Building a website with WordPress is a cost-effective way to launch your online presence. Its robust ecosystem of themes and plugins offer the look and features of a professional development team at pennies on the dollar. Knowing where to get those amazing WordPress themes and plugins makes all the difference.
Building a website with WordPress you will likely find the need to extend WordPress’ core functionality. WordPress themes and plugins offer the ability to let nearly any feature be added to your website with the click of a button. Knowing where to buy WordPress themes and plugins and how to assess their quality can help ensure you get extra features without breaking your website.
Why Premium Themes & Plugins Matter
WordPress isn’t beautiful out of the box. It’s great at managing content but isn’t likely to make anyone stop and say “wow.” That’s what you want—your readers and potential customers to be impressed.
Your website should look professional and well-designed to make a good first impression. Knowing where to find the best WordPress themes and plugins, in terms of quality and support, makes all the difference.
Where to Buy WordPress Themes
There are plenty of free WordPress themes available online. Just do a quick Google search—I’ll wait. Do not use free WordPress themes if you want your website to look professional and accommodate future expansion. Most are simply “freemium” themes meant to commit you to a design and then restrict features. What are you going to do, start all over?
Premium themes come with years of active support from developers. Competition is intense for these themes and developers use the best latest technology to ensure success. That said; spending $75 on a WordPress theme doesn’t guarantee it to be high quality. Knowing where to shop for themes and how to filter out the bad ones make all the difference.
ThemeForest is arguably the best place to find WordPress themes but that title comes with some caveats. ThemeForest is a branch of the Envato creative marketplace which specializes in website themes. Here you can find Prestashop Themes, Magento Themes, and even custom HTML themes. Arguably the most popular section is the WordPress themes section however which sees a tremendous amount of sales volume. ThemeForest allows you to quickly and easily sort themes by features, average review, and even by sales volume. Through these filters, it is fairly easy to find some truly quality solutions.
A word of warning, however; ThemeForest themes cater to the masses and often are found to have a lot of tacked on features that can add bloat to your website. Many of the best sellers simply bundle popular third-party plugins to offer page-builder features, custom slider features, and a wide range of other requests demanded by users. As a general rule, avoid themes that advertise the inclusion of $500 worth of other plugins unless you know exactly why you need each one.
Creative Market is another marketplace where sellers can list products for the development of creative assets. This might include 3D Models, stock photography, website templates, and also plugins. This is one of the largest marketplaces for WordPress themes outside of the ThemeForest and Envato ecosystem. As a general rule, you’ll find the WordPress themes here to offer a slightly fewer options for specialization and often be a little lower in overall quality. That’s not to say all themes will be found as such, just a general guideline. For comparison, the Creative market has a little over 3000 WordPress themes available and the ThemeForest market has well over 10,000.
Elegant Themes have built their entire businesses around the creation and sale of WordPress Themes and Plugins. They’ve been around for quite some time and has developed some tremendous products. They have a catalog of Themes and Plugins that is impressive for a single developer, and their products are well-regarded within the WordPress community. One of the benefits of buying WordPress themes such as the Divi theme from Elegant themes is that you’ll have a more efficient website, as opposed to many marketplace themes that simply ‘tack-on’ functionality.
These themes are often the choice of freelance WordPress developers to create professional-grade sites for their clients. Another major advantage of individual developers such as Elegant Themes is they often sell their products through a subscription which allows access to all their products. For example, an $89/year subscription to Elegant Themes gives you access to every WordPress theme they have as well as their plugins.
Studio Press is another group of developers which have evolved custom WordPress themes and plugins. They’ve gained the most notoriety over the years through their development of the Genesis Framework—a very personalized design of WordPress popular among many marketers. This framework is another example of high-efficiency Themes built from the ground up without relying on third-party plugins for their core presentation of content.
You’ll find this approach keeps your websites quick and nimble and alleviates the burden of added code on the front end. As a general rule, you’ll find that Studio Press themes are a bit more pricey, of a higher quality, but also well-suited for a narrower degree of uses. Their Genesis Framework is a popular choice among WordPress developers that intend on building in additional functionality for their clientele. If you find a Genesis theme from Studio Press that does seem to meet all your demands, you’ll likely fall in love with it.
NOTE: StudioPress was acquired by Flywheel in 2018.
Thrive Themes is another WordPress developer similar to Elegant Themes and Studio Press in they have a modest catalog of custom themes and plugins designed for specific use cases. Thrive themes are designed almost exclusively for marketers and affiliate marketing purposes. Their themes are optimized to include call to actions (CTA) and what they call focus areas to optimize for email subscriptions and affiliate click-through rates (CTR). They sell plugins and themes individually or also provide access to all products for a yearly subscription fee. They have some very powerful products that, in conjunction with their plugins, offer a really powerful selection of features for those focused on marketing. There products all have a very distinct feel to them that may be a turn off for some people. For those that feel the aesthetics and features are there however—Thrive Themes offers a really powerful option for WordPress Themes and Plugins.
