We all want our WordPress website to stand out and be unique, but customizing a WP theme can be daunting for a small business or startup. There are many themes to choose from, each with customization options. How do you know which theme is the best for your WordPress site? And how much time and effort should you put into customizing it?
This article reveals some of the best free WordPress themes that are easy to customize and will save you from headaches down the road. Additionally, we will outline two of the most popular customization methods to ensure you can use a theme per your requirements.
Free WordPress Themes
If you want a unique, fresh, and attractive look to your WordPress website without worrying about customization features, you should consider using one of the best free WordPress themes.
The purpose of providing you with the list of the top 5 free WordPress themes is to ensure that you save time by not having to conduct excessive research and check out numerous themes one by one. Instead, you will be in a perfect position to choose a suitable multipurpose theme by the end of this article.
First, explore why you should focus your time and energy on finding a suitable WP theme.
Importance of an Attractive WordPress Press
It is essential to have a visually attractive WordPress site, especially in this digital era when online competition is intense. Visitors will only browse a website if they like its content, responsive design, and overall responsive layout.
A Stanford study also indicates that 75% of users judge a company's credibility based on its modern design and responsive layout. Therefore, the responsive design of a website can be the make-or-break factor when it comes to building a loyal base of visitors.
Criteria for Selecting a Free WordPress Theme
A large variety of free WordPress themes are included in this list to help different types of users with varying requirements. These five themes are available for free, but some offer extra features on premium versions as well.
The criteria we've used to select a WP theme as one of the best ones are as follows:
The compatibility of the WP themes is checked to ensure they can be used with the latest versions of WordPress and PHP. Moreover, the last update date of the theme is also considered to ensure it is kept up-to-date.
Legality and Security
The five free WordPress themes on this list are all available on the WordPress official theme store. Therefore, you do not have to worry about legal or copyright issues as these are safe and secure.
Responsiveness is a major deciding factor when selecting any WP theme because many people nowadays use mobile phones and other smart devices to visit different websites.
Performance & Speed
WordPress themes need to be fast to load and perform optimally across devices. Ensuring they follow best practices is essential to ensuring better organic rankings potential and success.
Top 5 Best Free WordPress Themes
If you are searching for a captivating WP theme that provides a wide range of features without needing any customization, then you are in the perfect place. Following are the best free responsive WordPress themes that you can use to establish an efficient, reliable, and attractive website.
By following this list, you will save a lot of time as you will not have to explore the 9000+ WordPress themes available for free on the official website of WordPress.
Astra is undoubtedly the most popular multipurpose theme, with more than 1 million users. Due to its minimum payload, it is a speedy WordPress theme that is user-friendly and better for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes. It is one of the best free WordPress themes for beginners due to its user-friendliness and accessible customization features.
Astra has established itself as a leading WP theme because it offers 85 Astra templates that you can use to build any website, like a blog or an e-commerce store. You can easily select the functions you want to activate or deactivate as per your requirements.
Astra is a highly-ranked free WordPress blog theme on the official website, proving that most people are satisfied with this theme.
Another benefit of using Astra is that it is compatible with popular page builders like Beaver Builder and Elementor. Hence, you can quickly build a website with Astra. Even if you want to avoid using any customization features from page builders, you can choose one of the 85 templates available in Astra.
Read our complete Astra review for more information
Astra can be found by installing it through the WP admin dashboard of your website. You can check out Astra's premium version here.
OceanWP is another popular free WordPress blog theme. The number of features it provides for free is incomparable to any other free theme because such functionalities are typically available only in premium themes. Like Astra, OceanWP is a multipurpose theme that you can use to build personal websites like portfolio websites, online stores, blogs, and other sites.
The responsive design of OceanWP also makes it a suitable free WordPress blog theme for users who want their portfolio websites to adapt perfectly to different devices like tablets, mobile phones, and other intelligent devices. You can use this WordPress blog theme to create attractive and convincing landing pages through its drag-and-drop page builder.
