Why Use Premium WordPress Themes (And Why Not)

WordPress is like donuts. On the one hand it’s delicious and on the other, what isn’t there matters. WordPress is unbelievably simple to use, free and you don’t need to learn any HTML to get a website up and running.

However, just like donuts, WordPress has its limitations. Learn before you dive into WordPress Premium themes and put on a lot of excess fat without getting a whole lot back.

If you like this article, you might be interested in some of our other articles on Professional WordPress Themes, Commercial WordPress Themes, Best Premium WordPress Themes and 110 Free WordPress Themes, .

What is WordPress?

WordPress is an excellent open source platform that makes it extremely easy to create websites, especially blogs, without any programming experience or knowledge of HTML. For small companies and bloggers, WordPress has been a mini miracle- letting people with little money establish an Internet presence. Fundamentally these are the basic advantages of using WordPress:

  1. Open Source, “free”” software that comes with a large user group where you can yell “help” and “how do I do X” and you can get an answer back.
  2. Easy as Apple Pie. A good apple pie isn’t easy but WordPress is, especially for a Content Management System (CMS). Anyone can easily get WordPress up and running within a few sessions. Look Mom, I blog!
  3. Widely used and accepted. This matters because many of the bugs have been worked out of WordPress and help is readily accessible through WordPress forums. Moreover, WordPress, based on PHP and MySQL has a very bright future. This is because it is fundamentally sound and based on the “back end” programming language of choice, PHP.

So WordPress Premium Themes Must Be Better, Right?

Ah, if life were so easy. First thing, beware of anything that has the word “premium” attached. Think about it, there isn’t a “premium” Ferrari but you can sure get a “premium package” Ford. In marketing jargon “premium” means, “pay more.”

Many Premium WordPress themes are paid themes- AND they can be expensive for what you are getting.

Advantages to Premium WordPress Themes

Despite the costs involved ($35.00- 350 each) many Premium WordPress Themes are very well designed and extremely functional. The functionality is what generally separates them from the free themes available on WordPress and all over the web. A programmer and a designer (we hope) has already sat down and added the needed plugins and widgets to make the Premium theme very easy to customize and use. He or she has removed the bugs and thought of all the things you might need or want like RSS feeds, a video platform and Social Media. When done well, this can save enormous amounts of time (doing it yourself) or money (paying someone to do it for you).

In addition, Premium WordPress themes are often used as a form of advertisement for small website development firms. This means that the Premium themes are usually updated and current where sometimes standard WordPress themes are not. Moreover, there are even some excellent Premium WordPress themes that are free rather than paid. They also look great and you don’t need a huge computer running a licensed program to manage them.

A person who has some knowledge of HTML and WordPress can take a Premium Theme with most of the bells and whistles and add in extras at their own convenience. As long as you don’t want to change too many things, a Premium theme can provide a fantastic shortcut to a great looking website.

Disadvantages to Using Premium WordPress Themes

As mentioned above, many of the best Premium WordPress themes are not free. In addition, as a “Premium theme” you are dealing with something that has been tinkered with. This means that the large group of helpful open source support that makes WordPress so appealing may or may not be able to help you. You didn’t build the Premium theme so you probably won’t even know where to look to fix problems when they arrive let alone ask accurate questions on a forum. This is the elephant in the room and he is stomping all over your donuts.

WordPress Premium themes are great for computer savvy individuals who can tweak them at will but for the average person who chooses WordPress because it is free and easy, often the easy part just disappeared. Provided you have bought the theme through a reputable provider they will usually help you with future issues and help you customize the theme- but it will probably cost more money. One example that commonly pops up is Social Media tracking, implementation and linking to non-WordPress sites. At the moment, there are some less than elegant marriages out there and this is something most bloggers and websites are looking for.

In addition, something to be aware of is that open source WordPress is tied to Matt Mullenweg and the company Automattic. Conflicts of interest might hamper the open source development of WordPress as it matures.

Lastly, there are WordPress themes that have been designed for e-commerce websites. This isn’t currently a strength of the WordPress Platform. It’s usually better to construct the website using PHP and add the blog in as a folder. Here are two examples of websites. The first is an excellent WordPress theme built by wpstore found in the brilliant article: “110 WordPress Themes.” The second in a professional promotional gifts website called Prodpromo built using PHP.

WPStore:

wpstore-screenshot-example of wordpress platform

Prodpromo:

prodpromo-screenshot example

It’s a bit of an unfair example, but it does illustrate that WordPress Themes have come a long way but also have a long way to go for e-commerce websites. Speed, one of the most important parts of Google’s ranking algorithm is another factor to pay close attention to when choosing an e-commerce WP Theme.

Premium WordPress Themes and SEO

OK, so you have your Premium WordPress site up and life is pretty good. However, your site isn’t ranking on Google and in all likelihood it never will. Your elephant just turned into Godzilla.

CMS systems, and Premium WordPress themes may or may not be Search Engine (SEO) friendly. To start with, WordPress blogs need to have unique URLs. This means a separate server (running Apache servers and PHP 5.2.4 or greater and MySQL 5 or greater for WordPress 3.2) and using WordPress.org, not WordPress.com.

It’s also very hard for the average person to tell a “good” premium theme from a “bad” one, especially for SEO. For SEO friendly think expert PHP programmers and designers who know what they are doing. Many WordPress Premium Themes are designed by professionals but many are not. The average person can’t look at the code and deduce a well-built premium theme from a bad one and the Premium WordPress market has exploded.

WordPress Premium themes are fine if you are blogging for your car club or about your school’s tennis team but the basic structure may or may not be SEO friendly. Before jumping into a WordPress Premium theme ask yourself what your goals are. Are you making things easier for customers you already have or are you establishing a business, brand or presence? Most people want both. If the latter is important, do some careful research before choosing a Premium WordPress theme. Choosing a good Premium theme requires both a solid understanding of HTML and WordPress. Once you have those you might be better served just building your own custom theme making sure you are incorporating SEO friendly practices. Doing it this way lets your site grow as both your skills and WordPress develops.

In summary, Premium WordPress themes can be an excellent way to create a blog or a small website. With a little research, a good theme can help people with some HTLM and WordPress skills quickly establish a professional looking blog or website. For larger business, advanced programmers and people with little to no knowledge of HTML, PHP or WordPress, WordPress Premium Themes probably aren’t the best option.

Additional Sources:

  • http://www.seomoz.org/img/upload/killer-blog-design.jpg and
  • http://www.seomoz.org/blog/applying-onsite-seo-to-website-templates
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