The WordPress platform is one of the simplest ways to create colorful and well laid out webpages. Setup is usually performed with a few mouse clicks, so no coding knowledge is required.
The platform supports thousands of various designs known as themes, some of which are suited to specific users such as small businesses, whilst others have a more general appeal.
Many Wordpress themes are designed for blogs, but there are more specialist ones, such as for art and photography portfolios. There are also premium Wordpress themes available for those who want to invest extra in their website, and there are also ecommerce themes for business users.
When starting out you may feel overwhelmed by the choices available, especially if you’re not sure if a theme is worth buying. Also, do check that any theme you do consider will work properly with any Wordpress plugins you have also installed.
In this guide, you’ll discover five of our very favorite free and paid WordPress themes. Whether you’re a freelancer on a tight budget or an established business, rest assured there’s a theme for you.
Best WordPress themes - at a glance
Hestia is the perfect theme for those with small businesses, startups, online agencies and firms due to its multi-purpose functionality. Users do not have to pay to download this theme. Installation and setup is designed to be user friendly.
This theme is best suited to users who want to setup an ecommerce platform. Hestia integrates with WooCommerce, allowing users access to beautifully designed product listings. There is an easy to use drag and drop feature suitable.
This theme comes with custom background settings which aid in adding photos to your site and making it your own. It has a multi-purpose one page design, a widget designed footer and a blog or news section.
It integrates with Travel Map, Photo Gallery, Flat Parallax Slider and Elementor Page Builder. Hestia is responsive and uses Material Kit for design.
As with most WordPress themes, there is a demo for users to sample before downloading.
X is a paid WordPress theme suitable for all types of websites.
The theme comes with four categories of built-in demos. Each of these themes cover a wide variety of potential projects. This means that no matter what you have in mind, X more than likely has a design suited to your needs.
Cornerstone is included with X. This is one of the most popular WordPress web page builders. The drag and drop feature is easy to use. Users are able to see exactly what their page will look like live as they are building. This enables users to change and edit while building their site.
There are a huge number of customization options, with which users can build a unique webpage. It's also constantly updated and you get features like the custom font or inline editing. In the early 2019, X introduced Dynamic Content which helps a lot when building out content throughout your site.
X comes with a feature called ‘the customizer’. This is a handy tool as many premium themes come with their own theme options page that is not entirely compatible with WordPress. ‘The Customizer’ is highly intuitive. It integrates seamlessly with WordPress. It will help you to customize the look and feel of your website.
The regular license for X is $59 which includes future updates and 6 months customer support. Users can opt to extend support to 12-months for an additional $17.63.
Allegiant is a highly customizable WordPress theme that is most suited for small businesses that are just starting out.
The theme itself is simple and well laid out. Across the top there is a large header to highlight your most popular services or products. The slides on the homepage can be displayed in any order.
The theme offers several feature blocks that can be easily inserted onto your page with details about your business team or your past endeavors amongst others. These blocks come with the theme’s plugin ‘CPO Content Types’. The plugin is free and installs very quickly.
These pre-built blocks also come with testimonial section. It is very easy to copy and paste information into the blocks.
Allegiant integrates with other free popular WordPress themes such as WooCommerce, Yoast SEO, WPML and Contact Form 7.
It’s also free to download from the WordPress website.
Some online commentators mention that while the theme is customizable it is not easy to figure out how to do so. They don’t recommend Allegiant for newer users.
Sydney works well for freelancers and companies who want to create a strong online presence.
It is highly customizable with many options to choose from such as Google Fonts and logo uploads. The theme has more than 600 Google fonts to choose from.
For users who want to show off, there is a full screen promotional banner that can be edited to suit your needs.
The custom elementor blocks can be designed as you see fit and to suit your promotional needs. Sydney can also display social media icons at the bottom of your page.
The theme is translation ready and provides the necessary tools for a smooth translation process.
Users have access to full color control, sticky navigation, header image and a full screen slider. Sydney also offers Parallax background affects. Users can add this to any row in the theme layout.
The theme is free to download, and costs $59 for a Pro licence.
Uncode is a multi-purpose theme suitable for most users.
The theme offers users a huge variety of website demos. These include classic, portfolio, blog and ecommerce layouts.
Uncode’s images are fully adaptive so that they adjust automatically to whatever screen size they are being viewed on.
Users can edit their demos through the WPBakery Page Builder Plugin. They can also access to the handy drag and drop content editor. Uncode is compatible with most third-party plugins.
The themes large media library makes it easier for users to embed any type of media to your WordPress site.
Uncode has over 6 different menu types with advanced options. These include top right, justify, left, center, overlay, offcanvas and lateral.
