Premium WordPress themes why you should use them, what to look out for, who are the top 3 in the business and why?
If you’re running a WordPress website then you will invariably come across the question of, which theme should I use, at some point of your website building process.
Sure there are a plethora of themes that are free out there or even ones that a very cheap. However for a multitude of reasons including and not limited to questionable security, no theme support, bloated coding, minimal to no updates and poor website speeds we advise that where possible you should use a premium WordPress theme provider.
At Anytime Business Courses we always steer clear of free WordPress themes and I’ll cover why in more detail in an upcoming article.
We ALWAYS use a premium WordPress theme when building our websites. Not least of all because for a minimal outlay of anywhere between $20-$100USD you get all of the above mentioned possible issues taken care of and you also get a whole lot more. So why would we risk not using a premium WordPress theme provider? We don’t!
What to look for when purchasing a premium WordPress theme
- Clean, minimal and efficient coding
- Adheres to WordPress security best practices
- Regular theme updates
- Search Engine Optimized
- Easily customizable
- Fast loading
- HTML 5 compatible
- Mobile responsive
- Helpful support and lots of tutorials
Most Wordpress themes are built on giving you lots of customization, in turn making your website look flashy and not necessarily on providing you with clean and efficient coding. Why is this even an issue I can hear you ask? I mean if my website looks awesome who cares about the code?
Well the short answer is Google does. If the code is messy and bloated Google and other search engines wont be able to crawl your website properly and efficiently and that sends a negative signal back to the search engines.
More importantly though is that usability on your website will also suffer. For example when a potential customer or blog follower lands on your website and the page takes longer than normal to load? You can bet your bottom dollar they won’t stick around to find out why.
Google sees this as a negative signal and they even have a website where you can test your load times on, giving you a clear signal that load times really matter to them.
Yes code is not the only factor in site speed and load times, it is one of many, however it’s the one factor that you can control easily. So why not do just that and be sure you use a theme that has clean and efficient coding?
How do we do that? By using reputable premium WordPress theme providers, who constantly update their themes and underlying code, conform to WordPress best practices when it comes to security and usability, who provide world class support and who allow for awesome customization options.
So lets take a look at the 3 best premium WordPress theme providers that we have used.
1. StudioPress by Rainmaker Digital LLC
With over 201,344+ satisfied customers and over a million websites that have used their framework at one point or another StudioPress is the go to premium theme provider, heck they practically pioneered the premium theme industry.
StudioPress has built a WordPress framework theme called Genesis which their child themes all 61 of them run on. This type of setup has allowed for their themes to be fast, nimble and robustly secure with minimal fuss.
Updates happen automatically and they do not effect the design elements of your website.
So what’s a framework theme? Well it’s a powerful type of WordPress theme that acts as the design framework, security, and SEO foundation for your website. It future-proofs your website customization, so there’s no hassle when it comes time to upgrade allowing for it to update with just one click.
A child theme on the other hand is the pure design elements of your website that rest on top of the framework, this is the look and feel of the website so to speak.
That’s the genius of the Genesis framework, while everyone else is cramming all that code in one bloated theme, StudioPress has broken it down into two separate lightweight themes that work in conjunction to allow your WordPress website to run smooth, efficiently and super fast and when it comes to updating the underlying framework your design elements are untouched.
At the time of writing they have 54 highly customizable child themes that can be easily updated with logos, color schemes and widgets to make your website look just how you want it to. They use best practices in design and WordPress security so you can rest assured your website will be easy to use and robustly secure. Add to that the baked in search engine optimization features, the constant updates, the second to none support, the abundance of tutorials for each theme and you really do have something special.
Here is a snapshot of some of the 54 premium WordPress child themes StudioPress have available and are ready to be customized to you liking.
While I was on the web recently I came across this comment about StudioPress and the Genesis WordPress framework. I think he does an awesome job in explaining just why Genesis is one of the best WordPress frameworks available. Although he’s coming into this discussion from a developer stand point, he makes valid points for anyone wanting to work on a WordPress theme.
As a heads up you can purchase single themes too, you don’t have to purchase the whole package which he refers too, although you can if you want and it does provide unprecedented value.
We have been using the Genesis framework for over 5 years now and nothing I have seen online has even come close to changing my mind about using them.
If you want to use a Wordpress theme that is blazingly fast, airtight secure, highly customizable, has SEO features baked in and provides some of the best support out there, then you can’t go past StudioPress and their Genesis WordPress framework check them out today.
We also have a whole module in our WordPress training course that walks you through the process of deciding which StudioPress theme to use and then how to purchase one, go to StudioPress right now for more information.
2. Elegant Themes, Inc.
Have been around for over 8 years now in some form or another and have well over 401,632 customers to date. The team has grown to 50 team members including tech and support staff. They have some 88 themes to choose from and with the ever robust Divi 3.0 theme and visual page builder you can rest assured your website will look exactly how you want it to.
