Web Designer’s 2016 List of The Best Paid WordPress Themes
By Mark Burns
And Where To Buy Them!
In this article, I plan to show you where to buy the best WordPress themes for blogs and showcase the designer/developer’s most popular themes.
Recently a friend asked for a short list of the Best Paid WordPress Themes. In retrospect, I now think asking a custom web designer that question was a bit odd. I thought they simply wanted an off-the-shelf theme to use that wouldn’t require my design skills to be up and running fast.
Now I know why they were having such a hard time picking one. The choices these days are endless.
How does one judge the “Best Paid Themes”?
While doing the research I started to realize “best” is a difficult term to justify. My “designers” opinion on what’s the best isn’t necessarily the same as another designer’s. However, I do believe that some WordPress themes are definitely better than others.
In that respect, free themes, as opposed to paid ones, have the biggest issues.
Why are Paid (aka Premium) themes better than free themes?
The problem with most free themes is longevity. If it doesn’t become popular for the developer/designer/company then it is slowly given fewer resources to keep it updated. This can happen with paid themes as well, but usually, the market testing has shown promise for the paid version in the free release stage before it ever gets to the premium stage.
Designers/developers will often start out with an idea or design in the hope that it will gain momentum. They offer it as a free version (usually in the WordPress.org repository) to test it while keeping upgrades in mind.
During this stage, the usual indicators of success are lots of feature requests from free users (basically beta testers) instead of complaints etc.
Once the developers see this momentum then they can up their game to the “pro” version and start building out on that same idea or concept of the theme. If the developers can keep this going the cash flow keeps the original free theme working while they’re creating the next in the line of XYZ themes. Voila, a new star is born.
Where to Buy WordPress Themes?
A new designer/developer site is often the best place to buy WordPress themes because the developer has a reputation to build and will make their themes better and better without a ridiculous price tag added.
Another good place is to buy a theme is from a studio that has been around for a while, such as Studiopress, Elegant Themes, or Thrive Themes. These places run their own shops and often have more to lose if their themes aren’t effective and selling well.
There are also the bigger online stores that offer individual developers an all in one organized place to offer their themes, and the developer doesn’t have to set up a full online shop until he is established. One that comes to mind is Themeforest which is one of the biggest and offers great themes at a good value. It is part of a bigger store that offers code scripts, audio & video files etc, more like an online outlet mall.
Isn’t a custom designed theme the same as a paid theme?
If you want a custom WordPress theme you would come to a guy like me. Tell me what you like and don’t like or show me some designs that you wish you could have. I would build it from scratch or heavily modify an existing theme to your satisfaction.
Now that I think of it, in that respect, the best paid theme would be a custom theme. (I can see the banner ad now: “Buy custom WordPress theme” – from me of course.)
However, what you would pay me versus what you will pay for an off the shelf theme are two different animals. I don’t often buy themes for clients but I have customized a few they already owned. Most paid themes are less than $100.
Why Would Someone Buy a WordPress Theme and Have it Customized?
Good question. In reality, most paid themes don’t come with the pretty images and specific layouts and designs you see when viewing the demo version. Often, people will stumble through setting up their site to be the same as the demo, to varying degrees of quality results. However, this is frustrating, as nowadays things are just supposed to come out of the box ready to go, aren’t they?
I do a fair bit of business in this area, and because of that, I have had a chance to peruse many a paid theme, which allows me a bit of say when recommending WordPress blogs and themes.
Here are my picks for the top 10 Best Paid WordPress Themes for 2016 (in no particular order):
#1 – Multipurpose Design | Oshine | Sold By: Themeforest | $59 | Sales: 10,000+
- Page Builder – drag & drop with visual previews
- Theme Options – Allows control of every part of the theme
- Demo Templates – 12 to choose from, and 1-click sample content import
- Layouts – 10 header combos, 5 menu styles, 3 footers, and body configure them as you want
- Portfolio Options – unlimited – multiple columns/hover options/title styles, and even variable gutters
- Responsive – tested to work on all devices and screens sizes
- Sliders – comes with 2 premium slider plugins – Slider Revolution and MasterSlider (included in price of theme)
- Shortcodes – over 50 content styling modules integrated with page builder
- Store/Cart – WooCommerce of course
- Language – fully localized and works with WPML (WordPress Multilingual plugin)Sidebars – floating and fixedParallax – both full screen & sections
#2 – Magazine Theme | Newspaper| Sold By: Themeforest | $59 | Sales: 28,000+
- Responsive – yes – and has an automatic adjusted mobile version
- Customization – too much to list. This theme is all about uniqueness, the customization is news and magazine focused
- Translations – integrated and dozens preloaded
- Speed – has custom integrated “lazy load” – loads images only when needed
- Menus – allows for Font Awesome text & icon customization, and sticky menus
- Page Layouts – uses Visual Composer for drag & drop styling of content
- Gallery – custom built with integrated lightbox
- Background – custom full width
- Store/Cart – WooCommerce ready (what else is there really?)
