Top Free WordPress Themes – Expert Collection, Best Features & Guide

Welcome to my top free WordPress themes training guide to help you create a beautiful website with zero fuss.When first choosing a theme, you'll probably be looking for something either eye-catching with sliders and possibly big images at the top to represent your niche. I think there's a lot wrong with that thinking and here's why...Simplicity is always a better option because these type of themes rank better in Google.

Are Free WordPress Themes A Good Choice?

Google dislike big sliders and huge images. What they want to see is your content first.

Another thing, some free themes are coded awful which slow down your site and so gives a bad impression. If visitors can't get on your site within two to three seconds, they will go elsewhere...I know I do!

Top Free WordPress Themes

One of the biggest bonuses that wins most people’s heart, is that ‘if it’s free then it’s for me’. However, I found that there’s more to it than picking the first free theme you like or the one that looks remotely appealing.

I'm not a big fan of free themes because customization's are always very limited. Though that's not to say there aren't any good ones available. It's for this reason, I've created a 'top free WordPress themes' at the bottom of this article. 

Want to know how easily I designed this page, then check out my review: Thrive Architect – Everything Has A Beauty But Not Everyone Sees It!

The difference between bought and free themes is that with bought themes you'll need fewer plugins. In most cases for your site to function at its optimum when using a free theme, you'll more than likely need to load many plugins for your site to function as you want it to. 

And, there lies another problem...badly coded plugins can slow down your site. Bought themes, and I know for sure Thrive Themes are awesomely coded, their plugins are coded into their themes which causes less stress and friction on your website. 

Warning: Before digging deeper into free themes, I want to stress that even cheap bought themes can be just as bad and fickle as free themes, be on your guard!

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly!

I have found there’s no grey area with free WordPress themes, they are either bad or good.

As far as my top free WordPress themes go, I have to say they’re all pretty much the same year-in and year-out, providing the developer updates and continues to offer support.

For me, support and updates are almost always the deciding factor as to which one to choose. 

Top Free WordPress Themes

Without proper support and regular updates, you might as well be swimming in mud. I say this because eventually your site will either look awful or it’ll crash. And, you don't want that because you'll eventually lose all your hard work.

I’ve listed many top free WordPress themes below for you to chose from. Generally, I’ve found that these stay at the top year-in year-out with some slight fluctuations. 

Digging Deeper Choosing Themes

When starting a new website, I found choosing a theme to be one of the hardest. It has to be right; you need to be happy with it, and it needs to function as described. There are so many free WordPress themes on the internet these days; in fact, last I looked the WordPress directory is loaded with more than 2,600.

Support: I would love to say there’s no particular order in what you ought to consider. Support and updates are a must as said earlier. If everything else is perfect, but there’s no technical support, then you’ll end up pulling your hair out! Checking out the creators support can be a piece of cake, go to their forum and browse the type of questions asked and the creators response time. This is also true of premium themes. If they don’t have a support and/or forum ditch them.

Features: Free WordPress themes often lack the features that you’d acquire with bought themes. Again, every bought theme can be capricious so even here you’d need to shop around.

Lite themes: Instead of latching onto a one-man theme creator look for a company who owns free and premium themes, it is unlikely their themes will be neglected. Their free themes are often lite versions of the premium and often known as freemium, these are often considered the top free WordPress themes. They can be an excellent choice if you’re starting out, then at some point when your commissions start rolling in you could opt to buy the premium.

Niche themes: I’ve learned not to look for niche themes; however, it makes no sense to grab a blogging theme when you’re a photographer. In this case, you’ll definitely need a photography theme to suit that need.

Themes size: The size of the WordPress theme matters a lot; you do not want it to be huge since it will weigh your site down, load time will be slower thus it will affect your SERP (search engine ranking position) with Google. Some modern themes are so big that WordPress cannot upload them; this means it has to be uploaded using FTP such as Filezilla.

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WordPress will only allow an 8MB upload; an Avada theme I looked at once weighed in at 265MB – that’s not funny so I’m glad I ditched it! To check the size of a theme folder, download it to your computer, extract, then right click to open the properties. Most properties will show how many folders, files and its size. Otherwise, hover over the zip file to show its size.

Styling: Some free themes do not offer the option to code their css; in this case, you will be very limited to making customizations. Trust me, even if you currently have no knowledge of coding, you will eventually want to do it even if it’s a little bit.

