Find the Best WordPress Theme - An Exclusive T5A WordPress Guide
One of the most frustrating things about starting a WordPress website is finding a decent theme that gives your site the functionality and personality that you want. Having worked with hundreds of clients over the years on the WordPress platform, we know all to well how hard it is to find a theme that not only looks great but has the functionality you need based on the site structure you have in mind.
We’ve spent thousands of dollars on themes over the years and we know how absolutely frustrating it can be. It is especially frustrating after you realize that the theme you bought from ThemeForest has customized features that aren’t compatible with any other theme and you’ll have to rebuild your entire site to or hire an expensive developer to customize your site to have the look you want under a better optimized theme.
As example of this is themes that offer special content sections that are called Custom Post Types. If you change themes, that content just disappears from your site which will make you scramble to figure out how to restore all that content and have it display on your site again. The content isn’t lost, it is still in your database, but getting that content back and displaying on your site will be an overwhelming mess that you’ll likely need a developer for.
This is why we like to recommend companies to go with over choosing a specific theme made by a single developer. If you are with a company that offers multiple themes that are actively updating, you’ll be able to switch themes and, for the most part, get your content displaying the way you’d expect.
Whether you are looking for something professional, flashy or niche specific, you’ll likely find what you are looking for with the premium theme companies we list below.
The below premium WordPress theme companies are arranged based on the strength of the Top Five Advisor recommendation.
Thrive Themes - Optimized Themes That Look Great!
$49 for 1 Theme
$67 for All Themes
$147 All Themes + Plugins
Includes 1 Year Support
How Thrive Themes is a Cut Above the Rest:
- All themes are built for amazing speed with lightweight code and more.
- Incredible theme choices that are all supported and updated regularly.
- Extend your capabilities with a Theme Membership which includes Thrive Leads, Thrive Content Builder and Landing Page Templates.
- Build opt-in forms to convert visitors into returning visitors and buyers.
- Logic-oriented widgets that trigger based on category, tag, specified post or page and so much more.
Built for Speed – Yeah baby! Finally a company understands…
The most important feature you should be looking at on any theme you consider purchasing is how much gunk is loaded automatically on each and every page load. You’ll be happy when you see how optimized the code is on all Thrive Themes. Not only that, but each theme comes with automatic image compression that will also help your site’s page loading speed.
In fact, we watched the base CSS code go from 255KB to 150KB in a recent update while they still managed to add features and fix other issues. This is quite surprising because, traditionally speaking, when features are added, the theme’s bulk goes up.
Holy Crap – Their Support is Amazing So Far
We use Thrive Themes almost exclusively once we made the purchase for the $247 Agency license (we have clients). As always, we have questions and requests from clients and you’ll quickly find their support forum which is being used as a public ticket system. Meaning, your questions are public to other theme buyers but, more importantly, you can search for answers that others have already asked about. They usually respond to me within 6 hours and are extremely responsive to posts that report bugs and issues.
You want regular theme updates on your theme? They got that too!
Almost every month we’ve seen updates to the themes which fix various problems users report and even add features. This reason alone is what pushed StudioPress themes to the #2 slot below when they’ve held our #1 slot for so long. Thrive is doing a much better job updating their themes.
Thrive Themes comes with loads of shortcodes that will certainly impress you. You will be able to add style and flash to your content instead of having long boring posts filled with just text and images. Check out our review button below where we go into much more detail about this.
Their theme membership will give you access to add-on plugins that will knock you out of your chair. You’ll be able to built landing pages with or without your theme’s header and footer, you’ll have access to tons of templates that will help you generate leads, build sales pages and more. The value you will generate with these add-ons will be worth its weight in gold almost immediately once implemented.
No matter the package you choose, you’ll get access to unlimited updates to your theme(s) and will have access to one year of support from the date of your purchase.
StudioPress Themes - A Developer's Dream
$99.95 1 Theme
$399.95 for All Themes
A Theme Framework with Tons of Child Themes
- Never worry about theme clutter again. Ultra clean and loads fast.
- What you see is what you get. No frills here but a solid foundation.
- Almost any post format change requires diving into functions.php.
- Responsive HTML5 designs compatible with any modern browser.
- Themes are built for easy code customizing for developers.
