Regardless of whether you’re starting your first blog or are a seasoned WordPress veteran, your choice of theme is a crucial foundation when designing your site. What’s more, your budget will likely determine the level of quality you’ll ultimately receive. This means finding a theme that can meet your requirements (along with keeping your bank balance in check) can be tough.
Fortunately, the official WordPress website keeps a detailed free Theme Directory that includes thousands of suitable options regardless of your niche. What’s more, every theme is tested by a dedicated team for security and quality. It means, in this case at least, you don’t get what you pay for – you get much more!
In this article, we’re going to talk about what features you should look out for a WordPress theme. Then we’ll introduce you to 35 of the best free WordPress themes available. We’ve got a lot of options to cover, so let’s get started!
What to Look For In the Best Free WordPress Themes
For the uninitiated, think of themes as design templates for your website. They usually provide a certain ‘look’, which can be tweaked to perfection using controls within your WordPress dashboard. The exact number of customizable elements will depend entirely on the theme you choose.
WordPress usually ships with a handful of default themes, and Twenty Seventeen will be installed initially:
As you’ll see from browsing the various themes in this list, your content can be drastically changed depending on the theme you choose. However, keep in mind that installing a new theme doesn’t mean you’ll get a fully ready website, as you’ll still need to make further customizations.
Having said that, there are some elements you should look out for when you’re choosing a WordPress theme:
- Good reviews. The WordPress Theme Directory uses a star rating system for all its items. If you see too many one and two-star reviews, run like the wind!
- Regular updates. Just like software, themes need to be regularly updated so they can stay relevant. Plus, outdated themes may lead to compatibility errors with the platform or security vulnerabilities.
- Support from its developers. The WordPress Theme Directory includes support forums for each item on its database. It’s always a good idea to pop in briefly and see if the theme developers are active when it comes to answering technical questions.
- Additional features for your niche. A lot of WordPress themes are geared towards specific niches. To get an edge, those themes often offer additional features. For example, some cooking blog themes enable you to create and publish recipes using pre-built templates.
As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t consider using a theme if you don’t see any updates for it during the past few months (think five or six months at the maximum). As for additional features – they’re nice to have, but not a necessity. In most cases, the rest of the criteria we discussed are more important, since they mean the theme offers a solid foundation.
35 Best Free WordPress Themes for All Types of Websites in 2017
Having thousands of themes to choose from is one of WordPress’ greatest selling points. However, combing through all of them looking for the best WordPress free themes could take a while. With that in mind, let’s take a look at 35 of the very best for 2017!
Hestia is a modern theme with a design based on Google’s Material guidelines. In other words, it offers a colorful look, displays well on both mobile and desktop browsers, and has an easy-to-navigate interface.
Keep in mind, Hestia is best-suited towards one-page designs, so it’s a great fit for landing pages, startup websites, and other similar projects. The theme also supports The WordPress Multilingual plugin (WPML), which means it’s translation-ready out of the box.
Sydney is a modern minimalistic theme that’s perfect for cutting-edge businesses. It makes a strong first impression thanks to a full-size header that dominates the screen, and a hidden menu.
As far as functionality goes, Sydney includes built-in support for Google Fonts, a color customizer, full-screen slider controls, and more. Likewise, the theme is also compatible with popular WordPress website building tools, which makes creating modern websites using Sydney a breeze.
Total offers a clean and colorful design that’s an excellent fit for websites that need to look approachable. Nonprofits and educational websites, for example, are ideal for this straightforward theme.
Despite masquerading as a simple theme, Total offers a wide selection of advanced features, including parallax functionality, built-in About Us and portfolio sections, and more. Furthermore, you can tweak nearly every aspect of the theme using the WordPress’ customizer, which is great for those who want to create a site without the need for coding expertise.
A lot of people think you need an expensive theme to compete in e-commerce. However, Storefront is one of the most popular themes for online stores despite being 100% free. It’s built by the same team behind the famous WooCommerce plugin and their attention to detail shows.