ThemeFuse is another single developer option that provides a wide array of WordPress Themes regarded by many to be of the highest quality available. Their products are designed from the ground up to include features and functionality and will not marry your website to any third-party plugins—at least to a higher degree than most. As with other similar developers, Themefuse offers yearly and lifetime subscriptions that provide access to all of their products indefinitely.
For the price of two marketplace themes, you can find a huge amount of options here. Compared to other such WordPress Theme developers, Themefuse has a much larger selection of themes—though many are very similar in appearance. This might seem a bit hokey at first glance, but really it provides a wide array of design options as well as functionality. Just as WordPress Theme functionality can save you on feature development and plugin cost, aesthetic options can save you on front-end presentation development.
Where to Buy WordPress Plugins
As with WordPress Themes, there are both marketplaces and individual developer options for buying plugins. For the vast number of use cases, there are decent free options available through the WordPress repository. Unfortunately, the searchability there is beyond awful—meaning you’ll usually have to know what you’re looking for before you go there. Many times you’ll find that search the exact name of a plugin you’re seeking to install will result in a zero results query. It’s beyond annoying, but it is what it is. It’s convenient to download plugins from this source but often not ideal for finding new plugins. Just like there are several non-WordPress sources for WordPress Themes out there—there are several great places to get WordPress Plugins as well. Below you’ll find a brief overview of some of the more popular locations.
CodeCanyon is the ThemeForest for WordPress Plugins. It’s another brand of the Envato Marketplace ecosystem and has a wide range of plugins for all types of websites and web-use cases. Arguably the most-popular section of CodeCanyon is the WordPress Plugins section which contains more than 6000 unique plugins. Just like ThemeForest, anyone can author a plugin on CodeCanyon—including yourself. Recognizing the potential for low-quality code is important when shopping for plugins here. Read the reviews, consider the number of past purchases, and look at the seller’s other items. You’ll find that many items here such as the Revolution Slider or WPBakery’s Page Builder are often included with ThemeForest Themes. It’s always a good idea to come here after your site is up and you have settled on a theme. Chances are, you might already have a copy of what you’d have bought beforehand!
The MOJO Marketplace is another source for all things related to web design. It has a popular WordPress Themes section but is most-often reference for their selection of WordPress Plugins. You’ll find a decent selection of plugins here that are often slightly cheaper than other marketplaces. One downside is the lack of reviews compared to CodeCanyon. There’s a lot less certainty with buying from lesser-traveled plugin marketplaces, and MOJO Marketplace falls into this category. However, this marketplace is popular enough and well-regulated enough that we feel it does present a viable option for those seeking plugins that can’t find them elsewhere.
Similar to the nature of single developer Theme Sources, WPMU Dev is a developer that is dedicated to the development of WordPress Plugins. In their maturity, this company has developed some WordPress Themes as well but still serves more as a source of quality plugins. They have a wide range of plugins, some available for free, which address nearly every common functionality need of modern websites. In addition to a wide range of plugin options, the WPMU Dev website also boasts a powerful community of WordPress developers and small business owners which engage and ask questions. If you’re Googling around trying to find a solution to a WordPress issue, chances are some results on the first page are from the WPMU website. If you’re in the market for additional core features for your website, WPMU is a great first step to start your shopping.
YITH Themes is another single developer that offers a wide range of both WordPress Themes and Plugins. They offer a lot of freemium plugins through the WordPress repository and you’ll also find their products on many popular marketplaces such as CodeCanyon. They gained the bulk of their notoriety among WordPress enthusiasts for their quality selection of WooCommerce plugins. If your website has the intention of integrating with WooCommerce you’ll likely find some very essential plugins available from YITH. Much like the WP Bakery Page Builder (also known as Visual Composer) YITH plugins are commonly found bundled with many premium themes. Much like similar developer sources, YITH themes and plugins can be purchased individually or as a collection with a monthly or yearly subscription fee.
WordPress themes and plugins are amazing ways to help extend the functionality of your website. Many of these products have been developed by enterprise level teams and are capable of addressing some serious use cases. When buying from marketplaces such as Code Canyon or Theme Forest one can find truly amazing theme and plugin quality for astoundingly-low pricing. There are many and more low quality products for every high quality one however, and one must be sure to properly qualify each one before purchase.
Looking at review counts, average ratings, theme update histories, and even at a developer’s other products can help ensure you are getting a quality product. These types of products won’t likely earn your website any awards for being the most efficient on the web but can save you tens of thousands of dollars in development cost quite easily. Part of the power of WordPress is leveraging the extensibility found through plugins and themes. Making use of this powerful features set can help easily transform your ordinary website into a professional grade solution with little to no need to contract with developers or design studios.