WordPress is a fantastic platform for setting up your website, especially if you want a blog. It has so many themes and plugins that you can use to improve the functionality of your site. You have the option of paid and free ones and may get the urge to go for the later. When beginning, you may feel that it is not worth investing in paid themes before your website picks up.
However, this may not actually be the best move, especially if you are downloading the plugins from other sources. We are not in any way, saying that you cannot take advantage of the free themes that you will find in the WordPress theme directory. You must, however, be aware of the fact that they do have some disadvantages. Like anything else in this life, you get what you pay for.
Going for the free versions may work for some time, but may cost you more down the line. We will closely look at some of the key reasons why you need to stay away from free WordPress themes in the article below.
What are the Reasons Why You Should Stay Away From Free Themes?
There are various reasons why you should stay away from the free WordPress themes. Some of the reasons include a lack of updates or support, and you expose your website to specific vulnerabilities. You also do not have very many options with regard to customization. So, you may also find that, in the long run, you are spending so much more. You may, for instance, have to hire an expert to do some of the coding or integration aspects.
Let us go into some of the reasons why you are better off going for the paid WordPress options.
1. You Do Not Get Any Updates
When you download a free plugin or theme, it will only serve you for a short time. Before long, you will start to feel the adverse effects of not having relevant updates. Unfortunately, the company will not give you access to any updates.
If you run into any challenges, you are on your own. That means you expose your website to vulnerabilities that you would avoid if you have the right bugs, and advanced coding, which comes with the update.
In the long run, you will have no choice but to upgrade to the paid versions. With that, you get the proper support and update. Even in the case that the developer does take the time to update what you are currently using, it will not be as regular as if you are on the paid versions.
2. You May Not Get The Relevant Support
Many of the free themes have their challenges, and you can only imagine how many queries and complaints the providers have daily. And to be quite frank, since you’re not paying for the theme, they would rather spend their time in coming up with new themes or doing basic maintenance.
It makes it very difficult for them to respond to every one of their customers. You will, therefore, not get the support you need in case you run into any challenges. Even if you can get someone to listen to your issues, it may take some time before they respond.
3. You Will Face Challenges With Security For Your Website
Anyone who is operating in the digital space knows the importance of public security for their website.
If you are, for example, collecting information from your customers, you must keep it safe. Hackers are always on the lookout for any loopholes in all areas of vulnerability that’ll give them access to your site.
Unfortunately, WordPress has the dubious distinction of being an attractive target for hackers. Industry reports indicate that more than 70% of the installations on WordPress are vulnerable to hacking attacks. Some of the security vulnerabilities have to do with the use of free themes, nulled or malicious themes, downloading plugins from unauthorized websites, among others.
Some of the free themes have malicious code that will be direct your website to other sites. You also have to deal with cross-site scripting (XXS) attacks, malware, back doors, among others. Then, you will spend a lot of money trying to deal with the vulnerabilities instead of concentrating on running your blog.
You could avoid all this by using the paid themes that have the right security layers. It can be devastating if a hacker gains access to your site and steals your information. If you are setting up a budding business, you cannot afford the downtime as you deal with insecurity issues.
4. Issues Of Ethics
Unfortunately, some people make money on the online platform by stealing other people’s ideas. You will find someone selling WordPress versions that are illegal copies of someone else’s design. Anyone willing to make money off another person’s back will have no issues introducing malware or malicious code to gain access to the website.
Imagine the inconvenience of a designer coming after you because they believe you stole their code. You may find yourself in court, and you will not be able to plead ignorance because you did not do your due intelligence.
5. You Do Not Get The Advantage Of SEO
You will not find very many options that optimize for SEO in the free WordPress themes. Therefore, you also lose out on other things such as faster loading time, clean code, and SEO compatibility, among others. The theme you choose will also impact on your ranking on the search engines.
If your pages load slowly, the website is challenging to navigate, or the design of the site is poor, the search engines will take note and penalize you accordingly. Rendering of the website pages may also be difficult because some of the free themes will block the CSS resources.
