When we talk about WordPress themes, they usually fall into one of two categories: premium or free. However, given the number of themes out there, those categories aren’t accurate anymore. There are many free themes which contain full feature sets and paid themes which are quite simple. So instead, themes are better grouped by their features: premium and simple. Now that we’ve grouped them, which is better for you?


Which theme type is better for an individual website depends on the site. If you want a well put together experience with a predefined set of customizations, then a premium theme is likely for you. However if you want your site to be more unique and be able to pick and choose things as you decide them, then a simple theme will be a better fit.

Premium WordPress Themes

What They are Great At

The advantage and appeal of premium themes is that they come ready to go. You just need to fill in a few fields, add your data and presto you have a pretty site. They have predefined customizations designed so that you don’t have to touch the HTML/CSS of the site. Which is great for website novices.

Their Drawbacks

The drawbacks on premium themes come when you want something the theme doesn’t offer. Perhaps you don’t like the three slider options, this can mean carving around in the premium theme’s code quite a bit to change out the slider. And the more tweaks you need done, the messier the carving gets. When you get past one or two tweaks, it’s frequently less work for a developer to have started with a simple theme and added instead of carving up a premium theme.

The next major drawback affects some premium themes more than others. It’s speed. Specially the Google PageSpeed Score (which does influence your Google search results ranking). Some themes may bring a lot of visual appeal, but have not been optimized for speed. The good news is that you can check before you buy. Simply go to Google’s PageSpeed and input the URL of the theme demo. You are looking for a score better than 60/100 and very few items listed in high & medium priority.

Simple WordPress Themes

What They are Great At

Simple themes come without a lot of extras. This means that to customize it, there is almost nothing that needs to be removed. Since most simple themes have few to no built in customizations, their code is frequently much cleaner and easier for a developer to edit.

Simple themes are the best choice for someone who wants a custom site. If you want to be able to get the most control and the most freedom of design, they are a great fit. They are also a good idea if you know your site will grow in the future, but you aren’t sure in what direction.

If you want a minimalist design (which is quite popular, especially with increasing mobile visitors), they are great. No extra code clogging up the bandwidth of your mobile guests.

Their Drawbacks

The downside of most simple themes is that if you want more than a simple site, they need customizing. And this customizing requires at least some degree of coding skill. The more customizing, the more coding required.

Making the Decision

The decision to go with a premium theme vs a simple theme is a personal one that needs to be made for each website. Here are a few questions which can help you for your site.

  • Do you want your theme ready to go out of the box?
  • Do you want your theme to have a professionally designed style?
  • Do you need to deploy your site quickly and on a small budget?

If your answer to these three questions is yes, then you probably want to go with a premium theme, provided you can find one that matches the look and features you want.

  • Do you want a unique look with custom features?
  • Do you need to add new features in the future?
  • Are you not quite sure what you want?

If your answer to most of these three questions is yes, then you are better off going with a simple theme and expanding on it.


High quality websites can be achieved using either premium or simple themes, the choice is dependent on your needs. If you need more help than this short article, contact us!

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