As users, enthusiasts and lovers of WordPress, we know the importance of having a good theme for our website or blog. In fact, an easily customizable appearance is one of the many edges that WP has over other CMS. When it comes to free themes, the providers and options are many, the most reliable one being the WordPress theme repository itself. Preview, install, try and tweak – the only thing limiting you is your own imagination.
If you are serious about having a unique look and feel for your website or blog, you should consider purchasing a WordPress Theme. Such themes come with not only more features but also better support, in addition to cleaner code and regular updates. The benefits of Premium Themes are many, and we are not here to enumerate them. In this article, we shall be taking a look at some of the leading Premium WordPress theme providers in the game. Also, to help you in your quest for that ‘perfect’ WP theme, we have also put together a detailed comparison of Premium Theme Providers. Further more, do not forget the fact that we also have WordPress coupons up for grabs, especially for you, dear readers!
But before we begin, its always good to be clear about the manifesto. Ideally, a good Premium theme provider should be able to meet all or most of the following criteria (the list isn’t exhaustive, though):
- Must provide 8+ themes (simply because that offers a sufficient deal of choice to choose from and also says something about the Provider’s reliability)
- Themes should be GPL licensed and allow use on multiple sites and blogs (you’re paying for it, so why should your use be so severely restricted to one site only!)
- Offer support and documentation for themes (beyond forums and FAQ, that is)
- Regular theme updates to ensure compatibility with latest WP versions.
As it becomes evident already, a theme provider’s age also comes in handy. The longer you stay in the business, the more themes you are likely to release and the more users you will attract. To understand this better, lets assume that two theme providers, A and B, release 1 theme per month. Provider A has been operating for 4 years, while Provider B is barely 6 months old. Thus, Provider A will have roughly 50-odd themes and is likely to gain better attention as compared to Provider B (that currently has only 6 themes).
Besides, most of the providers listed here have ‘membership clubs’ wherein you can get access to all the themes (both present and future releases) for a regular fee. This seems to make sense, as it gives you access to multiple themes that you can use on different websites along with support for each, rather than a solitary theme. Of course, there are discounts when you sign up for membership. So without further ado, lets get to the point!
ELEGANT THEMES (Website)
Elegant Themes is perhaps one of the most pocket friendly Premium Theme providers out there. The cost of membership for a year is $39 (Standard Licence).
They have over 60 themes in their arsenal, and the genre of themes ranges from blogs and magazines to even portfolio dedicated to special needs such as food, real estate, products, events and many others. Elegant Themes also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
If you intend to use their themes on client websites, there is a one-time fee of $89, and that will upgrade you to the Developer Licence. This option is available as an upgrade from the Standard Account itself. Quite obviously, Elegant Themes has kept the modus operandi pretty simple! The support, though not the best in its league, is good enough in the form of documentation and other related items. All in all, if you’re planning to employ Premium Themes to add that extra bit of ‘spice’ to your website and at the same time do not wish to burn a hole in your pocket, Elegant Themes might just do the trick for you!
ORGANIC THEMES (Website)
Organic Themes is a recent competitor in the segment with its launch in 2010. The name sure sounds eco-friendly to me. And if you’re not satisfied with that, they are the ones behind the extremely popular Structure Theme.
Organic Themes offers separate themes, with the average price of one theme being $69. Obviously, the themes are backed by support, but since they are just starting out, their documentation and tutorials take a minor whip as compared to the rest.
They also have an ‘All Themes’ purchase option, that comes for $240. This can be compared to the Developer Licence at Elegant Themes. Once you purchase all themes from Organic Themes, you are entitled to all their current as well as future themes. You can consider this to be a one-time membership cost.
Since Organic Themes are fairly new in the game, the number of themes is still comparatively less.
