Imagine you are on the seaside enjoying beautiful sandy beach with crystal clear water and palm trees.
At one moment you will get hungry, you will need a bathroom, you will look for a night club for some dancing and at the end you will need a bed to rest and start the fun again from tomorrow morning. Although the sea, the sun and the sandy beach with palm trees are free and you can enjoy it as much as you want, all the rest that satisfy your needs will not be free (unless you are some survival expert like Bear Grylls and can sleep on a tree, eat what you kill, create clothes out of a raw skin of your lunch and still smell good enough to enjoy clubbing).
WordPress, as a free and open source CMS, really gives you all the free opportunities to enjoy it, just like the beach from the above story. But to use full functionality and all opportunities of WP, one really need to be “Bear Grylls” developer, to code its custom website and fit in all the plugins that are available out there.
So, Free vs Premium WordPress themes debate
There are so many free WP themes and this is big advantage of the WP community. These free themes usually come from developers that are either still developing their coding skills and try to get as much as possible feedback in order to improve their work, or it comes from already skilled developer that is now trying to build up image, personal or a company.
Free themes are really great, but their “shelf life” is much shorter, meaning that in most of the cases you will not have any support when you face some issues with the theme. And you will face it, sooner or later, theme will need to be updated from time to time, to follow latest versions of WP, but as well, to be in line with plugins updates. And if you are not really skilled developer and do not have advanced coding skills you will be forced to hire a developer (independent, or even the one that developed that free theme) and to pay the service by the hour. That will put the free theme in the not so “free” category.
Depending on your needs, be aware that free themes comes with much less options and possibilities for customization. It could easily happens that you are not the only one that likes and use the same theme and again, if you want to make some changes in the code to customize it, you will need to hire developer.
When you decide to go for premium, there are some clear benefits you are actually buying. First of all it is the support. Competition is nowadays so strong, company need to take really good care of the customer in order to keep them and to gain good recommendations. This means not only support in case of some installation issues or problems in theme functionality, but as well support in theme update with latest WP and plugin versions and further development of the theme(s).
Customization and flexibility
Next big advantage of premium theme is customization and uniqueness. Already as a paid theme, it will have less users than free theme, but good theme will allow you to customize it to your own needs, easily and without coding skills. This is done with different page builders, drag and drop features, color and font choices, numerous layouts for pages and posts…
But premium themes can come with too much functions (yes, this can be issue some time) or too much dependency on the plugins. This can slow down themes or even create them crushing too often (for premium theme user, one crash is already too often). How to be sure which premium theme is worth of buying? Again here comes WP community as beneficial, look at the recommendations, number of downloads of some previous themes from same developer, stars received, comments from users and answers from developer. And try to buy your themes on already well respected WordPress shops like Theme Forest.
As a conclusion, what would be premium WP theme in the beach story from the beginning? It is everything from the sun protection lotion and the deck chair, lifeguard, beach bar, hotel with the pool and all included service, even if your nightlife goes in the wrong direction, you have a number to call a guy that can fix things. And, talking about Free vs Premium WordPress themes, that’s why you use premium.