The problem with premium WordPress themes

Author - Alex Price

Posted By Alex Price Founder

Date posted 24th Nov 2015

Category Blog, WordPress


Every now and then, we receive an enquiry for a new WordPress project where the client is looking to base their website on an existing WordPress theme, purchased from one of the premium theme developers or marketplaces such as Themeforest.

Premium themes can be a great way of getting a simple website off the ground in a quick and affordable way. But when compared to going down the route of a custom WordPress theme, how does a purchased premium theme stack up?


Some premium themes look great – clean, modern design with nice interactive elements such as video backgrounds, parallax scrolling and other animations.

But when it comes to design, your options are limited when you use a premium theme for your project. For us as WordPress designers and developers, if we’re working with an existing theme we’re much more limited in what we can do.

When we design and build from scratch, we have the freedom to start with a blank canvas and design something entirely unique that caters to the client’s specific requirements. If an existing theme is used, we’re very much designing within its framework and structure, so our creativity can be restrained.


When it come to development, things get even worse for the premium themes in this battle. The fact is premium themes are built for the mass market – they are packed full of features and functionality that make them suitable for many different types of website. They often have ‘theme options’ panels with hundreds of options to customise the theme and include functionality like sliders, shortcodes, pricing tables, shop sections, portfolio sections and 10 different page layouts.

The reality is that although these features may look appealing, the average website may only every make use of 25% of them – if that. In turn, this means that once a premium theme is up and running you have lots of resources (mainly in the form of CSS and Javascript) loading in the background of your site when each page loads, the majority of which is not required. Even though you are not directly using the functionality, the resources required are still loading behind the scenes.

The result is a site that is complex, slow, SEO unfriendly, potentially less secure and harder to update in the future.

One of the most common pieces of WordPress advice is keep the number of WordPress plugins installed on a site to a minimum – if you don’t need something, why have its files running on your server? The same can be applied to a theme – why would you run a theme on your WordPress install that is full of functionality and code that you don’t need?


There is no denying that there are some advantages to using a premium WordPress theme to power a WordPress site – primarily in cost savings. But using a custom developed WordPress theme will leave you with a much faster, secure, scalable, lightweight and SEO friendly site that is truly tailored to your needs – both in terms of design and development. We will always recommend this route to our clients.

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