Premium WordPress Themes: Are They Here To Stay?

Advertisement

Over the last few years WordPress managed to become the dominating weblog engine out there. The main reasons behind its overwhelming success aren’t that astonishing: WordPress is extremely easy to use, it’s absolutely free and it has a huge community. But what is even more important is the fact that WordPress is an Open Source project. That means that everything, from the documentation to the code itself, was and is being created by and for the community for free. Consequently, WordPress themes and plugins have also been released for free in the spirit of the Open Source movement.

Over the last months we’ve been observing a growing trend towards “premium” WordPress themes — themes designed by freelancers and design agencies, heavily advertised on popular weblogs and offered for a fixed price.

What’s The Point?

So what’s the point of purchasing a WordPress theme if there are zillions of alternatives? The quality. Amongst thousands of alternatives only few themes go beyond having some basic functionalities within a customized design. In fact, designing a professional WordPress theme takes time.

Free themes may help a designer to gain a good reputation and improve his/her search engine rankings (in fact, we review high-quality WordPress from time to time — 100 Excellent Free WordPress Themes1), but it’s understandable that designers often can’t afford themselves to use the time they might need for their job.

Consequently, you’ll rarely be able to find free professional themes which can be employed for large web-sites, such as online magazines or corporate web-sites.

Advantages vs. Disadvantages

In his recent article Kyle Scove has discussed the advantages of Premium WordPress themes2:

“The availability of premium themes

  • gives WordPress users a chance to stand out from the crowd of free themes,
  • allows the purchaser to see what they are going to get ahead of time,
  • benefits the designers by allowing them the opportunity to do the work once, then have a steady source of income trickle in
  • will likely result in even more income than if they were to create a custom made theme for a client.”

In this context, it is also important to understand that designers will be able to benefit from a premium theme if and only if the premium theme has something special to offer and there are users who might actually need it. More importantly, it’s important that users are willing to pay for it — many bloggers tend to replace WordPress themes on a regular basis.

“Premium” themes are less likely to be used for traditional blogs. They are worth considering only if a large web-project has to be developed. Besides, not only the blog-owners, but also designers can benefit from such themes as they won’t need to reinvent the wheel all the time if they have to cope with a rather complex issue.

Case “Mimbo Pro”

Few months ago Darren Hoyt, the developer of the free Mimbo theme3 has announced that he is going to develop a premium version of his theme, called Mimbo Pro4. As he attempts to create the theme that will look BIG, like another Time or Newsweek, but with more elegant design touches, customers with small budgets might find similar premium themes worth considering.

Premium WordPress Theme5
Usually the development of a magazine-style design from scratch would cost $10,000 – $40,000. In these cases “premium” themes might address the needs of clients with smaller budgets.

“Premium” Themes

Below we’ve selected some premium themes which are applicable for large web-projects. Using these templates, designers, developers and customers might avoid a lot of headache and save both time and money.

Revolution Theme6 (Price: $79.95)
The Revolution themes family comes in multiple flavors. Revolution Tech is a customizable theme ideal for tech/gadget online magazines and has a new enhanced featured video location on the theme. Revolution Magazine is a customizable theme ideal for online magazines and has a new enhanced featured video location on the theme.

Premium WordPress Theme7

Premium WordPress Theme8

Magazine News Theme9 (Price: $49 – $129)
Magazine News v1.0 is a news / magazine-styled WordPress theme created for sites with a lot of content, and looking to maximize their Google AdSense revenue. Among other things the theme has a “Feature article” functionality which allows bloggers to easily highlight an article at any time by creating a category called ‘featured’ and put the posts that you want featured in there.

Premium WordPress Theme10

PortfolioPress11 (Price: $49)
PortfolioPress is aimed at being a portfolio blog for web/graphic/print design. Apart from the theme, the package also includes layered Photoshop files (.psd) for header and menu and a full layered Photoshop file (.psd) (multiple license only).

Premium WordPress Theme12

Premium News Theme13 (Price: $99.95 – $249.95)
A grid-based magazine-style theme with a number of features such as video embedding, “featured article”-functionality etc.

Premium WordPress Theme14

News Theme15 (Price: $75 – $245)
A clean and legible magazine-style theme.

