If you’re still not convinced that a premium theme is right for you, there are a couple of other options worth checking out. All are free and offer a good support system, important no matter which theme you ultimately choose.
The first is a free theme called Atahualpa. Off the shelf, Atahualpa isn’t much to look at. It’s a simple three column theme with a header and some not very appealing colors and styles. But once you log into your dashboard, you’ll see the power that Atahualpa has.
Within this theme you’ll find an extensive customization panel that allows you to easily change everything from your header to the way lists are displayed. Choose a single column theme or add up to five sidebars. The makers of Atahualpa, Bytes for All, maintain a popular forum just for users of their theme, so you can easily find answers to your questions. In addition, there are a lot of users of Atahualpa on the Internet, so a Google search will find a lot of answers as well. There is also at least one paid guide (independently published) created just for users of this versatile theme.
Twenty-Ten and Twenty-Eleven
If you’re going to go with a free theme, you really can’t do better than the themes that come bundled with WordPress. Unlike the bundled themes from a few years ago, Twenty-Ten and Twenty-Eleven are modern and elegant looking right from the start. Great layouts (including your choice of left or right sidebar), pleasing typography, and minimal styling all combine to make not only a nice looking theme, but also something that’s easy to tweak to your own liking.
Before you begin customizing either of these themes, it’s critical that you set up a child theme. Since these come bundled with WordPress, they will be overwritten every time you upgrade your site, so if you make changes to the theme files themselves, you’ll lose your customizations.
Luckily, there are a lot of tutorials out there to help you learn exactly how you can create a child theme using either Twenty-Ten or Twenty-Eleven. You can also check out the WordPress forums for tips and tricks to working with these two themes.
But the best reason to choose them is because you will never have to wonder if your theme will break next time you upgrade, or if it won’t be compatible with a plugin, or if it will simply stop being supported in the near future.
Premium Themes VS Free Themes
You can see that there are a lot of reasons to choose a premium theme over a free one, and a lot of designers and developers to choose from if you do decide to go premium. While there are some potential downsides – like the cost – the benefits of using a premium theme tend to outweigh them. Better (and built in) SEO functionality, the ability to quickly build and deploy specialty sites, and great support systems are just a few reasons you might choose a premium theme for your next website.
If you join Elegant Themes all you pay is $39 for the whole year and you get amazing 72+ themes that are second to none. There is a good support system in place if you get stuck.
Elegant Themes have large collection of themes and about 2 new ones are added every month. You don’t have to subscribe every year. Why not join for just one year and download all of the themes then cancel the subscription next year. It works at about $0.50 per theme. No where will you get such quality themes at such a price. The themes fit many niches from blogging, to business and galleries. By the way the themes also come with PSD files.