The theme is WPML certified and offers RTL (Right to Left) support. The premium themes included are VC Page Builder, VC Clipboard, VC Particles, LayerSlider, Slider Revolution and iLightBox. In the recent updates, new features have been added, such as animated headlines, highlighting effects, frontend editor, and WooCommerce product builder, among other things.
You can purchase for $59 and includes future updates and 6 months support. If you want to extend support to 12 months, an additional $17.63 is needed.
Foodie Pro helps users to create a beautiful blog based around all sorts of culinary delights.
It is created by the Genesis Framework. This means your website will have a solid combination of this Framework along with WordPress. The theme comes with a huge amount of typography and color options.
Users can build their site using up to 3 homepage and 5 site wide widget areas. These can be customized to fit around your brand.
The theme allows users to upload their own logo with one click. There is also full support for text-based logos.
Foodie Pro’s ‘Theme Customizer’ allows users to customize the theme’s settings, colors and backgrounds images.
The ‘Foodie Pro Theme’ can be purchased for $129.95 for one year. This includes the Genesis Framework, Foodie Pro Theme, instant access, unlimited updates, supports, sites and access to detailed tutorials.
If this is not enough, users can choose the ‘Genesis Pro’ for $360 (£279.5). This includes all the ‘Foodie Pro Theme’ has to offer plus access to every theme the company makes including future themes.
Shopkeeper is a user-friendly WordPress e-commerce platform. The homepage consists mainly of one large slider, designed to catch the eye of any potential clients. This is part of the Slider Revolution plugin which is included. Various optional plugins like "Shopkeeper Portfolio Addon" can also be installed.
The theme integrates completely with WooCommerce, and translation is supported with the WPML plugin. Shopkeeper is Retina-ready and fully responsive, making it perfect to view on both tablets and smartphones as well as your desktop computer.
The theme is easily customizable. Users do not need knowledge of complex codes in order to use it. There are a huge array of pre-built layouts to suit your needs, but failing this, users can create their own layout from scratch.
Users can also upload their own logo, change fonts and colors. Visual Slider and Revolution Slider plugins are included with the Shopkeeper theme; these cost around $26 (£19.5) each. Shopkeeper itself sells at $59 for a regular license. Users can upgrade to 12-months support for a further $17.63.
Some online commentators have noted that the huge amount of customizable settings contained within Shopkeeper can be overwhelming for newer users.
What is a WordPress Theme and How Does it Impact Ads?
Choosing the right WordPress theme for your website is much more than just opting for a minimalist, eye-catching design. To succeed online, you need to have a bit more acumen. Stephen Marsi, co-founder of Mediavine, shares some thoughts about what it takes to win online.
Advertising is always a delicate balance. What generates the maximum revenue and what provides the optimal user experience? Can those competing factions coexist?
Many things factor into this question, including WordPress theme frameworks. Hundreds of thousands of sites use them to customize functionality and appearance for just about every need, and they can significantly impact ad performance, as well.
To set up a theme framework, publishers need to purchase or download one for free. There are numerous options and pricing plans for additional features and options.
Not all WordPress sites require a framework - basic sites with a single landing page likely won’t need the customization options they offer - but many depend on the flexibility and optionality that they provide. So what does this have to do with monetization?
For digital content creators, running the highest-performing ads on WordPress websites, while still ranking in search engines that send valuable organic traffic, requires the right technology, tools and techniques - a combination not every theme framework delivers.
It’s crucial that WordPress frameworks reflect Google’s current best practices, including Core Web Vitals, Progressive Web Application (PWA) standards, Lighthouse guidelines and more.
Put another way - it’s extremely important for any website to load quickly and seamlessly. Pagespeed isn’t the most important thing, it’s the only thing. It is crucial to be cognizant of the importance of fast-loading pages and the disadvantages inherent in some frameworks.
(ed: That also means that choosing the right WordPress hosting services is important as well)
Solutions like open source WordPress theme framework, Trellis, are built with modern web technologies and designed for site speed and revenue optimization. Goals of perfect 100 scores on both desktop and mobile on PageSpeed Insights and Lighthouse - the tool powering those insights - is built into the core development process.
Back to our original point; Google and most players view user experience as the linchpin of holistic website growth and sustainability. If something is bogging down your site - plugins, jittery, shifting content, ads, all of the above - that isn’t a high quality UX. Which, in turn, hurts your SEO, your traffic and your ability to monetize that traffic. It’s all interconnected.
Choosing the best WordPress theme framework is essential for content, SEO and ads to coexist in a productive way. That means a framework which plays nicely with Wordpress (the most popular CMS) and focuses on Google’s best practices.