Premium WordPress Theme16

Showcase: WordPress CSS Gallery Theme17 (Price: $70 – $700)
WordPress theme created to power a CSS or web design gallery, which is also ideal for managing online portfolios and photo blogs. If you want to use WordPress as a web design gallery, Showcase might be the solution you’ve been looking for. Beyond its core features, it comes with 5 different color schemes and 8 layout variations.

Premium WordPress Theme18

WP Remix19 (Price: $55 – $155)
A WordPress theme which is completely customizable and comes bundled with many layout options that helps to create custom designs.

Premium WordPress Theme20

Digg-Theme21 (Price: $49)
The theme is widget-ready and it’s built in place for 125×125 banner ads, so that you can instantly incorporate ads in your blog.

Premium WordPress Theme22

Solostream 1.023 (Price: $49 – $159)
The theme is widget-ready, has drop-down navigation for sub-pages, tag support for WordPress 2.3, built-in archives page, drop-down boxes for categories and monthly archives, tabbed top content box and featured article functionality.

Premium WordPress Theme24

Gridline Magazine (Price: $49- $159)
Gridline utilizes the Blueprint CSS framework to create a minimal, grid-based magazine theme. Premium Gridline theme comes in two flavors, Gridline Magazine, and Gridline News. Designer mentions that Gridline might help you to :transform your blog into a full-blown magazine”.

Premium WordPress Theme

What Do You Think?

As the number of premium themes is growing, it’s reasonable to pose the question whether it’s also the time for “premium” WordPress plugins. In a follow-up to this article Steven Snell from VandelayDesign team discusses the rise of premium themes and plugins25. His opinon: “Currently plugin developers dedicate many hours of their time and are rewarded with links, maybe some donations, and a few pats on the back. If charging for plugins will open up increased innovation and creativity from plugin developers, I’m all for it.”

We’d like to know your opinion. Have you ever considered releasing a “premium” WordPress theme? Would you consider using “third-party” templates for your projects? How much would you spend on a professional WordPress theme? Are “premium” themes here to stay?

Please take part in our poll and/or comment on this article.

Sources and Resources

Footnotes

  1. 1 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/01/08/100-excellent-free-high-quality-wordpress-themes/
  2. 2 http://kylescove.com/examining-blog-trends-premium-wordpress-themes/
  3. 3 http://www.darrenhoyt.com/2007/08/05/wordpress-magazine-theme-released/
  4. 4 http://www.darrenhoyt.com/2007/12/29/preliminary-sketches-of-mimbo-pro/
  5. 5 http://www.darrenhoyt.com/2007/12/29/preliminary-sketches-of-mimbo-pro/
  6. 6 http://www.briangardner.com/themes
  7. 7 http://www.briangardner.com/themes
  8. 8 http://www.briangardner.com/themes
  9. 9 http://www.artculture.com/art-culture/magazine-news-wordpress-theme
  10. 10 http://www.artculture.com/art-culture/magazine-news-wordpress-theme
  11. 11 http://wordpress.jepson.no/wordpress-themes/portfoliopress/
  12. 12 http://wordpress.jepson.no/wordpress-themes/portfoliopress/
  13. 13 http://www.premiumnewstheme.com/
  14. 14 http://www.premiumnewstheme.com/
  15. 15 http://quommunication.com/
  16. 16 http://quommunication.com/
  17. 17 http://www.wpdesigner.com/2007/09/10/showcase/
  18. 18 http://www.wpdesigner.com/2007/09/10/showcase/
  19. 19 http://www.wpremix.com/home/
  20. 20 http://www.wpremix.com/home/
  21. 21 http://www.peterandrej.com/shop/digg/
  22. 22 http://www.peterandrej.com/shop/digg/
  23. 23 http://www.solostream.com/category/wordpress-blog-themes/
  24. 24 http://www.solostream.com/category/wordpress-blog-themes/
  25. 25 http://vandelaydesign.com/blog/wordpress/premium-themes-plugins/
  26. 26 http://wphacks.com/best-premium-wordpress-themes-gallery/
  27. 27 http://www.blogohblog.com/premium-wordpress-themes/

↑ Back to top Tweet itShare on Facebook

Vitaly Friedman loves beautiful content and doesn’t like to give in easily. Vitaly is writer, speaker, author and editor-in-chief of Smashing Magazine. He runs responsive Web design workshops, online workshops and loves solving complex performance problems in large companies. Get in touch.