Furthermore, creating a user-friendly eCommerce store is easy with OceanWP because it is already integrated with useful WooCommerce features like filter, quick view, native cart, and other essential functionalities to run a successful online store. It enjoys a good rating on WordPress.
Some of the other prominent theme features of OceanWP that make it one of the best WordPress themes are quick and easy integration with Elementor, focus on performance and speed for SEO, a thorough theme panel, and availability of codebase for developers.
OceanWP can be found by installing it through the WP admin dashboard of your website. You can check out the OceanWP premium version here.
The e-commerce industry is rapidly expanding, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, more and more people want to open online stores and start selling a wide range of products and services online. Platforms like WooCommerce facilitates individuals, startups, small businesses, and even well-established enterprises to make their mark in the e-commerce industry.
To make creating an online store more accessible, WooCommerce has introduced the Storefront theme for WordPress users. It is an entirely free theme that offers numerous theme features for the eCommerce industry. Storefront is deeply integrated with WooCommerce and other WooCommerce add-ons to facilitate users using WooCommerce as their primary eCommerce platform.
Storefront provides many easy and quick customization features like changing the layout options with a few clicks, adjusting the color options as per your brand, and the overall structure of the store. If you choose to use Storefront as the theme of your eCommerce store, you will not have to worry about any responsiveness-related issues because it works perfectly on all types of devices.
The benefit of using this official theme of WooCommerce is that you will not face any glitches or errors. Moreover, you will also be able to rely on WooCommerce's quick support services if you face any issues. Overall, Storefront enjoys a good rating on WordPress.
However, Storefront is meant for eCommerce stores. It is not suitable for other types of websites like blogs. Therefore, you should only try to use it for some kinds of websites and instead choose one of the other options discussed on this list of best free responsive WP themes.
Storefront can be found by installing it through the WP admin dashboard of your website. You can check out Storefront on the WooCommerce website.
Sydney is one of the freemium WordPress themes that have remained popular and highly rated on the WP Theme Store for a long time because it provides a modern and responsive design with regular updates. Elementor page builder also officially recommended Sydney to WordPress users.
Sydney is suitable for personal blogs and professional websites. Typically, business owners, agencies, and individuals who want to build a professional portfolio use Sydney.
It offers various modern responsive design options like integration with WordPress Customizer, Google Fonts, and Elementor. Google Fonts provide you access to more than 600 Google fonts that can enhance the website's design.
Similarly, you can also use Sydney to add parallax backgrounds, custom backgrounds, and slideshow backgrounds to give a 3D effect to the users when they are scrolling a page. Overall, Sydney is a valuable theme for creating an attractive website with a modern design.
Sydney can also be used to customize the new layout with drag-and-drop page builders like Elementor, which enjoys considerable popularity on WordPress.
Sydney can be found by installing it through the WP admin dashboard of your website. You can check out the Sydney premium version on the aThemes website.
GeneratePress is one of the best free responsive WordPress themes to create a simple profit-making business website. It is a fast theme that loads within a few seconds.
Moreover, GeneratePress can easily be integrated with eCommerce platforms like WooCommerce to facilitate you in building an eCommerce store. You can also use GeneratePress to create a personal blog or an online magazine website.
The reviews and ratings of GeneratePress are almost unanimously great.
Advanced options of GeneratePress, like controlling the site elements, adjusting size, padding, margins, font, color scheme, and overall layout options, make it easy for users to create unique and attractive websites. Furthermore, you can easily disable the unrequired site elements by choosing a few simple choices.
GeneratePress can be found by installing it through the WP admin dashboard of your website. You can check out GeneratePress premium on WPEngine.
Theme Customization Options
Once you choose a suitable WordPress theme, you will be in a perfect position to enjoy the in-built theme features and overall responsive layout without putting too much effort into customization. However, if you want your website to reflect your brand and the purpose of your website, you should be familiar with some customization features.
Some things you will want to add and customize to your website are the brand's logo, an attractive color scheme, and any other type of pictures and videos that reflect the purpose and functions of your website.
