As a new blogger, it’s pretty much easier to think about using a free WordPress theme when you’re getting started and move to a premium theme later (once your blog starts making money).
Is it a wise decision?
Absolutely not. Why? Free WordPress themes are free for a reason: they don’t provide you support and often cause issues related to security, SEO related issues and so on.
Remember that, you can’t make money online without investing money first. Investing in a premium WordPress theme can be your best bet as free WordPress themes can cause a lot of problems for you.
Let’s discuss why should you avoid using free WordPress themes in 2020 and beyond.
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Why Should You Avoid Free WordPress themes In 2020?
One of the major reasons you should stay away from free WordPress themes in 2020 and beyond is the security issues. Whether you know it or not, millions of WordPress sites get hacked every single year and most of them get hacked due to security vulnerabilities including;
- Using free themes
- Using malicious themes (nulled themes)
- Downloading themes or templates from unauthorised websites and black hat forums
- And the list goes on
Did you know that whenever you use free themes from untrusted sites or nulled themes from torrents or black hat forums, you’re risking your WordPress site’s security? How? Most of these free WordPress themes might include malicious code installed in their scripts and files.
That way, they redirect your website’s backlinks and traffic to other sites including gambling sites, adult sites, spam sites and so on.
Not only that, there are other security issues including backdoors, Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) attacks, malware attacks etc all can happen with most free WordPress templates and themes.
So if you are looking to increase your search traffic, you should avoid free WordPress themes and instead spend a few bucks in picking secure themes for your WordPress sites.
Mobile Responsiveness Issues
Another biggest reason to stay away from free WordPress themes is most of them are not mobile-friendly. Whether you know it or not, Google gives high priority to mobile-friendly websites.
According to Statista, by 2020, the number of smartphone users worldwide is projected to reach 2.87 billion, up from 2.1 billion in 2016.
So if your website is not loading properly in mobiles or tablets, you’re going to lose a lot of traffic, conversions and sales. Although you can use plugins like WPTouch to easily create a mobile version of your site but it’s always recommended to use a premium WordPress theme or template that offers you mobile responsiveness by default.
In case you’re wondering, here’s how a mobile responsive layout looks like vs traditional layout (which is not mobile responsive).
As you can see from the above illustration, there are a lot of limitations with a non-responsive mobile layout including;
- Text is too small to read
- Links and call actions are too close together
- Hard to navigate
You can overcome all the above issues by having a mobile responsive theme. Our top 3 recommendations for premium WordPress themes (which are mobile-friendly) are;
- Generate Press
- Genesis framework
- Elegant themes
SEO Related Issues
Majority of the free WordPress themes are not SEO friendly. Did you know that your WordPress theme affects your overall search rankings? Yes, that’s true.
Here are a few ways themes can affect your rankings.
- Bad themes can affect your website loading times (which directly impacts your search rankings)
- Bad themes have poort website architecture which is bad for your site’s SEO
- Bad WordPress themes can affect your website visitors with bad navigation issues
Above all, free WordPress themes can block your CSS resources.
As you can see above, few themes block CSS resources which causes a delay in rendering your website pages.
Another issue is with backlinks
So in effect you are giving a backlink to the creator of the theme. If you are focused on domain authority and not giving any dofollow backlinks from your websites to others, then don’t use free themes.
That’s the reason why you should avoid most of the free WordPress themes as they are not SEO friendly.
Compatibility of free WordPress themes is also an issue. With latest plugins being developed at a fast pace themes are often found lacking in keeping pace with them. Again to make the theme compatible coding effort is required and if you are not adept enough you’ll have to purchase the talent.
Most free WordPress theme designers don’t make free WordPress themes mobile friendly. So you have to pay them extra bucks if you want to make it mobile responsive (in case if you really like the free theme you are using).
They are difficult to modify
The free WordPress themes provide basic functionality, limited widget areas, shallow documentation and relatively not-so-clean code.