Advertising
  1. 1

    the poll used here is mainly taking submissions from designers since this is a design blog.. results would be different i think on a different site

    0
  2. 52

    Revolution-News-Theme-for-Wordpress
    Download: 3 Theme FREE !!!

    http://www.adwordsa.com/2008/01/20/revolution-news-theme-for-wordpress/

    0
  3. 103

    DON’T BE FOOLED!

    I purchased one of these themes today, inspired by what appears to be incredible functionality and flexibility. It had a wide variety of layouts and it looked like a dream come true. After shelling out $50+ for the theme and installing it, I discovered to my dismay that the theme was not a content management system at all.

    When I created a page using one of the provided “templates”, it just loaded html from a template php file and the ONLY way to modify the contents on the page was to actually edit the template php file. ZERO content management tools whatsoever. If this was for my own website, I could do it…but I’m a programmer. For any of my clients, this theme would have zero value at all, since they don’t have the skills or tools to update the content themselves. Isn’t that the point of a CMS?

    I’ve asked for a full refund, and so I won’t slander the seller of this theme just yet. But you should all be warned that what appears to be great functionality may not actually do what you think.

    Think twice before buying a theme advertised as a CMS!!!!!!

    0
  4. 154

    those who know nothing about php css & html can buy the premium themes.

    those who know can take a free theme and modify it!!

    whats the big deal about premium themes?

    0
  5. 205

    I’ve never bought a “Premium” theme before (I make my own) but I do get a lot of clients asking me for them. WordPress is pretty awesome and everyone I make a site for seems to really like the idea of having a blog that looks like their own personal website.

    It really allows my clients the ability to constantly update their own site without having to own or know anything about managing a website so I can see how Premium themes could become really popular.

    0
  6. 256

    A true CMS will cost you $thousands every year, including a hefty setup fee. For example, Kintera. Kintera is a powerful tool, but if you are not a large non-profit or corporation that has exorbitant capital, you are better off grabbing a free download of WordPress, and hiring a designer to customize it.

    0
  7. 307

    Great article! Lots of good resources. I think Pro themes are great. Free themes are good….but when a designer is selling something they go that extra mile in features, instructions and professionalism that is worth paying for! I hope more designers do this!

    0
  8. 358

    Premium themes should be exactly that – Premium. And most of them are incredible right now. But sooner, rather than later, it’s going to catch on with all the “Me too!” people online and we’ll see a whole slew of trash “Premium” themes.

    And then those of us who do quality work will have to work harder to make sure people know our stuff is good :)

    Also, for those of you here who do premium themes, I created a plugin that will help set your themes apart, and lower your support tickets as well: http://pressography.com/wordpress/premium-customizer/

    Great post, as always, SM!

    0
  9. 409

    web design in cheltenham

    March 3, 2008 5:40 am

    can anyone suggest an alternative to word press, as I have to include a blog in a recent web site i am creating but the client is adament he does not want to use word press not sure why, and i hav’nt got time to develop something in php. thanks in advance

    0
  10. 460

    I purchased a theme from one of the above mentioned developers, and I don’t really feel like it was worth the cost. The theme didn’t function as advertised straight out of the “box” and the theme lacked flexibility in terms of being compatible with additional plugins.

    0
  11. 511

    Well Ya. It’s useless. Just do a Google and you will find these “Premium” ripped.

    0
  12. 562

    Spent a bunch of time looking for magazine-style themes and put them up on this site — http://wpmagthemes.com

    0
  13. 613

    After trying the revolution theme, IMO it’s not worth the price …

    0
  14. 664

    Thanks for giving us this great resource for finding premium themes!

    0
  15. 715

    When I found out peopel where doing these premiusm themes i got upset i had been reinventing the wheel for a long time, but now I am uisng them left and Right!
    Roberto

    0
  16. 766

    Check WPZOOM for Free & Premium Themes WPZOOM

    0
  17. 817

    I think that premium themes are a mixed bag. Joomla/mambo was always a pain, wordpress is a great tool, but it requires maintenance if you want it’s engine to do everything. I have paid for 3 different premium themes and the amount of work I spend incorporating into my business sites were significant. While there is a market for them, it would make more sense to say – we’ll use this template for our theme and customize it. I just wnat to worry about posting and keeping the content up to date. When I spend more time keeping managing the theme than I do the content, then there’s nothing premium about it. 250.00 is not a lot if your site is making money. 500.00 is not a lot if you are making money. But 100.00 with 30 hours of work getting it setup and ready to just use is a waste of time and money. In reality the developer could do it in 5 hours, I wouldn’t have to learn how to program, and my customers would be happy.

