A great WordPress theme makes an average site exceptional. A theme is what gives WordPress its function and appearance. Traditionally used for blogging, themes also give structure to a regular Web site.
These recommended free themes are not trial versions, but fully functional premium themes by some of the best design companies online. They can be downloaded and used right away. Something to remember is that free designs often receive little, if any, support from the company. So if you will require some customization, it might be challenging. But if you chose a design that will work basically as is, or if you have some basic design skills, then these themes should work out great – and will save you some money.
A word of caution: When searching online, there are literally thousands of sites giving away premium themes. The majority of these are pirated from the actual creators of the themes. While that might not bother some, imagine the impact on your business if the site theme was to fail months down the road, or worse, if a virus was inside of the theme harvesting your client data. The risks are too great to use pirated website tools. Buy a theme from the creator, or use one of the free themes below.
Now, on to the good ones...
They offer only four themes total. Each of the themes comes with a Pro (pay) and a Free version. The pro versions are some of the nicest themes I’ve seen. The free ones are worth a look. Check out the review of PlatformPro - comes in a pro version.
All four versions have a similar structure, but a significantly different appearance. All have a social media bar on the top right, multiple color schemes and a very professional look and navigation.
- WhiteHouse3 (pro version) look in bottom right of page to download free version.
- StationPro3 (pro version) look in bottom right of page to download free version.
- iBlogPro4 (pro version) look in bottom right of page to download free version.
- EcoPro (pro version) look in bottom right of page to download free version.
One of the more popular and prolific theme creators, Templatic offers eight themes for free, including:
- WP Premium: one of the most dynamic, fully featured themes available. Comes with three color schemes, social network ready, support for gravatars and post ratings. If you aren’t sure what you need for a blog theme, try this out – it might be all you need.
- Coming Soon: self explanatory title, this theme works great to advertise an upcoming website, software or event. This is a single page theme.
- Aggregator: is a very simple and complete widget based theme that will aggregate all your feeds (blogs, social networks, videos, news) all on one page. Add as many as you like, and use as your personal stream, or to broadcast your feeds. Can be multi-page, allowing feeds to be categorized. Works very smoothly – a favorite of mine.
- GTD: private blog theme for teams to collaborate
- LiveTwit: create a custom Twitter feed, based on feeds from specific users, or on a specific topic. Works out of the box.
- Visiting Card: smooth working mini site. No blog function, but great for sharing all of your social networks, and basic profile. Great idea for any empty domains you have.
- NewsWeek: magazine styled theme, inspired from Business Week website
Not sure about the WordPress platform? You might want to check out these three alternatives to WordPress.
WooThemes has one of the larger sets of quality free themes available. At time of publishing, WooThemes is offering 10 different premium themes for free. Ranging from magazine, multimedia and personal blogs – you’ll likely find what you’re looking for here. They have a great support network and forum (extra cost).
Currently UpThemes have two free themes:
- Holding Pattern is a placeholder that can be placed as a landing page, and can collect email addresses of visitors.
- Gallery is a perfect theme for a portfolio of design or photography. Also displays video very well.
WPZoom offers a nice set of free themes. Their free themes include a photo blog and a magazine format theme.
- Afterburner comes with 8 style presents, and 14 widget areas for full but simple customization. Is promoted as “The Fastest WordPress Theme Ever”. While this may or may not be true, it’s likely true that it is a fast operating theme.
- Novus is a clean and fast loading theme. Comes with 12 widget positions and is fully translatable. Minimalist design.
Selecta, the free theme offered by Obox, is a personal style theme best suited for high volume of videos and photos. Sort of a retro style design, it comes with a video slider and widgetized footer area.
To showcase photos or artwork, Graph Paper Press designs some of the nicest themes available. Currently nine of their twenty themes are available for free. The free themes come with free video tutorials which teach how to install and customize each one. The free themes can also be pay themes, which will then give you pro support. When you pay for support (currently $49 per quarter, or $99 per year) you actually get all of the themes and pro support for each one. Compare the free and pay versions.
Offering three basic designs with nothing out of the ordinary. Solid, functional and pleasing appearance.
- ecoNews Comes with homepage photo slideshow, sidebar ad areas and Facebook / Twitter integration.
- ecoMicro Micro-blogging theme is very basic and has a similar look to Twitter.
- ecoBlog Classic blog theme with social integration.
While I would be negligent not to mention WordPress.org, I'm not that confident that you'll find what you need for your business. The themes are often too basic and too difficult to handle that often they only have a fit for personal use (and that gets less likely every year). They boast over 1200 themes. Check them out.