When creating a new WordPress website or blog, finding the right theme is one of the most important and overwhelming steps that everyone has to pass through.
WordPress has a large library of WordPress themes across the internet, so it’s difficult for beginners to select the best WordPress theme for their project. Some themes are multipurpose and some are niche-specific.
The right theme simplifies the entire process of building the website and gives a perfect look that matches the brand. It also provides enough features without over-bloated options resulting in fast development, better speed, and a simple process.
In this article, I have listed the best WordPress themes [both free and premium] for 2023 that I have tested and used at least once on my websites/blogs until I developed a custom theme for that project. All themes load amazingly fast both on the frontend and the backend.
10 Best WordPress Theme
Note: All these themes are multipurpose WordPress themes best for any niche/project.
Characteristics of a Good WordPress Theme
There are so many amazing themes [both free theme and premium theme] that may be best for your project. And, all these good WordPress themes have some common traits. So while choosing a theme you should at least look for these characteristics.
- Responsive: The theme should be responsive on all popular devices, screens, and browsers [mobile friendly].
- Customization: It must be simple and flexible to add or remove some features.
- Compatibility: It must be compatible with the most popular plugins; SEO plugins, cache plugins, Woocommerce, etc.
- Speed: Now, speed has become de facto on the web for any industry. The user leaves the website if it doesn’t load instantly. So, the theme must be optimized for speed.
- Easy to learn, use and configure.
- Lite compact size: The theme should be small and lean while being feature-rich.
- High-quality code: Theme code must have followed industry standards and optimized for performance, speed, and security.
- Modern Design.
- Support for bug fixes, improvement, and any issues.
- The theme must have implemented up-to-date SEO best practices.
- Regular Updates of new features, code improvement, and security patches.
- Most of the best themes are already popular in the community.
Best and Most Popular WordPress Themes
Neve is a fast multipurpose WordPress theme best for any type of website. It is developed by Themeisle.
It has a large library of carefully designed templates for Gutenberg block and popular page builders to get started with. You can import these starter sites/templates on your website with just a few clicks.
For those who want to design from the ground up, it has an easy-to-customize custom layout for the header and footer also that many themes and free page builders lack.
It supports major popular plugins out of the box including WooCommerce,
It has all traits of a good theme including but not limited to mobile-friendliness, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), great on server resource, well-coded, compact in size, super flexible to customize, user-friendly, and more.
At the time of writing, I am using Neve on this blog nil.pro.np as my base theme and it is amazingly fast and super lean without any bloated features and options.
Neve theme has both free and premium versions.
You can get the Neve theme here.
2. Divi Theme
Divi theme is one of the most popular premium themes developed by Elegant Themes. One key feature of the Divi theme is it comes with an amazing Divi page builder prepackaged. It is fast, responsive, and compatible with the major plugins.
This theme is best to use with a Divi page builder which works amazingly together as both Divi theme and Divi page builder are developed by the same developers.
It has a large number of prebuilt templates/layouts and you can easily extend its functionality without coding as there is a large number of add-ons for Divi page builders.
The Divi community is awesome and the support is world-class. It is suitable for Freelancers, Agencies as well as individuals.
Divi theme has only a premium version.
You can get the Divi theme here.
Astra is the most popular and one of the fastest-loading WordPress themes. It is developed by Brainstorm Force. It has more than 1 million active installs.
It is compatible with all popular page builders like Elementor, Beaver Builder, Visual Composer, SiteOrigin, Divi, etc, and offers a large set of templates and layouts. These pre-built Websites templates of Astra can be used in blogs, personal portfolios, business websites, and eCommerce with just a few clicks.
It has a different built-in layout for header and footer customization.
Astra is a lightweight, SEO-optimized, regularly updated theme with a user-friendly design that’s perfect for beginners as well as professional developers. Astra theme provides many hooks and filters for developers.
Astra Theme is available in both free and premium versions.
You can get the Astra theme here.
Genesis Themes are based on an amazing open-source framework, Genesis Framework so they are lightweight, super-fast, high performing, SEO-optimized, and secure.
Some of the amazing Genesis themes are Atmosphere Pro, Altitude Pro, Essence Pro, Revolution Pro, and more.
There are many free and premium Genesis themes available on the StudioPress website and other theme markets. You can get 10 premium Genesis themes of StudioPress for free when you join the WP Engine.
You can get the Genesis theme here.
