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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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!!
Go premium; buy professional themes like Genesis from Studiopress and Elegant Themes
- 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 This is aside the fact that they are hardly updated and most are basically outdated, malicious and hidden codes occur at a high rate in them.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.
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/
Malwatch WP Plugin: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-malwatch/
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.
- 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.
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.