As you might imagine, the theme excels when it comes to showcasing products. Furthermore, it’s compatible with most WooCommerce extensions (the solution’s equivalent of plugins), which makes it an even better pick for your first WordPress online store.
These days, WordPress theme development often seems like a race to see who can include the most features in their products. However, a lot of people just want simple themes that work without too much fuss, and that’s where options such as OceanWP shine.
This particular theme looks effortlessly modern, thanks to a clean, uncluttered design. It’s excellent for portfolios and even better for simple business websites. The theme also features a secondary navigation bar where you can include important contact information and business hours, which is great for increasing conversions.
If you’re thinking about building a blog that includes a wealth of content in different categories, you’ll want to use a theme such as HitMag. As the name implies, this theme is all about making your website look like a professional publication or online magazine.
To that end, the theme features multiple layout options for your blog posts, all of which highlight their featured images and titles. Plus, it includes advanced features such as related posts, fancy author boxes, and more.
7. Zerif Lite
The Zerif Lite theme was created by the same developer as Hestia, so you know you’re in good hands. This theme also features a one-page design. However, in this case, they went with an aesthetic that’s reminiscent of modern startup websites.
To that end, the theme features easily-customizable sections to showcase your team, their work, how to contact you, and more. It’s also compatible with WooCommerce, in case you want to use it to set up an online store.
Shapely is another theme with a focus on one-page websites. In this case, you get full control over the placement of each section since the theme ships with multiple advanced widgets. Those include options for displaying your portfolio, client testimonials, parallax sections, and more.
As far as design goes, Shapely goes for the minimalistic aesthetic. The home page is dominated by a full-width header (otherwise known as a ‘hero section’), and includes sticky navigation that can be toggled depending on your needs.
ColorMag is another excellent choice for WordPress magazine websites. Its main strength lies in the way its layouts enable you to display posts in multiple categories, which is excellent for multi-author blogs.
Likewise, the developers behind the theme understand the need to monetize your content. They went as far as to include built-in ad spots into the theme’s design. If you’re planning to support your online magazine with advertisements, ColorMag could be ideal.
OnePress is a one-page design closely aligned with business and startup websites. It features a clean, no-nonsense design that stands out thanks to a lot of small touches that collectively enhances the quality of the design.
Practically every section includes small interactive elements, most noticeable on mouseover. It’s simple stuff, but it’s also the kind of thing that makes visitors understand your website was crafted with care. Plus, the theme is optimized to work with WooCommerce, meaning many of your potential needs are covered in one package.
Kale offers a minimalistic design that’s perfect for blogs with an emphasis on photography. For example, the theme’s demo showcases a cooking website, which is a match made in heaven.
The theme offers a custom layout that brings your featured images front and center. Likewise, it enables you to display featured posts, and it includes a menu you can fill with icons that lead to your social media profiles.
If you’re working on your first WordPress website, it’s important you know how critical performance is. People don’t like slow-loading sites, and bloated themes often lead to shoddy performance.
Astra, on the other hand, was built with performance in mind. Aside from being fast, it’s also quite sleek, and its design makes for an excellent match for blogs thanks to its multiple sidebar options and custom widgets.
13. One Page Express
One Page Express is powerful theme that includes advanced website building capabilities. With this theme, you can use WordPress’ live customizer to add and remove dozens of pre-built sections at once.
In a way, this is the closest a theme can get to the experience of using a full-blown page builder plugin. Most sections look excellent out of the box too, so they require little customization for you to build pages that are ready for primetime.
Flash is a multipurpose theme that ships with several pre-built templates out of the box. In other words, you can install the theme, import a template, and get an almost ready-to-go website in minutes.
Of course, you still need to customize each page of your website, which can take time. However, it’s a fantastic option if you’re looking to set up a business, construction, or food website in a hurry. Plus, all of the pre-built designs look stunning even without any further customization, which is a major plus in our book.
The Spacious theme gets its name from its excellent use of white space. Each element it includes is positioned masterfully, so the design doesn’t look crowded – which means you can pack as much information as possible on your pages.