You’ll never buy a StudioPress theme and then visit page speed sites and see a bad report (with no added plugins). Their themes are highly streamlined and somewhat basic in a sense that what you see in the theme demo is what you’ll get. You will get multiple layout options that allows you to switch where your sidebar is loaded, you’ll get access to page templates that will allow full screen pages and more.
Each theme varies but you will get multiple color choices to choose from which are all loaded from a single cascading style sheet. The way their color scheme works is streamlined meaning there’s little extra bloat from having all the color options under one CSS file, however, there’s nothing stopping you from removing the colors you won’t use once you settle on a color scheme for your site. Removing the other colors is simple because their CSS is organized and comment labeled.
Of course, there’s a down side to having themes stripped down to styling basics. If you are looking for a theme that comes with options to style your content, looking for ways to increase chances for conversions, looking for integration with eCommerce plugins like WooCommerce or want to change anything about default site elements, you will either need to learn how to modify your functions.php, create your own child theme or hire a developer.
We used StudioPress for several years and launched several websites for clients using their themes. The problems we always had is almost any request made by a client for change required hours of work to implement.
To StudioPress’ credit, they do provide a massive library of code snippets that will help you modify elements on a page, but again, you’ll need to be comfortable with editing the functions.php to accomplish the look or element changes you want. Examples of this is modifying/removing the author box, breadcrumbs, comment section text, adding a favicon, footer text and tons more.
On the plus side, they do have a massive selection of HTML5 themes available that look fantastic right out of the gate. If you find a theme over there that has the exact look you are going for and decide to buy, know that your theme will be clutter-free and run as clean as possible in the eyes of search engines.
Another huge benefit to StudioPress is whatever you decide to buy, you’ll continue to get support for life via their community forums and ticket system. This includes the Pro Plus package that includes all themes. There’s no annual fees with this company which isn’t common.
Elegant Themes - Beautiful Feature-Packed Themes
$69/yr All Themes
$89/yr Themes + Plugins
$249/1x Lifetime Access
One of the biggest selection of themes to choose from.
- Access to 87 premium WordPress themes and counting for one low price.
- Unique themes bound to fit the style you are looking for.
- You'll get the Divi 2.4 theme, a wildly popular and flexible theme.
- $89 package includes access to 6 must-have plugins including one of the best social sharing plugins we've seen, post shortcodes and a page builder.
- Almost 300,000 members strong and excellent customer support.
- 30-day risk-free money back guarantee.
Divi 2.4 - Their Best WordPress Theme
The reason why Divi is so popular is because you can do just about anything you want with the theme without needing customization. Take a look at the video above, we placed it there because it will give you an idea of what is possible from within the theme itself using their “building block foundation.”
Want a parallax image at the top, a 3-column latest post section, a wide page section to highlight a benefit and an opt-in box at the bottom? Not a problem! Create and build your own layout that looks exactly like you want or choose from over 20 pre-made layouts that will get the job done without having to phone a developer.
Besides Divi, there are loads of other themes available to choose from with your theme package, however, you should make note that not all 87 themes are HTML5 and mobile responsive. At the time of this writing, there are 21 themes that are mobile responsive which is an absolutely crucial feature you need to continue ranking well on Google’s search in mobile.
That being said, if you can’t find a responsive theme you like, definitely switch back to the Divi theme and use that to build the exact site template of your dreams using their Elegant Page Builder plugin. Almost anything you can imagine is possible with Divi and definitely worth playing around with.
Elegant Shortcodes – Another popular plugin you’ll want to take advantage of is the Elegant Shortcodes plugin. This will give you added styling functionality within your blog posts and pages which you will want to use. These shortcodes inlcude buttons, boxes, toggled & tabbed content, slideshows, sliders, password locker, column formatting, tooltips, testimonials, quote formatting and a few more.
Want Email Opt-Ins? – Some themes, like Divi, include opt-in functionality already built-in, but for those themes they offer that don’t, you can take advantage of Elegant Theme’s Bloom Email Opt-In plugin. This will allow you to build quick opt-in landing pages complete with opt-in stats.
WooThemes - Excellent for eCommerce Sites & More
$399/yr All Themes
FREE eCommerce Themes
They set the standard for eCommerce on WordPress.
- Makers of the popular customizable Canvas WordPress theme ($99). Canvas child themes also available for $39 each.
- Makers of WooCommerce - The most popular eCommerce plugin for WordPress.