The theme is compatible with the most popular page builders and plugins like Elementor, Beaver Builder, Woo Commerce, LearnDash, and so on.
Kadence provides amazing ready-to-use starter site templates that can be used on travel, hospitality, blogs, personal portfolios, business websites, eCommerce, and more.
It has Advanced Header & Footer Builder, Sticky Header, Transparent Header, Breadcrumbs, and many other features by default.
Kadence theme is available in both free and premium versions.
Hestia is a highly popular one-page multi-purpose WordPress theme with material design. It is developed by the same team that developed the Neve theme. It provides almost the same features and performance as the Neve theme.
Hestia is compatible with Gutenberg and major page builders such as Elementor and Divi. Also, it is easily integrated with the most popular plugins.
The theme also includes ready-to-use Starter Sites templates. It’s easy to set up and all the theme options are accessible through the live customizer.
Hestia has both free and premium versions, Hestia Pro.
Get started with Hestia Theme!
OceanWP is a top-performing WordPress multipurpose theme with tons of well-designed templates and powerful features. It is fast, lightweight, and optimized for SEO.
OceanWP seamlessly integrates with popular page builders, including Elementor, Divi, Beaver Builder, etc. It is compatible with most WordPress plugins and has full WooCommerce supports to create an online shop.
It provides custom header layouts, multiple layout choices, unlimited color options, image sliders, and a featured products section. It also provides multiple site templates, layouts, and demos that are ready to use right away.
It is available for free and provides an extension plugin for premium features.
You can get the OceanWP theme here.
GeneratePress is another lightweight yet free, fast, and easy-to-use multipurpose WordPress theme. It is developed by Tom Usborne. It provides hooks and filters to extend its feature, which is amazing for developers.
It is compatible with all popular plugins and page builders such as WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads, Yoast SEO, Rank Math, bbPress, Elementor, Divi, Beaver Builder, and WPML.
The theme is optimized for SEO with built-in scheme support. GeneratePress free theme is very simple and plain, but GeneratePress Premium has amazing features and provides many starter site templates for different page builders. It has modular features which can be deactivated when not needed.
Generatepress has both free and premium version themes.
You can get the Generatepress theme here.
Blocksy is a popular lightweight multipurpose WordPress theme well suited for all kinds of websites including eCommerce, education, personal portfolio, blogs, and more.
It has an in-built header & footer builder, transparent header, sticky header, advanced layout, WooCommerce support, newsletter module, trending post, and so on.
It’s compatible with popular plugins and page builders.
Blocksy is available for free and also has a premium version with additional amazing features.
You can get the Blocksy theme here.
Zakra is a multipurpose theme optimized for speed and performance. It seamlessly integrates with WooCommerce for eCommerce stores. It is compatible with major page builders and plugins.
It is AMP-ready, SEO-friendly, and translation ready. It has many professionally designed starter templates.
Zakra has both free and paid Premium themes.
You can get the Zakra theme here.
Bonus: Rishi Theme
Rishi Theme is the new kid in the market grabbing everyone’s attention for being blazing fast, lightweight, and feature-rich. I couldn’t resist after seeing its hype in the community so I tested it immediately.
Rishi is a multipurpose theme with a growing collection of amazing starter templates. It is compatible with major popular plugins including Elementor, WooCommerce, and more.
It has an easy-to-customize header and footer builder out of the box.
Rishi Theme roadmap shows that they are actively working on new features and almost every day new features are being released. Rishi theme team are responding quite amazingly to users’ feature request.
Also, It has advanced features for blogging that most bloggers use [features previously added through multiple plugins] but all other existing themes lack.
Rishi theme has both free and premium versions.
You can get the Rishi theme here.
Other Mentionable themes
- Go – It is a free theme by GoDaddy.
- Avada Theme – One of the highest-selling themes.
- Hello – Minimal theme by elementor team to provide a clean base theme to use with elementor page builder.
- Storefront – Base theme to use for eCommerce website designed and developed by the WooCommerce core development team.
- ColorMag – Modular theme for News Website.
Free Theme vs Premium Theme vs Custom Theme: What WordPress theme should you choose?
You already know that there are tons of amazing free themes and premium themes. In addition to that, we heard a lot about a custom theme being best leading us to confusion on which one to choose.
There is no simple answer to that but all option has some pros and cons, and one is best for one project/scenario while another theme is best for another project. So, let’s have a look at each of them.
