Six disadvantages of free WordPress themes-why you should not use them

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Mobile responsive Theme- highly recommended

The use of a free wordpress theme should not be encouraged at all. As a new blog or website owner starting out with the use of WordPress blogging platform, one of the major challenges is finding the type of themes to use, and because wordpress.org repository itself has lots of free wordpress themes, it becomes tempting to make use of one.

Though, downloading and using free wordpress themes from wordpress.org directly is safe and most of these themes are free of hidden codes, there are still much more disadvantage to you using this free themes, because they are not reliable.

Recommended to read: Top 11 recommended best wordpress Food themes

dont use free wordpress themes

While the use of a free wordpress theme is arguably understandable, however it does not prove that such a fellow or website owner using it is really serious about his/her online business.

I was once in such situation till I discovered many disadvantages of free wordpress themes. Not to waste time, the following are listed points on why you should never try using a free wordpress theme.

Recommended to read: How to start and create a successful news blog and site

  • Most Free themes lack professional designs


This factor is a major disadvantage. Nobody that is seriously searching for an important topic, products or services, and on landing on a shallow, unprofessional, poorly navigating website will naturally want to stay no matter how compelling the content might be.

Recommended to read: Best mobile responsive wordpress themes for Google AdSense

Our eyes are naturally attracted to beauty, so also the marketing angle of sales conversion

Because most free themes are often used, their headers look too alike, as a user, you don’t have the control to change the logo and header of these themes.

The header and its body, looks scanty and they mostly lack beautiful background colors. In addition, they mostly lack the presence of professionally configured email subscription buttons and forms.

Recommended to read: How to start a successful food blog in 7 steps

With the ongoing Google campaign on websites and blogs being mobile responsive, most of these free themes are not mobile responsive and compatible.

The use of free themes makes your blog/website look similar to most other blogs, because all of you downloaded the same free themes globally. So, I guess you don’t want that!!
StudioPress Premium WordPress Themes

Go premium; buy professional themes like Genesis from Studiopress

free wordpress themes have hidden and malicious codes

  • Most Free themes have security vulnerability, are dangerous and contains hidden codes


From personal experience, most free themes contain hidden malicious codes. This is aside the fact that they are hardly updated and most are basically outdated, malicious and hidden codes occur at a high rate in them.

Free themes are usually associated with hidden links, malicious codes and affiliate codes.

Read: 7 proven steps to protect your wordpress website security

Google is very strict when it comes to the presence and issue of hidden malicious code on a blog and website.  Hidden codes either present in the CSS, Javascript, PHP script or even in the database are not visible to the reader or even the blog or website owner but are visible and naked to the search engines. This action will trigger Google penalty.

Read: Robots.txt file is a cause of Google Penalty

To check for hidden and malicious code in your theme, you can make use of the below recommended plugin:

TAC – Theme Authenticator Checker Plugin – http://wordpress.org/plugins/tac/

  • They suffer from Technical and Customer Support


This is not new; all free themes do not have a technical and support feature. You are on your own if anything goes wrong.

Few developers of free themes offer support, and as such you should naturally not rely on their support because it won’t be constant.

The best option is to buy a theme from reliable source and you are confident of getting quality and constant customer support. This premium theme developers like Studiopress Genesis themes and Elegant themes are always there to offer support and technical guidance if you have issues with your blog and website.

free wordpress themes will not give customer support

  • They cause compatibility problems


Most free themes causes compatibility issues with plugins, and this development makes the blog or website to break or inaccessible.
This problem is caused due to the fact that the themes are rarely updated, and with an updated plugin, compatibility problems usually happen.
This particular problem once occurred to me on one of my other blog where I was using a free theme. The problem then was with the W3 total cache, this problem makes my website break, making it looks miserable and somehow inaccessible.

  • They are rarely updated


This is the major challenge. Having an updated theme requires commitment and dedication from the developer. Now tell me, how do you think someone would just dedicate most of his time on a particular project without getting money in return. Most developers rarely have time for updating their works.
We live in a jet age of fast moving technology and the internet; according to Sucuri and Synthesis webhost, a non-updated theme is a major avenue for hackers, bugs and vulnerabilities to easily enter and destroy your blog; and this makes your website less secure.  This remains one major reason you should opt for a paid/premium theme

  • They lack proper SEO – Most has missing H1 title tag


Virtually all free themes are not properly optimized to the taste and likes of Google and other search engines. Though, with the use of Yoast wordpress SEO plugin, nearly 85% of these setbacks can be taken care of.
The H1 tag is an important SEO component that should be present on every webpage. The H1 tag gives a simple summary of what the page is all about to the visiting search engine spiders.
To check if your webpage has one, simply press CTRL U, and you will be presented the source codes, simply check and find the H1; to do this, press CTRL F, and search for it.
Known factors on the lack of proper SEO features include:

  • They lack the META description feature for posts and pages
  • They are heavy and slow to load
  • Most free themes are not optimized for mobile view i.e. they are not mobile responsive.

Please note, that having a mobile responsive theme is an important SEO requirement for any website or blog to rank very well in Google come 2014 and beyond

  • Most of this free themes have faulty rel=canonical link


Joost de valk, of yoast.com and his team carried out a case study on a particular website and they discovered that the theme being used by the publisher has a faulty rel=canonical link in the header and points to the homepage instead of the main and targeted post/pages URL. This sort of expensive mistake is common with free themes.

