Free WP Themes | Sufficient for long-term blogs?

When working with WordPress, free WP themes usually are the first place to go. Especially for beginners it is very comfortable to test several themes without wasting money. Sounds good, but will you be satisfied with a free theme in the long run?

WP

Free WP Themes

After you finished the registration procedure at WordPress, you can start building your new blog. WP automatically provides one free WP theme. This is usually their latest theme. On the one hand it is not bad, on the other hand it is not really groundbreaking. However, you should adapt it more or less to stand out from all the others.

What is a theme or template?
Probably you have already read the expressions theme and template in the context of web-design. A template is a kind of pattern including formatted (text-) modules. Themes are customizable graphic interfaces. They do not just provide text modules but also various possibilities to customize the layout.

Selecting a free WP theme

There are numerous free WP themes, many of them offer top-quality. How to find them? You log into your WP backend and go to

› Design
›› Themes
››› Add theme

In a new window you will see all kinds of themes and the categories Featured – Popular – Latest – Favorites. You may also filter them by selecting certain functions like responsive, no sidebar, etc. Afterwards you scroll through the thumbnails.
» Image 1 All Images »

Installing your favorite

Having selected a theme, you click on details and preview. On the one hand you will receive an impression of its design and functionality. On the other hand you will get some information on the special features (e. g. Logo-Upload, slider, access to Google fonts …) that come with the theme.

Moreover it can be helpful to take a look at the reviews, the number of downloads and the date of the latest update. If you see that it had not been updated for several months or years, you will better look for another one. You can assume that its security and functionality do not match the current standards. Apart from that the developer most likely will not fix any programming errors which occur in every theme.

After you have finally selected your theme, you click Install and then Activate.
If you want to change the theme later on, you will have two possibilities:

› Design
›› Theme
››› You will see all the themes you downloaded.
›››› You activate another theme and the previous theme will be deactivated automatically.

Or you search for a new theme as described above.

›››› Design
››››› Theme
›››››› Add.

Customizing a theme

Now you have got the basic framework of your blog, but it still is not YOUR blog. Therefore you should take a look at all pre-settings and adjust them. To do so you go to

› Design
›› Customizer

In the left sidebar you will find all options the theme offers and on the right a preview of your page. Best you go through the options one by one. Clicking on one option will usually open a new list with more details.
» Image 2

Some customizations require a little preparatory work. So, of course, you can only upload a logo and header image that you have designed in advance (e. g. using Affinity Designer or similar programs) and saved to your desktop. And to add a menu, you must have already created one in the sector

› Design
›› Menus

Thanks to the live customizer, most of the other options are self-explaining.
» Images 3 to 5

Writing

After you have successfully built your website, you can start to write your first post. You may either write a draft using a program like e. g. TextEdit or Ulysses. I do not recommend Word or Pages because these programs add some markups that will cause an unnecessary burden on your website and will slow it down.

You may also write directly in the WP text editor. Afterwards you check the preview of your post. If everything looks fine, you publish your post.
» Images 6 and 7

Upgrades by WP

At the latest when your blog is working well and has increasing content, the free WP theme might not satisfy you anymore. In case you do not want to establish a self-hosted website, you may buy some extension from WordPress. Depending on the plan you have a lot more options to customize your website and give it a more professional layout. But this freedom comes at a price.

Since only the business plan can be compared to a self-hosted website, you should also check the offers of other hosting-services plus the costs for a premium theme. In view of about € 300 per year for the business plan, another hosting-service might be more favorable in the long run.
» Image 8

Pros and Cons of free WP themes

+
Free and optimized for WordPress
Offers basic customization without any previous knowledge
Some standard plug-ins are preinstalled
Support and automatic updates by WP

Little storage
Limited customization
No installing of additional plug-ins
WP promotion / brand in the footer cannot be removed

to my newsletter + password for all wallpapers.

Conclusion

There are many top-quality and well-programmed free WP themes. Especially for beginners who do not quite know where their blogging will lead to, these free WP themes might be absolutely sufficient.

The same is true for small, simple or temporary (hobby-) blogs. In these cases you do not have to buy an expensive premium theme, you will find a suitable one for free.

But if you intend to build a more professional website and permanently engage in it, a free WP theme will soon hit the wall. At least when you are going to add e. g. a shop or include ads you will need some plug-ins that you cannot integrate into a free theme.

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