Remember that customization can involve going through a few coding files or making changes. Instead, modern tools and technology allow you to build a customized website without any coding experience. Therefore, anyone can follow these tips to customize a WP theme per their requirements.
Following are the five ways you can customize a WP theme.
WordPress's built-in tool, WordPress Customizer, is a powerful, user-friendly, and reliable tool for making significant changes to your website. You can easily see the changes in real-time, so you can be sure of the multiple layout options of the website and structure before publishing the website. Every WordPress user can use this tool to customize the site without making any changes to the code.
You can easily access WordPress Customizer by going to Appearance > Customize from the dashboard.
Following are some of the significant site elements that you can change with WordPress Customizer:
Logo and title of the website to upload your logo and site's name.
The website's general and multiple header layouts adjust the sidebars, footer, header, sidebars, and the size of the site elements.
Color scheme to ensure the colors used in your website reflect the branding and purpose of your site.
You can also change the font throughout your website, but standard Google fonts are recommended to ensure maximum readability and accessibility.
Overall, WordPress Customizer is a reliable tool for customizing various themes. Most users are satisfied with this built-in tool. However, if you are still looking for other customization options, you can check out the following tools.
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Page Builder Plugins
The number of page builder plugins has dramatically increased because more people want complete control over creating their websites through drag-and-drop functionality. It is a highly efficient way to design a website from scratch, especially for beginners, as you do not have to deal with any code. Instead, you can add and rearrange the website elements easily by drag-and-drop.
There are many different reliable plugins to build pages that have become popular due to their wide-ranging features. Some of the best are:
Divi is a theme and a WordPress page builder that works with various third-party themes. Its key features include a mighty drag-and-drop editor for real-time editing of the responsive design. Moreover, you can use multiple pre-built elements to accentuate the layout and modern design of the website.
Divi works with any of the best free WordPress themes outlined in this article.
The Elementor page builder plugin is one of WordPress's leading page builder plugins. It allows you to change an entire theme without modifying a single line of code or refreshing a window because the changes will be reflected in real-time.
You can use Elementor to make changes in all types of site elements easily and quickly with a few clicks. Moreover, Elementor can also be used to optimize a website for other devices like mobile phones.
Builder plugins have made customization features more manageable and more accessible than ever. However, it would help if you considered that these plugins are only compatible with some themes. So, if you are facing any issues customizing a theme with a page builder plugin, you should check its compatibility.
There are several other methods to customize a WordPress theme, such as adding custom CSS code, using the WordPress Theme Customization options, and changing the entire code of the theme files.
However, such methods require technical and coding experience to add custom CSS codes, so you should use the two methods discussed above to customize the themes as per your requirements quickly and easily.
Elementor works with any of the best free WordPress themes outlined in this article.
Best Marketplaces for Free Themes
When sourcing your WordPress theme, explore other marketplaces besides the WordPress Theme directory to find a suitable theme for your website. We've compiled a list of some of the best WordPress themes and indicated the marketplace where you can find the theme.
Zakra Shop V2 is meant for users who want to create a reliable eCommerce store. It also comes with full support and WooCommerce integration to make running an online business much more accessible and streamlined.
The overall layout of Zakra Shop V2 contains all of the features you would expect from an eCommerce store, like the product categories, shopping cart, checkout options, and other functions.
Furthermore, Zakra Shop V2 is one of the best free responsive WordPress themes because it emphasizes a mobile-friendly page layout and attractive product page to maximize the chances of converting visitors.
Globaly is a popular responsive WP theme available in Template Monster. As its full name suggests, it is mainly meant for business management companies. It contains various customization options that allow you to set header and footer styles, create an attractive classic blog layout, and other features. The overall elegant and modern responsive design of Globaly helps create a professional website.
Parallax One is an attractive free WordPress theme that uses the parallax effect to provide a unique user experience. This theme is suitable for a one-page layout, so the visitors can enjoy the parallax effect when scrolling down the page. Moreover, it is fully responsive and works perfectly on all devices. You can also use it to create a landing page.
