Best Rated Free WordPress Themes
This list is a brief introduction to some of the best rated WordPress themes currently available on wordpress.org. To qualify for this list, themes must have over ninety five-star ratings with at least 75% of their overall ratings at 5 stars. The list only includes themes that are being actively kept up-to-date – that is with an update within the last 4 months as at 30 Sept 2016.
These themes have gained a good track record over time so the only downside to this list is that they may not be the most contemporary themes out there. I’ll do a round up newer free themes sometime soon.
Free versus Pro
Many of the themes listed provide a free or lite version and a pro/premium version with all the themes below offering decent free versions. However, often the free version will have more limited colour, typography and page layout options, no slider or limited slides, less widgets or widget areas, less compatibility with plugins such as WPML (and sometimes WooCommerce), limited support and the footer will have a theme credit that cannot be removed (at least without amending the coding). Most of these limitations can be overcome with some coding (if you know what you are doing) or suitable plugins but that might not suit you.
Compare free and pro versions to see what the difference is. Most theme providers are transparent and will have a comparison on their theme home page. Follow the link from WordPress.
Extremely well-reviewed theme by ThemeGrill – ‘a perfect responsive magazine style WordPress theme. Suitable for news, newspaper, magazine, publishing, business and any kind of sites’.
- 209 Five-Star Reviews/223 reviews (89%) with 60,000+ active installs
Virtue by Kadence Themes has been around for quite some time and is extremely versatile with tons of options, easy to customize and loaded with great features. It’s fully ecommerce (Woocommerce) ready with all the tools you need to design an awesome online store. The clean versatile design is perfect for any kind of business, online store, portfolio or personal site. Virtue has a powerful options panel where you can set things like your home layout, sliders, custom fonts, and completely customize your look without writing any CSS. The free version has a very impressive range of customisable of options but the even more all singing premium version.
- 185 Five-Star Reviews/194 (95%) with 70,000+ active installs
‘The Optimizer, an easy to customizable multi-purpose theme with lots of powerful features. This theme lets you customize each element Live without you having to touch any code. The theme comes with 2 site layout: Full width & boxed, Beautiful image slider, easy Logo upload, 600+ Fonts, powerful theme options, Custom CSS Field & lots of Color options.’
- 116 Five-Star Reviews/130 (89%) with 20,000+ active installs
An attractive versatile and contemporary theme from Athemes with very good documentation. The free version is packed with features, impressive for a free theme, with even more options and features in the pro version.
‘Sydney is a powerful business theme that provides a fast way for companies or freelancers to create an awesome online presence. Sydney brings plenty of customization possibilities like access to all Google Fonts, full color control, layout control, logo upload, full screen slider, header image, sticky navigation and much more. Also, Sydney provides all the construction blocks you need to rapidly create an engaging front page’.
- 133 Five-Star Reviews/140 (95%) with 100,000+ active installs
Spacious from Themegrill is a modern feature packed theme, with a pro version for those that need even more. It is one of the most reviewed free themes in the WordPress depository and consistently well reviewed.
‘Spacious is an incredibly spacious multipurpose responsive theme coded & designed with a lot of care and love’.
- 277 Five-Star Reviews/304 (91%) with 80,000+ active installs
This is an impressive free theme with a host of features usually seen in premium themes. The full screen front page slider looks great plus there’s a load of widgets and the theme works well with Page Builder to help create customised layouts.
‘Vantage is a flexible multipurpose theme. It’s strength lies in its tight integration with some powerful plugins like Page Builder for responsive page layouts, MetaSlider for big beautiful sliders and WooCommerce to help you sell online. Vantage is fully responsive and retina ready. Use it to start a business site, portfolio or online store’.
- 91 Five-Star Reviews/116 (78%) with 90,000+ active installs
Customizr from CPO Themes has been around for a few years and has amassed an incredibly impressive 700+ five star reviews. With a good slider, plenty of widget areas, easy customisations, and a clean look, it is not hard to see why.
‘A free responsive WordPress theme, easy to customize , built with HTML5 & CSS3 upon the Twitter Bootstrap framework. The clean design can be used for any type of website : corporate, portfolio, business, blog, etc. Choose a skin, upload your logo, set up your social network profiles and you are done! It also includes a handy responsive slider generator (with call to action text and button) that can be embedded in any pages or posts. The theme supports five widgetized areas (two in the sidebars, three in the footer), up to three columns, nine post formats with special styles. It also comes with seven elegant skins and three handy featured page blocks for the front page’.
- 745 Five-Star Reviews/807 (92%) with 100,000+ active installs
Responsive is another popular choice in the WordPress Themes Directory with a good clean free version, and a pro version offering a greater choice of customisations. It has been around for a few years now but still going strong as the basis for a good responsive site.
- 251 Five-Star Reviews/291 (86%) with 100,000+ active installs
An impressive free theme with a whole host of options for layouts and styles. This theme is highly rated. It has been around for a while over 450 Five star reviews is extremely impressive.
‘Hueman is a responsive 100% high resolution theme for blogs and magazines. Unique toggle sidebars give a great browsing and reading experience on both tablet and mobile. The feature list is long: Unlimited topbar, header, footer and accent colors, unlimited widget areas, 0-2 sidebars to the left or right that can be uniquely specified for each page or post, 300px / 220px fixed width sidebars, 0-4 footer widget columns, almost zero layout images, related posts and post nav, featured story or slider, 10 post formats, good SEO, 3 flexible custom widgets, localisation support, social links, logo upload and many more useful admin panel features’.
- 477 Five-Star Reviews/501 (95%) with 70,000+ active installs
Exceedingly well reviewed theme – with an almost 100% record of Five Star ratings – this theme has an interesting model. The basic GeneratePress Theme is a good basic free theme, but there are options to purchase add-ons such as typography and backgrounds for a few dollars each, or all of the available addons for $30.
‘GeneratePress is a fast, lightweight (less than 1MB zipped), mobile responsive WordPress theme built with speed, SEO and usability in mind. Create your website just the way you want it using the Customizer and see the changes take place right in front of you before you publish. GeneratePress is mobile responsive, W3C Markup Validated, Schema.org microdata integrated, search engine friendly, cross browser compatible (including IE8+), WooCommerce compatible, BuddyPress compatible and 100% translatable. GeneratePress has 8 widget areas, 5 navigation positions, 5 sidebar layouts and much more.’
- 366 Five-Star Reviews/370 (99%) with 40,000+ active installs
Clean attractive theme with good support and documentation:
‘Accelerate is multipurpose WordPress theme made for simplicity and ease of use. This theme is a piece of art that has this premium look and feel which will make your site stand out. Supports all post formats. Accelerate can be used for portfolio, business, blog, personal, travel, corporate, business services or any other kinds of sites’.
- 95 Five-Star Reviews/104 (91%) with 20,000+ active installs
Enigma is another attractive theme with a good range of customisable options: ‘an incredibly superfine multipurpose responsive theme …… designed with a lot of care and love.
- 138 Five-Star Reviews/167 (83%) with 40,000+ active installs
Have I missed any highly rated themes?
Then let me know. Remember to get on this list, themes should:
- have been updated in the last 4 months
- have a minimum of 90 five-star ratings
- have a minimum 75% of overall ratings rated at five-star, preferably a higher proportion