Recently our friend Andrew of WP-Fun.co.uk wrote an interesting post titled A New Name for Premium Themes:  Themes.   In his post, Andrew attempts to define what a premium WordPress theme is, then compares that definition with the most downloaded themes at the Free WordPress Theme Directory.   In my opinion, blog posts like this are great because they really spark some thought on the part of the reader.   After reading his post, I felt that the point Andrew is making is that if you look at the designs, feature sets, and quality of the most downloaded free themes from WordPress.org, they are all comparable to at least a few of the premium WordPress themes being sold on the market today. 

For those of us that have been using WordPress for at least 2-3 years, the evolution of the WordPress theme is simply amazing.  Back in 2007 themes weren’t necessarily even standards compliant, and the idea of widgets was still new and many themes didn’t support them.   Now the idea of a control panel being included with your theme, having your theme be widget ready, and having several color options included with the theme have almost become standard, (even with the free WordPress themes available).  

I’m sure there will always be some free themes available, but you have to wonder if at some point premium themes will become the standard.  I suppose if this is the case, then my next question is, if premium themes simply become themes, then what is next?   The top designers begin to release elite themes?  If premium is a fancy word for better, it seems that designers will just come up with a new fancy word for best like “elite” and use that as the word for next level of themes.  It may never end! 

There are also things like Theme Frameworks to consider as WordPress themes continue to evolve.   Give us your thoughts in the comments!

Kyle Eslick is WordPress enthusiast who took his passion for WordPress to the next level in 2007 by launching WPHacks.com as a place to share hacks, tutorials, etc. Connect with Kyle on Twitter or Google+!

  • Cosmin

    “It will never end”

    So? What?

    There has to be a line between themes that deserve paying for, and those that don’t.

    Also, those who create free premium-like themes are just doing it to make a name for themselves. All those will soon create only themes for sale, while maybe occasionally doing a free one.

    You don’t really make a point here. So what if premium themes will be tomorrow’s standard themes? It’s common sense, called evolution :)

  • http://kyleeslick.com Kyle Eslick

    @ Cosmin – Thanks for your comment!

    Yes, my post may not have “had a point”, but it wasn’t intended to. Some of our posts are guides and such, but sometimes we just like to initiate a discussion among the WordPress community.

    With this post, I was hoping to gather opinions from our readers. :)

    Also, those who create free premium-like themes are just doing it to make a name for themselves. All those will soon create only themes for sale, while maybe occasionally doing a free one.

    I thought this was the case as well, but many of the top designers in the free theme space are still free after more than a year.

  • Cosmin

    Hi Kyle,

    I didn’t mean to be agressive or anything like that.

    I know you encourage discussion, and that was my point of view :)

    Regarding designers…well, it’s their choice…if they make money from something else and still have time for somewhat regular free themes, then hats off to those :)

    Cheers mate!

    By the way, thanks for all the articles, your feed is really useful :)

  • http://sonam.in Sushant

    We generally classify premium themes as paid themes. I think we need to distinguish between paid and premium themes. Free themes are now of premium standards. So we now have Paid themes, premium themes, commercial themes , free themes……

  • Webdev

    I think I have to agree with Sushant: premium themes aren’t necessarily paid ones. A great example is the free Arthemia :)

  • http://newwpthemes.net Susan

    Premium themes should always come with support AND come with “cutting edge” or customized options that make it worthy of being a “premium themes”. I do think that all premium themes should come with a customized user-friendly theme editor to truly appeal to those that would need a premium theme. Otherwise I feel that most free theme users can modify themes enough on their own or can build their site accordingly to their own needs. If they needed something more ‘refined’, always hiring a professional designer for a unique design could be done.

  • Sajid

    WordPress plugins are the one of the important part of this CMS which makes wordpress popular more than its other features. Great job on the theme.

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  • http://www.hillarybost.com hillary bost

    Plug ins and functionality are what make a good theme.