sets for $89 a year. As long as you are paying, you get the updates and support. Lifetime subscription costs $249, a one-time payment.

The license doesn’t limit the theme usage — create as many websites as you want, it doesn’t matter what subscription you have and whether it is over or not — guys don’t mind.

Elegant ThemesSuch different websites can be created with Divi

The support works 24/7, reply within 24 hours but only through the forum. It is not very convenient if you need to attach a link to a website that is still being developed. On the bright side, you can share your experience with other users and receive their help. Most answers on the forum are marked as solved — the support does their job well, it seems.

Documentation is detailed, there are YouTube lessons.

Updates are regular, in 2019 they come out every month, maybe even more often. As soon as an update is released, a notification pops up in the WordPress admin panel. You need to confirm that you have an active subscription (enter your login and key) and you are free to update.

To buy a WordPress template at Elegant Themes, you need to go through a standard registration procedure and pay with a card or by PayPal. Remember that your bank’s rate is more profitable than the PayPal rate. And the card should be connected so that a test dollar could be returned to it. A refund is available for the first month after the purchase — no questions or justifications are needed. The money will be returned to your card and it can be withdrawn.

To Elegant Themes website

StudioPress: if «framework» doesn’t scare you

Guys from StudioPress has been developing WordPress themes and plugins since 2007. They do it on their own quite popular framework Genesis Framework — 150 000 developers around the world also use it.

A framework is a theme’s core, a workspace for web-masters. A developer can install a framework and create a theme based on it, this theme would be called a child theme. A framework is a parent theme.


An advantage of a «framework + child theme» combo is, you can customize a theme any way you want. These changes will save even after an update because the theme is updated, not the framework.


An advantage of a «framework + child theme» combo is, you can customize a theme any way you want. These changes will save even after an update because the theme is updated, not the framework.

The StudioPress catalog has 60+ child themes: some are theirs, some are made by third-party developers. Third-party companies’ names are not specified but the StudioPress support claims they only work with verified developers and thoroughly check every theme before putting it up on the website.

The price is quite high, $100 for a package «the framework + a StudioPress theme» on the average and $130 for a package with a third-party developer’s theme. This is a standard variant for the first purchase, there are others.

  • You can buy a theme separately if you previously bought the framework at the StudioPress website. Every following theme will cost you 25% less.
  • The framework bought separately costs $60. If you are a developer and you want to create your own theme, this is definitely your choice.
  • The framework + all the themes on the website is the Pro Plus Package that costs $500. It includes themes both from StudioPress and third-party developers.

Whatever you buy, support, updates, access to documentation and the forum are included.

  • The last super variant is WP Engine All-In-One: buy WPEngine hosting from $35 a month, these are StudioPress owners — and get access to all 37 StudioPress themes and the framework into the bargain.

The StudioPress license allows you to use all the themes (their own and the third-party ones) as many times as you like — on different websites and different domains.

StudioPress StudioPress themes have a conservative design. Even their own website looks minimalistic. Probably, theн are counting on the developers

The support is free for everyone who buys something. They respond by email and on the forum. Third-party developers support their themes themselves — you get a link to the developer’s website after the purchase.

You get access to the documentation once you buy a theme. Them you get access to the forum — a big and a lively one, and you also receive an email with theme installation and customization instructions. This also goes for third-party developers.

Updates are regular according to the support. There is no info on the update frequency on the website, at least for a new user who hasn’t bought anything yet. It’s great that updates come to the WordPress admin panel, you don’t have to overwrite old files through the FTP.

To buy a WordPress template at StudioPress, you need to sign up and pay with a card. A refund is available for 30 days, you don’t need any justification. The money will come to the card you used.

To StudioPress website


Here are a couple more stores with good user reviews: WooCommerce, OptimizePress, WpZoom, TemplateMonster, CreativeMarket.

WordPress recommends around 100 marketplaces: these include independent developers and «exchanges» such as ThemeForest. There’s one thing linking them — GLP license. It means that themes are free, you have to pay either for the support or for additional functionality, sometimes there are membership fees.

Now you know where to buy a WordPress template. The next step is to choose one. We wrote about it in the article on free themes — the recommendations are the same.

Once you make up your mind, you’ll have to install a template on a server. We recommend to do it using Vepp — a service for website and server management. It’s intuitive — for newbies who don’t want to dive into the administration.

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