Choosing the right WordPress theme for your site can be frustrating. You not only have to compare theme functionality but also pricing, support, security, ease of use and updates. Pricing, in particular, is a problem because theme developers have multiple pricing options.
And you have to choose from thousands of WordPress themes.
One approach is to choose only themes made by reputable developers. If you can identify a good developer, chances are you will get a good theme. But assessing WordPress theme developers is also difficult. There are simply too many developers out there.
A simple tactic to solve the problem is to look for the leading WordPress theme stores. That is where to find theme creators with a demonstrated track record – those who have already sold thousands of themes and have a followings that can verify quality, support and functionality of their themes.
That is what we have done in selecting our recommended top 10 WordPress themes stores.
The Leading WordPress Theme Stores and Marketplaces
Most leading WordPress themes stores operate on a subscription system. They sell individual themes but prefer users to pay an annual membership fee for access to some or all the themes in the store. In fact, theme stores prefer to call themselves theme clubs.
Membership in a theme club is a big deal because the price, support, updates and sometimes even the functionality given to members is usually better than what is given to one-off buyers. That explains why nine of the ten theme stores in our list are theme clubs.
The great exception is Theme Forest, the biggest theme store of them all. Theme Forest is a super-store that does its business like a real store – it stocks thousands of themes from hundreds of theme developers and tries to have something for every budget.
In contrast, theme clubs typically stock only the themes they have developed themselves. They also tend to have a signature design feature or technical innovation that sets them apart from the competition. In addition, most have between two and three pricing categories: standard price for one theme, developer’s price and full membership price.
Still, there are huge differences between theme clubs. Our review found the following five factors to consider when comparing theme clubs: variety and number of themes, functionality, cost and pricing system, after sale support and, not least, scope of license.
Based on those factors, here is our shortlist of the best 10 theme stores:
Elegant Themes is a big theme store with 87 themes and over 260,000 customers. The categories of themes on offer include Apps, blog, business, eCommerce, magazine, multimedia, personal, portfolio, responsive and tumblog themes. All themes are also gravatar ready and come with a widget-ready sidebar, custom thumbnail images and search bar. Most are also responsive.
The defining feature of Elegant Themes is the ePanel, a theme options feature that makes Elegant Themes highly customizable and very easy to use. But the store is also highly regarded because of its themes’ high resolution graphics and excellent color scheme.
Elegant Theme Pricing: $69 for the Personal Membership gets you access to all the themes, plus support, updates and future releases for one year. The Developer’s option, at $89 gets you the same deal, plus access to all the plugins, including the drag-and drop page builder plugin, an enhanced social media sharing plugin and an alternate mobile layout design plugin. Both deals include a 30-day money back guarantee.
The Lifetime Access deal at $249 gets you the same deal as the Developer option.
License: Includes a 30-day money back guarantee and usage in as many sites as you like.
Support: Elegant themes have a team of dedicated support staff and a 24/7 email support system.
Theme Forest is the world’s largest WordPress themes store with over 4,607 themes on sale. It is, in fact, the world largest website template store with over 17,000 HTML, email, Joomla, magento and PSD templates on sale.
The best selling WordPress themes here go for between $48 and $56 – and the cheapest go for as low as $28. You can even buy some templates – not WordPress themes – for just $3.
Theme Forest is clearly the place to go if you are looking for bargain WordPress themes. The drawback is that, alone among the big theme stores, Theme Forest does not create its themes. Instead it carries creations of hundreds of developers from across the world. All themes are reviewed by the site before they are accepted so there is a measure of quality control. But, inevitably, it means that the themes vary in quality.
Nor does Theme Forest do clubbing: you buy each theme separately and move on.
License: You can use 1 theme for 1 domain. If you would like to use same theme for another domain you need to buy another license.
Support: Theme developers at Theme Forest only support their products. Different developers therefore provide different levels of support.
Studio Press is a well established theme club with 60 themes and over 134,000 users. The themes available here include business, enterprise, magazine, photography and real estate themes.
The defining strength of Studio Press is the famous Genesis Framework which simplifies customization and essentially allows you to make your own version of any StudioPress theme. The framework integrates SEO, responsiveness, security, widgets and layout options into any site.