- Posts – 7 day popular, plus advanced block viewing (mini-loop post display)
- Fonts – supports TypeKit, Google Fonts, font stack, and WOFF files
- Article reviews – review system with tables and ratings
- Live Search – smart instant article suggestions related to what is typed
- Video Thumbnail – downloads embedded video thumbnail for articles
- Duplicate Article Checker – will not allow 2 of the same article to be listed on the homepage
#3 – Small Business Theme | Zerif Pro | Sold By: Themeisle | $99/yr | Sales: 35,500+
- Child Themes – 5 templates to choose from
- Element Animations – plenty to give your site a modern feel
- Custom Widget – fully customizable appearance controls
- E-commerce Integration – WooCommerce included Store/Cart ready
- One Page Design – easy navigation, great on mobile devices
- Responsive – perfect fit on all screens and devices
- Page Content Design – comes with Drag and Drop SiteOrigin Page Builder
- Translations – RTL (right to left) compatible, requires language plugin for translations
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization) – site structured to be LOVED by Google
- Customization – uses WP’s new live customizer
- 1-Minute install – get up and running fast, demo content available
- Backgrounds – image, video, or media slider
- Menus – comes with the user-friendly premium MegaMenu plugin
- Tutorials – 20+ videos included
- Support – serious support system with added forum
#4 – Video/Multimedia Theme | Videozoom | Sold By: WPzoom | $69 | Sales: N/A
- Video Slider – easy to configure custom slider
- Responsive – works on all screens and includes intuitive navigation
- Thumbnails – auto generates thumbnails for posts from Youtube/Vimeo
- Templates – comes with a light/dark skin option
- Video Embedding – works with native WP video player for self-hosted videos and most other externally hosted ones as well
- Page Layouts – has 4 column, Blog-style, and Fullwidth video post
- Menus – uses standard WordPress Custom Menu feature
- Customization – uses WP Customizer, colors, fonts, banners, SEO
- Localization – easy language translations, with tutorials
#5 – Portfolio/Photography | Kalium | Sold By: Themeforest | $59 | Sales: 8,500+
- Templates – 11 demo styles to choose from
- Portfolio Display Arrangements – 30+ to select from
- Portfolio Listing Styles – 8 currently from 2 column to 4 column, masonry, and grids with custom spacing
- Menus – 6 different styles & locations
- Blog Styles – 6 multi-column layouts, 9 single column layouts
- Page Templates – 11 examples, including maintenance, coming soon, and 404 pages
- Content Elements – literally hundreds of combinations, including a “client’s” element (very unique)
- E-commerce Ready – Again who else but Woocommerce
- Awards – from plenty: One Page Love, Product Hunt, Awwwards, CSSReel, WebGuru, and a few more
#6 – Writer/Blogger Theme | Bridge | Sold By: Themeforest | $59 | Sales: 52,600+
- Demo Templates – over 200 total to choose from, 21 Blog styles, and 1-click imports
- Customization – over 500+ options including shortcodes
- Animations – plenty of fancy ones, both CSS3 and Ajax transitions
- SEO – fully optimized code for search engine love
- Responsive – all screens and devices, plus Retina ready
- Admin Panel – comprehensive and easy to use
- Fonts – 700+ Google font ready
- Menus – unlimited headers and menu layouts, minimum 12 combinations of positions
- Page Layouts – comes with the famous premium Visual Composer plugin
- Slider – comes with premium Layer Slider
#7 – Site Builder Theme | Avada | Sold By: Themeforest | $59 | Sales: 245,800+
- Theme Options – new interface, plus conditional option (unique feature – shows only the options in use, based on your configuration)
- Typography (the style and arrangement of text) – all options on one page
- Color Picker – this one has an added fade/gradient feature (nice for transitions)
- Option Finder – intuitively search for an option you want
- Plugins Panel – displays plugin options panel for integrated plugins
- Import/Export Data – save theme options for migrations or new sites, plus backups
- Fonts & Icons – add custom fonts & icons with unique font settings
- Updater – automatic alerts of bug updates, but still allows for selecting to apply the patch or not
- Sliders – comes with 5 premium slider plugins, including Slider Revolution, Layer Slider, and their own Fusion slider
- Social Icon Color – automatically inserts correct hex color code right from the social network’s own brand standards
- Speed – uses “Smart” memory to only load files as needed
- Page Builder & Elements – custom page builder (Fusion Builder) with 30 elements to choose from
- Shortcodes – intuitive shortcode generator
- Menus – unlimited custom menus
- Responsive – tested for all devices and screens including Retina for HD
- Audio – Soundcloud ready
- Page Templates – blank, FAQ, and Contact pages over and above what’s included 18 full site templates
