The WordPress Specialists

Free Vs Premium – How to Know if You Should Purchase a WordPress Theme/Plugin

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Believe it or not, this question is often asked by most beginners when they start with WordPress websites. Even though themes and plugins are two different things, the same rules can be applied in various circumstances.

Can’t decide between #free or #premium #plugins and #themes? This article will guide you towards making that decision!

Nevertheless, we’ll go through both separately and I’ll show you their pros and cons, so you can better understand the whole situation and decide if a plugin/theme is worth purchasing.

Let’s start the discussion with free WordPress themes vs premium WordPress themes.

Comparison Between Free & Premium WordPress Themes

Free WordPress Themes

WordPress themes repository

Free themes are free of charge, usually created by small developers, and have somewhat limited features and/or support.

There are cases where big companies develop free themes but they typically use them to tempt you to buy their premium versions or other products and services. These free versions can lack quality, some features, and rarely perform better than their premium counterparts.

Free WordPress Themes – Pros

  • Completely free to use.
  • Due to their simplicity, they take less of a toll on your site’s performance.
  • Free themes go through a review process and are officially approved.

Free WordPress Themes – Cons

  • Limited features & support.
  • Anyone can use them, so they become mainstream.
  • Repetitive design all across the web.

Premium WordPress Themes

Theme Forest

Most premium themes come with rich features, are highly customizable, fully-responsive, and offer long term support. They cost money as most of the time, they offer more features and outperform the free versions.

Yes, there are some premium themes that are worse than some free themes but that is rarely the case. To avoid getting yourself into that situation, stay away from unknown sources, always buy from reputable companies such as Themeforest.

Premium WordPress Themes – Pros

  • Long term support and frequent updates.
  • Better security and compatibility.
  • Fully customizable settings and responsive elements.
  • Unique design that helps you stand out more.
  • Improves your resale value.

Premium WordPress Themes – Cons

  • They cost money and can be quite expensive.
  • Due to lots of features, they can bloat your site and make it perform slower.
  • Questionable guarantees.
  • No official review process.
  • Can degrade performance and cross over into the plugins domain.

Using a Free WordPress Theme Versus Purchasing a Premium WordPress Theme

Woman customizing theme

When you’re choosing your theme, making sure that it looks great should not be your only concern. You have to find something that fits in your content perfectly and matches your website’s niche.

Use a Free WordPress Theme If:

  • You are starting a personal blog or website.
  • You are fine with mainstream (shared) web design.
  • You just need basic features.
  • You don’t need additional support and are fine on your own.
  • You aren’t planning on customizing anything.

Purchase a Premium WordPress Theme If:

  • You are running a business website and want to use the eCommerce functionality in the near future.
  • You want your theme design to stand out.
  • You want to enable advanced features.
  • You need personal assistance.

Things to Consider:

  • You must match your website’s niche and needs.
  • Websites with advanced (premium) features offer more functionality but are also harder to run and maintain.
  • Free WordPress themes give you peace of mind and are easier to use but won’t get you far.

Comparison Between Free & Premium WordPress Plugins

Free WordPress Plugins

WordPress plugins repository

Just like free WordPress themes, free plugins are also free of charge, created by independent developers, and have limited features and/or support.

There are some free plugins with barebones features that require you to buy their premium version to get more/all functionalities, so keep that in mind. Nevertheless, free plugins are great for personal use.

Free WordPress Plugins – Pros

  • Free to download and use on your website.
  • No unnecessary functionalities and fewer performance downsides.
  • Easy to use and switch between.

Free WordPress Plugins – Cons

  • They usually don’t offer any sort of assistance or upgrades.
  • Lack of advanced features and services.
  • Questionable functions and compatibility.
  • No updates and new features.
  • Poor or no customization options.

Premium WordPress Plugins

Codecanyon

Looking to get the most out of your WordPress website? Then, look no further than premium plugins and be ready to spend some of your hard-earned money. But always buy from reputable companies such as CodeCanyon.

Premium WordPress Plugins – Pros

  • Dedicated support.
  • Regular updates & upgrades.
  • Enable advanced features.
  • Highly customizable and flexible.
  • Total control.

Premium WordPress Plugins – Cons

  • Can slow down your site’s speed if you don’t know what you’re doing.
  • Premium features may not be worth the price.
  • More features mean more problems for less tech-savvy people.

Using a Free WordPress Plugin Versus Purchasing a Premium WordPress Plugin

Woman using WP Reset

Depending on your type of use, you’ll need different plugins to get the job done. Thankfully, there are loads of WordPress plugin that can help you solve your problem(s).

Use a Free WordPress Plugin If:

  • You don’t need a lot of features and support/assistance.
  • Compatibility and cross support aren’t important to you.

Purchase a Premium WordPress Plugin If:

  • You can’t function without advanced features.
  • You need dedicated support.
  • You want professional tips and tutorials.
  • You want frequent updates and new features.
  • Compatibility is a must for you.

Things to Consider:

  • Premium WordPress plugins have more features but are harder to use and can have a bigger toll on your website’s performance.
  • Free WordPress plugins are easier to use, can offer better performance but won’t get you far just like free WordPress themes.

Free VS Premium Summary

Justice symbol

I don’t think that anyone expects free themes/plugins to offer more than their premium counterparts but still, they are free of charge and you know what they say – don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. So if you don’t plan on spending money, don’t need more features and aren’t looking to customize anything, then go for it.

However, if you’re running a business site or intend to run an online store (eCommerce), I highly recommend you purchase a premium theme/plugin instead.

You’ll get advanced features, support, updates, creative design, and a lot more, which will allow you to fully control your site and customize its elements to your liking. Also, it is highly likely that your competition is already using premium themes/plugins, so if you want to get ahead, now you know what you need to do.

Conclusion

Only you can decide which theme or plugin to get. Do your research and compare different versions to find out which one best fits your needs. Sometimes, free plugins/themes aren’t a bad choice but still, you won’t see any serious business using one.

Write down your needs and goals, then go see if a premium version offers the features you really need or if you can get by with the free version. But before purchasing a premium plugin or theme, make sure that they are actually worth buying, don’t waste your money on something that you don’t need or can’t use.

Obviously, premium themes and plugins are better as they give you more of everything but the real question is if they are worth it to you.

About the author

Marin Basic

A student with a bachelor's degree in English & Literature, working on his thesis. I write articles & blogs, and I also do some editing and Web development on the side. Passionate gamer & content creator in my free time. 

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By Marin Basic
The WordPress Specialists