India English
Kenya English
United Kingdom English
South Africa English
Nigeria English
United States English
United States Español
Indonesia English
Bangladesh English
Egypt العربية
Tanzania English
Ethiopia English
Uganda English
Congo - Kinshasa English
Ghana English
Côte d’Ivoire English
Zambia English
Cameroon English
Rwanda English
Germany Deutsch
France Français
Spain Català
Spain Español
Italy Italiano
Russia Русский
Japan English
Brazil Português
Brazil Português
Mexico Español
Philippines English
Pakistan English
Turkey Türkçe
Vietnam English
Thailand English
South Korea English
Australia English
China 中文
Canada English
Canada Français
Somalia English
Netherlands Nederlands

45 Best Free WordPress Themes + How to Choose the Best Design for Your Website

If we could give you any advice as you build your first website, it’s this: Start with a simple theme and focus on creating great content. WordPress has lots of free themes and free plugins that will help you to get started right away.

WordPress can be intimidating for beginners. Having too much flexibility and choice becomes a disadvantage, and our goal is to help you cut through all the noise and focus on what you need to do.

For instance, we can tell you that the easiest way to learn WordPress is through experience. Rather than get stuck on tutorials and WordPress courses, just pick a free theme, start building your website, and solve any problems you encounter down the road.

Luckily, WordPress has tons and tons of helpful material and friendly communities. There are countless free resources to help you out of any jam, particularly in WP community forums.

For our part, we’re empowering business owners to build an online audience. This is the sixth part of our Websites Explained guide where we’ll list the 45 best free WordPress themes and help you select the best one for your website.

If WordPress were a house, the theme would be the interior design style that gives the house its unique look and feel.

A WordPress theme is a framework that determines how your site looks and feels to visitors. Think of it as the design template that shapes the overall appearance of your website, such as the example OceanWP theme shown below.

Example theme from OceanWP

Just as different houses can have various themes like modern, traditional, or minimalist, WordPress themes define the visual appearance and functionality of a website, including the layout, color scheme, and design elements.

Themes come in all shapes and sizes, offering different features and customization options. Some are free, while others are premium (paid). Choosing a theme is a bit like picking a style for your home – you want it to reflect your personality and make visitors feel welcome.

When you’re just starting out, it’s best to begin with a simple, user-friendly theme. This way, you can focus on creating content and getting comfortable with WordPress without feeling overwhelmed by complex design choices.

As you become more familiar with WordPress, you can explore different themes to give your site a fresh look or add specific functionalities.

Just remember, the key is to find a theme that not only looks good but also enhances the user experience and aligns with your website’s purpose. WordPress gives you the flexibility to change themes whenever you want to refresh your site’s look.

If WordPress is a house and a theme is its interior design style, then a template would be the layout for a room within that house.

Just as a theme sets the overall look and feel of the entire website, a template defines the structure and design of individual pages or sections within that website.

Templates provide a framework for displaying content and determining how elements like headers, footers, sidebars, and posts are arranged on a particular page.

In essence, templates are like blueprints that guide the layout and presentation of specific areas within the broader design theme of a website.

Sometimes the word “template” and theme are used interchangeably because WordPress themes also control the layout of pages. However, it’s important to note that you can templates for specific sections or pages within the theme itself.

Expert tip: One theme can have different templates depending on the site it is intended for. For example, OceapWP has different templates for e-commerce stores, agency websites, portfolios, restaurants, coffee shops, and many more. If you don’t know how to install a WordPress theme or template, follow this guide.

WordPress has lots of themes–over 11,700 are in the WordPress theme repository alone. Many others are available on Theme Forest, Creative Market, and other online markets.

With all these choices available, make sure that you download and use the best WordPress theme for your site. The ideal WordPress theme is lightweight, clean, and mobile responsive. It should also pass testing and receive approval from experts.

Every theme on the WordPress repository passes these requirements, but themes found elsewhere may not reach these standards.

Even on the official repository, the themes available vary wildly in quality, performance, and features. Some are much more responsive, others are full of nice features, and some are just gorgeous to look at.

One of the most popular free WordPress themes is OceanWP. It’s a gorgeous and lightweight theme with lots of flexibility, and responsiveness, plus it’s very easy to use.

We love OceanWP because it is lightweight, fully responsive, robust, and comes with great features, such as WooCommerce integration.

Other popular themes for beginners, in no particular order, include the following:

  • Kadence
  • Blocksy
  • GeneratePress
  • Astra
  • Sydney
  • Vantage
  • Ground WP
  • Genesis
  • Zakra
  • Divi
  • Storefront
  • Bricks
  • Go
  • Hestia
  • Neve
  • Vogue
  • Total
  • ArileWP
  • Colibri WP
  • Ashe
  • Vilva
  • Foodica
  • Fairy
  • Hueman
  • Inspiro
  • Mesmerize
  • Customizr
  • Baskerville
  • Blogmate
  • Blogier
  • Blogus
  • Lovecraft
  • Tracks
  • Phlox
  • The Minimal Blogger
  • Modern
  • Garfunkel
  • Raft
  • Blogvi
  • Spectra One
  • Virtue
  • BlogArise
  • Ignite
  • Avant
  • Conica

The best theme for a blogging website is The Minimal Blogger. As the name suggests, it’s great for personal websites, blogs, or a small business, such as a food blog. You get a choice of templates and in-built support for WooCommerce, so it’s incredibly beginner-friendly.