The store is also well liked for its user friendly content management systems with provisions for advertisements and monetizing.
Moreover, besides themes already boosted by the Genesis Framework, Studio Press also offers Child Themes – basic, functional, themes without elaborate features – which you can subsequently elevate into a fully fledged theme using the framework.
Studio Press Pricing: The standard price gives users the Genesis Framework plus any one child theme for $79.95 a year. The Pro-plus package costs $349.95 per year and includes the Genesis and all StudioPress themes, including future versions.
License: Studio Press allows use of their themes in multiple sites.
Support: Studio Press has a robust support forum and a 24/7 email support system.
Woothemes has 52 themes and a club membership of about 100, 000 customers. It is one of the big theme developers with an excellent reputation and support.
The signature Woothemes technology is the WooCommerce plugin. This innovative plugin adds eCommerce functionality to just about any WordPress theme and is wildly popular. By the last count, the WooCommerce plugin had been downloaded over a million times and is estimated to be serving 17% of all WordPress online stores.
That makes Woothemes themes a kind of specialist in eCommerce themes and a perfect choice for anyone looking for eCommerce themes. In fact, its theme categorization emphasizes that reputation with options of storefront, canvas, business and, of course, WooCommerce themes.
Wootheme screations are also highly regarded for flexibility. For example, all themes have a feature to edit multiple CSS files rather than grapple with every file. Even the WooCommerce feature has flexibility. It includes a choice of widgets such as Woo – Tabs, Woo – Adspace and Woo – Twitter Stream widgets that makes it easy to further customize a site.
Wootheme Pricing: Individual themes cost $79 – $139 . If you like any child theme, you will have to pay $39 per child theme + $79 – $139 for main theme per year with support and updates. Access to all themes costs $399 per year and includes support, updates and any new themes released in the course of the year.
License: Woothemes allows usage of their themes in multiple sites and offers a 30-day money back guarantee.
Support: the store has a robust community forum that typically solves most problems, plus a knowledge base, an onsite ticketing system and a help desk.
Templatic is the place to go for themes that are usually difficult to find. For example, Templatic theme categories include directory, app, business listing, events portals and a real estate and auto classified theme categories. Each category then helpfully includes themes for very specific businesses, among them restaurant, spa salons and lawyers themes.
All told, there are 69 themes to choose from, ranging from simple blogging themes to complete business and e-commerce integrated themes.
In keeping with the other major WordPress developers, Templatic too has a stand-out admin panel that packs technical innovativeness. The Templatic admin panel’s defining feature is an easy to use functionality that quickly makes all themes ready for advertising and other forms of website monetization.
Templatic Pricing: The standard membership deal by Templatic allows users to use one theme on just one domain for an annual fee of $39. The developer membership deal, at $79 a year allows the use of one theme on multiple sites. The ultimate deal allowing use of all themes in multiple sites costs a one-off fee of $299, plus a monthly installment of $19.
Templatic Support: The store has a dedicated support centre, a help desk and an active community forum.
WPZoom is a theme club with 52 WordPress themes and a reputation for classy designs. The sleek featured slider and slideshow are a particular favorite of the users.
WPZoom is also a favorite of site managers looking to pack lots of content in a small space – like in a magazine, education or a recipe theme. Other categories of themes here include video, portfolio, business and news themes.
WPZoom also has a signature technical innovation, the drag-and-drop WPZoomBuilder. Few builders match this one in making it refreshingly easy to control theme settings. The downside is that only 26 of the WPZoom themes are responsive.
WPZoom Pricing: A standard lifetime access to 1 theme at WPZoom costs a one-time fee of $59. But continued support and updates after the first year cost an annual fee of $29.50. A one-time fee of $99 covers the developer deal of 2 themes for life, also with a renewal fee of 50% after one year. Full membership with access to all themes, the accompanying PSD files, support and upgrades costs a one-time fee of $199 plus a monthly renewal fee of $19.
License: All WPZoom deals include unlimited use of themes in multiple sites.
WPZoom Support: The store has a support desk, comprehensive documentation and a knowledge base.
Organic Themes is an emerging power in the top league of theme clubs. It has just 24 themes yet already has over 50,000 users. The themes on offer include blogging, portfolio, eCommerce, business, non-profit, magazine, photography and music themes.