UpThemes is another fairly recent entry in the Premium Themes segment. Again naturally, the number of themes in its stable is comparatively lesser, yet whatever few are present cater to varied needs such as magazine, portfolio and even e-commerce. The pricing is fairly uncommon, with the Standard and Developer ones being for $50 and $75 respectively. On a similar tone, a Standard Club Membership will cost you $99 for 6 months, while a Developer Club Membership will cost you $139 for the same time period. This surely is not cheap by any standards, yet some of the themes offered by UpThemes definitely make the investment worth the efforts.
UpThemes also offers exclusive plugin support to its customers. Further more, they also have two awesome place holder themes for ‘upcoming’ websites. However, on the down side, the frequency of theme releases by UpThemes is quite less as compared to the rest of the providers and this devalues the worth of buying a Club Membership from them.
WooThemes is perhaps the largest Premium WordPress theme provider (in terms of the number and popularity ratio of themes), and this number of themes seems to increase as we speak, with two new themes guaranteed every month. WooThemes gigantic stature can be assessed from the fact that they also offer themes for CMSes like Expression Engine and even Magento. Their themes are backed by extensive documentation, and are one of the most user friendly ones out there. Further more, their ‘Playground’ lets you check and view each and every aspect of the theme control and modification mechanism as well.
When it comes to support, WooThemes offers extensive documentation, FAQ, forum and community support as well as support via email. The forums are monitored and run by WooThemes staff, so you surely are in good hands if something goes wrong with your themes. WooThemes also has a job board, a very active community and a few freebies. Though this really doesn’t add much to its USP (except for the community element), it sure speaks a lot about its popularity. This is one provider you can rely heavily on.
Talking of pricing, the Standard Package costs $70 while the Developer package costs $150. If you wish to have a Club membership, you can get the Standard Club Membership with a startup fee of $125 (monthly fee $15). Similarly, the Developer Club Membership comes for a startup fee of $200 and monthly fee of $200. Sounds expensive, doesn’t it? Well, apparently yes, but WooThemes has the largest collection of themes (currently 96) and is also the fastest growing in terms of numbers. As a result, it sure proves worth the investment.
WPZOOM recently underwent a re-design and introduction of Club Memberships. They have over 30 themes under their stable. WPZOOM seems to be specializing in magazine and portfolio themes, with some of the best in the league such as Yamidoo PRO Magazine, Telegraph and Magazinum.
Talking about the Pricing at WPZOOM, the Standard Package is priced at $69 (one domain only) and the Developer Package comes for $149. When it comes to Club Memberships, Standard Membership costs $199 signup fee and $9 monthly, while the Developer membership costs $299 signup fee and $19 monthly. On the downside, the Developer Club Membership is costlier as compared to the others, especially because the number of themes is still less.
WPZOOM offers support and extensive documentation. The most appealing factor is that ever since their re-design, they have accelerated the frequency of their theme releases and so if you are a Club Member with them, you can expect a treat in times to come.
STUDIO PRESS (Website)
Studio Press is another major Premium Theme Provider. Known best for its Genesis theme framework, Studio Press also offers a good deal of free themes, but almost all of them are child themes of Genesis Framework, which in itself will cost you $59.95
Also, if you wish to buy all of their themes (including the Genesis Framework and future releases), you can get the entire package for $299.95 Specializing in WordPress development, Studio Press also offers some nifty plugins. And when it comes to support, Studio Press offers in depth How-Tos, tutorials, FAQ, as well as a vBulletin powered forum. The forum is arguably the back bone of the support mechanism, and its importance is evident from the numerous moderators and super-users that are employed to administer it.
If you buy the entire package from Studio Press, you can be sure of getting your hands on some wonderful themes. Alternatively, if you’re on a budget, you may simply purchase the Genesis Theme Framework, and then enjoy the several free child themes that Studio Press keeps releasing from time to time.
GRAPH PAPER PRESS (Website)
Graph Paper Press makes themes specially for those wanting to create an online portfolio, such as photographers, artists and designers. To download themes, you need to create an account at the website. Signup in itself is free, and Graph Paper Press also offers many wonderful free themes (without support, though). If you wish to download the Premium Themes, you can go for either Quarterly Subscription ($49) or Annual Subscription ($99). Also, if you want a Developer Subscription, the cost will be $299.
In general, Graph Paper Press offers video tutorials in addition to its documentation and support. The tutorials are great for newbies and experts alike, and if you are planning to create an online portfolio of your artwork, Graph Paper Press might have the ideal WordPress theme for you.
BLOG OH! BLOG (Website)
Blog Oh! Blog has a huge collection of both free and Premium themes. Speaking of free, most of their unpaid themes have been monumental successes. And in the Premium themes section too, Blog Oh! Blog has numerous wonderful works to its credit.
Coming to pricing, almost all Premium Themes are priced at $49.99 for Standard use, while a Developer licence will cost $150. Apparently, Blog Oh! Blog does not have a membership plan. The support offered by Blog Oh! Blog is almost at par with the rest. Blog Oh! Blog also offers free themes which are good, though not exemplary.
CHIMERA THEMES (Website)
Chimera Themes is a well known Premium Theme provider that excels in Business and content presentation themes. Their website itself sports that ‘business’ typelook. The pricing is a bit cheaper as compared with the others: a single theme licence costs $37, while a single Developer licence costs $47. If you opt for Standard Club Membership, the one time signup fee is $107 followed by a monthly fee of $8. Similarly, if you are interested in a Developer Club Membership, the signup fee is $127 along with a payment of $15 per month.
If you intend to use a sombre and serious minded theme for a professional website, Chimera Themes should be on your radar of consideration. Apart from that, plus points of Chimera Themes include extensive documentation and support resources, apart from a unique forum that facilitates bug reports and queries sorted according to each theme itself.
ALSO WORTH A LOOK (in alphabetical order):
- Aloha Themes — Aloha Themes currently has 17 themes with an average price of $77 per theme.
- Bizz Themes — Bizz Themes currently has 17 themes with an average price of $69 per theme. They generally specialize in professional and presentation oriented themes.
- Flexi Themes — Flexi Themes currently has 15 themes with an average price of $29.90 per theme. They seem to be an ideal option if you are on a tight budget yet seek a good look for your blog. They also have a membership option of $69.90 per year.
- Gorilla Themes — Gorilla Themes currently has 17 themes with an average price of $39.95 per theme. Some of their themes are fairly unique and even excel the bigger competitors’ offerings. Unfortunately, they do not have a membership plan as of now.
- iDesignEco — iDesignEco currently has 16 themes with an average price of $25 per theme. Almost all the themes are value for money, and there seems to be something for everyone. They also offer few free themes.
- iThemes — iThemes currently has over a hundred themes with an average price of $79.95 per theme. While the price of themes may not appeal to everyone, iThemes is one provider definitely worth a look.
- Obox Design — Obox Design currently has 26 themes. The average pricing is $50 for two themes.
- Pliable Press — Pliable Press currently has 6 themes with an average price of $70 per theme.
- Templatic — Templatic currently has 67 themes with an average price of $65 per theme. Considering the fact that Templatic is still fairly new in the game, the size of its offering is commendable indeed.
- Theme Junkie — Theme Junkie currently has 18 themes with an average price of $29.95 per theme. While most of themes may not make you say ‘WOW’ instantaneously, Theme Junkie’s themes are reputed for the clean look and easy customization.
- The Theme Foundry — The Theme Foundry currently has 7 themes with an average price of $68 per theme.
The choices are many when it comes to Premium Themes for WordPress users. While some providers such as WooThemes offer something for everyone, many others such as Graph Paper Press specialize in a typical genre of themes, such as portfolio or photo blog themes. In either case, you can definitely take the liberty to research and settle for a provider that best suits your needs. If, for instance, you just need that one awesome theme for your blog, you can buy a single design.
However, if you are a developer or designer and plan to use Premium Themes for multiple websites of your clients, you should consider buying a Developer Club Membership from a larger provider such as WooThemes or Elegant Themes. As a designer, opting for Membership with clubs that still have comparatively lesser number of themes to offer may not prove to be the best decision, at least in the immediate run.