From a functional standpoint, the theme is also a hit. It ships with multiple pre-built templates (including multiple options for blogs), custom widgets (and areas for them), and advanced color customization settings.
As the name gives away, Writee is all about blogging. Moreover, the theme emphasizes a great mix of beautiful imagery and readability. This is particularly important nowadays since people often don’t want to work their way through huge walls of text.
When it comes to features, Writee stands out thanks to its amazing author boxes. It’s ideal for one-man blogs since you can include a picture of yourself, a biography, and links to all your social media accounts on every page.
GeneratePress is a blogging theme that was built with performance in mind. It’s very lightweight and your pages should be load quickly – as long as you keep a check on your media’s filesizes.
The design, in this case, is very utilitarian. It’s a good looking theme for people that are more concerned with usability than style. To that effect, the theme includes a lot of features, such as compatibility with WooCommerce, WPML, and bbPress. It’s also available in over 20 languages, which makes it an excellent choice for non-English websites.
The Customizr theme is a multi-purpose option that works great for business websites, portfolios, blogs, and more. Its design is colorful and the theme prides itself on how well it looks on mobile devices.
As you can imagine, the theme comes with plenty of customization options. You can access most of them from the live customizer and they enable you to change almost every aspect of your site. Finally, you’ll be happy to know there’s extensive documentation available for the theme, which is great if you have any questions when using the theme.
Poseidon features an eclectic design that goes wonderfully with active blogs that feature multiple categories. Its home page alone can display dozens of posts without looking cluttered, and gives each them enough space to hook readers in.
On top of its outstanding navigability, Poseidon also includes helpful features, such as social media icons and popular post sections.
Avata is a gorgeous theme that’s sure to catch the eye of most of your visitors. Its packs a broad variety of pre-built designs that are perfect for business and service websites, and each page is lovingly crafted.
Some of the theme’s standout features include its support for gallery and testimonial sections, as well as video backgrounds. It also includes vertical navigation, which makes it easy for visitors to jump back and forth through long pages – and it’s wonderfully easy to use.
A lot of magazine themes tend to look too cluttered due to all the posts they have to inevitably showcase. Hueman not only manages to avoid that pitfall, but it also looks downright modern to boot.
Each post on your website includes helpful icons that display how many comments are received. Your social media profile are also easily accessible thanks to built-in buttons, and visitors can switch between tabs for recent and popular posts using your sidebar. Overall, it’s a gorgeous theme for blogs and news sites that doesn’t skimp on functionality.
Above all, blogging websites should be highly-readable and easy to navigate. This ensures your visitors don’t need to struggle when it comes to finding and enjoying your content, and keeps them coming back for more.
Wellington gets both these aspects just right. Its style is simple, but it doesn’t look bare-bones, and it works great whether you’re running a single author blog or a multi-author operation.
Sometimes, your posts need a little more opportunity to shine. The Sparkling theme is built with this in mind, and provides you with that opportunity thanks to its collection of outstanding blog layouts.
Each post you publish gets a stunning presentation, with large featured images and excerpts to get readers hooked. Plus, the home page itself features a slider of your best content, which is great if you want readers to get acquainted with your best hits. Finally, the theme also makes it easy for visitors to peruse through all your categories and even check out your posts’ more popular tags.
The Virtue theme is all about elegance and versatility. Its sleek design is suitable for any type of website, from a personal blog to an online store.
To that end, the theme integrates perfectly with WooCommerce, and it enables you to change nearly every aspect of its style using the live customizer. For example, you can choose the fonts you want to use for many elements, select from a full color palette, and even manage the items in your content sliders.
Activello features a clean, whimsical style that is ideal for travel and food blogs, as well as other types of projects. A primary element with this theme is that your images are front and center, which makes it a good fit for the previously mentioned website niches.
Aside from its style, Activello features many useful features. Those include a gorgeous author box, social media icons for almost every platform you can imagine, and even space to add advertisements should you need it.
26. MH Magazine Lite
As the name gives away, this theme is all about online magazines. It features a streamlined layout, enabling you to include dozens of posts without overwhelming visitors. Despite all those elements, navigation remains simple thanks to the theme’s custom widgets.