Herein is where it becomes somewhat tricky, at what point does customization get in the way? Don’t get me wrong, I love playing around with the Divi 3.0 visual page builder and the possibilities are almost endless, but here in lies the problem you can easily end up in the preverbal rabbit hole with the end nye in sight.
With all this customization to be had, it must and does have an effect on the code of the website. While load speeds are super quick, they may not compare with a lightweight well coded designs from the likes of StudioPress and their Genesis framework. But here is the tradeoff, if you are meticulous on the look and feel of your website and you really must just have it look exactly how you want. Then, just maybe, Elegant Themes for WordPress is the one for you.
To really appreciate the sheer customization power of the Divi 3.0 theme and page builder you simply must download and have a play with it for yourself. They also have a Divi theme and page builder for WordPress plugin which works with 3rd party WordPress themes too. So you can even spruce up your current WordPress website with this Divi plug-in should the need arise.
Elegant themes really is geared towards designers or wannabe designers who are particular about the look and feel of their websites. That doesn’t necessarily mean the website will be conducive to lead generation, customers interaction, customer retention and/or conversions but damn it will look good…hopefully depending on the designer.
And this is why I tend to steer clients away for using the Divi builder, because having your website looking how you want doesn’t necessarily mean having a better website. This is where many clients trip up in the process of launching a new website.
As expected with over 50 team members Elegant Themes is no fly by nighter and they constantly update and secure their themes as and when required. With over 500,000 active installs worldwide they really are one of the go to Premium theme WordPress providers.
Click here for more information on what they have to offer or for a trial of Elegant themes and their Divi 3.0 visual page builder.
3. Woo Commerce and Themes
The other big player in this area is these guys. They started back in 2007/2008 as theme builders and throughout the years have become one of the biggest players when it comes to online stores. They were initially called WooThemes but just as it so happens their e-commerce product did so well that it made sense for them to focus on WooCommerce and now that’s what they are known as. But their themes are just as awesome too.
To give you an idea on how popular WooCommerce actually is, to date it powers over 28% of all online stores. Now you really have to stop and think about that, almost 1/3 of all stores online run this plug-in. They have over 24 million downloads of this one product and no wonder their focus has moved to making this one product their main business.
Having said that they haven’t forgot about WooThemes just yet. And like Elegant themes they too have a visual website builder called Canvas. To be fair it’s good but not as good as the latest Divi 3.0 from elegant themes.
WooCommerce, WooThemes and Canvas by WooCommerce really come into their own if you’re looking to setup your very own online store. Having all your design and backend elements from the one provider could make sense and easier to manage and obtain support when required. To be clear WooCommerce works without WooThemes and works really well with most 3rd party themes just fine.
However you can’t deny that many of their themes are geared around an online shopping feel and they have a wide range to suite most industries needs.
They also have an add-on extension for just about anything you can think of, which is why it is one of the most used e-commerce plugins in the WordPress world. One plug-in that they recently released is the booking plug-in, which allows you to provide online bookings and to sell your time as a service online. This is great for service based professionals like general practitioners, masseurs, psychologist, dentists and anyone else looking to simplify their online booking process.
They are a big e-commerce provider, owned by an even bigger company, with Automatic (the owners of WordPress.com) stepping up and buying WooCommerce in 2015. Obviously they could see the potential offered with such a big chunk of the e-commerce market share occupied by WooCommerce.
Automatic is an awesome company in itself (in case you didn’t know Automatic was founded by one of the original WordPress founders…say that quickly 20 times). WooCommerce has almost 60 employees, over 100 themes to to look through and a visual page builder called Canvas to work with to fine tune your pages, you’d be hard pressed to find better options.
For more information on WooCommerce and their themes click here now.
4. Thrive Themes (honourable mention)
They have been around since 2013 however the last year or so these guys have been trailblazing the WordPress world with their conversion focused themes and plugins. They already have something like 43,000 plus customers including over 12,000 active subscription members…that’s no small feet.
Their moto is “Conversion Focused WordPress Themes”…that says it all right there.
Don’t get me wrong their themes look fabulous but it’s their conversion focus that makes them special. It starts with a lean, lightweight code that follows all the way from its design to its features. Making them some of the most speed optimized themes I’ve ever seen.
Add to that some of the best conversion based plug-ins you can find on the web and you really have a recipe for success. I’ve only been playing around with Thrive Themes and their plug-ins for a few weeks now and they have simply blown me away.
In some instances I’m paying hundreds if not a thousand dollars or more to have the same features through multiple vendors. With Thrive Themes it’s easy to have everything for one low price when paid annually, they want to bring these features to the masses.
The best part is that even these plug-ins are well coded and designed for minimal to know load drag on your website.
The Thrive themes are well crafted, easy to work with and very fast to load (all things being equal of course).
Their Content Builder is intuitive and easy to use and the sky is the limit when it comes to creating your very own website. But Remember don’t get caught in the never ending whole of design perfection.
We are in the process of finalizing this article and will have the final two premium theme providers for you up shortly. Stay tuned…