The above listed points are some known disadvantages of free wordpress themes, kindly share on Google+ and twitter.

disadvantages of free wordpress themes-premium themes are reliable

Feedback and Suggestions

Thank you for taking time out in reading this blog post, I hope its resourceful and helpful. Please,  kindly share your suggestions and/or corrections through the comment section below.

And , I HUMBLY REQUEST THAT YOU HELP SHARE IT ON TWITTER and GOOGLE PLUS

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  • http://kabenlah.com Emmanuel

    There is nothing like ‘FREE’ online. It obviously do come at a cost.

  • http://bloggingconsult.org/ James

    Hi Emmanuel,

    In full reality, there is nothing free, you’ve said it all.

    Thanks for the visit and the comment, do have a nice day.

  • http://www.garrettspecialties.com/blog Arleen

    I elected not to use Wrodpress themes for the very reasons you pointed out. SEO is a major part of any website. I paid someone to create a custom blog. Our blog site is an extension of our main web site and is just another page so I didn’t want any problems.

    • http://bloggingconsult.org/ James

      Hi Arleen,

      Thanks for the comment. Well, the use of premium themes from a respected developer like Genesis themes from studiopress is safe and secure.

      And secondly, hosting with a highly reputable webhost like WPEngine and Synthesis is an added advantage.

      Thanks for the visit Arleen, and do have a splendid day.

  • http://www.blogcooters.com Usama Wahid

    Yes you are right. They lack in functionality.

    Thank You, Superb Write.

  • http://bloggingconsult.org/ James

    Hi Usama,

    You are absolutely right. Thanks for the visit and I wish you the best blessings of today.

  • http://www.aha-now.com/ Harleena Singh

    Hi James,

    I totally agree with you – one shouldn’t use the really so-called ‘free’ themes out there, whether they are for WordPress or even Bloggers. I think they have the various drawbacks as you mentioned, and most importantly, they have more of security issues as compared to the professional paid ones.

    I started my blogs on the free Blogger platform, but was quick to switch over to WP paid within a few months, once I learnt it was needed to be done. Nothing like it, and no looking back at all.

    Thanks for sharing. Have a nice week ahead :)

    • http://bloggingconsult.org/ James

      Hi Harleena,

      It’s so wonderful having you on my blog, you are mostly welcome!!

      Absolutely, you are right, the use of a free wordpress theme should not be encouraged at all. You made the right decision by quickly migrating to a paid WP theme.

      Thanks harleena for the purposeful comment, do have a nice day.

  • Shailesh Jangra

    If you are paying for it, obviously you will get the best service. Every good work needs a reward. So for best service we have to pay.

  • http://bloggingconsult.org/ James

    Hi Shailesh,

    There is always value expected from paying you for a service, compared to just getting the service free. You are absolutely right.

    Thanks for the comment and have a nice day.

  • T. Brooks Web Design, LLC

    There are also the security issues. WordPress sites are notorious for being vulnerable to hackers. I’ve had to rebuild entire websites for clients whose WordPress sites were hacked into and destroyed. I’ve also had to rebuild sites for clients when their WordPress sites went down because the template was no longer compatible with the latest WordPress update. And I’ve rebuilt sites for clients whose WordPress sites were so slow to load that they were useless on all but the fastest, newest computers.

    The popularity of WordPress I think is attributed to the fact that someone who doesn’t know coding (html, css, javascript, etc.) can drag and drop pre-designed elements and call themselves a web designer. That’s like calling the guy who puts the sandwiches together at a fast food restaurant a “chef”. Granted, there are many talented and experienced web designers who used WordPress properly; i.e. taking an existing template and customizing it for each client. But even when used properly, the many problems inherent to WordPress websites are still going to exist.

    There are WordPress “alternative” platforms out there, but many of these suffer from the same shortcomings as WordPress. The best alternative is still hand-coding. Yes, it’s old school. Yes, it’s not as “glamorous” as CMS platforms like WordPress. But it gets the job done without all of those pesky CMS pitfalls. Problem is, web designers that know how to code by hand are few and far between. And those that do often prefer to use WordPress anyway because it’s easier than hand coding.

  • Joy Healey

    Hi James

    Thanks for pointing out those important reasons for not using free WP themes. I have fallen into many of those traps!

    I have tried a couple of paid themes and still found one of my sites slow to load (which was my major problem), although I must admit they looked a lot more attractive than the free themes. In fairness Genesis loaded much more quickly than the other paid theme I used.

    When the changes I made didn’t help, I moved my main site away from WordPress altogether. Although I lost several WP features, the speed was much faster, and that’s become more important to me than the features (which were probably what was slowing my site down!)

    Very useful post though. Thanks.

    Joy

  • http://bloggingconsult.org/ James

    Hi Joy,

    if I am not mistaken, you said you moved away from wordpress? if thats true, I guess its not going to be in your best interest.

    wordpress is big, and nearly 80% of websites are built through it. I think the issue is for you to get a very good host ( WPEngine and Synthesis) that i mentioned earlier. Trust me, you will see considerable changes.

    Thanks for the visit and the comment; do have a nice day.