This doesn’t mean any disrespect to the theme creators but when it comes to customizing these free WordPress themes to suit the needs of the blog or website, it requires coding effort, which has its own learning curve and secondly if you like to go for support from the theme creator you’ll often have to shell out money from your pocket.
Even if you want to modify the functions of the free themes, you will end up getting worst loading times on your WordPress sites. So you only have to get help from the creator of the theme which in turn costs you money.
Free themes generally lack complex functionalities like e-commerce and integration with third party payment processors. This means to get the functionality new code has to be written, which again means money to be spent on the free themes you are using.
Lack of support
Lack of customer support is probably the biggest reason to stay away from free WordPress themes.
Most of the free theme providers have lots of issues on their plate.
Support is just one of them. Releasing new versions, making patches to existing themes and maintenance of existing themes already takes a lion’s share of their time. The support queues are huge and they often do not commit any time duration to address the support ticket.
These troubles faced by free WordPress themes users prompted many developers to use the WordPress theme opportunities to create good looking and more functional themes. Many premium theme providers have mushroomed to provide theme frameworks (Genesis and Thesis etc) and standalone themes with various functionalities.
The advantages of WordPress are fully exploited by these developers to create themes which offer e-commerce sites, directory sites, membership sites and lots of other complex websites. Extending the core functionality of WordPress, which was earlier better known as a blogging platform, these premium theme developers are making it easy for users to extract a content management system (CMS) like functionality from it.
Few more reasons to avoid free WordPress themes
Though few WordPress themes are free, as we said above, they are not free at all. There’s always a catch when using free stuff from anyone. No one gives you a piece of cake at free of cost, there’s always a catch no matter what.
Here are few strong reasons why you should not use free WordPress themes.
- Most free WordPress themes are not unique. They don’t give an appealing design to your WordPress sites. They all are generic and you simply can’t stand out from the crowd. If you are a WordPress beginner, you need to stand out and stay unique to quickly build your online presence. So avoid using free WordPress themes if you want to be successful.
- They always come with a BS. They contain unwanted footer links. They may contain malicious code inserted into the themes. They often have complex CSS codes that you can’t easily tweak. And many other functionalities that you don’t want on your WordPress sites.
What Are Your Options Now [If Not Free WordPress Themes]?
There are a couple of ways to design your WordPress website (by avoiding free WordPress themes).
- Hire someone to design your site from scratch
- Purchase a premium WordPress theme (we recommend Elegant Themes)
Let’s talk about each one of them now.
Hiring someone to design your website
If you want to create a unique and appealing design for your websites, hiring an expert website designer is probably the best option. But here’s the thing about custom website designs: they are mostly expensive especially when you’re doing it from the experts.
So if you have a budget to spend a few hundred (or even thousand) bucks, you can easily have someone to design an SEO friendly and mobile responsive design for your websites.
Buying a premium WordPress theme
Fortunately, you don’t have to shell out a ton of money as there are plenty of premium WordPress themes that offer you stunning features at affordable prices.
But if you’re looking for budget friendly yet mobile responsive and search engine friendly WordPress themes, we highly recommend you to check out Elegant themes.
Elegant themes offers you dozens of appealing premium WordPress themes just at $89 per year. Not just that, a single subscription gets you unlimited use of our themes and plugins, which means, with a single license, you can use their themes on unlimited number of sites.
Quick note: Even if you don’t renew their themes after a year, you may still continue using their themes that you have already downloaded forever. But you will lose access to the members area and all new themes, theme updates and support (in case if you don’t renewal after 1 year).
Here’s a list of all the incredible benefits of using Elegant themes.
- Gives you access to dozens of premium themes at just $89
- You can use their themes on unlimited sites
- Gives you access to Divi builder
- Access to 24/7 customer support
- Access to 100s of pre-built websites
- And the list goes on
The best part about using Elegant themes is that you’ll also get free access to their Divi builder which is an easy to use drag and drop website builder.