Coding: Some free themes can contain seriously bad coding, which will eventually screw up your site. This is more evident when you upload plugins and you’re hit with the white screen of death.

Theme Features To Consider

Here some examples of what you need to be looking out for when browsing themes, whether bought or free. I suggest that you pick out which are the most important to you, make a note of them in your notepad and try not to deviate from them too much.

  • Shortcodes
  • Flexible header
  • BuddyPress
  • Bootstrap
  • Google fonts
  • Translation ready
  • Sliders
  • Banner Ads
  • Sticky navbar
  • Infinite scrolling
  • WooCommerce
  • Unlimited colors
  • Regularly Updated
  • Support
  • Features
  • Theme Size
  • Quantity & Quality
  • CSS3
  • Responsive
  • Customizable Style
  • API hooks
  • Frontpage widgets
  • Columns
  • One-pagers
  • Star rating
  • Forum
  • Cross browser tested
  • HTML5 up-to-date
  • Retina ready
  • Lite theme upgradable
  • Recently updated
  • Widget options
  • Portfolio
  • Feature posts & pages
  • Landing pages
  • Pricing tables

make sure there are no catches

To avoid jumping into one bad bowl from another we need to consider the following when considering my recommend themes:

Customizr by Nikeo is a great theme. It's one of the most downloaded on the internet. However, for it to function at it's optimum you’ll need to buy their two plugins and they’re not cheap.

Granted not all themes require you to buy their plugins, but I can guarantee that you’ll always be searching for plugins to make your site functions better. Obviously, too many plugins will eventually slow down your site and that's a big turn off for any visitor.

Tip: When choosing a theme make sure there are no catches otherwise you might find you'll have to jump into another bowl.

Top Free WordPress Themes recommendations

Aside from the popular Twenty Ten, Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen and Fourteen, etc., here are some rocking themes. The two that consistently remain at the very top are Responsive by CyberChimps and Customizr by Nikeo.

What to Expect When Changing Your Theme

Prior to my current theme check Which WordPress Themes Should You Use? – What I Use On My Websites, I searched high and low for a good theme. I’d often change my theme, which meant I discovered some things along the way.

Often they didn't do what I wanted them to do. My posts were not easy to read, I couldn’t alter the line-spacing, some themes coding was awful making my site slow, right sidebar was too small, images were aligned wrongly, my logo wouldn’t fit, there weren’t enough menus and the list went on.

Maybe these themes could have been edited to suit me, but time was my enemy so I’d move on looking for yet another theme. Maybe I could have coded it fit, but back my coding knowledge was limited.

Here’s what I think the answer is...

Instead of loading and activating a theme onto your professional site, load it onto a testing website. For this you can use SiteRubix because it’s free or you can buy a cheap domain for pennies from SiteGround and host it with their cheapest plan. I use Wealthy Affiliate, because I’m a premium member I can host up to 25 sites free. SiteRubix is Wealthy Affiliates free option, either way both are very good.

With a test site or dummy site as some people call them, you can test as many websites and plugins as you like.

Somethings to lookout for are…

Those little code snippets you added to your website header such as Google Analytics, Bing Webmaster Tools, Alexa, Pinterest or whatever it maybe, may not carry over when you change your theme.

It is important to go into your editor and check they are there whenever you change your theme. Even today with my current bought theme, I always have a backup of my custom CSS and header snippets incase I need to replace lost code. When you change your theme double check that your snippets are working otherwise you’ll lose all your stats.
It is not a good idea to keep changing your theme. Therefore, make sure you choose your new theme carefully. 

There are of course many other reasons, and for this I highly recommend you grab my FREE eBook The 5 Minute Guide to WordPress Themes, my best blogging tips, and updates which is once in a blue moon.

The 5 Minute Guide to WordPress Themes

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And There You Have It

To check you've covered all the steps go here 6 Easy Steps to Creating a WOW Website...And, Build a Sustainable Business!

It doesn't matter how much blogging experience you have, you will always start where you're at and what you currently know. Eventually as your revenue increases, you'll gradually be able to dump the full-time employment to blog full-time on your site.

Just that thought a lone sounds so awesome!

Sharon

You're talking to Sharon May...I love all things creative. Why not use my years of expertise to fast track your website? Today, let me show you how to make the right choices that will deliver! Explore the amazing things you can do when creating a website. Give yourself more power and less worry over what you can trust!

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