If you’re thinking of starting a blog or website on a budget WordPress is probably your best free option. As it’s WordPress you’ll have the choice of a number of free themes that you can use. There are even free responsive design themes to choose from. However a free theme may not be the best choice.
A Free Theme May Have Poor Code
The code for a free theme may not be as clean as with a premium, paid for theme. There may be bugs and structure issues that need to be fixed, but that cannot be fixed without upgrading to the premium version. They may also be poorly set up for SEO.
A Free Theme May Not Be Current
A free theme is often released as a lead generator. The designer will be hoping you’ll want more functionality and upgrade to the premium version. Some designers won’t keep the free version up to date, thinking it will make you even more likely to upgrade. Unfortunately an older theme that is not updated may be less compatible with the lastest and best plug-ins, and become vulnerable to security issues.
A Free Theme May Not Be Entirely Under Your Control
There may be some aspects of a free theme that you will not have permission to change. For example it may include encrypted links to ads that are displayed in the site’s footers. Some of these may be inappropriate to your website.
A Free Theme Usually Has Fewer Features
Developers are going to spend more time making a premium paid-for theme better so that it can compete in the premium theme marketplace. Consequently it will often have a number of features that the free themes don’t offer. These can include more flexibility, better compatibility with different browsers, and can also include access to FAQs and even one-on-one support.
A Free Theme May Not Be Free
In the long term a free theme may cost in terms of time and effort in getting it and keeping it working correctly. WordPress are now making updates more frequently. This can stop a theme working, and if you have an inflexible free theme that offers little support you may need to find a better, newer theme.
The bottom line is a premium WordPress theme will have more features and be more robust. If you look at premium themes you’ll find more designs that are responsive, an important consideration now that many of your potential visitors are getting online via a mobile device. Although a premium theme has a price, it will also help you avoid issues with WordPress upgrades. When you purchase a premium theme you become a designer’s customer, and that means they’ll want to keep their themes working well to keep you happy and avoid negative feedback.