Here’s how it looks like;
As you can see above, Divi builder gives you full-pledged features to easily customize your website layout where you can easily add elements like;
- Text blocks
- Contact form and so on
Here’s our detailed Elegant themes review in case if you want to find out more details.
If you’re interested to purchase their themes, use the following link where you’ll get a 10% instant discount.
Click here to purchase Elegant themes for just $80 (10% Off Coupon Applied Inside!)
Is there any other alternative to Elegant themes?
Although Elegant themes provide you a great package by giving you access to dozens of themes but if you’re still curious to find other WordPress themes, we recommend you to have a look at Generate Press premium.
It is one of the most popular WordPress themes which is downloaded by over 2 million people worldwide with 5 star ratings.
But the premium version of this theme is what you need and it costs you just $49.95 and gives you a ton of incredible features including:
- All premium modules
- Full access to the Site Library
- Unlimited websites
- 1 year of updates & support
- 40% renewal discount
- 30 day money back guarantee
Besides, Generate Press, Genesis framework is also another great recommendation designed and developed by WordPress experts who knows almost everything about having a SEO friendly and faster loading templates for WordPress.
The great thing about Genesis theme framework is that it gets updated (the framework) regularly to make your site loading times faster, better and secure. It’s also mobile responsive which means, all the sites that are using Genesis framework load across all the devices smoothly.
So what are you waiting for? Use the following link to grab Genesis framework today.
FAQs About Free WordPress Themes In 2020
Here’s a list of few important questions around free WordPress themes that you might want to know about in 2020.
1. What are the disadvantages of using free WordPress themes and templates?
The #1 reason most free WordPress themes suck is because they don’t offer you any customer support whatsoever. Besides that, here are a few more biggest disadvantages of using free themes for WordPress.
- They offer basic functions and most of the website design elements such as landing page builders, email optin forms etc are limited
- Most free WordPress themes don’t get updated (no one wants to update with latest stuff on free themes, right)
- They are not at all unique as most free themes are used by a ton of people around the world
- They are mostly not mobile responsive or SEO friendly
- Most free themes might include malicious scripts within their theme files
- And the list goes on
2. What if I still want to use free WordPress themes?
If you still want to use free WordPress themes, we HIGHLY recommend you grab them only from WordPress theme directory (where you can find plenty of themes for free). The #1 benefit of using free themes from WordPress is that they are all officially approved and safe to use.
The theme review process on WordPress itself complicated as it starts with an automated WordPress plugin that carefully analyse all the themes against WordPress coding standards.
If a theme is approved on to WordPress theme directory, it will be manually reviewed by WordPress theme developers to check any vulnerabilities or security issues within them. Only then, they’ll be publicly available to download. So you’re safe to use free themes as long as you’re using them from WordPress theme directory.
3. What are the best free WordPress themes?
As we just discussed in the above question, it’s always recommended to download free themes from WordPress theme directory. If you’re still looking for the best free WordPress themes, here are a few of the websites where you can grab free themes in 2020.
- Theme Grill
- Just Free Themes
4. What is the fastest free WordPress theme?
If you’re searching for a fastest free WordPress theme, we recommend you to check out Astra is a WordPress theme as it is considered as one of the fastest and easily customizable free themes for WordPress. It’s really faster because it’s a light weight theme which needs less than 50KB of resources.
5. What are the best WordPress themes for businesses in 2020?
Although we don’t recommend free themes for businesses (as you should be able to spend a few bucks for a premium theme) but if you’re still looking for them, you can consider the following options.
Final thoughts on using free WordPress themes in 2020
If you’re really serious about making money from blogging, it’s always better to stay away from free WordPress themes for so many reasons including no support, zero to no updates, security related issues, compatibility issues and so on.
Since there are a ton of premium WordPress themes that come at affordable prices, you really don’t have to shell out a lot of money to give your website a premium look as you can consider themes like Generate Press, Elegant themes etc.
So what are your thoughts about using free WordPress themes in 2020? Share your thoughts in the comments.