The secret behind the success of Organic themes seems to be the focus on striking, flat and modern designs that are uncluttered. Beauty in simplicity is the apparent philosophy. For example, the account section of Organic Themes creations is just one page with all files listed alphabetically. Only the features you will actually use, like auto image resizing, widget ready sidebars and gravity form integration are prominent.
But perhaps the key reason why Organic themes are such a hit is because you still get the option of loading your site with whatever additional functionalities you like. All you do is get the Options Themework plugin and put it to work.
Organic Themes store is also special because it adds new versions of previous themes to keep pace with new theme innovations like integrated responsiveness. Quite a few of their older themes have versions 1, 2 or 3 – which means you still retain the option of not upgrading to newer versions.
Organic Themes Pricing: $69 annually will get you a standard deal of a single theme with support and updates. A developer package of $249 annually accesses all themes with unlimited usage, support and updates.
License: Organic Themes allows use of its themes in multiple sites.
Organic Theme Support: The site has an active user forum, on-site ticketing, documentation and tutorials.
Theme Fuse is another rising star. It is a relatively small store with 31 themes that compensates for a small menu with quality. In fact, the main selling point of Theme Fuse themes is the noticeably pixel-perfect design.
The other advantage of Theme Fuse creations is that they all come with the sort of user-friendly admin panel that does not intimidate or frustrate WordPress beginners.
The choice of themes at Theme Fuse is also interesting. The usual suspects are there, such as business, blogging and magazine themes, but there are a few less common theme categories. Like children, themes, events themes, food themes and automotive themes. There are, too, sports, real estate and travel themes in the menu.
But the best attraction of Theme Fuse is the pricing. For the sort of themes on offer here, the cost is comparatively lower than what you get at stores of similar standards.
Theme Fuse Pricing: The Standard use of 1 theme cost $45 per year. The Developer deal costs $85 per year for 2 themes, plus their layered Photoshop files. Full membership with access to all themes and Photoshop files costs $195 per year.
License: All purchases at Theme Fuse allow usage of the themes in multiple sites.
Support: Each theme has its own support forum and detailed documentation.
Themify is special even among the big, well established theme clubs: it is the youngest theme store to make it big. It was started in 2010 while most other stores in its class were formed in the decade before.
Among the theme categories at Themify are blog, portfolio, responsive, restaurant, corporate, multimedia, magazine and eCommerce themes. As expected of a young theme developer, all themes are responsive and Search Engine optimized. All told there are 31 themes on offer.
The store’s success is partly down to the Themify Framework, a theme foundation that not only has a variety of custom widgets and shortcodes but also has a drag-and-drop builder. The builder is backed by three other plugins – builder Add-ons, Announcement Bar and Conditional Menus.
Themify Pricing: The store has one of the best pricing systems among big theme stores. It includes all themes in the standard membership for $ 79 per year, plus support and updates. Developer’s membership is at $99 per year for all themes, plus the Photoshop files, support and upgrade. Full membership (Master Club) is pegged at $139 per year for all themes, Photoshop files and plugins with support and upgrades.
License: Themify allows use of its themes in multiple sites.
Support: The store has a robust community forum, documentation anda comprehensive FAQs list
iThemes is the place to go for variety. The store has 160 themes of which at least 80 are full blown WordPress themes. iThemes also has plenty of other website products besides WordPress themes and plugins, including backup services, site synchronization, online security, tools and training.
The defining point of iTheme is the neat separation of the usually competing needs of simple, functional websites and sophisticated, features loaded sites. It solves the dilemma by giving users a choice of both in every design. For those who want depth in functionality, the iTheme Foundation, particularly the versatile layout editor, does the trick. It allows users to simply add page elements as they go, essentially allowing users to create their own page designs.
For those looking for beauty in simplicity, iTheme has child themes that have ready-to-go functionality and can work as they are – or upgraded with plugins.
iTheme Pricing: the standard deal costs $80 per year for 1 theme or $150 for the 60 Builder pack themes, plus support and upgrades. $197per year buys for access to all themes, plugins, support and upgrades.
License: Ithemes creations may be used freely on multiple sites.
Support: iTheme has user support forum, customization help desk and an on-site notepad messaging system that typically returns responses within a day.