As a custom theme developer, I’ve seen a lot of so-called “Premium” WordPress themes, and the truth is that a lot of them are simply not “worthy”. In many cases, a few hours on the WordPress Theme Repository will bring forth one or two similar themes for free.
So why bother? What makes a Premium WordPress theme worth paying cold, hard cash (or, perhaps more realistically, PayPal dollars) for?
Here are ten paid WordPress themes that truly deserve to be called “Premium”- and why I believe they’re worth every penny.
Market Theme ($55 Standard, $150 Developer)
I’ve built a few WordPress eCommerce websites from scratch, and know how complex it can be. Market Theme, which I had the pleasure of utilizing on a project recently, takes all those complexities and simplifies them. The “Product Manager” is easy to use, the shopping cart is quick and painless to set up, and the default design- while not exactly sexy- is easily customized for good branding. For online stores selling tangible goods, you simply can’t go wrong with this one.
The Local ($69 Single, $169 Multi)
Created for local news sites (hence the name), The Local is actually an add-on theme to the same designers’ Elemental theme, and the price includes both Elemental and The Local, so it’s two excellent themes for the price of one here. Some special “local” features include the ability to add and manage weather statistics, and define your “news radius”. Journalists or small news publishers, particularly, will appreciate how simple it is to learn and use.
Mimbo Pro ($79 Single, $169 Multi)
From the same designers comes Mimbo Pro, a Premium WordPress theme that’s been around for quite a while now. It’s basically a magazine theme, but anyone who’s had the pleasure of using Mimbo Pro knows it can be so much more. Features everything from animated drop-down menus to an image “carousel” with variable speed to a built-in contact form with CAPTCHA support. Recommended for text-heavy blogs and sites.
Phototastic ($49 Single, $179 Multi)
I know from experience how complicated it can be to design a good photo-themed WordPress theme, which is why I appreciate how detailed and beautifully coded Phototastic is. Created specifically for artists and photographers, this is the one to turn to for image-heavy blogs and sites.
Most of the themes I’ve listed so far are “themed” themes, usually catering to a specific type of blog or site. Here’s one that’s quite a bit more flexible. Simply is- yes- simple, but it’s also quite powerful, and features a 10-page tabbed admin panel to prove it! 16 built-in color schemes and 5 header designs make it easy to get started right away, and there are a host of other cool elements to choose from, including slideshows, a lightbox, and the option to go full-width.
Also from ThemeForest is the lovely Revoltz, another theme with options o rama, which are always a good sign, imho. Delicious features range from a slideshow gallery to multiple page templates to dual (normal or full-width) layout choices- plus PSD files, and- my favorite- step-by-step instructions on using and troubleshooting the theme. Now that’s how you do it.
Social Life ($75)
Love Tumblr-like “lifestreams”? This theme stands out because of the way it integrates feeds and information from your various social media services- so your friends / family / customers just need to check one place for everything “you”.
Super CMS ($75)
WordPress is definitely more a “CMS” (Content Management System) to me than just some “blogging software”. The Super CMS theme affirms this, proving just how powerful little ole WordPress can be. Built on PrimoThemes’ own framework, it includes very comprehensive theme options, support for Gravatars, threaded comments, and some nice pre-installed plug-ins.
One Theme (From $99)
“One theme to rule them all…”? This one’s a little different, because- as I understand it- you purchase a license (single is $60) to use their “One Panel” plug-in, then select from four available themes: Default (shown above), Fun, Modern, and Professional at $39 each (which explains the “from $99″ pricing I’ve listed above). A lot of work has obviously been put into this One Panel, as well as into each theme, with features so numerous I’ll just link to them.
Thesis ($87 Personal, $164 Developer)
And finally, saving best for last yet again, is Thesis, an absolute gem of a Premium theme, and my favorite of the bunch. This may or may not be due to my tendency towards control-freak-iness, but I love the theme’s attention to detail and numerous features, which include SEO and accessibility elements. What really wins the prize, however, has to be Thesis’ support forums, which features thousands of posts on everything from basic getting-started questions to almost painfully specific theme customization topics.
Do you use a Premium WordPress theme?