Various types of restaurants, cafes, hotels, and other businesses in the food industry can use the ‘Tasty Food Preparation' template from Nice Page to add recipes, reviews, and further details on the website.
Rara Themes offer The Conference – a fully responsive free WP theme – to help you create an SEO-friendly website for conference and event management. You should use this theme if you are making a website to plan any conference, concert, seminar, or event.
Kustrix Lite is another perfect free WordPress theme offered by Template Monster that provides an attractive and seamless modern responsive design for personal blogs and various web projects. It is a fully responsive theme, so you can use it for a website for multiple devices and web browsers.
Generally, Kustrix Lite is a reliable and efficient option if you are creating a blogging website. However, it would help if you did not use it for other business sites because it will require significant customization that can be challenging.
Digital Download is meant for individuals and businesses who want to sell digital products. Easy Digital Download, a famous WordPress plugin, is used by Rara Themes in Digital Download to help you establish an online digital product shop. You can use this theme to easily create an online platform for selling various digital products like pictures, videos, music, themes, and e-books.
Other than these three themes, there are many different themes and templates that you can find on Rara Themes, so you should check out this reliable marketplace.
Monstroid 2 Lite is a valuable theme to choose from. Template Monster if you want complete control over it. It provides various options related to multiple blog layouts, typography, and the overall look and feel of the website. Furthermore, you can also add different widgets to your website while using Monstroid 2 Lite. Hence, it suits professional business sites, eCommerce stores, and blogs.
It is an elementary template for creating slider-styled small-scale websites that provide limited information and a few pictures. Such themes are typically for personal purposes or to provide information about a particular business event.
Zakra Business is a responsive theme for businesses that want to create a modern website. It is one of the most popular templates for professional business websites that comes with the efficient placement of social icons. Its salient features include options to add testimonials, a staff section to introduce your team, portfolio management, and built-in social icons to ensure users who visit your business site can connect with you on other social platforms.
As the name suggests, the ‘Our Reviews' template is mainly meant for users who want to create review websites for different products and services. Startups and small-scale businesses can use this template to establish an efficient website to get reviews from their clients.
One-page websites are becoming popular with time. As the name suggests, one-page websites mean the complete information is listed on a single page. Such websites typically contain sections like contact us, about us, services/products, and pricing models.
If you want to create a one-page website, Zakra One Page is undoubtedly the best free responsive WordPress theme. You can use it to quickly out all of the content with a few clicks and have an attractive layout for your one-page website.
A significant benefit of using Zakra One Page is that it is lightweight and fast, creating an impressive user experience.
Other WordPress Themes Marketplaces
The marketplaces discussed above are reliable options for finding free WordPress themes. However, you should explore some of the premium WP themes as well.
These marketplaces also offer some free themes, especially discounts and sales, so if you want to get a premium theme, you should visit these marketplaces once in a while to avail any special offers.
Let's check out two of the famous marketplaces to find a premium theme.
Creative Market is another active marketplace to find a free theme. More than 3 million users have used themes and other add-ons from Creative Market to enhance their websites. It offers many themes and templates suitable for budding entrepreneurs, bloggers, well-established organizations, freelancers, professional developers, and other users.
Most of the themes provided by Creative Market are clean and responsive, so you do not have to customize them to implement them on your website.
The benefits of using Creative Market to find and install a WordPress theme are:
- Some of the themes include SEO and marketing features.
- Creative Market works with creators and designers worldwide to constantly provide new and unique themes.
- You can select a theme based on reviews and ratings of the themes.
ThemeForest comes under the large umbrella of the Envato Market, which offers different digital assets. The primary focus of the Envato Market is providing themes and templates. It sells thousands of themes for other websites, blogs, landing pages, and eCommerce stores.
The user-friendly interface of the marketplace makes it easier for users to find a relevant theme. However, it is essential to note that Envato has an extensive collection of premium WP themes that you can buy. Still, there are only so many options when it comes to free WP themes.