    Office.live.com offers a true out of the box experience and it’s relatively free (though slow) and a client could be up and running in around 1 to 2 days. It won’t look as cool as some of the wordpress themes, but hey – it’s up, they’re happy, I’m happy, and we’re all making money. When I spend 100.00, the 30 hours, and then have to ask the developers for another 10 hours of support for 500.00, I’m just ticked. The premium theme is a good idea but I think the paradigm around the concept is flawed. People that are going to shell out money for a premium theme should have the option of how to do it, without blowing the bank and their work week.

    0
  18. 868

    As a Joomla user premium themes and plugins are absolutely the way to go.

    The good ones make life so much easier. And since you can further customize them you do can still have a unique site with many bells and whistles that would have cost you a fortune to have built from scratch.

    0
  19. 919

    hoho..
    what a great theme..
    but i prefer design it for my self..

    0
  20. 970

    Thanks, Chinesebob. I echo your opinion. I’m an end user. Not a coder. I want to write and market, not code. Even so, I want to be able to deploy a post with specific functionality and make the page jump, WITHOUT having to run to Rent-A-Coder for help every time.

    I’m warming up to WordPress again because of the SEO attributes, but design issues are again in my face and this is what drove me to Joomla — where I have become proficient enough to make a decent site that has requisite bells and whistles and works with clients. That said, most of the work is done by the theme provider and the Joomla engine.

    Not to mention, I had a patient coder who walked me through everything. By the time I was done it had cost me about $1,000 and umpteen hours, but I can now exist within the Joomla environment and get things done.

    I know WordPress has none of that functionality. You’re either a coder or you’re helpless.

    Here’s how I feel and I know that I represent a huge group of WordPress users or potential users.

    1. I will use you (coders) for large jobs. Always have, always will. This is taking a theme and completely remaking it so that the original is undistinguishable. This is major work and I expect to pay.

    2. I would like to see WordPress come with — or somebody produce — an interface that will allow a user like me to easily make changes with clicks and checkboxes, etc. Want to replace the header? Click one button, insert, click okay. Background colors or styles of a sidebar, the same. I should be able to completely change the look of my theme in minutes without working up a sweat.

    3. It would be great to have a similar “editor” for CSS. I am totally lost in that world and everybody tells me to stay out of it, and just pay to have the changes made. Simple font and color changes wind up taking 2-3 days to get somebody lined up and the work done.

    4. I want videos to show me precisely what to do to make changes, not long tutorials that are written by coders. No offense, but you folks think differently and express things differently. You may think you are making things clear and sufficiently dumbing things down for the rest of us, but often it is anything but. I want a non-coder’s perspective on the videos. I’m in the training business and people have different learning styles. Somebody in the WordPress realm has to eventually recognize this.

    I’m sure I could go on for a fair distance on this but I won’t. You get the idea. I see hope with the guy who is making WP Remix. He has an editor of some sort coming. I’m sure it won’t be all of wjhat I’m asking for here, but maybe it’s a start.

    Like I say, I’m your customer and not a competing coder. I hope my voice has a place in the discussion.

    Thanks.

    0
  21. 1021

    Thanks, Chinesebob. I echo your opinion. I’m an end user. Not a coder. I want to write and market, not code. Even so, I want to be able to deploy a post with specific functionality and make the page jump, WITHOUT having to run to Rent-A-Coder for help every time.

    I’m warming up to WordPress again because of the SEO attributes, but design issues are again in my face and this is what drove me to Joomla — where I have become proficient enough to make a decent site that has requisite bells and whistles and works with clients. That said, most of the work is done by the theme provider and the Joomla engine.

    Not to mention, I had a patient coder who walked me through everything. By the time I was done it had cost me about $1,000 and umpteen hours, but I can now exist within the Joomla environment and get things done.

    I know WordPress has none of that functionality. You’re either a coder or you’re helpless.

    Here’s how I feel and I know that I represent a huge group of WordPress users or potential users.

    1. I will use you (coders) for large jobs. Always have, always will. This is taking a theme and completely remaking it so that the original is undistinguishable. This is major work and I expect to pay.

