Beware of Free WordPress Themes

freebutt1One of the perks of using WordPress to blog is the ability to change your site’s design on the fly. Creating a new web design template from scratch requires time, work, and a general understanding of coding. With WordPress, however, you can download and install a new “theme” to instantly change your site’s design. However, you should think twice before using a free theme…

There are around 10,000 or so WordPress themes available, some of which are free while others are premium (paid). When you’re initially trying to build your blog, you may assume a free theme is the best option, as it allows you to focus your money on other elements (e.g. marketing, social media, etc.).

Unfortunately, there are several problems associated with free themes, one of which is the simple fact that they are often poorly coded. Just because a theme looks fine doesn’t necessarily mean it’s properly coded. It may contain hundreds of lines of unnecessary/sloppy code, sending the wrong message to visitors and search engines. Some visitors may be unable to view or utilize certain elements of your blog, and search engines may lower your blog’s ranking as a result of its poorly  written code. The bottom line is that you want to choose a theme with clean, well-written code to promote a positive experience.

Of course, another problem associated with free WordPress themes is the potential for malicious code. Several studies have found free WordPress themes to contain massive security vulnerabilities, exploits, malicious iframes, redirects and other nefarious code. Hackers often create new themes as a Trojan horse so-to-speak. So when a user downloads and uploads the theme to his or her website, it creates a backdoor channel for hackers to gain entry. This alone should be reason enough to stick with a premium WordPress theme.

A third reason why you should consider investing in a premium WordPress theme is that free themes often lack key features and widgets. As premium themes are often created by large companies or groups of designers, and not solo designers, premium themes are generally more robust.

Does this mean all free themes are bad? Not necessarily, but as the saying goes, you get what you pay for, holds true when dealing with WordPress themes.

Do you think it’s safe to use a free WordPress theme? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!

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