You can find and use the free themes if they satisfy your requirements. Otherwise, you should use Envato only if you are planning to buy a premium WordPress because it has an extensive collection of themes that requires significant investment.
Finding a Suitable WordPress Theme
Now that you are familiar with some of the best marketplaces to find top free WordPress themes, you should learn about some of the critical factors you should use to choose a suitable WordPress theme for your website, blog, or eCommerce store.
The following five factors are essential when selecting a suitable website theme.
Understandably, users nowadays use various browsers like Chrome, Opera, Edge, Safari, and many others. Therefore, you have to make sure that the theme of your choice offers cross-browser compatibility so every user can perfectly view the website. Most of the popular free WordPress themes work well across all browsers and clearly state the compatibility in their descriptions.
Yet, running some basic tests on modern browsers is a good idea. Make sure you are also testing on different browsers on mobile phones because a large number of users will be browsing your website through smart devices.
When you spend your time, energy, and money establishing a website, you want it to be noticed due to technical glitches.
Responsiveness is a crucial factor to consider while choosing a free WordPress theme because it will ensure that your website looks good and works fine on all devices. In simpler terms, a responsive WordPress theme will detect the browser window's size and change the page layout accordingly to provide a user-friendly browsing experience. It is necessary today when the number of visitors from mobile devices is far greater than desktop users.
Keep in mind that almost all the WP themes are responsive nowadays. However, being responsive does not mean that they produce high-quality, responsive pages, especially in the free versions of the WordPress theme. Therefore, you should thoroughly test the responsiveness of a theme before installing it.
The following are two main ways to test whether a site is responsive:
Open the theme's demo on a mobile device and shrink the browser window size to see the changes in its layout.
Open the Google Chrome web browser and simulate various mobile devices with the help of Developer Tools.
Once you are sure that the theme works for all kinds of devices because it is one of the best free responsive WP themes, you can install it.
SEO-Friendliness & Performance
SEO plays a critical role in the success of any website and business. Users need to pay more attention to the significance of selecting a suitable WordPress theme to optimize a website for search. However, keep in mind that the overall theme of a website creates the pages that the search bots will be crawling through, so it is vital to choose the best free WordPress theme to ensure SEO-friendliness.
On the other hand, a website with a theme with complicated code in the background and low-quality pages is unlikely to rank higher on the search engines due to poor SEO. Tools like W3C Markup Validator allow you to check the quality of a theme's code and ensure it is SEO-friendly.
SEO directly affects the website's overall performance because faster load time means the users will not be frustrated while using your website so that the engagement will be higher. Otherwise, as users, we are impatient when browsing different visits and quickly jump from site to site.
According to the standards, the average load time of a website is under three seconds. However, the exact load time can significantly vary based on the type and amount of content you have on your website pages.
To keep your website going, it is highly recommended that you avoid themes with many features that are not required. The effects, customization features, and layout options offered by large-scale themes are typically optional for small business websites or blogs. Hence, the smaller the website files are, the less time it will take for the pages to load.
Reviews & Ratings
One of the best ways to choose any service or product, including a WordPress theme, is by considering its reviews and ratings that indicate the real experiences of other users. WordPress's official theme directory provides such ratings, and most third-party marketplaces, as discussed before, also display customer reviews.
The five best WP themes discussed before are all highly rated because many users had a fantastic experience using them. Even if you want to choose any other theme, you can select it based on the ratings and reviews it has received. A few bad reviews are common for all kinds of themes, but if there are too many bad reviews, you should avoid that theme.
Plugins become necessary in WordPress to expand the website's functionalities beyond basic page creation and editing options. Therefore, you should choose a WordPress theme compatible with all major WordPress plugins you expect to use to create and manage a successful website.
Generally, plugins offer features like payment gateways, contact forms, SEO tools, eCommerce functions, social icons to share content on social media, and many others. The exact plugin compatibility depends on the type of website you want to establish, such as an eCommerce store, social platform, personal blog, or any other kind of website.
