WordPress Templates: Free or Premium?
This post is in reference to WordPress but applies equally well to other content management systems.
A client recently asked me why I used a premium template for their website rather than building one from scratch or using a free one. It was a good question coming from a client who knew little about web design and the process. I babbled some answer, but as I hadn’t thought about it fully I probably wasn’t very clear. In turn, this may have appeared like I was just increasing my expenses in order to charge more. I’ll show why this is not the case.
Premium templates save money. Yes, a premium template from Themeforest may cost $35-40 (€25-30) but in the end they can save the designer a lot of time, and therefore the client a lot of money. All the other points that I make below relate back to this in some way.
1) Support: Premium templates usually come with premium support from the designers which is usually missing in free themes. This support can take the form of regular updates (for new broswers or WordPress versions) and bugfixes, personal support on issues or difficulties a web designer may have in getting the most out of their new theme, or even new features. This is because the designers of premium templates frequently build these as a large source of their income and rely on recommendations for business. Premium themes also tend to be more reliable and come with extensive documentation.
2) Attention to Detail. I find that the code in premium templates is better commented which allows me to edit the theme a lot easier, especially when they are built on different frameworks. This makes it faster for me to put in the many tiny edits that clients want.
3) Better Features Due to competition between providers of premium themes, they often come with unique features such as the social dashboard that I mentioned in a previous post. Other features could include multiple slideshow offerings, or extra options, built in SEO, built in e-commerce themes, more theme options, multi-language translation support, shortcode managment, or page template manager. To include some of these in free themes may take a lot of time and may not end up being done as well as themes that have been vetted by a theme shop (like Themeforest) and are updated frequently.
4) Stronger Individuality. Premium themes are a lot less common on the web which should help your website standout among its competitors.
1) Compliance: Unlike free themes which are usually added to the WordPress theme repository, premium themes don’t always undergo a review process and can be just products that are sold while not being up to standard when it comes to compliance and licensing. Presently, all the themes I have purchased have come from Themeforest. I’ve never had a problem and heartily recommend them.
2) MalwareAnother issue that premium themes avoid is dangerous links or code built in to the page. This is more than a little scary. See here for more information.
One should always consider whether a project requires the expense of a premium theme. You may not require all the features that you would be paying for, and some that you do want may be available for free using existing free plugins. Remember that project do grow, sometimes unexpectedly and adding certain features at a later date may be more difficult with a free theme though it should usually be possible.
Or you could skip all these issues with premium and free templates and just go and make your own but expect this to take a lot of time, and remember that there’s noone else doing the bug fixing for you.
So, Mr Client, I hope this has answered your question on why I was using a premium template.