- Free eCommerce Storefront themes and child themes available.
- $399 All Themes Package includes 63 themes, 1 year access & support.
- Other business and responsive themes available to choose from.
Let’s start with WooThemes’ Canvas theme, their best and most popular WordPress theme they offer. These theme is packed with over 100 options to help you achieve the look you want and allows design changes to customize your site’s header, content areas and pretty much any element your site can display.
This theme is fully responsive and offers advanced layout options including the ability to customize the site’s width (which we rarely see). Although the Canvas theme is loaded with lots of white by default, you can change everything up to however you see fit. Additionally, if you are lacking design flair, try a Canvas child theme which comes with styles to choose from.
WooCommerce – The thing that put WooThemes on the map was their WooCommerce plugin that is offered completely free to anyone who wants to setup an eCommerce website. Along with this plugin, you also can use their Storefront theme and several child themes free of charge to help you get your shop online and selling products as quickly as possible.
Of course, free comes at a cost. You’ll find as you begin building your store that some functionality isn’t available but is available in the WooCommerce Extensions store. These extensions can range from free to a whopping $399. We’d definitely recommend looking over their extensions before starting your store to see if there are any extensions your site will need that cost money.
Other WordPress Theme Reviews
Haven’t found the WordPress theme you are looking for? There’s several other WordPress theme companies to choose from and worth taking a look if the above recommendations just aren’t what you are looking for.
Although we strongly suggest Thrive Themes because of the full customizability that their themes offer you, we do understand that some site owners just want a theme out of the box that is already preconfigured and ready for content without needing to think of a design on their own.
Here’s some theme companies we’ve reviewed that may have that perfect theme you are looking for.
- Press75 Review – They currently over more than 20 themes to choose from that are priced from $49-$69 and they have a simple free theme you could use as well. If you love what they offer, pick up the All Themes Pack for $199. They offer Pinterest-style and Instagram-style themes as well as other styles to choose from.
- Orangic Themes Review – A theme company founded in 2009. They have partnered with WordPress.com to offer their themes on their free blogging platform as well as offer their themes to those using WordPress software. They do not use a framework, have several mobile responsive layouts and have over 50,000 customers. Their all-theme pack is $249 with at least 25 WordPress themes to choose from.
- RocketTheme Review – This company has come a long way from when they first launched. They now have several beautiful designs to choose that are mobile responsive. Their licensing is based solely on memberships that provide access to their entire theme portfolio and WordPress plugins. Pricing ranges from $59/3-mo to $349/12-mo.
- Templatic Themes – Templatic offers a popular directory theme that allows you to setup business directories and listings. They also offer 23 other directory-style themes including classifieds, event listing, property search and more. They also offer other niche style themes like restaurant, real estate, app promo styles, charity, tech and much more. Pricing is set by the theme or take advantage of “The Club” which offers all Templatic themes and plugins for $299.
- ThemeShock Themes Review – They offer a large list of free and premium themes to choose from. Looking over the free theme collection, many of the themes are basic and have eclectic color schemes. As for the premium themes, they currently offer 47 themes that may be of interest. Only $29 for all themes but you get what you pay for…
- Thesis Framework Review – Another framework company, like StudioPress Genesis, that offers many child themes along with full layout customization. Some complaints have been raised that their newer framework has gone overboard with options that can frustrate and take a long time to learn.
- Themify Review – They offer several free themes and premium themes to choose from. At the time of this writing, they are offering a buy 1 get 1 free special for $49 that includes a year of support and updates. You can join their theme club called “Themify Club” which is $79 for 1 year of support than includes all current and future themes. Any purchase comes with a 30-day satisfaction guarantee refund period. Currently, they have 48,000 users and growing.
- UpThemes Review – They now offer WordPress hosting which includes 40 of their themes installed free for $20/mo. There are many theme designs to choose from with mobile responsive designs. We find their pricing insanely expensive at $125 per theme with 1 year of support. To us, the whole arrangement is geared towards getting you to sign up with their hosting service.
- WPZoom Review – They have some really nice looking themes which are individually priced at $65 per theme. They also have a landing page builder called ZOOM Builder, sold separately for $59, that features a drag and drop editor. Join their All Themes Package for $149 and get access to all 50+ themes which includes a year of support and upgrades.