Chances are that if you’re watching this WordPress 3.9 Crash Course video series, you’re going to buy a WordPress theme rather than using a free one.
Why Use Premium Themes?
You may have already bought the Thesis theme or the Genesis theme or some other premium theme. And most business people running a serious business are not using a free theme because most of those don’t have the features or appearance that they want.
Free WordPress themes can be easy to create but professional themes generally require a substantial amount of time and investment on the part of the author and chances are that a good professional theme is not going to be available to you free.
Sources for Reputable WordPress Themes
As I said earlier, you want to purchase your WordPress theme from a reputable source. There are a number of reputable sources of premium themes. Obviously, there is DIY themes for Thesis and StudioPress for Genesis. But if you don’t want to use either of those two, you can go to very reputable outfits like WooThemes. They have tons of really good themes and they have a stellar reputation for creating very high quality professional themes.
In fact, they’ve got some free themes that are worth taking a look at and you can be perfectly safe using one of their free themes if the free theme meets your needs.
My other favorite source is wpmu.dev. These guys have hundreds of themes and plugins and they are probably the most reputable source of WordPress plugins and themes. They’re certainly the largest supplier of high quality commercial WordPress plugins and themes.
They maintain a very large repository of free plugins and themes that they distribute through wordpress.org as well so there are a lot of wpmudev plugins and themes that you’ll find on wordpress.org. So this is a very reputable place to get business related themes. They’re very well written, they’re very well supported and they’re excellent products. I’m a long time member of their site.
Questionable Sources of WordPress Themes
Themeforest is not a reputable place to buy themes. It is only as reputable as the author because Themeforest will let essentially anybody publish a theme. It doesn’t matter how bad you are, they’ll let anybody who can demonstrate a mild level of competence publish and sell a theme. It doesn’t have anything to do with how good you are at support whether or not you can write secure code.
At wordpress.org every theme is checked to make sure that it doesn’t have security vulnerabilities. You can count on the free themes at wordpress.org to be very carefully scrutinized before they are added.
Michael says that he knows of authors that had their themes refused from Themeforest. I’m definitely not saying that Themeforest does not have some standards of determining who they’ll let write themes. I’m just saying that it is not like WooThemes or wpmu.dev or some of the other large theme houses where they are very scrupulous about security, making sure that everything they do has a uniform level of security and support.
Theme Forest is the wild wild west. Your theme author may or may not be a competent coder, there may or may not be security vulnerabilities in themes that are submitted to Themeforest and they don’t know because they don’t have a system for checking it.
Things to Consider When Purchasing
Now having said that, there are plenty of good themes here. It’s just when you buy something on Themeforest it is “let the buyer beware” and there’s no guarantee of any kind of support that you normally expect when you pay money for something. It’s also a cheap place to buy themes.
You can look at how many purchases have been made and what kinds of comments have been added about the theme. If you’re going to buy something like this what I would do is I would sort by sales first and then look at the ratings based on sales.
For example, this guy has sold 66,920 copies of his theme and he has a buyer rating of almost 5 stars with 57,000. By my standards this looks like a safe buy because people are happy with this, it has lots of testing and you can buy this with confidence.
It’s very useful to be able to see these buyer ratings and actually you go look at the comments because you can often find in comments if it’s not getting support because a lot of people will try and get support using the comment section. Anyway, this would be a great theme to buy if you’re happy with the way it works and looks because it clearly has an excellent track record and an excellent reputation.
So if you use that kind of process for choosing a theme then it can be a fine place but you cannot buy a theme at Themeforest with the same degree of confidence that you can buy it from WooThemes or from wpmu.dev or from any of the other large theme suppliers. It’s based on the individual developer’s reputation that you have to make a value judgement.
You don’t make that value judgement at wpmu.dev or WooCommerce or StudioPress for that matter since everything that they do meets the same security standard, the same coding standards and the same level of support.
Michael actually I wasn’t paying close attention to your comment there but you said try the Avada theme and there you go, this is clearly a theme that a person could purchase with a high degree of certainty. It looks like it’s well written, it’s secure and it’s well supported.
Anybody who’s been around me very long knows that I like CodeCanyon. There is a similar issue with the WordPress plugins from CodeCanyon as there is with themes in Themeforest. In that you have varying degrees of capability and competence and support.
I have bought things from CodeCanyon that were absolutely useless junk. On the other hand, if you’re only spending $15 for it, it’s not as big a concern. There can be some useful stuff that’s available for purchase here. The trick to that is to again recognize that if something’s had 4 sales or 3 sales or 2 sales and if the developer doesn’t have a good rating then this is another situation where the buyer has to beware.
I just want people who are new to WordPress to be aware that Themeforest and CodeCanyon and Template Monster and WooThemes are not all the same. Hopefully now you have the tools to be able to make an informed decision. As I said I do purchase things on CodeCanyon all the time and as Michael suggests, always read the comment section before making a purchase.