    2. I would like to see WordPress come with — or somebody produce — an interface that will allow a user like me to easily make changes with clicks and checkboxes, etc. Want to replace the header? Click one button, insert, click okay. Background colors or styles of a sidebar, the same. I should be able to completely change the look of my theme in minutes without working up a sweat.

    3. It would be great to have a similar “editor” for CSS. I am totally lost in that world and everybody tells me to stay out of it, and just pay to have the changes made. Simple font and color changes wind up taking 2-3 days to get somebody lined up and the work done.

    4. I want videos to show me precisely what to do to make changes, not long tutorials that are written by coders. No offense, but you folks think differently and express things differently. You may think you are making things clear and sufficiently dumbing things down for the rest of us, but often it is anything but. I want a non-coder’s perspective on the videos. I’m in the training business and people have different learning styles. Somebody in the WordPress realm has to eventually recognize this.

    I’m sure I could go on for a fair distance on this but I won’t. You get the idea. I see hope with the guy who is making WP Remix. He has an editor of some sort coming. I’m sure it won’t be all of what I’m asking for here, but maybe it’s a start.

    Like I say, I’m your customer and not a competing coder. I hope my voice has a place in the discussion.

    Thanks.

    0
  22. 1072

    customized warhammer online wordpress theme at http://www.punkdudez.com/blogs/war

    0
  23. 1123

    Hex Bolt, Hex Bolt Supplier, Hex Bolt Manufacture, hex, bolt, Windsor Hex Bolt, Hex Bolt, India Hex Bolts, Manufacture Hax Bolt Supplier, Hex Bolt Exporter,Crown Screw, fasteners, screws, Crown Screw and Bolt, Crown, nuts and bolts, bolt bus, banjo bolts, crown bolt

    0
  24. 1174

    themegalaxy.net has really nice themes

    0
  25. 1225

    I always thought it would be silly to pay for a theme but after years of using WordPress I’m now breaking down and buying one.

    For me – I can code the crap out of a design but I can design with code. It’s not about making my blog ‘unique’ but making the presentation of my search targeted content unique enough that I can create some brand recognition which I have yet to do with my blog till now.

    I’m planning to use a subscription service so I can have access to multiple themes rather than buying one and hoping the code on the back end is as clean as it appears on the front end.

    0
  26. 1276

    I like the idea of themes, it is no different than having templates in more traditional graphics programs. As a designer I personally have no interest in the “code”. Do I want to spend hours writing code when I really just want to tweak the structure with my own graphics? Let’s not confuse coding with design. In the world of print it is common for styles, templates, etc. to be utilized to maintain a look. Most newspapers look the same right? Other than their header and some variations they are the same. There is no need to re-invent the web design wheel, I will gladly let a coder create a working template for me to modify and use. If I want to design, I won’t spend hours coding. I’ll use a design program like Illustrator, In Design, Photoshop.

    0
  27. 1327

    The Premium Themes concept is here to stay and for good reason. If some one talks you into painting their house for free, how good of a job would you do? Now that same house, same person, pays you $500, how good of a job would you do then?
    Time is money for anyone.
    As for those that misinterpreted “CMS” themes as a real CMS..
    The concept of CMS themes really just focus on the concept of using wordpress for more than just blogging. Static sites can be done very well with wordpress these days.

    I think for the most part, the ones giving negative feed back about wordpress are either designers losing business due to people turning to wordpress or other open source solutions or just super cheap. Come on, the wordpress platform is there for free.. dish out your 50 – 100 bucks for a unique design, then you provide your content.
    Business models being built around the open source community are really starting the thrive.

    I personaly Love It.

    0
  28. 1378

    I think it is a professional and unique way to represent any company or person…I am a designer and that is how I get my paycheck so I am all for it!

    0
  29. 1429

    Oh wow.. I’m gonna get that Portfolio Press! it looks awesome!

    0
  30. 1480

    Here is also cool magazine WP Template. I think is the best around you can find!

    http://www.ttemplate.com/template-archive/wordpress-magazine-theme

    Demo :
    http://www.heyy.com.mk/wp/

    0
  31. 1531

    A Bigger deal then a BIG MACK..?

    0
  32. 1582

    I would like to purchase a premium theme,for the continuously support of the designer.Once the word press updated,you do not bother to change your free theme.If you do not change,it would looks like you were out of date.

    Plus,http://www.wpremix.com/home/ encountered a 403 error

    0

↑ Back to top