Are premium WordPress themes for you?

It’s true. I change themes like underwear. If I could design my own personal crest, the motto might well be I reserve the right to change my mind, or however you say that in Latin.

Usually 1 of 2 things leads me to change themes:

  • A WordPress update breaks some feature of the theme.
  • I want to customize something that the theme makes difficult for me to customize.

Now in the latter case, I know I can dive into the code myself, but sometimes that can send me down a pretty deep rabbit hole. Also, I’m reasonably confident about my HTML and CSS skills, but my PHP skills aren’t that great (yet). It also helps that at least for now, my site is pretty simple, so changing the theme is, well, like changing underwear.

Many WordPress users turn to premium themes after frustrating experiences with the free themes. I have to admit that at first I was opposed to the idea of paying for themes because I figured, “Hey, I have some coding skills. Why would I pay for something I could probably do myself?” But then I realized that I was being silly. I pay for things all the time that I could do myself, and you probably do, too. The real question isn’t whether it’s OK to pay for WordPress themes, but rather whether doing so is the best choice for me under the circumstances.

Benefits of premium WordPress themes

Tom Ewer at ManageWP Blog writes about some of the reasons for choosing a premium theme. Those reasons include:

  • Ease of maintenance
  • Security
  • Support

WordPress works hard to ensure the security of themes distributed directly through wordpress.org, but sometimes people get their themes from other, less reputable sites. Some of these users are attempting to find premium themes without paying for them. While this isn’t necessary illegal (depends on the license for that theme–more on licensing later), the theme developers can’t vouch for the quality of any version of their product acquired outside their site. Some unscrupulous folks have gone so far as to insert malware into their themes, so be careful.

Support is a big selling point, assuming a reputable vendor. It’s obviously much easier to ask the support team, “Hey, how do I do this thing?” than it is to search every possible word permutation of your issue on various sites. Anyone who’s ever gone on a wild goose chase in forums and search engines with a problem knows what I’m talking about.

Potential pitfalls of premium WordPress themes

Premium themes typically don’t come cheap, so I’d probably need to stick with one for a while to feel like I was getting my money’s worth. Also, I’d have to feel like I was going to stay in the WordPress universe for the foreseeable future, and I can’t say one way or the other on that right now.

Another issue to keep in mind is licensing. Some licenses only allow you to use a theme on a site that you own, while others allow you to use them on sites you build for clients. So make sure that the license for any theme you buy covers the way you intend to use it. Also, make sure you’re clear on what you can do with any images or fonts that come with the theme.

Choosing a premium WordPress theme

If you decide to get a premium theme, the consensus seems to be to stick with an established theme vendor. Fortunately, you have plenty of choices in this area. Just do the same due diligence you would do for choosing any provider whose services you plan to pay for. Are there customer service horror stories? Do common problems keep coming up with their products? You can usually find this information with a little digging.

It’s also worth noting that a theme with great reviews overall might not be the best theme for your needs. If there’s a feature that is critical for you, you probably want to go with the theme that has the best implementation of that feature. Similarly, there probably isn’t going to be one theme that does everything you want perfectly. Decide on a handful of features that are most important to you and proceed accordingly.

So if you’ve been wondering about this whole premium themes business, hopefully this can help you make the choice that is right for you. Best of luck out there, fellow WordPressers!

Do you use a premium theme on your WordPress site? Do you have a favorite premium theme? Let me know in the comments!

A version of this article originally appeared on daniellegaither.com.

 

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