Learn more on how to make money with a blog in the Philippines.

Expert tip: WPBeginner is a wonderful free resource you can use to get started with WordPress. For example, this free WordPress theme guide is the best we’ve seen. The site also offers WordPress solutions for some of the most common challenges you’re likely to encounter, such as building pages, integrating forms, SEO, and more.

If you’re wondering how to choose a WordPress theme, we have a few tips for you.

First and most important, use a popular theme with lots of downloads and positive reviews.

Highly popular themes assure you that developers will continue to provide support and maintenance. It also means the theme has been tested and proven many times over, and most of the bugs will have been worked out.

Better still, popular themes have large forums and communities of users where you can find help and information in case you get stuck. A good rule of thumb is don’t use a theme that has less than 10k downloads.

Secondly, don’t choose a theme because of the way it looks. It’s easy to change aesthetics with a little bit of training—typography, colors, and layout can all be customized (usually). 

Look for functionality, user-friendliness, and performance over style. These are the important things to look for:

  • Theme responsiveness – This means how the site adapts to different screen sizes, improving readability and usability. As themes control how a site displays, this is one of the most important features
  • User-Friendliness: Use themes that are easy to use and customize without extensive CSS modifications
    • The easiest themes to use include Hestia, OceanWP, Divi, Neve, Kadence, Blocksy, Sydney, Astra, GeneratePress, Total, Agama, Total, and SeedProd
  • Separation of functionality: Keep functionality separate from design by using plugins instead of themes for added features
  • Regular updates from the developers to keep up with security, bugs, and other issues
  • Functionality, such as navigation buttons, accessibility features, and cross-browser compatibility
  • Performance – a good theme is lightweight and loads fast (under 3s) for a positive customer experience
    • The fastest WordPress themes, according to one test, are Hello Elementor, Neve, Astra, GeneratePress, OceanWP, Zakra
  • SEO-Friendly: Opt for themes optimized for search engines to improve indexing and visibility on search engine results pages
    • The top picks for SEO-friendly themes include Astra, Divi, Neve, GeneratePress, Kadence, OceanWP, and Hello Elementor
  • Quality: Select a high-quality theme with positive customer reviews
  • Compatibility with Plugins: Check that the theme works well with essential plugins you plan to use on your site

You can already see a pattern here. The best themes for SEO, performance, user-friendliness, and ease of use are the ones that rank best overall. That means they receive the most developer support and have the largest communities.

Also note that some of these themes have premium features that you may need to subscribe to down the road. This freemium model is common in the WordPress ecosystem.

Expert tip: It may sound counter-intuitive, but the best themes have the least in-built functionality. Themes are meant for aesthetics and responsiveness. For functionality, use plugins and extensions. Doing this gives you more flexibility because you can change the way your website looks without affecting functionality.

So long as you purchase a domain name and get website hosting, you can build a starter website for free. WordPress allows you to build a website free of charge using free themes, free plugins, and various free tools.

WordPress can be a trap if you don’t know how to navigate the ecosystem. There are lots of tools that are meant to be free but are actually only free trials.

When starting, it’s super important to choose the right plugins and extensions to help you achieve maximum functionality at zero cost.

You’ll need some basic plugins to achieve basic functions like SEO, security, analytics, e-commerce, email, and building pages. Here are our top recommendations.