6. You Will Have To Deal With Encryption Issues
Anyone who uses the free WordPress themes will tell you that one of the biggest challenges they have is the encrypted links that are in the footer. The encryption will have an effect on your rankings in the search engines, which will have a direct impact on the amount of traffic you get to your website.
The creators of the free WordPress themes will also include a hyperlink in the footer that directs traffic to their website. You cannot delete the hyperlink because it is a part of the terms and conditions before you can access the free themes. So you don’t, in effect, be giving the creator free advertising on your website, and it will dilute your page ranking.
When you are setting up your website, one of the main things you want is domain authority. You cannot effectively achieve this if every time someone clicks on the hyperlink, it directs them to someone else’s site.
7. You Do Not Have Access To Many Features
We go back to our original point; you get what you pay for. The free themes have few features, and you get to lose out on things such as ticket support plugins, contact form, among others. You will end up with a very basic site that is not very attractive, thereby having a direct impact on traffic to your website. You will have to contend with limited features, basic functionality, rudimentary code, and shallow documentation.
The result is that you will need to look for a way to integrate the features you need separately, thus an increase in cost and an overall inconvenience.
While you can get some help from the creators in modifying some of the functions, it will come with an extra cost. You may also have to contend with lower loading speeds for your website, which can be very inconveniencing.
If you are running an online or eCommerce platform, you may lack some of the functionalities you require. Such include the ability to integrate your platform with third-party payment processors. You will need someone to come in and write for you a new code before you can run your online store.
8. Mobile Responsiveness
With so many people using their mobile phones or devices to access the internet, you cannot afford not to be on the mobile platform. It is, therefore, essential that anyone who is on the website has the experience they would if they were using a desktop device. Many developers, therefore, ensure that whatever themes they come up with are mobile responsive.
Unfortunately, many of the free themes are not mobile-friendly. Not only do you lose a critical source of website traffic, but search engines such as Google will penalize your website.
Themes such as GeneratePress, Genesis Framework, Solwin Infotech Themes, and Elegant Themes are mobile responsive, but they do come at a cost. However, it is a worthwhile investment because anyone who visits your site on the mobile device will be able to see everything clearly in an easy to read and navigate layout.
9. You Do Not Have A Theme Options Panel
The advantage of going for the premium packages is that you get a few options panel that allows you to make any changes with a simple click. If you do not have the technical know-how, it can become challenging for you to set up your blog when you are using free themes.
However, you may find one or two themes, such as the Evolve theme & Bloggers Lite that has the theme options panel.
10. Issues Of Compatibility
Developers are working hard every day to come up with the latest plugins. Unfortunately, more often than not, the free WordPress themes will not integrate well with the changes. Even if they are compatible, you may find that the coding language is difficult. So, you will have to spend some money to get the right person to do it for you.
11. The Free Themes Are Not Unique
An attractive website is one of the critical factors for drawing in the right kind of traffic. When you use the free themes, you do not have much wiggle room with regards to what you get. Most of the themes are generic and do not have many options available. Your website will look a lot like other people who are using free themes. Forget about your website stand out, so you will have to be creative with your marketing efforts so that you build your presence in the online space.
Even if you have coding knowledge, you will not be able to make too many changes to the structure or format. The designers may allow you to integrate some plugins but will restrict you from using the template. It will inhibit your creativity because you are not able to customize the website as you wish.
12. They Are Not Niche-Specific
When you opt for the paid themes, you get a lot of variety that you can use for your specific niche. Unfortunately, the free WordPress themes tend to generalize the niche in their offering. You will also find that you cannot tweak it as you wish and will have to stick with what the creators avail to you.
WordPress is a fantastic platform, and that could explain why it is so popular. You get to design a website and can customize it using the themes available on the platform. While you have the option of the free themes, you will find that in the long run, you are better off going for the paid ones. You get better security, updates, support, fantastic features, and customization options, among others.
You do not want to become part of the statistics of those who had their websites hacked for one reason or another, the top is the use of free themes. While it is possible to get some good free options, you must do your due diligence and read customer reviews before you install them.