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
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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”.
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
- Premium WordPress Themes Gallery26
An extensive recent overview of currently available premium themes.
- Premium WordPress Themes27 by BlogOhBlog.com.
- 1 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/01/08/100-excellent-free-high-quality-wordpress-themes/
- 2 http://kylescove.com/examining-blog-trends-premium-wordpress-themes/
- 3 http://www.darrenhoyt.com/2007/08/05/wordpress-magazine-theme-released/
- 4 http://www.darrenhoyt.com/2007/12/29/preliminary-sketches-of-mimbo-pro/
- 5 http://www.darrenhoyt.com/2007/12/29/preliminary-sketches-of-mimbo-pro/
- 6 http://www.briangardner.com/themes
- 7 http://www.briangardner.com/themes
- 8 http://www.briangardner.com/themes
- 9 http://www.artculture.com/art-culture/magazine-news-wordpress-theme
- 10 http://www.artculture.com/art-culture/magazine-news-wordpress-theme
- 11 http://wordpress.jepson.no/wordpress-themes/portfoliopress/
- 12 http://wordpress.jepson.no/wordpress-themes/portfoliopress/
- 13 http://www.premiumnewstheme.com/
- 14 http://www.premiumnewstheme.com/
- 15 http://quommunication.com/
- 16 http://quommunication.com/
- 17 http://www.wpdesigner.com/2007/09/10/showcase/
- 18 http://www.wpdesigner.com/2007/09/10/showcase/
- 19 http://www.wpremix.com/home/
- 20 http://www.wpremix.com/home/
- 21 http://www.peterandrej.com/shop/digg/
- 22 http://www.peterandrej.com/shop/digg/
- 23 http://www.solostream.com/category/wordpress-blog-themes/
- 24 http://www.solostream.com/category/wordpress-blog-themes/
- 25 http://vandelaydesign.com/blog/wordpress/premium-themes-plugins/
- 26 http://wphacks.com/best-premium-wordpress-themes-gallery/
- 27 http://www.blogohblog.com/premium-wordpress-themes/