  • WooCommerce – top e-commerce plugin that transforms your site into a store with features like product management, order handling, payment gateways, and customizable checkout processes
  • BigCommerce – seamless e-commerce integration, such as catalog management, payments processing, order fulfillment, enhanced security, scalability, among others
  • Shopify – a Buy Button for WordPress; buyers can sync product details, create product detail pages, and enjoy an enhanced shopping experience
  • Easy Digital Downloads – sell digital products with features like unlimited file downloads, flexible payment options, customizable discount codes, and a full-featured shopping cart
  • Wordfence Security – security plugin that protects websites from threats like malware, hacking attempts, and unauthorized access using features such as firewall protection, malware scanning, login security, and real-time threat defense
  • Sucuri – website protection from malware, hacks, and other security threats through features like security activity auditing, file integrity monitoring, remote malware scanning, real-time alerts, blacklist monitoring, and post-hack security actions
  • All In One WP Security & Firewall – user-friendly security plugin for WordPress websites, with features like secure login, firewall, content protection, as well as protection from brute force attacks, spam, and more
  • Akismet Anti-Spam – uses machine learning algorithms to analyze comments and trackbacks to block spam content from being published on websites; has features like comment filtering, spam detection, and real-time protection against malicious content
  • Really Simple SSL – simplifies SSL and automates tasks like redirecting HTTP to HTTPS, fixing mixed content issues, and ensuring a secure connection
  • AIOSEO – a top SEO plugin with features like sitemaps and SEO modules to help you optimize pages, track SEO metrics, and save time with automated link-building
  • RankMath – another top SEO plugin that offers advanced features like AI SEO tools, on-page optimization, structured data control, and more
  • Yoast SEO – top plugin for on-page and technical SEO that does content optimization, rich results, readability analysis, SEO meta box, and more
  • Google Analytics (GA) – most popular way to monitor website performance, allowing you to track traffic, conversions, engagement, GDPR compliance, and more
  • MonsterInsights – simplifies Google Analytics integration, offering essential data for enhanced performance tracking
  • SeedProd – a page builder, theme builder, and landing page builder, offering features like drag-and-drop functionality, pre-built templates, customization options, and seamless integration with email marketing services without any coding skills needed
  • Elementor – one of the top drag-and-drop website builders with a user-friendly design interface, SEO, and various features like popups, templates, and more
  • Thrive Architect – If you use a theme by Thrive, use this builder. It offers easy drag-and-drop page customization, an extensive library of page elements, and is optimized for high conversion rates
  • Oxygen Builder – an advanced drag-and-drop page builder focusing on performance and responsiveness; it has the huge advantage of editing Gutenberg blocks, in addition to other powerful design features and an extensive page element library
  • Redirection – manages redirects so you can easily set up 301 redirects, monitor 404 errors, and check for broken links according to the conditions you set
  • Broken Link Checker – monitor and detect broken links and missing images automatically to improve SEO and user experience
  • Pretty Links – provides link management solutions, such as creating, tracking, and managing links; shorten, beautify, and track URLs, as well as link redirection and detailed click tracking reports
  • WPOptimize – website performance plugin for caching, image compression, database optimization, and minification features to boost website speed
  • WPRocket – a powerful website caching plugin, with features like preloading, database optimization, GZip compression, browser caching, Google Fonts optimization, lazy loading, minification, CDN integration, and more
  • Smush –  image optimization plugin for WordPress that enables users to compress, resize, and optimize images for faster loading web pages
  • WP Super Minify – combines, minifies, and caches inline JavaScript and CSS files to enhance page load speed; smaller code files can significantly increase load speed
  • UpdraftPlus – backup and migration plugin that offers scheduled backups, easy restoration, and migration features
  • Duplicator – one of the best backup plugins offering on-demand or scheduled backups, remote cloud storage support, AES-256 encryption, 1-click restore, and recovery points for easy rollback
  • Solid Backups –  formerly known as BackupBuddy, this is a powerful backup plugin with features like secure backup, offsite archives, database rollback, scheduled backups, malware detection, and one-click restore, and integrates with cloud storage services like Google Drive and Dropbox
  • WPForms – simplifies the creation of forms on websites, with features like drag-and-drop form building, integration with popular email marketing and CRM software, payment forms (Stripe, PayPal, etc.), and the ability to import/export forms
  • Formidable Forms – create a variety of forms, including contact forms, surveys, calculators, and more
  • Jetpack – a versatile all-in-one plugin for security scanning, performance optimization (including CDN), social sharing, backups, and more 
  • TablePress – create, manage, and embed attractive and interactive tables on your site with features like live sorting, pagination, searching, and the ability to import and export tables in various file formats
  • TranslatePress – translate website language for users from the front end, with full support for WooCommerce, complex themes, and various site builders

There are many more WordPress plugins, but these will get you off on the right foot. The most important functionality you’ll want to have is security (WordFence), backup (UpdraftPlus), anti-spam (Akismet), SEO (Yoast or RankMath), and page builder (Elementor or use a Block theme).

Expert tip: All these free WordPress plugins are tempting, but remember to be economical. The more plugins you use, the more intensive site maintenance becomes. Additionally, plugins can become a security risk if they become outdated, and they can slow down site performance. Our recommendation is to have no more than 20 plugins running at the same time, and fewer if possible. 

You’re probably wondering, what’s the catch? Surely you can’t get a website completely for nothing.

You’re right, there’s a catch. With WordPress, it’s maintenance. WordPress isn’t actually free, it’s open source. It’s an ultra-flexible platform with lots of great developers who have built free tools and plugins to support WordPress, but it comes at a cost.

Most WordPress plugins operate on a freemium model, which means you will need to pay to access premium features. As your site grows, free plugins will become inadequate for your needs. You’ll want better analytics, automated updates and backups, and other premium features.

The cost of all the different plugins can add up quickly. However, this is far cheaper compared to creating your own from scratch or hiring a developer to do it for you.

Plus, your website should be generating enough revenue at this point that paying for premium features makes sense. A well-built and maintained website should generate some revenue within a year of going live, either directly or indirectly.

If you want to build a truly free website, you have a few options. For example, you can generate a free blog on, where you can post articles and share your thoughts with other people.

A better idea is to use the Olitt website builder on the free plan. That way, you don’t even need a domain name or to pay for hosting.

Although the free Olitt plan doesn’t give you a custom domain or premium features it is a great way to start experimenting with websites before you can commit to a more practical paid plan.

As your website grows and generates revenue, you will then upgrade to a premium package that gives you more options, such as unlimited storage, customizable templates, and social media integrations.

Learn more about websites from the other articles in the Websites Explained series.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *