Out of thousands of free WordPress themes, how do you pick the right one for your site? You want a theme that will fit your brand, make your site stand out, be lean and offer the features that you need.
We’ve reviewed over a million commercial websites running WPML and compiled a list of free themes that fit this description. They each have a (good) free version and offer a paid version with additional features.
How to choose a free WordPress theme?
You might be wondering how we came to this short list of themes that we recommend, out of so many great free themes.
List the features that you need in the theme
First, we listed the features that we think that themes should offer. Since you’re building a site for your business, you need a theme that offers full customization over the “look and feel” of the site. This includes choosing the logo, colors, fonts, and many other customization options.
Check the theme rating and reviews
Themes that have many positive reviews and great ratings are more reliable. Many downloads and active installs also mean that the theme has a good track record.
Check the theme’s compatibility with the plugins you will use
Generally speaking, It is important you choose a WordPress theme that is compatible with the common WordPress plugins that are used on every WordPress website such as form, SEO, and security plugins. You can check this on the theme download/features page. If a specific plugin that you want to use on your site isn’t listed among the compatible plugins, you can check that with the author of the theme.
Choose a theme that can be customized to represent your brand
You would want to choose a theme that fits your brand’s style and conveys your message. Luckily, a lot of free themes offer many demo sites for different niches. Carefully browse these demos and see if any of them represent your brand.
Your theme should be easy to use and well-documented
Consider choosing a theme that lists all basic customization options in the WordPress Customizer as it allows you to preview your changes in real-time. Your theme of choice should have a well-organized knowledge base that covers the different theme functionalities.
Check if your theme is multilingual-ready
There are many reasons why you would want to have a multilingual site. Make sure that you choose a multilingual-ready theme that is compatible with WPML. Check our lists to find multilingual-ready themes and multilingual-ready plugins.
Now that we have covered the main factors that you should consider when choosing a WordPress theme. Let’s see whether you want to get a free or a premium theme.
Are free WordPress themes good?
In terms of pricing, WordPress themes fall into one of these categories:
- Free themes: as in free-beer
- Freemium themes: try the free version, upgrade to get paid features and support
- Premium themes: no free version, buy to try
The good thing about free themes is that they are free! But does this mean that they are bad? The short answer is no! And here is why:
- Free themes on the WordPress theme directory go through a strict review process to ensure that they match the WordPress standards.
- Many websites are relying on free WordPress themes. You can see this by checking the number of active installs and positive reviews the theme gets.
- Many free WordPress themes offer both free and paid versions that share the same code base. But of course, they don't share the same features-list.
- Free WordPress themes tend to have fewer features. This normally contributes to having a faster website.
- Top ranking WordPress themes are updated frequently. This means that you don’t have to worry about compatibility issues with the latest version of WordPress, security issues, etc.
Depending on your site requirements a free theme might be a perfect fit. But you need to keep in mind that if you run into trouble, you won’t get much help as free themes don’t offer a dedicated support channel.
If you are new to WordPress or have a limited budget to build your website, a free theme can be handy. If you decide to go with a free WordPress theme, I highly recommend choosing a theme that follows a freemium model. This way you will be able to upgrade to the paid version of the theme and get the additional features that you might need, along with premium support.
Have you been using any of the themes that are listed in this article? Are you using other free themes on your multilingual site that you like? Feel free to share your experience in the comments section below!