Aside from those additions, the theme also provides you with a great deal many more locations to place those widgets. If you’re very picky about where to place your elements, this is the right option for you.
Panoramic is a gorgeous theme that was built with mobile performance in mind. It looks amazing on most smartphones and it remains easy to navigate.
As far as style goes, the theme is versatile enough to support almost any type of website you want. However, it shines when it comes to e-commerce, thanks to its simple navigation. On top of that, it also integrates seamlessly with the SiteOrigin website builder, which makes customization even simpler.
The Oblique theme oozes style from any angle you look at it. You’ll notice at first glance it features a slanted masonry design that makes it a joy to scroll down the page and discover new elements.
On top of its charm, the theme is also highly functional. It comes with a hidden side navigation bar and its social media icons are front and center. You can easily add a parallax effect to your header images and the theme integrates Google Fonts out of the box. If you’re looking to set up a blog with a unique style, add this theme to your shortlist pronto!
Despite its name, this theme is anything but Basic. It does feature a minimalistic design, but that only enhances the theme’s elements. If you want to set up a blog with a simple design that looks great without being ostentatious, this is an excellent pick.
Aside from its looks, the theme is also highly readable, and its simple design translates wonderfully to mobile. Plus, it’s available in multiple languages, and supports both WooCommerce and bbPress setups.
Fluida features a clean design that works well with any type of project you want to tackle. However, its gorgeous gallery sections make it an outstanding fit for freelance portfolios and photography websites.
Aside from that, the theme also features an intriguing masonry design for your post library. Another standout feature is its menu, which includes a highly-pleasing drop-down effect. Overall, the entire theme is full of small details that are sure to be a hit with most of your visitors.
Vogue is a fantastic theme for online stores of any kind. Out the box, it features a near seamless integration with WooCommerce, including custom icons for your shopping carts and a secondary menu for your contact information.
The theme’s name and color scheme may fool you into believing the theme is too feminine. However, you can change the color scheme to something more suited to your vision. Regardless of the default look, Vogue is still an outstanding theme for online stores.
32. Olsen Light
Olsen Light is a trendy theme that’s perfect for fashion blogs. Its design is minimalistic, and it focuses on highlighting your blog post images.
It also includes a stylish author box that enables you to promote yourself, as well as all your social media accounts. Perhaps our favorite feature here is the inclusion of an in-page Instagram feed, so you can show off your feed without people having to leave the website.
Screenr is a gorgeous theme that captivates as soon as you load its home page. It features a dominating header image that blends in with the menu background, for an immersive effect.
As you scroll down, the navigation menu will stick with you, making it easy to jump to other pages and back. It features a ton of stylish sections, including one to showcase your services, a contact form, and even your latest blog posts. Overall, it offers everything a business needs to create a robust online presence.
Optimizer is a multi-purpose theme whose main selling points are its customization features. The theme enables you to change nearly every aspect of any page using the live customizer.
To make this easier, you get access to multiple site layouts, over 600 fonts, and advanced color settings. Plus, the theme integrates seamlessly with a broad range of popular plugins, including WooCommercer and Contact Form 7.
35. Education Base
Creating an engaging educational website isn’t simple. However, using the right theme can go a long way towards making your life simpler, and that’s where Education Base comes in.
On top of a colorful and easy-to-navigate design, Education Base also features lots of features to help you get started. For example, it includes custom widgets, and pre-built layout designs, social media icons, and more.
It doesn’t matter what your website is about – chances are there’s a perfect WordPress theme available for it. Many are premium options, but a lot of free WordPress themes are good enough to challenge them, even if you’re running a professional business website.
When it comes to the cost, we recommend free themes for lots of reasons. You’ll learn first-hand what makes for an excellent theme, and you’ll be more critical when it comes to purchasing one. For now, take a look at our list of best free responsive WordPress themes, pick the one that suits you best, and try it on for size.
Do you have any questions about what features you should look out for in your next WordPress theme? Ask away in the comments section below!