Therefore, it is crucial to consider your specific requirements before selecting a WordPress theme. The placement of social icons to drive traffic to social media sites is also essential to accumulate maximum social engagement.
It is important to reiterate that the most powerful WordPress considers all these critical factors. But if you select a WordPress theme from a third party, you must verify these aspects from the description and through the theme's demo.
Essential Questions to Consider When Selecting a Free WordPress Theme
Other than the general factors discussed before, there are specific questions and requirements that you must ask yourself when selecting or installing a theme to ensure you are making the best decision.
Following are the top 5 questions to consider while selecting a theme:
Does the theme match my website's purpose and function?
Every site has a specific purpose that you must consider to set its overall layout, responsive design, color scheme, and structure. It would help if you had an obvious idea about the specific purpose and function of your business and website before you choose a WordPress theme.
For example, the layout of a blog will be highly different from the design of an eCommerce store. Themes that offer attractive typography and ensure quick readability are suitable for blogs and text-based sites. On the other hand, if you expect your site to evolve in the future, you should choose a multipurpose WordPress theme like Astra or OceanWP.
The color scheme is an integral part of any theme. You should make sure that the color scheme is linked to the purpose of the website and the brand, like its logo. For instance, if you have a website through which you are offering information about water activities, then the theme's color scheme should involve shades of blue to reflect your site's purpose.
There are some exceptions because sometimes, websites with plain and simple designs also tend to do great among visitors. However, to be on the safe side, you should rely on the studies that indicate colors can emotionally affect the users and help you forge a connection with them.
Do I want a lot of customization options?
The top 5 best free responsive WordPress themes discussed in this article allow you to use a wide range of templates, so you do not have to worry about customizing them. However, you still have to consider whether you will require any customization features in the future because not all types of WP themes offer such features, especially when it comes to free themes.
Themes with built-in page builders offer various customization features to help you build a website with a unique responsive design. Moreover, popular tools like Elementor also officially recommend themes like Sydney for more incredible customization options.
The good thing about these page builders is that you do not require any coding experience to create the website of your required design. You can do it with a few clicks and drag-and-drop options, so you do not have to be dreadful about the entire customization process.
Another aspect of the customization features is that some themes can get overcrowded with such options. Traditional options like font, color scheme, and navigation are crucial for all websites. Still, you should only use a theme that offers a few customization features because it can overwhelm you, especially when working on your first website.
Will I need theme support?
A significant disadvantage of free WordPress themes is that most users will need some level of support during the time a theme is in use. You might opt for the premium version if you anticipate needing support services.
Can I change my WordPress theme later?
Yes, you can change your WordPress theme later, but you should avoid it because a theme switch after prolonged use and customization will cause issues with the design or user experience of the website.
If you have a brand-new website, it is easy to select a suitable theme by following the tips discussed above and installing it on your website. However, if you are already running a website, you should be careful about switching your WordPress theme because, if done correctly, it can help the site's performance and SEO. After all, the specific functions and settings available in a theme are not necessarily available in another template.
Should I consider using a premium WordPress theme?
While free WordPress themes are sufficient to fulfill the requirements of basic websites, there is always a chance that you might be looking for some additional features and unique benefits.
In such a situation, you should consider buying a premium WordPress theme because such themes have more options to enhance the aesthetics of a website and supported features. Spending a small amount of money on a WordPress theme can alleviate many problems the purchase of a free theme will not.
Best Free WordPress Themes Wrap-up
We've outlined some of the best free WordPress themes for 2023. You can use these well-constructed responsive themes to build a modern website and take it to a higher level. Whether you decide on the free version or a premium theme, the options to pair with a premium website builder plugin are abundant.
Your choice will likely come down to the type of website you are constructing and the budget you have for outfitting it with the best tools. Therefore, you must be clear about why you are establishing a website and what you aim to achieve with it. This clarity will help you choose the best free WordPress theme for you.