- It is available for free.
- Most of the popular free themes are available in the WordPress.org theme directory. All themes in WordPress.org go through an official review process. So, they will have standard coding practices, security precautions, and an open-source GPL license. Also, they won’t be bloated with unnecessary details and features.
- Free themes provide the only essential features, mainly design-related, and mostly have a simple generic design.
- Free themes are generally fast but lack any advanced functionally related features. So, you will have to look for plugins to add any extra features.
- Free theme lacks direct support from the developer.
- The free theme doesn’t provide many options for customization and you will need to play with code for small changes or add another plugin.
- Free theme mostly doesn’t have any form feature.
So, A free theme is best:
- If you are just testing out your product/blog first time in the market and don’t know whether it works or not.
- If you are just starting a simple blog or a student and don’t want to invest any money.
- If your website/blog doesn’t require any advanced features. The website will load faster because it won’t have any unnecessary features to bloat your website.
- If the design and features of the free theme match your requirement.
- Most of the premium themes are paid. So, it costs you money.
- The premium theme provides multiple demos and starter templates to start.
- The premium theme provides ongoing support and updates on issues, bugs, problems, and new features.
- Premium theme mostly has great documentation.
- It provides multiple and modern designs to match the different industries.
- The premium theme contains advanced features in-built into the theme. So, you don’t need to dig into code or search for plugins to add each feature.
- Premium theme mostly provides contact forms and other forms depending on the theme feature and category.
- The premium theme may contain an unnecessary feature that decreases website speed and performance.
- Premium themes provide seamless integration with many third-party plugins and services so it’s easier to extend.
- It provides an easy way for customization.
So, the Premium theme is best:
- If you are planning to work on your website in the long run.
- If you are doing serious blogging then you should move from a free to a premium theme. As the good premium theme provides patches on security vulnerabilities in real-time and you can reach support on any issues.
- If you are building a website for your running business or creating a portfolio website. A premium theme provides a unique design and easy customization to match your business tone and color. These websites directly reflect your business. While a generic website with a free theme doesn’t help you stand out in the crowd.
- If you are happily using a free theme and making money from it then using a premium theme from the same developer is a great way to support them.
- If you need a special feature on your website then choosing a theme that has the feature already, helps you to minimize the dependency on other plugins.
The custom theme is a theme that is designed from the ground to match the specific business needs keeping look, functionality, and performance in mind.
A custom theme helps to maintain the best performance, functionality, and speed as compared to other free or premium themes. And, it does have everything and the only thing that you need.
However, to create a website with a custom theme, you will have to hire a WordPress Expert who really understands the WordPress code. Also, it takes more time to develop a website as compared to developing one with already available themes. And, of course, it cost you much more compared to using a premium theme.
When you require a particular design or functionality that the general theme doesn’t provide, you have to develop a custom theme. Also, when your business or blog grows, you need to stand out with a unique design or had to optimize further for performance and speed then you will need to move to a custom theme from a premium or free theme.
How to download popular free themes?
Most of the amazing themes provide both free and paid premium themes. However, when we visit the homepage of that website, we may only see premium themes there.
The majority of the free themes are available in the WordPress Theme Repository. And, another place to look for free themes is the pricing page and comparison page on the theme’s official website. You can download it from there and upload it on your WordPress Website.
Also, you can also install these free themes directly from “Themes” under Appearance Menu. Then, click on “Add themes”, search for a theme, and install it directly.
Tips to Follow When Using Premade WordPress Theme [Free and Premium]
Before using the premade theme you should follow these steps carefully to operate your website successfully.
- Your themes should possess all characteristics of a Good WordPress Theme mentioned above.
- You should use a child theme to implement any code changes in the theme file so that, you won’t lose the changes made when updating the theme.
- You should avoid themes [especially premium themes] that have tons of features that absolutely don’t need. In the beginning, when we see a theme that has tons of features, we easily get excited and buy it. But those bloated feature decreases your website’s performance and speed.
- You should find a theme that has inbuilt support for the core features you are looking for so that you won’t need to load unnecessary plugins. Also, this will be more compatible with the plugins you need.
- Sometimes it’s best to use niche-specific themes instead of general multipurpose themes. Because these themes will have design and most of the features you will need in that niche, will be compatible with the plugins you will use mostly in that industry, and have the implementation of best practices for that niche.