- Animations – built from CSS3 specifications
- SEO – careful coding allows for quality indexing in search engines
- E-commerce – of course…what else…WooComerce is integrated
#8 – E-commerce Theme | Flatsome | Sold By: Themeforest | $59 | Sales: 30,500+
- WPML (WordPress Multilingual) – special files (.po) included
- Page Customization – drag’n drop page builder
- Responsive – mobile ready (with touch optimized sliders and banners) and screen size responsive
- Banners – video, images, with parallax effect and custom banner grids
- Custom Checkout Pages – nicely laid out with product image & description and allows for quantity changes in checkout
- Navigation & header – comes with “sticky” navbars and headers (optional)
- Grid Styles – has 3 to choose from
- Quick View – built in quick view popups
- Sale Bubbles – 3 styles to pick from
- Sidebars & Widgets – unlimited (WooSidebars plugin)
- Demo Content – dummy content is available
- Login/Registration Page – custom pages, not just the plain old WordPress login, plus optional Facebook login
- Special Effects – CSS animations for banners like snow, confetti, and sparkle
#9 – Band/Musician Theme | Lush | Sold By: Themeforest | $59 | Sales: 4,900+
- Template Styles – 8+ music style looks built in to fit your feel
- Customization – includes Visual Composer page builder for unlimited layouts
- Menus – has a unique 3D mobile push menu
- E-commerce – do I have to say it? WooCommerce plugin included
- Gigs Manager & Events – event countdowns, multiple info fields for gigs
- Image Albums – bulk upload, tell it what to focus on and it creates albums for you
- Audio Player – manage playlists, many music platforms can be displayed such as BandCamp, SoundCloud, mixcloud and link to iTunes anywhere on a page
- Fonts & Colors – unlimited
- Widgets – 12 custom music/band oriented
- Backgrounds – video and image with parallax
- Sliders – Slider Revolution included
- Responsive – Retina ready and all screen size with accurate viewing
- Demos – 1-click imports
- Tutorial – yes, plus is SideKick compatible with interactive WordPress walkthroughs
#10 – Gym & Fitness Theme | Gym & Fit | Sold By: Themeforest | $59 | Sales: 1,900+
- Responsive – fully functional on all screens
- Page Layouts – both boxed & full-width, 10 header styles, one-page style, sticky headers, and 20+ footer layouts
- Speed – good balance of features and effects for optimum page loading
- Classes & Events – uses the Shindig event plugin by Event Calendar(slick & easy) – (note – pro-version upgrade required for some features)
- Styling – parallax builder, with CSS animations, 30+ ready to use pages, and 4 predefined skins
- Fonts – 600+ Google fonts included
- Timetable/Schedule – uses Event Calendar plugin or online scheduling (note – pro-version upgrade required for some features)
- Demos – 1-click demo content installer
- SEO – support for all SEO plugins and semantic best practices are built in
- Translations – WPML (WordPress Multilingual) compatible, (.po/.mo files included)
- Customization – uses Visual Composer drag & drop page builder, has a shortcode generator for easy element arrangement
- Sidebar – has a custom sidebar manager for full control
- Slider – includes the premium Slider Revolution (a very comprehensive slider)
- Icons – includes a premium 1200 Icon set, plus you can upload your own
- Pages – includes a “Coming Soon” and “Maintenance Mode” page
- Tutorials – comes with 23 professionally produced HD videos
- E-commerce – WooCommerce ready (hmm somebody has this market cornered)
- Support – uses email & support ticket systems and has staff dedicated to support
I have tried to cover most of the popular uses for paid WordPress themes, from the musician/artist needing a cool site, to a more business-oriented theme needed for E-commerce stores etc. There are much more highly focused ways to categorize these themes but for most this is a good start.
My choices were often based on the numbers of sales, positive comments, and sometimes personal experience.
Not all lists have the same features, but some like “responsiveness” are now a given to be included. Some features are area specific like musicians needing event calendars, or gyms needing scheduling, and photographers want image galleries etc.
It appears that Themeforest has a major lock on quality offerings, and WooCommerce is pretty much a monopoly in the store/shopping cart area. I don’t mind recommending Themeforest as a good place to buy a WordPress theme, mostly because of their pricing scheme, category listings, and selection. Their open sales and comment stats also make for easy, almost direct apples-to-apples comparison.
My research on this has provided me with a few new insights on the paid theme market, and I’m sure it will help you to select a good theme for your project.
Good luck in your passion.
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